Splitrock, Osprey, Mist, Prism? Which?

Hi Folks, I posted over on Canadian Canoe Routes a question about my next canoe purchase and I think I have exhausted everyone there – I mean I have exhausted their knowledge – so I am putting the question out here as well.

I currently own a PBW Spitfire and a Wenonah Solo Plus. Love the Spitfire for small lakes, estuaries, ponds, marshes, etc. Have paddled the Rapidfire and love it, but not feeling like a trip stateside to pick one up, etc.

I’m on Vancouver Island and have local distributors for Clipper, Wenonah, Bluewater, and Old Town. Also Swift and Souris River will ship me a canoe.

I want a light (under 35 lbs if possible), fast, flatwater solo to replace my Solo Plus (which is 45 lbs). I’m willing to trade off some speed for sea worthiness in big waves, but I find, for example, the Rapidfire to be plenty sea worthy.

I paddle primarily with an Aleut double and straight shaft single. I like to sit most of the time, but enjoy kneeling on occasion. I don’t plan to use this boat for any river running, etc. I like foot pegs or a foot bar.

I must store it outside so minimal maintenance is preferred, i.e. as little wood as possible.

I do very little tripping, mostly day trips with the odd three day excursion.

So my list is as follows: Splitrock,Mist,Osprey, Prism, Solitude, Tranquility, Packer. In that order at the moment, which has changed from what I discovered on CCR.

I’ve only paddled the Solitude from this list, but also have paddled a Rendezvous, Voyageur, and a NW Ultimate 12 along with a few kayaks and some tandems.

So, for speed on flatwater first and wind and waves second, which boat should I buy?

Beware board crossover
It would be nice if the CCR folks kept quiet,but that might not happen!

I love my Osprey but…
If you want a FAST boat the Osprey is not it.

The Osprey is the most efficient boat I’ve paddled at up to roughly 4.5 mph (7.25 kph) It takes very little effort to push it along up to there. But it hits the wall pretty hard if you try to go faster.

With only my 180 lbs (82 kg) on board it’s quite manuverable which is to say you will need to pay a bit more attention to keeping your course than you do presently.

It does stiffen up a good deal when I add 70 or more lbs.(32 kg)

I find the Osprey a very versatile boat capable and comfortable in anything from big lakes to class II+, carrying a weeks worth of gear or a light lunch. The Osprey loves waves!

Oh yeah I always kneel. The few times I’ve tried sitting it felt a little squirelly.

If you get the chance you ought to try one out.

But IMO it is not the boat you are asking for.

I agree with Tommy about the Osprey in pretty much every way.

Of your list I would recommend the Prism and maybe would add the Bell Magic to it.

Magic is reasonably fast and is certainly good in wind and waves.


No Magic?
The Bell Magic would seem to fit the bill almost perfectly. Available in light weight layups, fast, can handle wind/waves, and has just enough rocker let you turn without too much trouble but still tracks well.

I have one and am very happy with it, it’s a great boat. I mostly day trip with it but have also raced it and taken it on multi-day fishing/camping trips with the dog.


For what you want to do, I would not
consider either Bluewater boat. The Mist is obsolete and the Splitrock is not suitable for very wavy open water.

And I’m a Bluewater fan and owner.

If you can’t find a suitable boat from what Wenonah offers, I don’t think we can help you.

So – Osprey not fast but nibble

Your comment really confirm what I have heard elsewhere. Sounds like everyone loves the Osprey for a versatile nimble boat when paddled kneeling, but NOT a boat for sitting in on big waves.

Some have recommended the Shearwater as a better big water sitting boat.

No dealer near me
Alas, I can only gaze longingly from afar at the Magic. No dealer within 1,000 miles of here. And, sad to say, the other dealers do not, as a rule, carry solo boats.

So I must rely on the kindness of friends and strangers willing to let me try out their boats. I have been very fortunate this way and have been able to rule out a number of boats, but haven’t been able to shout “this is the one!” yet.

If anyone Magic owners out there are contemplating a trip to Vancouver island…

Noooooo don’t say that!!!
Ok, maybe I have my hopes set a little high with the Splitrock. When you say “not suitable for very wavy open water” what exactly are you talking about here. I’m talking 3 foot waves and under most of the time.

The Mist is really obsolete? I wondered about that. Mostly the lack of rocker, especially differential rocker, which seems to make a world of difference to how a boat paddles in my limited experience.

So what DO you like about Bluewater?

Also, I’m not sure I get your comment about Wenonah. The Prism is the only boat that really seems to fit the bill for me. The Wilderness is a tripper, the Argosy is a downwater boat, I have the Solo Plus, The Voyager I have paddled and is more boat than I need (so am assuming the Encounter would be too), and the others seem too far away from what I am looking at. I have not looked at the Vagabond for awhile…

Nibble on my Osprey?
You’ll be picking kevlar from between your teeth for weeks!

I’ve only sat in my Osprey a few times and not for long. I simply prefer kneeling. I’ll speculate that lowering the seat and adding a good foot brace would go a long way to making any canoe more sit friendly.

From my knees the Osprey seems quite content in 3’ waves.

Mist is relative to David Yosts
Autumn Mist which was a classic tripping desing from the 1980’s. Obsolete is in the eye of the beholder but its a “go straight” boat for sure.

The Vagabond will turn better than the Prism. I just wish Vag wasnt so beamy. I got to try both on the same windy whitecappy day.

in response to some of the followup comments on the Osprey…

Yes, on your knees in big waves the boat is awesome. I have had mine out on days that were probably not really “for canoeing” days with high winds and big waves steepened by current opposing the wind. The boat does better than any other in these conditions if you are kneeling. Great secondary stability in big beam waves, and while the wind turn it a bit, the boat’s maneuverability allows you to counteract the wind and turn / maintain the boat in any direction you want to go.

I find it okay for sitting actually. I can paddle sitting pretty comfortably in calm water. I think that a foot bar makes a difference for this. I can get probalby 5 strokes on a side when sitting prior to switching.

And I would agree that it is a super efficient boat. Paddling at normal touring speeds is pretty much effortless. Too much so for me actually because I just don’t feel like I am getting a good enough workout! Adding gear for a trip changes this of course.

The Osprey really is a pretty great boat. I think it is one of the best “kneeling” boats out there for general use. For me peronally it is the best for this application after having owned and tried lots and lots of solo canoes.

Actually one boat that is not mentioned that is awesome for the application you want: a Sawyer Loon…if you can find one (used). It, along with the other Kruger boats, is one of the finest boats for speed and rough water ability. But…it’s kind of a different breeed as a decked canoe.


I think the Prism might be a very good
choice. I’m tall and fairly heavy, so the Voyageur might be OK.

My comments about the Splitrock are based on its lines, which suggest a boat designed for speed on relatively flat water. Note the bulgy, low wingy things.

Our Bluewater was made before the sale to Scott. The craftsmanship is very good. My personal favorite of the Bluewater line is the 17’ Freedom. The Mist is OK for an old design, but I might rather have a Peterborough. It isn’t all about speed.

Good clarrification
Thanks for clarifying the sitting vs kneeling preference in calm vs winding condition. That makes sense.

I also liked what you said about “normal touring speeds.” this is a good point for me to muse on. Most of my paddling is leisurely with bursts of effort to cross windy bays, etc. Sounds like for the most part the Osprey would work in those situations taking advantage of the theory that a shorter boat with less wetted surface is easier to move along at times of lower effort.


Can you switch from sitting to kneeling on the water? Or is such a maneuver reserved for warm weather? :slight_smile:

At what point does the Osprey top out on speed? I’m afraid I don’t know speeds very well, not having a GPS to measure my own boats, but for example when I am paddling with a friend in his Rapidfire I will be able to keep up in my Spitfire just fine unless he decides to really pour on the juice. Even then I can sometimes keep up with him, as long as I work harder, but it seems that I’m pushing a bigger bow wake so I’m thinking that I’m actually wasting energy. Have you encountered this paddling the Osprey with other boats, and if so, which ones?

What about the Vagabond?
I was just looking at the differences between the Prism and the Vagabond. Two feet shorter, lower profile, but the width at waterline is identical, so that would be a lot less wetted surface. Wider at the gunwales, but an inch more narrow than my Solo Plus. It also has a little bit of rocker.


Osprey Top End
I’ve done a few timed runs as I do not have a GPS either.

On quiet water with minimal wind I can sustain an average of 4 mph over 8 or more miles pretty effortlessly. I figure I must be up around 5 mph for some of that.

And how does that feel?
Does it feel like you are working pretty hard or just a good steady rhythm?

Not personally familiar with it. Prism
will be better for anyone hammering along open waters. Vagabond should be better for swamp cruising, twisty streams, easy ww. That’s just going by the numbers.

The Rendezvous has not been mentioned here. I tried it briefly, and found it decently fast and good-tracking on flatwater. It has enough rocker for most purposes, and is certainly a very good cruiser on class 1-2 (3) whitewater. I don’t know how it would behave on a whitecapped lake.

Eric Nyre is the local expert on the Rendezvous and on how to set it up so it does all it is capable of doing.

Paddled the Rendezvous and loved it but.
it is built for down river conditions and hence is heavy. A friend contacted Eric about getting a ultralight version made. We thought it we both ordered one together… so that is an option on the back burner right now. Gunwale and waterline widths are very similiar between the Rendezvous and the Vagabond, but Vagabond is a foot and a bit shorter and also lower on the water. Of course the hull shape is different, but it is part of what makes me wonder if the Vagabond might not be better suited to what I am looking for…

Vagabond and Rondezvous
Both are very different in their composite and Royalex versions, due to limitations in molding the Royalex. The composite versions have sharper entries, and narrower gunwale lines and paddle much better than the Royalex versions.

Hopefully Eric Nyre will chime in about the Rondezvous versions. It has too much rocker for my type of paddling, and requires lacks the tracking to go fast.

For your purposes I would go looking for a Wenonah C1W. Its fast and will handle big water. Its just very deep and hard to find. The Prism will do the duty, it is very versatile and forgiving. Not fast by Wenonah standards, but fast vs solos from anyone else.