Sundowner 18' - What to be aware of?

For some reason I feel compelled to get myself a good tandem canoe. Part of me wants a nice light kevlar for the weight savings and part of me wants to save money and buy something in Royalex. This weekend I might get to test paddle a 18’ Sundowner in fiberglass. I haven’t found a whole lot of info when researching this boat (have read the reviews here) and was curious of your impressions.

Canoe will mainly be used on local flatwater lakes and slow rivers where maneuverability isn’t a necessity. Two paddlers (about 330lbs total) and a calm, 50lb dog with minimal gear. Either just paddling or doing some fishing as well.

There could be the occasional multi-day camping trip with the same paddlers and dog. I usually pack light (backpacker) so it wouldn’t be terribly loaded.

I realize that for the majority of my needs nearly any tug of a canoe could suit my needs. In fact the current tandem canoe that I use is my dad’s 17’ 1000 lb. aluminum square back, which does quite well for me. But I like to paddle hard much of the time and like to feel like I’m actually covering water when I do. I won’t be entering a bunch of races but get real satisfaction from quickly slicing through the water. But of course I also need something that’s a fairly stable platform.

From what I’ve found so far the Sundowner might fit the bill but I’ll have to travel quite a ways to look at it and get in a quick test paddle. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to tell just from that so I’d love to hear from current/past owners of your experiences and anything I should pay special attention to while testing it out. I’m a little concerned at the 18’ length. 17’ is the longest I’ve paddled before, does it feel that much bigger when paddling?

For reference my current boats are a QCC 600x kayak (16’8" and 21" wide) and a Bell Magic solo canoe.

Any idea of the weight specs on this fiberglass sundowner?

Thanks much,


if the price is right. For the use you describe, sounds like a good fit. I have a Sundowner 18, and I wouldn’t want one any shorter. There are boats I would rather have, but they don’t show up for sale around my area.

I think it turns pretty well, especially with some assist from the bow paddler.

Excellent boat
At one time the 18’ Sundowner was Wenonah’s best-selling canoe. They made it in six different layups with weights ranging from 40 to 68 lbs.

The 40 lb figure would have been for the Kevlar version. The weight of the fiberglass version would depend on whether it is PVC core, center rib, cross rib or all fiber construction. The Tuf-Weave (fiberglass) cross-rib model was probably the most popular and was quoted as weighing in at 68lbs.

The boat is reasonably fast yet stable and capable of carrying a heavy load.

buy it
I had a tuffweave Sundowner 18 and really enjoyed it

on the lake and A river or two. Don’t do what I did.

I sold mine and still regret it. What I should have done is get some yolk cups so I could carry the dang thing. Mine weighed 68-70 pounds.

Thanks for the advice so far. Also found a Wenonah Escape about an equal distance from me but in another direction. From what I’ve read it sounds like there wouldn’t be a huge difference between the two for my needs. The Escape is KevFlex though, which would be lighter. Guess I’ll see where price ends up on the boats.


Fiberglass is good.
Like most pnetters, I have thought of fiberglass as

being outdated. That is, until I got one. Now, I think

that it has the best compromise of density suited for

a canoe of all the composites. For the under 500 lb.

load that you will have, it would be ideal.

The kevlar escape would be better if your load was

over 500 lbs. Pure opinion, with no statistics, but

you might try them both.

I used to solo an 18’fiberglass often, and enjoyed it.

Sure, it was better suited for 2 paddlers, but still

adaptable to situations.

My guess is that the Escape will be much faster but the Sundowner= more stable and less $$$.


Spent money!
None of the boats I was looking at panned out.

Scoured Craigslist all weekend and am driving 300+ miles (one way) tomorrow to pick up an old Sawyer Cruiser that’s supposed to be in excellent shape.

Not exactly what I was looking for but the price was right ($450) and it will be fun to have a fast tandem. Hopefully this will ease my fever so I can just relax and wait for the right tandem to come along to fill my other needs. When I need to go fast I’ll always have the Sawyer.


Worked out for the best

I’ve paddled extensively in both the Sundowner and Cruiser–day trips, long trips, fishing, etc. I love both canoes. But, for your weights and purposes, I think the Cruiser is the better canoe. Initial stability is about the same–may be a little twitchy with the dog, but you’re used to the Magic. The Cruiser is sleeker and quicker. You don’t need the extra capacity the Sundowner would give you, and you’ll get blown around substantially more in the Sundowner than in the Cruiser. Provided you don’t overload it, the Cruiser is the sweetest paddling canoe I’ve been in. If you still have mixed feelings about it, I’ll be happy to take it off your hands.

Good so far.
Just got home with it. Turned it into an over-nighter since I couldn’t pick up the canoe until after 5:00 when he got off work on Monday. Camped and paddled along the Mississippi with a friend and am very happy with the boat so far. Light enough for most all my needs, paddles easy, fast, and plenty stable; even with the dog in it.

Plus it just looks sharp in white and is in excellent shape. Looks like it’s hardly been used.

Don’t think you’ll be getting the opportunity to take it off my hands.

When I got home and checked my e-mail I had a response from the Sundowner owner. He’d been camping and the boat is still available. Glad I got the Cruiser, it was quite a bit cheaper.


Took the Cruiser out for a nice paddle with a friend last night, love it!

Very easy to paddle and goes plenty fast. Was surprised how easy it moved along with just one person paddling. Although a bit wide it was even pretty easy for the little bit that I tried it solo in the center. Couldn’t ask for more, other than for it to weight 20 lbs less.