The need for a keel on Prospector canoe

There are a lot of things I like about my 16 ft Swift Prospector. It is light for carrying, stable, looks good and handles well. I am disappointed though in the way it handles in a wind, any wind.

For a lone paddler it is almost impossible; sure you can put a 40 pound weight in the front to keep the nose down, but it is still very difficult.

For two people paddling it is obviously much better, but still difficult. Miss a stroke and you wind up sideways even when you have two adult 140 pd plus experienced paddlers.

All my previous canoes have had keels and this one does not, and I think that is the problem. When I discussed this with sales reps they said they have never had a complaint about that, which I find hard to believe. A friend has one and he too is disappointed in this aspect of the canoe.

Does anyone have a similar complaint? Is it possible to have a keel added? The company says they can’t but anyone handy with materials in his shop should be able to add one.

Would appreciate comments and suggestions about this.

You can remove “handles well” from the list of things you like about your Prospector if you slap a keel on there. There’s nothing wrong with keels, but they’re best suited to boats that will spend most of their lives on flat water. If that’s your expectation you’re better off adding to the fleet or getting rid of the Prospector and buying a flat water boat.


– Last Updated: Sep-20-16 11:52 AM EST –

I think you picked the wrong canoe............

Adding a keel will significantly downgrade the value of that canoe if you decide to sell it at a later date.
I'd never buy a used Prospector with a keel added. The keel would defeat the benefits of a Prospector hull and turn it into a slug in my opinion.

Best bet: Weight in the bow, and improvement of your paddling skills; specifically the use of correction strokes. Might try paddling(solo)the canoe backwards to get your body weight forward.

Don't want to improve your skills? Sell the Prospector, and get a boat you can deal with more effectively. The wind won't stop..............


Ah, no.

– Last Updated: Sep-20-16 1:33 PM EST –

Keels have almost no bearing on tracking. Tracking is, mostly, a function of block coefficient, the block being the waterline length, width and draft of the hull. The less of the block the hull occupies the better it keeps course. Fine lined boats track better than full lined hulls, but we knew that.

For those who like numbers, we can simplify by comparing Length/ Width ratios because most tandems have similar draft as do most solos. Marathon canoes have L/W ratios of 7. Anything below 6 starts to stray off course.

A secondary consideration is paddler induced yaw. solo and stern paddlers often fail to get their top hand across the rail; "stacking their hands" for a vertical paddleshaft. angling the shaft across the rail results in sweeping forces that turn the hull offside, away from the paddle.

Paddlers often carry the blade aft of their bodies, also resulting in sweeping forces that turn the boat. Both these paddler sins have changed paddlecraft hull design. differential rocker drops the stern deeper in the water to resist poor paddle technique. It turns out bow rocker has no effect on yaw except to resist turning when the paddler wants to turn.

Another factor in this case seems to be trim. Paddling solo from the stern seat results in trim extremely down by the stern. Paddling the hull backwards, the paddler kneeling against the back rail of the bow seat still trims down by the stern but not as dysfunctionally as using the stern seat. A kneeling thwart at third thwart position gives the best trim for soloing tandem canoes.

Keels increase wetted surface; slowing forward progress. Keels localize wear. Keels resist flat turning the hull a little. The great designer John Winters used to offer to put as many keels on a canoe as the customer wanted 3?, 5? for $200 apiece. As the price escalated and the buyer complained John would then suggest that the cash be spent on paddling lessons. John seldom suffered ....

Failure to track is always a function of 1. Carrying the blade aft of the body. 2. Angling the shaft across the rail. 3. Being out of trim.

Rocker…freeboard…rise of sheer
Along with what has been said above, these three things, of which the typical Prospector has a moderately large portion, all contribute to your problems in the wind. And they will still be there after you abuse the hull with tthe addition of a keel.

What you need is a different boat, a different place to paddle, better skill, a heavier load, or some combination of these.

Modifying the boat with a keel won’t cure the problems, but will make it less desirable for its intended use per design.

Prospector canoes
Prospector style canoes really do much better as river boats than open, flat water boats. Their substantial depth, high ends, and recurved stems all present a lot of windage.

A keel would make the canoe slightly less prone to getting blown to leeward but not accomplish much more and would make the canoe much less desirable for shallow water and river use. Keels tend to hang up and dig into soft, shallow river bottoms.

If you can’t manage or don’t like the canoe for flat water use I would either find a second boat better suited to that purpose, or sell it to buy a boat better suited to your needs. Don’t ruin it.

perhaps this…
You have a wonderful canoe. I think their Prospectors are truly beautiful. Perhaps you are in an area where basic solo canoe paddling is taught. If not, there are other ways.

Every paddler has been there. It can be frustrating. But learning to paddle better, adding different paddling strokes, improving those already learned, positioning ourselves - kneeling or sitting better, as moveable weight inside a canoe and understanding balance will make a significant difference. Somewhere between an effective paddling technique and the canoe’s motion (response) is poetry and, of course, getting to a destination. Sort of like that old saying: the journey is the destination.

There are many ways to learn. I very much enjoy Becky Mason’s instructional videos. They are clear, beautifully filmed, professionally produced and with excellent scripting. I watch them - practice - watch again, practice and refine, etc etc

I started with her video titled Basic Solo Canoeing before moving on to Advanced Solo Canoeing. Enjoy that beautiful Prospector.

Mark L

This is why many have a canoe collection

– Last Updated: Sep-20-16 6:02 PM EST –

Unfortunately no one canoe can do it all.

Sorry to second a previous posters opinion. But they are correct. The high sides and higher ends of The Prospector design is bad for wind. They act like a sail. A keel will not fix this

The sad fact is that you most likely would be happier with a solo and a tandem both with lower sides and ends. Then you need to decided if it will be a river canoe, tight stream canoe, white water or a lake canoe.

My family has three tandems. Mohawk Blazer, Mad River explorer, and a Bell Northstar. All bought used. A couple in rough shape. Any way back to the moral of the story.

The Blazer was bought very inexpensive for our beater, low water, windy day canoe. It turns good. Has low ends and sides. Had it in twenty mile per hour gust six miles per hour constant. Wind came up while we were on a very sheltered stream and was a great surprise when open water was reached. We were pushed around but made it home. If we had been in the Explorer with its higher sides. Well I don't know if we would have continued on. Probably found a place to wait out the wind.

We use the royalex Explorer in some of the small white water in our area and trips to other areas with small rapids. Also when small waves are expected to keep us dry.

The Northstar is for more open and straighter rivers. It will not turn on a dime. It cuts through water like a hot knife through butter. This is help full to as we often go upstream and down stream on the same trip.

A dedicated solo is a pleasure to paddle. Not a fight like a tandem with one person. You will be faster and be able to put a dedicated solo in places you would never be able to put a tandem with one person.

Not what you wanted to hear. Classified adds are our friends to sell what dose not work for us and to buy what works for us.