Versatile Solo

-- Last Updated: May-03-05 4:46 PM EST --

I am looking for a solo canoe that is quite capable of handling up to class III but can still handle the occasional 8 mile fishing trip which might include somewhat lengthy flat sections. I am a beginner with respect to whitewater and plan to take some classes to better learn. (could also use advice on Virginia whitewater instructors) I currently have an old Blue Hole Sunburst II that I have a hard time keeping straight. My J-stroke is improving but thought I might consider a new boat not out of necessity but for more fun. I've been looking at MR Freedom Solo, Mohawk XL13, Bell Yellowstone Solo and Novacraft Supernova. Does anyone have experience with these regarding how they handle Class II and III as well as tracking ability? I like MR because the IQ system would allow me to quickly outfit the boat for different applications and even add a second seat for the occasional tandem. Also, are shorter 11-13 ft. boats with 4-6" rocker that much harder to paddle straight? All input would be appreciated.

I have had my Supernova in some nice class II stuff and she handles very well, both carrying a load and with just me in it(still a load :slight_smile: )

I have paddled the Freedom a little, but not enough to really talk about it. It is a little flatter on bottom and I think a little less rockered. It might handle a cross wind better although I have no problem withe the Supernova as long as I do my part with the paddle.

I think you’re going to find
That the things that make a canoe work well in class III work against it on flatwater. A narrow boat with lots of rocker will be nimble but you’re going to work to keep a line on quiet water. Lot’s of freeboard keeps a boat dry through waves and holes but when the wind picks up and the current slows down you’re going to get blown around.

All canoes are a compromise between speed, manuverability, dryness and windage.

If you cut back your whitewater expectations to class II I think any of the boats you mention would be good except maybe the XL which is a whitewater boat. You could also build your skills to take those boats into bigger water but I’ll bet that by the time you do you will be looking for a dedicated whitewater boat as well as a fishing boat.

Why do you think some of us keep 6 or 8 or 12 canoes?

Thanks for the advice
12 canoes? Wow! That qualifies as a livery doesn’t it? Andy, I’m located in the Charlottesville area. I have a buddy who does WW on the Nantahela, Potomac and New rivers every year which is partly why I’m interested in these boats (to broaden my horizon into WW). I really want to learn WW, so I do intend to take some canoe classes. Just thought something like the Freedom or Supernova might cover most of my needs until I built the paddling skills for a smaller boat. So I’m looking for a strictly river boat that I could feel confident in WW but not have to leave it at home when friends want to go fishing or day-tripping down the James. I’m planning on going to Appomattox Canoe to try a MR FS. Andy, how much are you asking for yours? Does anyone have experience with the Mohawk XL-13. Thought this was supposed to be more of a WW boat but it only has 3" rocker so I thought it might track better than some of the dedicated WW models.

Boat count
as of 5/4/05

1 Mad River Outrage whitewater canoe (OC1)

2 Peception Slasher decked whitewater canoe (C1)

3 Wavesport Foreplay converted to C1

4 Mad River Explorer Tandem/poling canoe

5 Swift Osprey Solo touring canoe

6 Milbrook ME tandem whitewater canoe (OC2)

7 Perception Whipit converted to C1

8 Necky Gannet rec kayak for kids and friends

9 P&H Cappella Seakayak

10 Wilderness Systems Picolo kids Seakayak

11 Current Designs Caribou Sea kayak (this boat is breaking my heart. It’s so sweet but I just can’t sit in a kayak.)

OK 11 not 12 and I only paddle the first 6. The rest are for the kids and friends.

The Osprey is a boat I’d use for rivers with occaisional class II though it’s glass and I hate the sound of it banging on rocks. I’d portage that boat around most class III.

I’ll probably sell the Caribou unless one of my kids takes a liking to it. Wish I could sit!

Is Primary stability an issue…
… for a 6 ft. 210lbs. guy getting in and out of a canoe? I’ve read that the Supernova has negligible primary stability. Is this easy to get used to when entering and exiting a boat, using paddle to balance across gunwales? Maybe it is an unrealistic concern, I don’t know. Also wondering if I might be better off getting more of a WW boat, Like Mohawk XL, Bell Nexus etc. and growing into it rather than trying to find the “do it all” boats like Freedom Solo and Supernova? I would just have to improve the J and C stroke to keep’em straight on the flats.

I was thinking the same thing about
the Nexus and the XL…looking for a ww tripper…the rivers up this way may have flat spots but the current is always truckin and keepin straight my not be a priority…if you are somewhat crosswise in the current it will carry you near the same rate of flow…of course I’m not a real ww playboat person…but I trip on fast rivers and have walked around ww that I would like to paddle…I’m taking classes to improve my moving water tech…

primary on the super
I don’t think the supernova’s lack of primary is a big concern. The reason is that the secondary is so strong and predictable. I love my super.

Here’s a question, will you end up paddling alone a lot of the time or do you have a ready supply of paddling partners? The reason I ask is this, if you will end up paddling yourself a lot of the time, I would stick to the Supernova-FS class of canoe rather than a dedicated solo. If you have a dedicated WW boat, then WW is what you will do. A beginner-intermediate paddler doing whitewater alone is not only a bad idea, I don’t think its all that much fun.

Mostly, I want to be able to go by myself down short stretches (3-5 miles) with mixtures of slow rollings flats, class I’s and maybe a class II occasionally. The I might meet friends to do WW about 3 times a year. They do sections of the Nantahela, New and Potomac rivers where there are lots of class II and III’s. It would be nice if I could use the same canoe for day trips, some fishing etc but I’m starting to think it may be better to find a boat I’ll be confident in first and foremost. If it’s not day-trip capable so be it. A good boat to encourage my paddling skills and my on river confidence is the most important.

Used Prodigy X
If you’re going that route, you might call Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville, PA. They have a very lightly used, Mike Yee outfitted Prodigy X for $1500.

Versitle Solo
Hi I have a M.E.11 Mad River. Bought at GAF(nantahala)outfitted one perception seat.Boat has straps in middle(solo) and front(solo-tandem)easy to move seat.My younger brother paddled Nany for the first time no swimming.I paddle it in the bayou’s & rivers with gear just remove bag strings for storage.Boat is 15’. I have a friend who has one outfitted with 3 seats and he paddled Current river in early March Turner down with his 4 year daughter.Two boats will probally be in your future, I am thinking about a kayak for fishing-hunting in S.E.Louisiana.Redfish in ponds, it should be versitle sharing or day paddling in lake and rivers. I paddle a dagger Ovation and have a impulse(very stable ww boat12’)

MR explorer kevlar for sharing in lakes and rivers that don’t drag. Weight is an issue when you get older 39lbs. I paddle that area about 3 times a year. Did the New about 35 miles in 3 days base camp the gorge was a bit above my secure level. Rad did okay. You might try TSRA they have great get togethers and their costs are much more reasonable than NOC with good teachers they can be accessed TSRA on the net be patient and ask questions it will work out Jim A.

Blue Mountain Outfitters
I called them and they have a demo day coming up in a couple of weeks. If I can make the trip they will have a SuperNova, a Freedom Solo, Rendezvous, Prodigy X and various other boats from Esquif, MR, Wenonah, Novacraft, Bell etc. So I may just go there and try out everything within this realm of discussion. I also called Mohawk and a fully outfitted XL13 shipped for about $1200 sounds pretty nice too. Still haven’t heard from anyone with XL13 or Prodigy X experience. But tons of info from you guys. I really appreciate it!

You lucky dog…I called Mohawk

– Last Updated: May-05-05 9:25 AM EST –

and they said it would cost me $600 in shipping charges for them to send an outfitted XL13 to Anchorage...big disadvantage living so far away from the U.S...Just read Andylee's post after I first posted this reply...There is a Bell dealer in Fairbanks 700 miles round trip...probably should make the drive and test out a PX

We like our Mowhawk Odyssey14s for
flat thru class II. They track well and are maneuverable. The hubby has had no problems fishing out of his. He kneels and uses a single blade, I sit and use a 240cm kayak paddle. They’re 55lbs outfitted and I can carry mine easily.

I would get a second boat for classIII.

Shorter Solo’s?

– Last Updated: May-05-05 4:03 PM EST –

I'm starting to look more and more towards 12-13 ft. boats known as good confidence building WW boats. I'm not planning on doing any big water, just some class II's and easy III's. As I build my skills I may get more adventerous. So, does anyone have good insight towards first WW boats that are stable, easier to paddle and confidence inspiring. I'm focusing on the 12-13 footers because I may carry gear for an overnighter occasionally and I would like this to be my primary river boat even when I do easier Class I and II day trips. So far, I've heard good things from Andy on the Dagger Impulse and Bell Prodigy X. I like the idea behind the Mohawk XL-13 and Esquif Vertige but can't find reviews of them. Any others?


– Last Updated: May-05-05 2:24 PM EST –

1st ww. trip 3rd day Hiawassee-Nany-Ocoee a friend paddled a Impulse down middle section minus grumpy portaged table saw didn't swim.Quite an an accoplishment stable boat.I paddled a Rival hotter boat. same circumstances swam twice. Paddled with great group rescue. I meant Mullberry not Current on my earlier post Jim A.

Supernova article
Here’s a pretty big endorsement on the Nova Craft Supernova:

I paddled a Mohawk XL-13 at the NHAMC Whitewater School a couple of weeks ago. The boat had seen a lot of use, but I found it to be staple and easy to paddle - a great beginner boat. It is wider and has less rocker than newer designs - definitely not a hot playboat. My dad paddled an XL-14 as a solo for years and loved it.

Eric in the XL
Looking Good!

Bell Yellowstone Solo
I’ll vouch for this one. I own one. It will do class III and flatwater without too much effort. It’s a good boat.

I have found that I do better with a double paddle in flatwater, with this boat.

I cannot get my wife out of it though. She has claimed it for her own.