Want advice on solo canoe

I am looking for advice on a solo canoe.

For day trips lakes or slow rivers.

I like speed, but need stability – I want to feel safe in wind/waves. Maneuverability is not a key factor.

I’m 6/7" and 235 lb, and generally canoe with no more than 30 additional pounds of weight in my solo. I’ve done casual canoeing for 40 years and am moderately skilled.

I’ve had a Wenonah Voyager for ~ 5 yrs (along with tandems). Although it goes like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell, after a couple of dumps and some real struggles with wind, I’m scared if conditions aren’t really good.

I’m considering a Wenonah Prism (Kevlar flexcore). As advertised, the Wenonah CanAk also looks interesting. But I know there is a big world of experience out there. Any advice?

Prism a good choice
My fleet of solos contains a Prism in flex core lay up. It should be fine for your size and load. It is very stable and I can’t imagine upsetting it. I wildlife watch, hunt, and fish from mine.

Sometimes wind can be a problem but wind can be a problem in any solo. I try to paddle in the early morning before the wind picks up.

The ultra light layup in the Prism would save you 10 pounds in weight but cost a little more. As one ages and looses strength lighter weight items have more appeal.

I don’t think you would go wrong with either Prism.

Consider an alternative?

– Last Updated: Apr-21-13 8:14 AM EST –

I am a life long avid canoe paddler with decent skills and a fair amount of paddling experience in all sorts of conditions. Recently, at age 60ish, I decided to try paddling a sea kayak in the kind of conditions you describe. It has been a learning experience and a lot of fun. I still consider myself #1 a canoe paddler. But, if you are paddling in windy and rough conditions a sea kayak is a joy compared to an open canoe. Something to consider.

You are too tall for the Voyager
Please stop looking at weights and consider height.

There is too much of you above the gunwale in the boat you are paddling. You only have 21.5 inches between the rails. The cardinal rule of solo paddling is to keep your head between the rails. If it gets bouncy and rolly out, I would expect you would capsize. Your particular head is on a long lever!

The Voyager was meant to be paddled with a tripping load. Your are basically paddling it empty. The weight you do have (you) is not distributed on the bottom as cargo is. Your weight distribution is columnar with your center of gravity off the floor.

You need a wider boat. Solo boats are best fit by knee spread…Taller people usually have more. Weight really does not factor in at all in a negative sense until you start losing adequate freeboard. In fact weight on the bottom will increase stability.

Look for a boat
with something near a 30" width between gunnels, and close to that at the waterline. They are out there. You will give up a bit in speed, but should gain the stability you are looking for. (Kim is right that knee spread and that fit is more important than weight in your situation).

You could look at small tandems and then outfit for solo, but above that 30" width it becomes difficult to keep the paddle shaft vertical during a stroke without heeling to one side. Assuming you have fairly long arms that size should suit you well.

Might also have to do with hull
cross section. I’m quite stable in a slalom c-1 that (excluding the ears to cheat the rules) is only 26" wide max, and allows less knee spread than his Voyageur. My hip to shoulder height is near to that of 6’ 7" paddlers. There are at least two factors making for stability in my c-1, rocker and outward hull flare just above the water line. The Voyageur and similar hulls have zilch rocker, and as they tilt, their sides are sloping in above the waterline. I own an old kayak that slopes in like that, and it has little initial stability in spite of its flattish bottom.

Maybe he should give up some speed and look at the Swifts.

that too I agree NM

Have you looked at an Old Town Pack? They’re the ass kickers of the solo world. Way better than those gay yaks and one of the only canoes that can please the gods. Try one out and you’ll take it home. Just be sure to keep a cooler full of beer in it…for all those hot college chicks that are gonna abandon their kayaks and wanna ride in your Pack!! GIGITTY!!

Why the Swift? As it happens, I paddled a 15’ Swift Keeywaydin at the Saratoga Paddlefest. It seemed like a nice little boat, but a bit shorter (presumably slower) and not as straight-tracking as I’m used to. Bill Swift, who I note is fairly tall (?6’4") suggested that the 16’4" Shearwater might suit me better. He had none there, but offered to bring one to the Old Forge Paddlefest. The Swift was certainly a beautiful boat.

Any thoughts on the Shearwater? Or a comparison to Prism?

Wenonah solo plus?

Old TOwn Pack?
I’ve not tried an Old Town Pack. Looking at specs, it seems that 12’ length with 31.75" waterline would not have the physics to go either fast or straight.

But that’s a statement from my understanding of theory rather than actual paddling. Is reality different?

I plan to use a single bladed paddle. I’m not a fan of the kayak paddles.

Maybe a sea kayak
Thanks for the advice on the sea kayak. I expect that it would handle bad conditions much better. Unfortunately, its the canoe experience that I enjoy. I like the paddling position. I like being able to paddle with less room required. Maybe in the future…

How much speed loss?
Regarding “give up speed”… Does anyone know how much speed loss I should expect from my Voyager to a Prism to a Swift?

I typically paddle a bit over 4 mph (says the Garmin Etrex GPS that I keep between my feet). About 4.5 mph is what I can sustain over, say 6-7 miles. I can sustain about 5 mph for a reasonable distance (say, a mile), and can get to 5.5 for short distances. Thats with the Voyager.

Anyone have a sense for how much I’ll lose with other boats?

Sure. theoretical hull speed for a Pack
is 1.55x the square root of 12. 5.4 mph but you will be very tired. The Pack like other bathtubs is a great workout machine.

The theoretical hull speed of your Voyager? 1.55x square root of 17.5.

6.5 mph. While most paddlers can’t approach hull speed of their boat you see you will lose 1.1 mph in comparison.

Plus the Pack is really wide and the seat oddly placed… Its hard to get a vertical stroke. You can try any manner of more lengthy boats from Swift Canoe…the Osprey or the Keewaydin 15, or the Magic from Bell or the Prism… just to name a few.

Seems your soul would be broken with a bathtub.

There is no definite answer to that

– Last Updated: Apr-21-13 9:49 PM EST –

The maximum speed of any general-purpose canoe can be determined quite accurately with the standard hull-speed calculation, which is influenced by waterline length and nothing else. However, it's worth noting that you have to be a tremendous paddler to achieve that speed, especially with a single-blade paddle. All other aspects of hull design on speed will affect the relative paddling effort at particular speeds, and there's just no way to quantify that except if a machine is doing the paddling. Rest assured that a big guy like you paddling a wider, "slower" boat, will not be slowed down as much by that choice as a smaller paddler who fits the "faster", narrower boat better than you do. Being bigger, presumably a bit stronger, and having an easier time reaching out to maintain a vertical paddle position (something a smaller person in a wider boat finds awkward), is your advantage over the smaller person. That's why only a machine can quantify the little bit of extra paddling effort that will be required. Maintaining a particular cruising speed in a wider boat won't seem like as much extra effort to you as it would to a smaller person so the degree to which that boat is slower will be much less in your case.

High capacity Solo canoe for fishing
I initially bought an OT Pack for fishing small lakes and it’s lightweight. 33lbs makes it easy to throw up on top of my truck camper and go.

Then I really got into river paddling and now I paddle more than I fish. After 2 years I started noticing that the Pack really doesn’t paddle very well. Too short and wide. So I bought a Wenonah Argosy. 2 1/2ft. longer and 4" narrower. Makes for nicer paddling but I don’t know how well I’d like it for fishing. I fly fish so there are more gymnastics involved than casting a spin rod. I’m a little under 6ft and a little over 215 lbs.

:>) There is one guy in the area who’s pretty big. I’d guesstimate about 6ft. tall and around 350 lbs. He paddles a short tandem, sorry don’t know which one, and

doesn’t use the factory seat. he stripped them out and

put in some 2x4 sleepers that hold a short aluminum lawn chair. The seat is less than 6" off the bottom.

So he sits lower down than a seat and uses a

kayak paddle so the width doesn’t matter as much as if

he used a single blade paddle. He gets around pretty good so it doesn’t seem to hinder him very much if at all.


The Argosy isn’t a good choice for
tall paddlers, especially with a long torso.

Without a load, it’s fairly unstable unless you sit down low. The instability comes from its cross sectional hull shape which has its widest point down low for efficient sit and switch paddling. In waves it gets pretty squirrely and the OP asked for stable.

This is a case of me, an Argosy owner, relating things about it that might not fit other paddlers needs well.

4 boats

– Last Updated: Apr-22-13 11:54 AM EST –

Here are 4 boats that should fit the bill. All good general paddling hulls for a big guy, stable with good knee spread and capacity. All slower than the Voyageur but not total slugs.

Swift Shearwater
Hemlock Eaglet I
Wenonah Wilderness- composite
Bell Rockstar- composite

Thanks – Rocker impact on stability?
Thanks for the suggestions. I was already interested in the Shearwater and Wilderness. Rockstar and Eaglet are new on my screen.

I notice each of these canoes has rocker. I do most of my paddling (Voyager, Wenonah Minnesota II) on canoes with 0 rocker. (Although my Wenonah Champlain does have some rocker).

I know that rocker affects tracking/maneuverability. Does it have an impact on stability?

No. Cross section hull shape is a

– Last Updated: Apr-23-13 8:59 AM EST –

factor determining stability and never have I seen it presented for each boat at bow stern and midpoint stations.

If a boat has a flared bow and shouldered tumblehome you can pretty much put it on its side and it will remain upright. You might go in if your head gets out of bounds, but your boat will be stable!

The Eaglet, Rockstar and Shearwater all are very stable.. more so than my Argosy. Cant speak for the Wilderness.