We-no-nah Prospector

I spent a few minutes solo paddling a new We-no-nah Prospector yesterday (16’ – tuff-weave). Though We-no-nah’s “fit and finish” has always seemed top-shelf to me, quite frankly there haven’t been many We-no-nah hull designs that have appealed to me over the years, at least for the type of paddling I do. But this is a horse of a different color. I was very favorably impressed – in terms of responsiveness, handing in mild WW, agility, relatively quick acceleration and steadiness when heeled over. But I wouldn’t want to give a full “review” of this canoe based on a 15 minute paddle…

The basic Prospector design is one of the oldest canoe designs being built today – though the design is “interpreted” differently by various builders. I liked the fact that the We-no-nah version was symmetric – I’ve come to dislike the “sticky sterns” that are characteristic of differential rockered canoes. I also prefer composite canoes over Royalex.

My questions: I was wondering if some folks on this board had paddled the We-no-nah and other builder’s composite Prospectors? How does the We-no-nah version compare to other builder’s Prospectors? Sure would appreciate any insights you care to share. Thanks! -Randall

Wenonah vs. Novacraft
The main differences between these two (in the 17’ composite versions) is that the Novacraft has fuller ends and the Wenonah has more rounded chines. Primary and secondary stability is very good on both boats, although the Wenonah rolls to the side more easily. The Novacraft has a spot where the secondary stability really stiffens up, but I didn’t notice the Wenonah feeling the same way. The Wenonah seems to be faster.

Both boats maneuver well, and both are easy to paddle Canadian style.

I just looked at the manufacturers’ websites and the cross sections of the hulls look pretty accurate.

15 footer
Has anyone paddled the 15 ft Wenonah Prospector yet? I wonder if it’s as nice as the 16.


me thinks the Wenonah has scads
of rocker though compared to the NC or any other Prospector that i know of.

Recommend Tuffweave if you want
composite. It will stand up better in whitewater, at a modest weight penalty.

Thanks folks
I do appreciate the responses, especially yours Dave since it addressed my question about a comparison between the We-no-nah and another brand of Prospector.

I’ve been doing a LOT of internet surfing on Prospectors in the last few days. I had an inkling going into this… but my conclusion: the term “Prospector” as a distinct canoe design is meaningless. “Back in the day” several builders of cedar canvas canoes used the term for many different canoes. Even Chestnut (of Bill Mason fame) had a few different models they lumped together as “Prospectors”. These days it’s just a catch-all term generally applied to large volume trippers. As such each “Prospector” built by a different builder should be evaluated (by trial) individually.

Some of the other issues that have come up in this thread.

15 foot version: I haven’t seen one yet, much less paddled one. Personally I don’t generally favor 15’ tandems – though it might make a dandy big volume solo. My guess would be that it would be slow as molasses… but then again I would have guessed that about We-no-nah’s 16 foot version - it’s not.

We-no-nah Prospector’s rocker: I have to agree that the We-no-nah does have scads of rocker – more than most Prospectors. Logic told me that this feature would really slow it down, but again I was surprised at its quick acceleration. I didn’t paddle it long enough to be able to discuss its glide over a long haul.

Tuf-weave: I agree. I have a friend who has an older We-no-nah in Tuf-weave lay-up. That canoe has stood up very well under his rather rough handling. My friend seldom gets his ankles wet – he plows his bow right into shore when landing – makes me cringe every time… But his Tuf-weave lay-up has stood up to even that sort of heavy-handed treatment. Yes, there is a weight penalty compared to the Kevlar lay-up… but I’m not sure a 9 pound savings would be worth $500 to me.

To conclude – Thanks folks, your input was appreciated. -Randall


One comment I’ve heard about the Wenonahs is that it’s a bit of a tight fit up front for the bow paddler compared to a NovaCraft. Even in the NC, I moved my seats around a bit.


Thanks for the heads up P. I’ll have a look at that next time I’m in my buddy’s Wenny. I didn’t notice last time because I paddled it solo. If I end up getting a Prospector it would be primarily for tandem paddling (but I like the fact that it also makes a nice solo) – so adequate leg room for the bowman/woman is important. My wife and daughter and I have been wilderness tripping in 3 solo canoes for the last couple of years. I’m thinking one solo and a tandem (with good solo capability) might be a good combination for some trips (one less canoe to portage). Of course a larger “3-seater” canoe would get us down to one canoe to portage… but it makes me nervous to be “out there” with everything in just one boat (and we like to solo). Anyway… Hence my interest in Prospectors.

BTW, my friend and I were runnin’ backwards last Sunday. He wanted to sit on the bow seat, but even with a substantial water bag and extra gear up “front” he was way out of trim. We found kneeling slightly back from midships trimmed it. A kneeling thwart would be nice.

searched CCR?
Have you searched the forum on My Canadian Canoe Routes for comparisons of various prospectors?


bow paddler leg room
I don’t know about the 16 footers, but in the 17s the seat in the Wenonah is set further back than the one in the Novacraft. However, since the Novacraft is fuller in the bow, you have a bit more side-to-side room for your feet.