Wenonah Heron 15 Buying Advice

Hi all,

I would appreciate some guidance from this group before making a purchase of a new-to-me canoe. I’m considering buying a Wenonah Heron 15 in royalex used. Haven’t seen condition yet, but seller has it stored at a sailing club along a local river, so I assume it’s been stored in-doors and is in good shape. Asking price is $500. First question is if this is a decent price for this older model Heron? I live in the PNW and generally the used canoe market on Craigslist is pretty slim pickins with much lower end canoes (big box boats, old Colemans) are listed for about this price.

Second question is if this canoe will suit my needs. And here are my needs listed in order of priority

  1. Family canoe in local lakes and very slow moving rivers. Family is me (6’1" 215#, my wife (5’5" 125+), my 6-year-old (45#). and if I can get away with it - my dog (a lovely Gordon Setter weighing in at 45#).

  2. Solo fishing vessel in the same types of water described above.

  3. Weekend family camping trips (likely without the dog) on lakes and slow moving rivers. This would be a nice to have not a requirement, as I realize 15 feet and 800# capacity is not the ideal set up for a three person overnighter.

My experience with canoeing is fairly limited. Years ago I took the best vacation of my life when my wife and I did a multi-day paddle in Diablo and Ross Lakes in Olympics. I can’t recall the specs on the canoe we used, but I suspect it was an Old Town of some sort, which we sold to help fund a big trip in South America.

I’ve also been looking at the Old Town Discovery and a Pendobscot 16 used, but the P16 has a significant dent on the gunwale and a crease that runs down the side (I assume this would impact structural integrity should the boat be strained in some way). I’m sticking to the used market to keep costs down and therefore am limited to whatever pops up on Craigslist in NW.

Thanks in advance for your guidance everyone!

The price is fine as long as the boat is in good condition. The boat is definitely on the smallish side for for your more ambitious loads, but it is not big enough to be a handful for the solo trips - ah, the trade offs. The Penobscot is not much better. While longer, it boasts a bit less volume. The Discovery comes in several sizes. The 15’ 8" model offers a bit more carrying capacity and can still be soloed. The larger Discovery 16’ 9" would carry all you want, and then some, but would be a handful to solo. Also, the Discoveries are all HEAVY. The small one is listed at 87# and the larger one at 91#


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Thanks for the reply, Peter. Sounds like the boat will meet my first two needs very well, and might be pushing it on the overnight front. I kind of expected that. Perhaps the Heron will be the start of a fleet of boats after I get a little more proficient with paddling and brave longer trips requiring more gear.

Thanks again!

It would handle a long weekend father-son or father daughter camping trip!..now you don’t have to worry about dog care like you would with the whole family going.
I haven’t paddled one but as it was already said, and looking at the stats, it would be great for day trips but might need to pack very light for over nights. Or if you planned a lake camping trip and didn’t have much of a paddle to your camp site you could make it work.

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The price is definitely fine if it’s in good shape, especially in this tight covid market. I haven’t paddled one but based on the specs it’s a small tandem with low capacity so it would be a little tight even with you, daughter, and wife…but doable on easy water. Adding the dog seems like a bad idea. Be warned that 800 pounds is the “industry capacity” which is much higher than the ideal/intended load capacity…and 800 is on the low side for industry capacity for a tandem. I’d think that boat wants loads well under 500 pounds and 450 seems like plenty. Canoes like to have level trim or reasonably close to level so with your daughter and wife ahead of the middle it should be fine but add the dog to the back and you’d be out of trim and stern heavy.

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Good information above on the price (good) and suitability. Something else to think about is that the middle seat can be both boring and damp for the passenger. Also, some 6 year old’s can be quite competent paddlers, especially if the parent is a decent paddler. You might end up with a second solo craft - possibly a kayak given availability.
Here is 6 year old running the bow of a 17’ 9" Sawyer Cruiser:


Thanks for all the advice. I did end up buying the Wenonah Heron, despite some of the limitations pointed out. It’ll get us out on the water and meet most of our needs (I think). Having spent the last 8-9 months cooped up with the family during Covid, I’ll do anything (and apparently spend anything) to get us out of the house and adventuring around the PNW. Plus, at $500 in a scarce used market for a reputable brand canoe in good condition in a sought after material, it felt like a sound purchase from a value perspective. A couple of pics from the test run on the Willamette in Portland and all loaded up. At least the canoe looks good in the water! - Kyle


Congrats! It’s a nice-looking canoe.


Congrats on your first? canoe. Royalex does add weight, which can be stability…even though a 15’ boat is really, really small for a tandem, but we all have to start somewhere. Have fun, learn your strokes and get some good PFDs for the family.

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A 15-foot tandem has its uses. I just picked up a Heron as well to be the family’s small-river day tripper. The Fisherman was getting no use since we acquired the Dagger Reflection 16 and the Ladybug, so I found a trade partner. Another Royalex hull to play rough with should be fun. And remember that a 15 made of Royalex has more legroom than the same design in Kevlar because there’s no float tank in the way of the bow paddler in an RX hull.

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