Wenonah Odyssey tell me more

I have been wanting a kevlar canoe for a while. I paddle mainly in the Boundary Waters. I have the opportunity to buy a gently used Wenonah Odyssey 18.5ft.

Can anyone tell me about how much this canoe would weigh with wood gunwales. I believe it has the natural finish with foam core contruction.

Any opinions on how this would perform as a wilderness tripper.

An odyssey in an Odyssey
An Odyssey is a really wonderful boat, and I’m jealous you found one in good shape and for sale; there just are not that many around . The boat is, in essence, a dryer Minnesota II (and that’s a good thing!) Below the waterline I’m fairly certain it is identical to the Minn II; above it you’ll find a little more bow depth and a bit of flair added there, too. A Minnesota II has never been a very dry place for a bow paddler in a good chop; the Odyssey pretty much solved that problem (or at least made it better). I’m a fan of the boats, and find them without much downside. With the added “sail area” you’ll get a little more involvement from a bow quartering breeze, but not too much. And, because it has the same underhull, it is just as fast as a Minn II and that’s still saying something. In Flex-core with all wood gunwales it should come in around 60 lbs., in skin-coat Ultralight layup, just under 50. If it has a stern slider (they all came w/bow sliders standard, I think) that will add a pound or two more, as would integral skid plates. Go buy it and start planning a couple of BWCA trips next year (and maybe a Mississippi journey or two, as well.) Lucky dog!

Flex-core Odyssey
The Odyssey became a special order hull before the Flex-core construction became one of two choices for tandem composite hulls. During its time in the Wenonah catalog it was made in cross rib, center-rib, and PVC core stiffened (now Ultralight). It was made in the same layups in Tuffweave. Most clear coat hulls are the Ultralight and it was listed in the 1992 price sheet at 47# with standard equipment, sliding front seat, adjustable rear foot brace, and aluminum gunwales. Most hulls weigh less than the catalog spec.

The price in 1992 was $1660 for Kevlar PVC core stiffening, $940 for Tuffweave Cross Rib at 68#.

It is dryer in rough water since it was designed as a downriver racing hull. For years it was in the catalog and the Minnesota II was a special order hull for the outfitters in Minnesota. The bow flare and a different gunwale profile give it better rough water performance at the expense of a little tougher reach to the water for the bow paddler.

Speed wise its a toss-up. As noted the two hulls are pretty much the same at the waterline, the differences are above. Both came from the older WhitewaterII downriver racer when it was replaced by the Whitewater X and then the WWXX. It is the fastest tripping hull loaded, and only the 19’ Itasca carries more.


3 layups same weight
Thanks for both of you for the great information.

Plaidpaddler, you mentioned that there were three different layups in Kevlar. Would they all weigh about the same? Is there a way to visually tell the difference between Kevlar and tuffweave?

Last question. When inspecting the hull, what size scrape is enough to worry about? Is it depth, width?



We have an old Odyssey

– Last Updated: Nov-16-08 10:56 PM EST –

circa 1991. Its got a lot of scrapes and has actually been in a couple of mishaps including a bow on collision at ten miles an hour into a rock. It is still watertight inspite of the collision tearing the rear thwart out(we had it replaced as well as a rail). That happened in 1991 and many miles under her since.

Its the UL layup, flat diamond shaped panel on the floor with partial ribs up the side.

Its a sweet boat on big water. It is meant to be paddled loaded. Unloaded its a high boat catching wind and sitting paddlers are too high. We had a problem when 8foot waves hit us in a squall unloaded on Long Island Sound.Loaded it was quite stable on Lake Superior in the same height waves.

I like the low stern..when you are surfing down big lakes the low stern allows you to hold a line. Its not a boat that easily broaches.

It continues to be our expedition boat for the Great Lakes and boreal rivers like the Albany. We leave it home on the technical rivers though we have run the Allagash at higher levels..not many rocks. Its a nice maneuvering boat in whitewater.

One thing you can NOT do in it is hit and switch. The bow is way too high..conk the paddle every time. That big schnozz however kept Lake Superior out of the boat.

Worry about scrapes if the fabric is fuzzing. Dont worry if not. The scrape is fixable.

Our boat comes in at 45 lbs all aluminum fittings.

You weren’t in 8 foot waves on Lake Superior in an open canoe. No way no how.

Layup differences
Cross-Rib and Center-Rib look just like their names. Cross-Rib has short ribs across the hull bottom at regular intervals from the bow to the stern. Center-Rib has one big rib running from bow to stern right where a keel would be in an aluminum hull. It also has shock absorbers connected between the center rib and the thwarts.

The PVC Core Stiffened differs from the Flex Core in that it has short ribs running from the bottom core up the sides to the gunwales that make the hull very rigid. The Flex Core has nearly the same bottom stiffening core, but does not have the side ribs. It gets more cloth up the sides to strengthen it, but without the ribs it will flex on impact.

The Kevlar hulls are all natural kevlar inside, the Tuffweave hulls except for the PVC Core Stiffened are painted.


Thanks for the insult

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 10:11 AM EST –

I dont lie..they were following seas..

Its common to have eight foot seas in a lake that deep that acts more like an ocean. If the period is long enough the boat will not swamp.

and they were barely long enough...so that the boat mostly always stayed in contact with the water.

Its best never to put yourself in this situation though..

The point is that loaded the Odyssey does ocean like water quite well for a canoe.

The eight footers on LIS were quite scary. The period is less and the boat did flip.

You might be surprised to find the Maine Island Trail was developed for canoers. Back when it was gathered together there were very few kayakers.

Disagree strongly with the hit & switch

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 1:40 PM EST –

Have always done it in mine with no issues. Mine weights in @ 42lbs ultralite foamcore w/skin coat, wood rails & alum thwarts. For the record, mine did not look the same as the Min II below H2o. Min II appears flatter, more diamond shaped reminissant of comp hulls. Going strong after 15+ years. Can also attest to big H2o performance. Crossing a calm Caribu Lake in Wabakimi as a storm hit, I have not so fond memories of sitting up front as the bow rose what seemed 6'+ or more above the H2o off waves to come crashing down and have H2o flow over the bow as the bow submerged enough for the gunwhales to be even, or 'just' below the surface. It was a whitenuckle rollercoaster ride and I really thought I was gonna die. We tucked in behind an island and to this day have never seen my forearms so friggen pumped. We both refer to that day as the 'Popeye forearm day'. My most frightening day on H2o, ever. I remember wave sets were the bow and stern appeared to be the only part of the hull touching H2o, and a lot of daylight between, and the sucky feeling of mad bracing to keep from rolling. I had a foot of H2o or more in the bow when we found shelter behind that island.

For the record also, the Min II had a revision this summer and is now deeper, and the Odyssee can still be made. I'd still take the Odyssee over the Min II.

Odyssey Hit-n-switch
The Odyssey has a deep bow and like my old Spirit switching sides takes a little adjustment period. If the paddler is coming from a comp boat or a Jensen they will whack the bow for quite a few huts till they get used to really lifting the paddle. From the Spirit to an Odyssey takes no adjustment at all. Or from a Grumman, but few people paddle Grummans hit-n-switch.

Hit-n-switch is the way to move an Odyssey, and it will move!

Comparing the bottoms of an Odyssey vs a Minnesota II is tough because the sides are so different. The great bow flare of the Odyssey carries back toward the middle where it is more straight, while the MN-II is straighter sided in the bow going to a slight tumblehome in the center. Laying them upside down its hard to concentrate on the bottom contour, the ruler never lies, but the eyes are so easily fooled. Sitting in the water they are so different.

Now if Wenonah could put that flared bow on the Minnesota IV, what a speedy freighter we would have.


Dr. Scott Cuningham
Circumnavigated Nova Scotia in an open canoe in 1980. A basic aluminum one I believe.

Native Americans traveled our coastlines and major waterways for centuries and my guess they on more then one occasion found themselves in some huge water in their home made open boats.

Thanks - Odyssey in the garage
Thanks for all the information and advice. I did end up buying the Odyssey. The owner claimed it had only been in the BWCA 3-4 times and the bottom looked like he was telling the truth.

The Canoe had wood (Mahogany) gunwales and two sliding bucket seat. I actually weighed it and it only weighed 42 lbs.

One final question. Does kevlar have a age or lifespan? The boat is about 20 years old.

Fine hull!
It was WeNoNah’s go-to tripper in the 90s, until replaced by the Minnesota II. It should weight ~45lbs w/ wood trim.

Congrats/kevlar life span
As I ended my last post on this, I’ll begin this one: Lucky Dog! That should be a terrific boat for you.

Now something about which you’ll get a variety of responses: The life span of Kevlar. It depends primarily on where the boat has been stored, because UV degradation is the #1 non-paddling related determinant of life span. I have a '95 Wenonah Jensen 18 UL skin-coat that has always been garaged indoors, away from windows It has had 303 (and now UV Tech) applied a couple of times each season. It is used about 20 times/year. The boat shows no sign (severe darkening, chalking, cracking, etc.) of UV damage. My neighbor, two houses down, has a '99 Sundowner, same lay up, always stored outside, under an eave (and always facing in the same direction) and his boat is used 5 or 6 times a year. The side of his boat exposed to the sun is much darker and feels decidedly more brittle that the side that is always stored out of the sun. Only in the last year (as the problems became obvious) has he begun to apply UV Tech.

With proper care, I don’t think we have any idea of how long a Kevlar hull will last, but I plan on passing our Jensen on to our daughters (and that won’t be for a LONG time!) Paddle on!

Glad someone posted about Wabakimi
in an Odyssey.

The reason we retired ours is that it does not qualify on VIA rail as a canoe. Canoes are $15 to transport and must be under 18 feet. Odyssey is six inches too long. Sure they will take it but as freight the cost is much more. I forget what it was but it was a heart attack figure.

We try to avoid fly in and fly out and replace one of the flights with a train.

So we are using a Wilderness 18.

I have not so fond memories of paddling Smoothrock Lake (next over from Caribou) in one place in the Odyssey becaue of the trees coming down in the campsite. It was safer on the water…even with winds of 50 mph…(reported at Armstrong, I dont know what they were in the area we were in)

Congratulations on the purchase. This thread has a lot of good info in it. Now, where are the pictures?

We always used Little Caribou Lake as an entry/exit, parking @ the small bridge ( @ creek entering Little Caribou Lake) just south of Caribou Lake north out of Armstrong. Lots of circular routes to be found without rail or fly in. We once went east out of Caribu>Cliff Lake> Whitewater Lake>Wabikimi Lake>Smoothrock Lake>Caribou Lake, nice route very little traveled. Have seen quite a few Caribu, bear, wolves, moose etc along the way. We always went mid-May and had no bugs, but June 1st they are there and hungry. Never saw any of the fly-in fisherman then either. Paddling in October was gnarly cold, and my August solo trip was hot (but blueberries were abundant!) and saw a few fly-in folks fishing.

Thanks again for the info.
And happy Thanksgiving.

I believe it was stored inside most of the canoe’s life.

As for pictures I decided to sand and refinish the mahogany so it is disassembled in the shop. I plan to put a different carrying yoke on it and possibly change the seats.

When I am done I will try to post some pictures.


thought so
that is the mainline corridor and too heavily used…there are other access points and I believe the new map will be out this fall with access from western end both by road and trail shown.

There have been teams working on spreading out access and documneting routes. The project has been long and intense…I have been in there seven weeks working on it along with probably a hundred others.