Wenonah Prism/Swift Shearwater

I’ve paddled a Prism [no load, just me 205lb.] but never a Shearwater. Can anyone give a side by side comparison of these two canoes? With and without a load?

no load comparison
The two main differences are maneuverability and speed. The Shearwater is more maneuverable; the Prism is faster and tracks stronger.


– Last Updated: Jul-25-06 12:30 PM EST –

thanks for your reply!. i thought more folks paddled these two canoes especially 'back east' but, i'll take what i can get.

Some additional thoughts
Own a Shearwater. I prefer this boat for river trips. I’ve done three day trips with full gear and then some. The boat really settles in with a nice load. I’d estimate it carried 300-310# with me and gear. It still manuevers well but seems to have better glide and definitely tracks harder with the load.

Paddled a Prism briefly with no load. Found it VERY hard tracking and felt the top of the gunnals seemed too high. I’m 6-3 with a long reach. That said it was not unpleasant though I’ll stick with the Shearwater.

My other solo is a Bell Magic, both my hulls have a relatively low profile so that may account for my feeling about the Prism gunnal “height”.

Hope this helps.

Wesd, about your Shearwater

do you use your Shearwater strictly for river tripping and the Magic on lakes? I paddled a Magic a couple of years ago.

i just got back from an 8 day solo in the bwca. the boat i used was my prism. i was absolutely happy with the prism. in wind and calm, wave and slick it performed impeccably with a load of approx 350 lbs (including me). tracked well, stayed dry on a very windswept kekekebic lake, and carried me safely for over 75 miles. the prism isn’t made to turn rapidly, but with a good cross bow brace can be brought around suprisingly fast. i’ve not paddled a shearwater, but have nothing but good things to say about the prism.


Owned a Shearwater and loved it and would get another in a second. It can turn within it’s own length like a freestyle boat. With or without a load.

Paddled a Prism once and did not like. OK all around. Not super maneuverable. Not super efficient - in my opinion. Shearwater “effortless” under all conditions - lake or river…even moving/bubbly water. Prism maybe faster in straight line. Shearwater happy with light or heavy load…perfect dog boat…sliding seat good thing.

Shearwater totally silent if you avoid skid plates.

I won’t say strictly
I love the Shearwater. Check whitewaterweenies post regarding the boat. His assessment is spot-on. For straight out speed I’ll put the Magic ahead and against the Prism with no reservation. The Magic is waaaaay fun when you give it the gas. The Shearwater is significantly higher volume and I would not hesitate to take it on a BW trip. Last year our BW trip plans broke down a bit and ended up with 3 of us. I took the Magic in concern that I keep up with the tandem. This turned out to be a good choice. The trip was a base camp with day-trips and I had a ball. This year the same three are going (different route) and not base camping. We are all in solo’s, two Magics and a Merlin II.

I would not hesitate to take the Shearwater (and still may) because with a good load it paddles very nicely and as I said glides better than empty.

WWW brought up a great point on the slider seat. I’ve found that my fixed seat tends to make me stern light. In a following wind I struggle mightily with an empty boat. With a load I trim a little to the stern and enjoy the hell out of the boat.

To answer more succinctly;

Magic on flatwater loaded or not.

Shearwater on either but only loaded on flatwater with wind and wave.