wenonah prospector 16

I am new to this page and I need some help. I am looking to purchase a canoe (rental rates and Disco barges are killing me…no offense ment for Disco owners)and was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Wenonah Prospector. I am going to demo one soon along with a MR Explorer 16. It will be used for day and over night trips on SE Alabama creeks and rivers as well as class II water in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, etc.(with kids). Any help would be appreciated.

Hey Nuk;

I have a Wenonah 16’ Prospector in Royalex with wood trim and I must say… it’s one sweet boat. Easy enough to solo; great tamdem; will carry a good load in rough water; turns on a dime (4" rocker) especially when leaned making it a great river boat; tracks reasonably well when paddled northwoods style and all the while looking mighty good with it’s classic lines. Must be good since it’s design has been around almost a century. But… it is not exactly a beginner’s boat! The great Canadian canoeist, artist, filmmaker - Bill Masons’s favorite design. One great canoe and I highly recommend it.

Fat Elmo

Hey Elmo,

Do you have trouble with the prosp. catching much wind if your paddling light? Some of the rivers I paddle are wide and a good crosswind can make paddling difficult with some boats. As I mentioned I have paddled a lot of the standard outfitter Disco boats which are fairly flat bottomed and seem to slip in a good breeze. I paddled a MR St. Croix solo on the Okefenokee in a good breeze and didn’t seem to have as much trouble even with the bow riding high due to the solo. Also, does the 4" rocker (which would be great for the tight creeks) have a big effect on glide. I will be paddling with my two younger kids and some effeciency would be nice.

Interested in this thread
I’m hoping folks that have this boat will respond to this thread. I’ve looked for reviews on the Product Reviews and there’s not one for this boat. I started off canoeing with the MRC 14TT (St. Croix) and am now deciding on a new boat to replace it. I want a 16 Royalex and I’ve narrowed it down to Wenonah Prospector 16 and the Bell Yellowstone Tandem 16. The Wenonah is less expensive but, I’d like to hear from folks that paddle this boat regularly on class 1 - III. Dwayne

more prospector info for scates
Like you I haven’t found a review on the Wenonah but I got in touch with a guy named Gavin at Alabama Small Boats near Birmingham AL (about 3.5 hours from me) and he had a lot of info on the Prospector 16. If you want to talk to him their number is 1-800-874-5272. I too, however, would like to here from a variety of paddlers before I drop the coinage.


– Last Updated: Jan-02-05 8:39 AM EST –

I was really surprised at the handling of this 16' Prospector in wind when I first paddled this canoe at a demo day given by the outdoor store I work for part-time. I was paddling safety boat for 6 hours in the empty Wenonah 16 Prospector in very windy conditions and didn't have much of a problem. I was expecting difficulties due to the 4" rocker and high stems, but it wasn't bad at all. I paddle solo kneeling in the bilge - north woods style - and it tracks surprisingly well. This canoe will dance using some freestyle moves. Loaded with gear and/or paddled tandem this canoe is also rock solid with great secondary stability and manuverability. Makes a great rough water boat. Of course it's not going to track as well as a flatwater touring canoe on lakes, but you can't beat it on the rivers. Many of my canoe club's experienced canoeists who were in attendence also demo'd this boat and really liked it. Several of us ordered Prospector 16's the following week. This boat is one heck of a good boat. I'll have to write up a review for the canoe in the next few days.

Fat Elmo

very different boats
the prospector does have huge rocker and with respect to Mr Elmo, this boat does get blown around as you would expect. it can’t have the same glide as the mad river but it does many things better, especially white water. this boat is suitable for ww play given it’s design. Wenonah put a solid reinforced arch in the bilge as well so it has decent overall efficiency and no oilcanning. light too for royalex. not best suited to family paddling unless you are a highly skilled canoeist; but if so- there is much to love about this boat.

Yes, I was surprised at how much rocker
Wenonah put in their Prospectors, considering the paltry amount of rocker in their WW boats. They might take some rocker out of the Prospectors and put it into the Rendezvous. Even the Rogue and Cascade could use a touch more rocker.

Wenonah told me that…
the original Chestnut Prospector had exactly that amount of rocker and that they were copying that design precisely. i was sceptical that the original had that much rocker (i don’t think they paddled back then like we do today with the same aggressive turning strokes) but the designer emailed me directly so i have to belive that they did exhaustive study on the matter.

i agree in that it would be a little more rounded a performer with an inch or 2 less rocker. i also asked if they planned on making a 17 footer in Royalex but they are not. the 17 is most popular amongst Canadians for river tripping and i think the Wenonah in a 17 would be the tops. oh well.

Bell Yellowstone Tandem?
Anyone got an opinion on the Bell Yellowstone Tandem? It’s a little more money that the Prospector I just wonder if it’s worth it? I’ve heard some really good things about Bell boats. Thanks for your help! Dwayne

I used to have a Chestnut catalog, and
I don’t remember the Prospector having so much rocker. Also, I remember an article about the physics of the Prospector design in an issue of the Canadian magazine Kanawa, and I don’t think that boat had as much rocker. I will check the magazine stack just to the left of our commode and see if that Kanawa issue is still around.

Nova craft has a prospector with 2" rocker bow and stern. Anyone no much about Nova Craft? Never heard much about them here in the deep south.

Nova Craft
makes a prospector model in 16, 17 and even 18 feet; i’ve never seen the 18 but the others are very popular all over Canada and many friends own them. call me a snob (it’s true) but i prefer the slim lines available in some iterations of the prospector. Evergreen, Trailhead (both small Ontario companies) and Wenonah for example. the NC models are fuller in the ends and a wider overall design making them well suited to whitewater. i can’t really knock them; they are well made boats, inexpensive and readily available anywhere around up here. but for the overall paddling experience, in all varieties of water i prefer the slimmer versions as mentioned with narrower gunwhales for a sportier feel. i also paddle solo more than tandem so that may explain my preference. however for ww tripping the 17 foot NC prospector may just be the most popular boat in the whole country; it swallows a tonne of gear and for those of you who prefer barrels to packs they can do the 2 60liter barrel side by side thing. as i said earlier; i’m partial to Wenonahs beautiful new rendering of the form and would like to see them take a shot at NC by offering the 17 but it doesn’t look like they will.

Faithful Copy

– Last Updated: Jan-05-05 1:23 AM EST –

We-no-nah's version of the Prospector is a faithful copy of Chestnut's original, which debuted in 1923.
I know three builders, who between them have the original forms for the 15, 16, 17 & 18-footer's.
I had the one with the 15 build me one, which is canvas-covered, and will say that it has what can only be termed, moderate rocker. This is indicative of all the Prospectors, which were specifically designed to carry a load in all sorts of conditions.
When I asked the fellows who have the forms for the 16, 17 & 18 how much rocker each had they looked at me like I was some sort of nut and said they didn't know.
It was a Prospector........

I created an album which will give you some idea of what kind of rocker my 15-footer has and as far as I know Chestnut never included this information in their catalogs.
At least it's not in the 25 or 30 catalogs that I have in my collection.

My on-line albums also include selected Chestnut spec's & information that represents their offerings throughout the years.
While the 15-foot Prospector is probably, no is, the sweetest paddling canoe that I've ever owned, my favorites are their Ogilvy Specials, an awesome river canoe.
I have yet to paddle the 17' Guide's Special, which is nothing more than a close-ribbed Chestnut Cruiser, that I picked up this summer due to back problems but have great expectations based on it's sterling reputation as a fast hull that was designed for white water work.
I waited two years for the sucker so I guess I can hold out for a few more months..........


If anyone is interested I have a few more shots of the 15-footer in the album entitled, Our Canoes, but they really don't show the rocker.
That album is here..........



if you lived in my neck of the woods
Jack, i’d be hounding you to be my buddy, so i could come and hang out with you and your boats. sounds like you have one mighty impressive collection…

i’ve seen some of these catalogues and read some history on these boats but there is little to no mention of rocker, certainly not in a quantified way.

why do you think that Wenonah put so much rocker into their prospector and why do you think that that much would have been on the orginal?

Cheers, James

Very interesting.

– Last Updated: Jan-06-05 7:43 AM EST –

By any chance: Can you compare:
The OT Appalachian versus The Wenonha Prospector

Faithful copy by We No Nah…?
I’m wondering if there is a difference in design between the composit models and the RX version of the Prospector like there is between the Rendezvous models which made a vast difference in handling…

Come on, give me more.
Wind, heavy load, solo on a 16 canoe.

Here is the essence.

Please tell us all you know about it.