Wenonah Saranac as multi-purpose canoe?

Hello, friends!

An acquaintance and I are both “eyeing” a Wenonah Saranac as a multi-purpose boat. Both of us are interested in using it both on lakes and small rivers, although he’s more interested in rivers, I perhaps a little more in lakes. I want to use it as a solo for myself, and tandem for my kids; he’s interested in some soloing, but primarily tandem fishing and overnight trips, I think.

What little specification info I can find on this boat portrays it as pretty flat-bottomed, which I’m not too keen on, but the reviews on this site make it sound more arched- can anyone comment? I haven’t found a lot about this boat- good or bad- in print.

How about the general utility of this boat for our intended uses? I see this as a little better lake boat than the MR Explorer 15, and a little better river boat than the Bell Morningstar- would that be an accurate perception? Would this boat serve well as a small- river solo boat for a big guy (classII max)? Is it deep enough to shed river water well?

Obviously, any input or comments are most welcome. Thanks, happy paddling! Regan

Good semi-small multi-purpose boat
It has a decent arch that flattens somewhat when heavily loaded … but it doesn’t oil can. It’s definitely not a pure flat bottom … it has very soft chines and a 32" width at 4" waterline. I row mine and it’s very nearly as quick (believe it or not) as a composite Swift Shearwater (medium speed solo) when rowed with less than 250 lbs.

Pretty darn quick when lightly loaded (less than 300 lbs) but slows significantly when forced to displace it’s full width. It only has 3/4" rocker and so it’s a better lake boat than river boat … probably not as good on a river as a Morningstar which has more than twice the rocker. I trust it to the max when I’m rowing it from a low center position … and have routinely taken it out into 1.5-2" waves on big lakes when solo (it’s 14" deep and has 20" bow/stern depth!). It’s not a tiny, calm water restricted canoe at all.

You have to dial back your expectations a bit when using it as a tandem because it’s a short 15 footer (due to having very raked stems). It’s waterline length is probably 14’4" on average … somewhat more when really loaded).

Overall, it’s an fine medium-small canoe that handles up to 450 lbs reasonably well and truly excels when lightly loaded (< 325). I like it’s profile and color (dark green they call “sage”). It has nice strong seats and gunwales … and the Royalex has held up reasonably well. I use it as my “exploration boat” when I don’t quite know what to expect on new waters. Out of production now … replaced with a flatter-bottomed Heron which has 1.5" rocker … and which I fairly sure isn’t as fast … but offers more primary stability.

Saranac at Oak Orchard Canoe
What has been said about the capabilities of the Saranac are accurate. As a big guy solo you can take it almost anywhere, not as quickly as a longer dedicated solo like the Encounter, but a stable solid boat.

As a tandem it is best suited to two small paddlers, I like it a lot for Scouts, it is small enough that it doesn’t present the windblown problems of the common Scoutcamp 17’ Grummans. It is also much quieter, no tin can banging around.

Oak Orchard Canoe has it in their line as a private label model. Wenonah replaced it with the Heron several years back.

Sell you my Adirondack
in Royalex. I’m looking to replace it with a Solo Plus.

Saranac and Heron
You can still get the Saranac from Wenonah, they just don’t put it in their catalog anymore. The reason they don’t is that the Heron is a much better hull.

If you are looking at the Saranac because there is a used one available, that’s OK. But if you are buying new, I urge you to consider the Heron instead. The Saranac is not a very good paddler while the Heron is pretty decent.

It is an nice 15’ canoe. Good small tandem. OK to solo.

Very good input, and I really appreciate it. Some of the reviews I read here spoke of the Heron as being a poorer performer, glad they got the Saranac; others are glad they waited and got the Heron. I guess that points out how subjective comparisons can be! Has anyone here paddled both the Heron and Saranac?

Still interested in more input, if anyone has any. I was expecting the Saranac to have more rocker, and feel that’s something I’d like to have in rivers. Staubr, I had looked at the Adirondack, but passed on it because of the lack of rocker; I appreciate your offer, though.

Now that I know that the Morningstar has more rocker, I have to wonder which would be more maneuverable- a shorter boat with minimal rocker, or a longer boat with more rocker?

Thanks for your opinions, folks, I appreciate them! Take care, Regan

Regan, don’t let the lack of rocker in the Adirondack give you the impression it is difficult to maneuver in tight, twisty areas. Tell you what, I’ll bring my Adirondack to the Rendevous and you and the kids can give it a good test paddle. I think you would be pleased with it’s performance! WW

Hey, Terry!
I didn’t realize you still had the Adirondack! How does it compare in maneuvering to your Explorer TT? How about straight-line tracking? I realize I’m asking about the two ends of the handling spectrum, but your opinion on the differences between these two boats will give me a good baseline for comparison, since I’ve paddled the Explorer. Hope to see you Thursday AM at Rendezvous, and hoping Ozarkgal can make it as well!

Explorer 14TT and Adirondack
Guess I didn’t tell you my story. The friend who bought my first and favorite Wenonah, 'Ol Blue, came to the Fall Rendevous for a couple days. He tried out my OT Predator 138, one thing led to another, and we traded and I now own 'Ol Blue for the second time. It’s getting close to 15 years old and it’s been paddled thousands of miles on Ozark streams and in the BWCAW. Adirondack tracks well enough to use in the BWCAW. Paddled it up there both solo & tandem. As far as tracking and maneuverability goes, I’d give it a “7” on both counts. For all arround use, I’d give it a “10.” Now, the Explorer 14TT is a RIVER boat. It maneuvers easily and you WILL put some effort into keeping it straight. It’s great for the Current, etc, but I’d never paddle it on a lake. Hope that helps. Here’s a few links. And watch your e-mail, Regan. WW