Wenonah Solo Plus on rivers?

How does the royalex Solo Plus perform on smallish, twisty rivers compared to something like the Penobscot 16? Light load - me at about 150 lbs plus another at about 160 - 180 lbs.

I’ve had a royalex Solo Plus for a few years, but only occasionally use it tandem on lakes with my wife, who doesn’t go on rivers.

I sometimes yearn to take someone not too skilled in paddling down one of our local, relatively easy rivers, but my only tandem is the Rx Solo Plus and my impression is that it doesn’t turn all that readily without quite a bit of lean, and my inexperienced paddling partner wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about leaning the boat. Is this impression correct? Would something like a Penobscot 16 be a better choice for this application?

I know that there are other Rx tandems out there that are better for this purpose, but I want to keep the boat at 60 lbs or less, because I’d be loading and unloading it by myself most of the time.


Should be fine
Yanoer For the ocasional trip it will do fine. I had a solo plus and it required some effort to turn. It doesn’t have much rocker if any.

I tried to contact you on your starlight for sale through the email here but received no response. Still for sale?


If you can kneel
(IIRC correctly and I might not you prefer to sit) you can make a non rockered boat into a rockered one by heeling it and using the side of the hull shape.

I have taught Canadian Style with spins in my Wenonah Odyssey…though flat that has some maneuveribility too.

Or you can heel a little sitting if the middle seat is fairly low.

You will be fine…sorry no need for another boat right now! :slight_smile:

Thanks. Starlight is still available.
Sorry that I didn’t get back to you on your email inquiry.

I might be able to deliver it to Canoecopia, if you’re going there.

I’ll try emailing you.

You’ll be fine with it.
Just don’t mention anything to your newbie partner about the boat having zero rocker and all that techo stuff. Just teach him or her how to turn a canoe and don’t fill their head with clutter and introduce an excuse for why it may not be working so well at first.

I would be using it tandem, with rookies
that I don’t think would be comfortable heeling the boat. At least that was my Idea. I have other boats that I solo.

It’s good to know that it should work well enough with a somewhat experienced or adventurous partner that wouldn’t freak out with a boat lean.

I haven’t messed around soloing the Solo Plus heeled. I haven’t even soloed it for a few years. My recollection is that it’s very stable from the center seat, but pretty squirrely if I move from the middle seat back to the stern seat while on the water and the bow of the boat rises up out of the water. I know that it’s a beast solo in much of a wind with a total load of about 160 lbs.

Thanks for your feedback.

Good suggestions.
I made the mistake of briefing my soon to be wife (we’ve been married now for 7 years), who’s afraid to fall in the water, about how to stay centered in the seat and not to make any sudden weight shifts to one side or the other, the first time we paddled My 16’x31" Moore Ladybug and she was stiff and nervous the entire outing. That boat, and my Sawyer 190, both had less reassuring initial stability that the Solo Plus and we don’t have them anymore. She finds the Solo Plus to be plenty stable on the smooth lakes compared to those other two. She would not be with me on the river.

Put the rookie in a solo boat
I say skip the tandem and throw the rookie into one of your solo boats with a double blade. This way you won’t be fighting or cancelling each other while paddling tandem. Try a calm shallow lake first and then move on to the river.

I did this with my rookie friend who has never paddled in his life. His first boat to try, a 87 Wenonah Mixer tandem, that he paddled with a double blade sitting on the bottom of the boat. Once he got his balance sitting in the boat and a couple of strokes with the paddle while I held the boat at the boat ramp he was off.

Is he a quick learner?


Definately would want them to practice
on a lake before turning them loose on the river in MY solo canoe.

One of the people I’d considered taking tandem is my dad, who’s 77, and I wouldn’t put him in the solo, but other’s might be candidates for that. My dad’s been down one of the local small, twisty rivers with me in tandem kayaks - Perception Keowee II and Old Town Loon 160T, but never in a canoe of any sort and never paddled solo and doesn’t know diddly about reading rivers. It’s been probably six or seven years since I’ve had him out with me.

None of my family members have much paddling experience.

Members of the local groups, though, do have plenty of experience, but I usually paddle solo on those trips.

Compared to Penobscot 16?
I’m planning to check one out tomorrow, but it will be about 10 degrees and all the water is hard, so no test paddling.

You’ve already got it, so go ahead and
use it. When I did a solo trial on a lake, I found the Solo Plus quite “stiff” turning and not so great for leaning. But I’m sure I could put a passenger in the bow and horse the SP through twisty flatwater.

try it and see

– Last Updated: Jan-29-10 12:25 PM EST –

If it were me, I'd take the Solo Plus and use that for the occasional use you are talking about.

First thing I'd do though is make sure the bow paddler learns a draw and sweep stroke, and understands that he might be needed to help make tight turns by using those strokes when you call for it - a tandem calls for teamwork, and the bow paddler is part of teh team, not just a motor or a passenger. I'd also teach a "hut" or "switch" command, as you might find it easier to do the steering yourself if you are on the right, taking a curve to the left (i.e you want to be paddling on the outside of the curve if you are in the stern), or vise versa if you want to J or rudder on the inside of the curve.

Any tandem will turn a lot faster/easier if the bow paddler can help with the steering strokes. Just find a nice quiet place at the put in if you can, to teach those strokes if you can, or better, practice on a lake somewhere.

edit: to add a bit to "training", I used to work for a canoe trip outfitter - we provided everything but thier tents and personal gear. That would be for groups of boy scouts, girl scouts, senior groups, and others - most of those people had never been in a canoe before. We always started out demo'ing the strokes on shore - then put in and spent 15 or 20 minutes with on-water training for the strokes, and how to do an eddy turn and peel out. Most all of the people would pick up that stuff pretty quickly - then we'd just head em down the river, hollering out instructions as we went along (hardest thing for people to pick up on was whether to use a draw or sweep to turn - they'd get confused when they changed sides. One other thing I liked to teach was the simple backpaddle, to slow a canoe down if it was going to crash into a bank or another canoe. That would be a good stroke to learn for small twisty rivers, to get a bit more time to complete a turn.

Didn’t you just mention?

– Last Updated: Jan-29-10 10:18 PM EST –

Didn't you just mention you bought a Flashfire recently?

You take the Solo Plus; put your wife in the Flashfire.
Bring throw bag.
Tell her, "paddle or die"!

Problem solved.......right?

I jest,

P.S. Has she ever paddled tandem with you in the same canoe twice?

That would get me a quick divorce.
My wife’s not interested in single stick solo. She’s content with double blade solo or single stick tandem.

Yep, I’ll pick up the Flashfire next month.

The Penobscot is too good of a deal to pass on. You know how that goes. I haven’t worked out where to store it. I need a barn like yours, or a brain transplant.

I need some folks to buy the boats that I’ve got for sale to make space.

I’ll try
to help with the purchase of those boats. I"ll show my daughter tomorrow didn’t have the time before her bed time.


I thought…

– Last Updated: Jan-30-10 11:54 AM EST –

I thought perhaps part of the problem might have to do with the rapidity with which boats come & go in your fleet? The lady may never have time to feel comfortable in any boat before it's gone...........

I remember getting my wife started in solo boats, and remember her complaining, "I just get used to paddling one boat; then all of a sudden it's gone, and you give me another one"!

Why don't you get your own boat I boldly inquired?

She did.



– Last Updated: Jan-30-10 1:34 PM EST –

She told me that she felt too uncomfortable (unstable) in the first two tandems, which had more rounded bottoms, and she told me that the Solo Plus was ok when we test paddled it. She was unwilling to test the secondary stability of the first two :)

She does like her independence (read freedom from my instruction) when solo in one of the kayaks or her wood strip Wee Lassie.

I will keep encouraging her to at least try one of the solo canoes.

Her back can only handle about 1.5 hours in any boat, so she won't be going on any multi-hour river trips, anyway. Someone else would be along for those outing.

So…when are you coming down south for one of our Ozark Rendezvous?

This Spring?

Aggravating you in person would be so…much more fun.

Keep the right side up.


This spring. I look forward to being teased in person.

But deciding which solo canoe to bring could be a challenge.


You’re said you could pole my Blackhawk Shadow 11’7" model, while “standing” on the gunwales.

I’m gonna bring a camera for that!

It should be a special & memorable moment; I’m looking forward to it.

Heck, that could become a pnet photo of the week, and bring you lasting celebrity, or lasting “something”.