Wenonah Solo Plus questions

Experienced paddler (mostly kayak, 800+miles a year at least), 220lbs. Im looking for a ‘do everything’ canoe. Primarily it will be paddled solo, and about 20%of the trips will be with my girlfriend and her dog. It seems like the solo plus fits the bill perfectly, but im a little concerned about the lack of rocker. It will be paddled on class 1 rivers in Missouri (Meramec, Huzzah, Big river, Current river, etc)

My current canoe is a beat to hell 16’ pelican explorer, heavy as a tank and takes a tugboat to turn. However it has served me well on the above rivers and gets us around fine… Its just slow, heavy, and hard to turn on sharp bends with a current or log obstruction(its time to upgrade from that POS)

I know the wenonah will be lighter, faster, and probably overall easier to drive, but I wanted to hear some experience from pnet (i have read the reviews, they sound mixed)

The tandem trips will be mainly day trips with a cooler and the dog (BIG dog 120lbs) and a few overnight camping trip (no dog). Hows the gear capacity?

The solo trips will all be 15-25mile flat water day trips on the same rivers, and some fishing. Minimal gear load, small cooler and a drybag with first aid kit and rain gear.

Also I have an opportunity to purchase an almost brand new 17’ wenonah sundowner for a great price. If I added a center seat to this boat like the solo plus has would it still be a good solo/tandem type boat? Im wondering if i should get the sundowner for tandem and just stick with kayaks for solo… but im trying to ‘expand my horizons’ lol

solo plus
i really enjoy my solo plus for camping but i use it strictly as solo boat. i would look for a bigger canoe to take the girlfriend, dog, and gear for camping trips. but if you are going to leave the girl at home i highly recommend it for camping trips. i take my dog (lab/mut), 5 day cooler, and a ton of gear in my solo plus and it works great.

95% of the tandem trips would be just a day trip with the girlfriend and a cooler, the dog comes about half the time

A favorite topic of mine!

– Last Updated: Oct-07-10 7:01 PM EST –

Usually, when a paddler has trouble turning a general-purpose canoe on sharp river bends in current, especially where there's a need to miss obstructions, it's less about the boat and more about the methods. I'm chiming in here because I'm betting that you'll have similar difficulties with the Solo Plus.

Yes, a paddler can (and should) improve his turning skills, but much more important in the situations you described is manuevering without turning. In those cases it's better to rely on a combination of side-slips and mini-ferries (working the boat in cooperation with the current to move sideways or diagonally). Turning the whole boat as if it's a car on a twisty road only puts you partially broadside to the next obstacle, which in turn creates the need to move the boat really fast, which in turn creates the need for another really sharp and fast turn, so forget all that stuff. Learn to negotiate curves and avoid obstacles while keeping the degree to which the boat changes heading to a bare minimum and your troubles will be over. Save "turning" for those situations where that path ahead is easy. Winter is coming, and if you study "Path of the Paddle" by Bill Mason and "Paddle Your Own Canoe" by the McGuffins before next spring, you'll know what skills to practice as soon as you've got more time (or do it now if you can!). I bet you'll be happy to be rid of that Pelican though!!

have one and I’m your weight
For the solo outings you described the Solo Plus would be great. You will not have any trouble turning that boat in class I and low class II. It has enough volume that it doesn’t sit deep enough in the water to resist turning.

However, like Eric said, for your tandem outings outings you will not much appreciate this boat at your weight. If you’re taking the girlfriend and dog, go with the Sundowner.

having run some rivers with a minimally
rockered boat…most notably the Buffalo at just below flood at Ponca with a Swift Heron I agree…

The backferry is a really good move to master. Without it I would have been broadside in willows (and upside down) in five minutes. My boat was no good at eddy turns unless well planned ahead.

Me thinks too that the dog and you and GF is a bit much for the Solo plus. Is there a good doggy daycare?

Ditto others, not enough boat for GF +
dog, especially in moving water.


Being very familiar…
with the rivers you mentioned, and somewhat familiar with the Solo Plus, I totally agree that you WON’T be happy when girlfriend and big dog is in the canoe with you. As the others have said, you don’t need a canoe design that’s highly maneuverable for Ozark streams, you need to learn how to maneuver in the riffles. Once you do, you can choose from several canoes that will fit your bill (and be light years better than the Pelican). But unless you ditch the girlfriend’s dog, the Solo Plus ain’t one of them.

My solo plus experience
I had a royalex solo plus a few years ago. It’s OK as a solo (I weighed about 200 at the time) but with some cautions. On rivers you have to set your line early and be good at holding it. I found it difficult to make late stage corrections when I paddled it on the Ponca to Kyle’s Landing section of the Buffalo. Wrecking rock dumped me. It’s not there anymore - that’ll teach that rock to dump me. Grey rock shoals was quite an adventure but I made it with some effort.

As a tandem be aware that it is very narrow in the bow and stern for a tandem. Not much room for a larger bow paddler. It takes two good paddlers with good paddling and communication skills to enjoy paddling it as a solo. Add a large dog and its shifting weight, and I agree with others that you should look for a different tandem boat.

Nova Craft PAL or Bob Special
I think the comments about the Solo Plus are on the money. As far as the Sundowner, I don’t see that as much fun as a solo boat.

How about a Nova Craft PAL or Bob Special. Both work nicely as a solo or tandem boat.

my little Solo Plus experience
I have a Solo Plus. I love it. I think it is a great all purpose boat. I have taken my girlfriend and one of her kids in it. It worked for educational purposes, but not one I wanted to take out with the group all the time. It is a good roomy solo, but a bit cramped feeling for two. I had to totally rework the front seat (pretty proud of most of my handy work) so that the legs aren’t too cramped.

If you are truly thinking about going solo most of the time why not buy a solo and rent when you want to go out with the family?

But that is my little bit of in put. I love my boat and I brag it up and all of it’s attributes. I wouldn’t trade it (except maybe for a flashfire). Three years with mine and no complaints.