Wenonah Whisper - care & maintenance?

Today I bought a well used 1989 Wenonah Whisper in the skin coat ultra light construction and would appreciate some advice on repair maintenance of the skin coat. The boat has all aluminum trim. This is my first skin coat boat other than some Phoenix kayaks, which don’t seem to need much maintenance.

The hull is in pretty good condition except for a few small areas where the kevlar cloth is exposed and most of the surface is not as smooth and shiny as I expected - it’s slightly rough.

My questions are:

  1. For the exposed areas of cloth, do I need to do anything other than squeegy on a thin layer of polyester resin from the automotive section of the hardware store?

  2. For the remainder of the skin finish, do I need to do anything other than apply some 303 every now and then if I plan to leave the boat on top of my car for several days, or maybe even weeks at a time for use for exercise before work? Hopefully the slightly rough surface won’t add too much drag to the boat, I need all the efficiency help I can get.

    Do I need to track down a travel cover for the boat if I plan to keep in on the car for long periods of time, or will the skin coat fininsh be ok with just 303 applied?

    I did take it for about a 10 minute test paddle on a nearby small retention pond in very calm water and still winds and the boat seemed very stable, appeared to have some speed to it (I’ll have to get it on a familiar course and compare it to my Sawyer Summersong), turned well enough with a bit of a lean and seems to paddle better with sit & switch than with control strokes. I left the seat and foot brace where the seller had it and didn’t try adjusting trim at all. The seat seemed lower than expected and lower than necessary and lower than comfortable for kneeling - which I could do easily with all of the room along side the seat.

    I’ve been looking for a while for a relatively small ultra light canoe for exercise before work that would be much lighter and hopefully of similar efficiency to my goldenglass Sawyer Summersong and hopefully this Whisper will fill the bill. At 29" max beam, the Whisper is wider than I’d like, but hopefully it won’t prove to be too wide for comfort and efficient strokes with the bent shaft Zaveral. It’s the first used boat that roughly fit’s my search criteria that’s popped up within a couple hours drive and the price seemed reasonable for the boat’s condition. It also came with a couple paddles (one is a 50" Wenonah Mastercraft composite bent in very good condition), throw bag, seat pad and a couple PFDs.

    I’m 5’6" and 150 lbs and there aren’t any reviews for this boat on p.net, but I did find a couple threads with good info:


    Posted by: plaidpaddler on Dec-02-04 9:18 PM (EST)

    It is an older Jensen solo, mid-80’s. It was smaller and narrower than the Solitude.

    Todd Finley at Oak Orchard Canoe can fill you in on the specifics, he had one for years and i have seen him with a Chesapeake retriever in his hunting ducks. We fished together many times on the Oak Orchard River with him in the Whisper and he could paddle with one hand and flip a small Rapala with his spinning rod in the other.

    I paddled the hull and found it a bit too narrow for my less than perfect balance, the solitude was better suited to my skill level. But with a light limber paddler the boat would move, straight line or around midstream rocks.

    The Vagabond in composite is as close as they make something today.

    We-no-nah Whisper

    Posted by: Dirk_Barends on Dec-03-04 10:14 AM (EST)

    15’6" (472 cm) long

    29" maximum width

    22" gunwale width

    27.5" waterline width

    12.5" depth

    16" bow height

    12.5" stern height

    28-46 lb. depending on lay-up and outfitting

    extreme tumblehome

    none or at least unmeasurable rocker

    For a very strong paddler, with good paddling technique, this canoe

    can be paddled very fast. For such a fast touring canoe the Whisper

    is quite dry in waves and maneuverability is also higher than

    one would expect. Tracks well enough when paddle fast, but at

    ‘normal’ speeds tracking suffers too much (for me), especially in wind

    and waves, which also hampers speed then. Stability is more than

    enough for me, so I can’t comment on that, but I wouldn’t really

    call it tippy, unless you plan to do FreeStyle maneuvers in it…

    While this boat isn’t for paddlers over 85 kg (187 lbs) in my

    opinion, it also doesn’t work for paddlers below 60 kg (132 lbs),

    as I have noticed when my wife paddles this canoe.

    Thanks in advance for any insights to the care and maintenance of the Whisper as well as any other general info on the boat that you might care to share.

Wenonah suggests this for UV protection:

I wonder if it’s any more effective than the 303 or Star Brite Marine Polish, which I already have in stock?

Second impression not favorable.
I took the Whisper out this morning on a familiar course:

  1. I have difficulty with tracking when trying to go fast. I wasn’t able to adjust the trim yet because the previous owner has cotter pins installed in front and behind the seat to keep it from moving and I didn’t have any cutters and pliers with me to remove the pins, so maybe adjusting trim would help. The foot brace is already as far back as it will go and the seat is about 4" from the rear of the track. It turns quite easily for a straight keeled 15’6" boat.

    The boat seemed to be easier to control when kneeling with the boat heeled a little. This also move my weight forward a little in the boat.

    2 At 29" max beam, the boat may be too wide for me to have efficient forward stroke. I found myself hitting the side of the boat more often than usual when I tried to hit & switch.

  2. I seem to be slower and work harder in this boat than my others.

    Summary, for me, this boat would probably be a better fishing boat than an exercise boat. I think it may be too wide for me.

    This may be another boat that I only own for a couple weeks.

2nd & 3rd impressions better.
I removed the cotter pins holding the seat in place and moved it 4" forward and that improved both the boat handling and narrowed my paddling station a little. The result is that the Whisper is much more pleasureable for me to paddle, but still doesn’t seem as fast as I’d expect. I suspect that the roughish finish is adding drag and that it will feel faster after I get the finish reworked and smoother.

I’m quite surprised and pleased with how nimbly this boat turns with just a bit of a lean. I don’t think it has any rocker, but it appears to have sort of an eliptical shaped bottom.

I’m also surprise at how well it moves along with control strokes - it’s definately not just a sit & switch canoe for me. It’s a pleasure to paddle with control strokes, even though I’m not very fast in it - I only averaged about 3mph today over a two mile course.

This boat feels very stable to me and is very easy to get in and out of.

Any good videos for refinishing skin
coat canoes?

Any good videos for using peel ply?


What is ‘skin coat’?

Skin coat
When a canoe is made with out Gel coat it is called skin coat. Normally it is assumed that it is a kevlar canoe, but there are Fiber glass skin coat boats out there. You can see your water line through the boat, and the out line of the ribs-foam core thrugh the boat. The big advantage is that Skin coat boats don’t have the edded weight of the gel coat. This can be over 10 pounds depending on manufacturer and size of the boat. The nice thing about gel coat is that it is a sacrificial layer and protects UV.

Taht is why RedCrossRandy has Gelcoat on his BigBlueMinn2, to store out back in the Caroline sun.

Thanks Charlie.

Finishing and repair
Here is a link with pretty detailed instructions on various repair techniques complete with photos and suggestions. If you can wade thru Souris’ annoying hype, it still looks like good info to have on hand!