Wenonah Wilderness or not???

-- Last Updated: Apr-08-13 10:39 PM EST --

Hey folks. Long time lurker here, but I'm about to pull the trigger on a new Wenonah Wilderness RX, and have one unanswered question. First off yes I've read just about every post here, BWCA, and SOTP sites. I was considering an Argosy, but I'm a big guy sort of 5'10" 225lbs so that boat and the Bell YS are kind of ruled out as I like to take my 70lb Lab with me. I currently have a Sawyer Coda/ Solo 13, and it's great with the old pup on ponds and big easy flowing rivers, but I tend to paddle in protected ocean bays and coves too. Last summer the Coda scared the crap out of me paddling Cobscook Bay in Down East ME. I paddleds a WS Tsnami touring kayak previous to my solo canoe days wich was comforting in rough water, but I couldn't paddle for more than 45 mins w/o having my legs go numb. So back to my question...How seaworthy is the Wenonah Wilderness? Will it handle the big chop and weird currents I often find myself in. Yes I've also thought about adding a spray deck if I get it. So I'd like to hear from folks who have paddled this boat on big lakes and coastal areas In adverse conditions. I'd humbly say that I'm an intermediate + paddler. Is there something better in the same price range? Thanks in advance for your imput.


My reservations about any Wenonah
are its hull shape. Wide down low narrowing to a nice width for hit and swi

Hstch, the hull is a bit twitchier than other designs if the waves hit it from the side. Waves tend to ride up, rather than get deflected down. And if you get hit with ocean rollers, you better be on your knees with loose hips to keep your body in. The boat does not have great secondary stability.


has a chart. Seaworthiness in the Wilderness is only so so. I have paddled Cobscook a couple of times and I know of the whirlpools that you speak of. But I used a RapidFire…and sat low in the boat. Essentially an open decked kayak, RF can be paddled with a single blade, which I do in my usual haunt of Lower Hell Gate on the Sasanoa River in Maine.

You are correct in upsizing from an Argosy… and I wouldn’t even think of taking mine on the ocean. Another big solo that is a favorite of my 70 lb dog is “her” Swift Raven. Its highly seaworthy and sea kindly as is the Rapid, (which she loves too).

I think you have the size correct and the rocker correctish but the hull shape really may be an issue. Note I have not paddled a Wilderness. My Argosy likes to give me a bath in squirrely conditions, and I am a pretty good paddler.


– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 9:44 AM EST –

Don't now about taking a large dog with a large guy in a canoe in the ocean???

Swift makes two of the better, larger, solos available. The Winter's designed Shearwater 16.2X31 is just huge, maybe enough for the two of you. If you just must go rubber, their Raven may suffice, 15.3X32. Both have sliding seats which help when adding/subtracting a 70 lb, self mobile, ballast unit.

Other larger boats include Nova's Super Nova 15X32. It has lots of rocker and a round bottom so may seem unstable and loose tracking. Bell's NLS Rockstar, 15.5X31 should be an option, but very scant availability; few made before ORC's Hara-Kiri.

having a bit of a loose bow
is a help. Those squirrely currents in tidal races are essentially eddies that you find in whitewater. Except that they move, disappear, reappear somewhere else with constantly changing tidal currents. A river boat makes more sense.

You have to be able to adapt instantly to what new currents throw at you. And with a 70 lb Lab, anything straight rockered is going to leave you with skid marks where the sun don’t shine.

No matter what I would stay out of Old Sow.

Clam beds are not friendly to rubber or composites, so its mostly a matter of how often you want to do bottom maintenance. I did give up on rubber some years ago, with kayaks; two holes impossible to fix well. The trouble with dragging ABS over rocks is that when the outerlayer is gone you have a problem

Shearwater width
She’s a full bodied girl, but not that big. 26" at the gunnels, 30" max and 28" at the 4" waterline.


Nice boat.

Rockstar…I wish!
I initially was set on getting a Rockstar for my next boat, then I tried to find one. None to be had in the northeast. As for salt water paddling…the old pup most likely wouldn’t be in the boat except for a quick paddle around camp. I never wanted to find out her reaction to a seal popping up near the boat! I thought about the Argosy, folks really seam to be torn on that boat, it’s either a love or hate relationship.

Seaworthy Confused
So I’m getting confused here. I thought when looking for a seaworthy solo I should focus on a deeper hull (b/m/s), rocker, and length. That Shearwater seems to go against some of my thinking here. Also I’ve read folks also love or hate tumblehome and its affects on seaworthiness. Any thoughts? Really I just need a quiver of canoes, but SWMBO isn’t too keen on that idea!

Seaworthy depends a lot on hull shape

– Last Updated: Apr-09-13 3:14 PM EST –

Pointy bows just punch through the waves. Good for kayaks some believe. Your dog won't agree. So a bow that is blunt or has flare will bound over the waves better than a knife point.

Now go look at the shape of a dory. A dory is very seaworthy. Its got a flared hull..the width near the water is less than the width at the top. That shape however does not work too well for canoes as it makes solos too wide for single blading. So a refinement is what is called "shouldered tumblehome". The hull is essentially flared to about two inches below the guwale, where it tucks in sharply to make a narrower paddling station than the station would be if the hull continued its flare.

So what happens when a wave from the side hits a flared hull..It tends to deflect down more than in.. A flask shaped hull tends to guide the water up the side of the hull and into your lap.

Whatever you get, IMO its important that your head not be able to go over the side easily..Either you get a relatively wide boat, which could be slow, or make the seat really low. The shorter your body is above the gunwale are the less you are apt to get into trouble.

This isn't the time/place for FreeStyle!

Ever go thorough Cobscook Falls?

Additional “Seaworthy” Aspects

– Last Updated: Apr-09-13 4:29 PM EST –

My screen name reflects one of of the types of boats I enjoy. It's a boat that does extremely well carrying a single person in large waves (at least on lakes), yet maximum depth in the center is barely 12 inches and freeboard is only 9 inches at the most. The stems are high (24 inches), and when going upwind in steep, closely spaced waves, sometimes the trailing stem gets completely buried. For the main portion of the hull, it's common for the "momentary waterline" during passage of a large wave to be within two or three inches of the gunwale, but rougher conditions never make it any "closer" than that. This may not be fully analogous to canoes, but it's pretty close in a lot of ways. In a canoe, you are also much more likely to take water over the stems than over the middle, and both types of boats benefit from a rounder bottom, one which "feels" less stable against tipping as you shift your weight from side to side, but rides smoother with less rocking in rough water because the boat doesn't "try as hard" to adjust its position to match that of the water as the water tilts beneath it. Other ways of comparing the two craft break down in rough water, on account of differences in center of gravity and the degree to which a rounded bottom can continue its curvature well above the normal waterline in one boat versus the other, but the general idea about what is "seaworthy" is not that different between the two craft.

Oh, one thing with a canoe, is that when kneeling you can do a lot to dampen the rocking motion via how your adjust your body support between both knees. You become a dynamic load assisting with boat control to a greater degree than is the case for a low-seated person in a guide-boat, though this kind of action is important in both boats.

Decisions decisions!
Went up to, but not through, but that was in a 14.5 touring kayak. I just sold my OC-1 play boat about 2hours ago. I would have liked to take that up there or to Blue Hill to play. As for paddling, I’m almost always on my knees, so I keep my weight as low as I can. I’m thinking that a Wilderness, plenty of time to get to know the boat, and a CCS deck might be my best option? Unless someone know of a secret Rockstar stash somewhere. The high end composites are just out of my price range right now. (Too many other $ hobbies). Unless I can find a decent used boat. There is a used Prism and a Magic within a 5 hour drive.

With budget in mind a nice used

– Last Updated: Apr-09-13 6:44 PM EST –

Mohawk Odyssey would probably be better. BTW dog placement fore or aft?

Swedeform boats like the Prism are hard to handle in chop and winds with a front loaded dog. They are very trim sensitive.

If ever in midcoast Maine you can try my Raven. Nearest squirrely water to me is probably near Bath.

Sounds like your heart is set on the Wilderness. It would be a good boat for other areas in Maine..if it does not work out on the ocean, just paddle elsewhere.

Us canoeists get funny looks on the ocean. Yet the Maine Island Trail at its inception was regarded as a canoe trail. Whitewater chapter of the Boston AMC led many a trip off shore out of Knubble Bay.

The craft of choice was probably the craft of opportunity..ie could get them cheap.

The Grumman canoe. If you could find a 13 its really a good boat for boils and whirlpools. At Knubble Bay we had a passleful of Grummans prior to the day kayaks became popular.

Not totally sold on the Wilderness
I still have my Coda 13 and a royalex tripper, which equals stable solo for flat water + dog, and good for any water with a 1Klbs in it boat. So maybe what I’m really looking for is a solo boat that provides a little confidence in adverse conditions whether it be a protected bay or lake in big chop or some fast downsteam flow II or less. I have an eye on a well priced Argosy and a YS Solo, but still wondering if they are the best hulls to paddle coastal areas with. Hmmm…?

The Arogsy and YS…

– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 2:51 AM EST –

I own a composite Argosy and love it, but if I had a 70lb dog it'd be stuck at home (I'm the same height but 45lbs lighter). Both it and the YS would be at around maximum safe capacity with you and the dog I think, which leaves you with no real option when it comes to trying to trim the boat with extra kit at the other end. Don't know about the YS, but the Argosy is swedeform and I'd guess that you'd have to put any dog bigger than a chihuahua behind you (okay, maybe a terrier). Problematic if they're prone to random sudden movements which you can't see occuring.

No and I wrote about why

– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 9:14 AM EST –

You can try my Argosy if you want on the ocean. The hull shape is all wrong for rollers.

If your Sawyer boat was terrifying, it's beyond me why you would think a similar cross section hull shape would be different.

Yellowstone Solo better hull shape, but Archimedes principle guarantees you that with a dog, you will have little freeboard.

While a Cooke spray cover helps, you need to talk to your dog about how it feels about being inside that.

Royalex Wilderness…
would be fine for your intended use. Having owned both a Royalex and a composite Wilderness I’d say the Royalex boat has less of a bulge, less tumblehome and looser ends than the composite version. Watch the YouTube video of the Royalex Wilderness for an idea of it’s maneuverability.

Well I think I’ll stick with the original plan and go with the Wilderness RX. However a Penobby 16RX is for sale in my area at a very nice price! I thought I had my next boat all figured out, and the more I read the more other boats pop into view clouding my vision. I wish we had a local Mohawk dealer, I would like to demo their 15’ solo.

solo canoe
For the type of paddling you are doing you might consider a Kruger Seawind or Superior Expedton. These are decked canoes with a large cockpit and rudder. Seat can be adjusted up or down to increase stability. This boat is very stable and carry alot of weight.

Mohawk does not have a dealer
network. They sell direct. Not all canoe manufacturers have dealers.

Or not…
Well I did not get the Wilderness. When I really thought about what kind of paddling I will really be doing, a 15 and a half foot solo tripper didn’t fit the bill. Yesterday I got my hands on a almost new condition Bell YS solo completely outfitted and w/ a removable yoke. Yes I know this isn’t a good dog boat, but she’s so old now days I don’t see myself doing any overnights with her or paddling in rough conditions. I thnk I will just take her out on flat water in the Coda or toss her upfront in the Tripper to trim it out. The YS solo I think will be a great compromise boat for what I want in a canoe just for me. For multiway trips, I pack with my backpacking gear, so even 5 days on the H2O is only an extra 35# in the boat. I’m stoked and can’t wait to get her wet! Unfortunately today is brew day, (I say that like its a bad thing!) so maybe after that’s done I’ll run up to the local pond. Thanks for all those that chimed in with device and insight. It was much appreciated.

LOL I thought about that YS
in Trenton… but didn’t bite.Let me know if it doesn’t work out!