Woodsman III vs Northwind vs Solo Plus


I’m picking up a like new Woodsman III tomorrow (yes, it says Woodsman III on the canoe).

The pictures don’t show any tumblehome and this is a bit puzzling, since all references that I’ve read suggest that it’s the same hull as the Bell Northwind, which does have tumblehome, but I haven’t found any pictures of a Northwind to compare to the pictures of the Woodsman III.

I haven’t paddled either the Northwind or the Woodsman III, but am looking for a bit more maneuverable somewhat smaller tandem to replace my royalex Wenonah Solo Plus, which is a bit harder tracking than I prefer and I’d like to tandem on smaller, twisty rivers and streams now and then, rather than always soloing.

Any input would be appreciated on whether the Woodsman III and Northwind are really the same hulls and how either of them will handle compared to the royalex Solo Plus.


May be a Dagger, Then?

– Last Updated: May-08-15 6:21 PM EST –

I didn't realize that Dagger ALSO made some "Woodsman" canoes for Galyan's et al until last year. About a year ago I had been looking for a Bell Rockstar, Morningstar, Yellowstone, or Woodsman II. After many months of searching and narrowly missing out on two boats I was ready to put a deposit down if I found one.

Well, finally one came up in Bloomington, IN and I just had one bad picture and the guy couldn't get me another. Months of waiting and those two close calls had made me throw caution to the wind. I did something I've never had done and will never do again, I paid via Paypal after talking to the seller, thinking it would save me the hassle of taking the cash?

Went to pick it up (It would be a 6 hour drive each way). Got checked into our motel and gave the seller a call to go meet him. The guy was a REALLY nice guy, just as I surmised by my phone call. But one look at the boat showed me that the boat had NO shouldered tumblehome. I asked the guy for a tape measure and we measured it out. I was pretty sure I knew what it was; it was a Dagger Suwanee. It was a boat I owned for a few years and sold; a boat I was not particularly crazy about.

We listened to the guy's story about how he and his wife had forgone an engagement ring for this boat, and all the journeys they'd enjoyed in it. But, they were moving to the Pacific NW and were going to have to part with their old friend! He lovingly patted the boat and smiled. There was NO WAY I could have "Disrespected" that boat and went back on the deal!

So we loaded it up, and had a nice dinner with our friend Sloopsailor, having once again missed out on my Morningstar! I asked here on P.net and found out indeed, that it was a Dagger Suwanee. I THINK the Woodsman III is the Dagger Reflection 16? If so, it is a better hull than the 15' Suwanee, not as flat bottomed, and a boat worth having. If it is a good deal, I'd buy it. Personally, I like the OD color of the Woodsman's also? Hope that helps, Dave?

I emailed you a picture.
The seller says it’s 15.5’ long.

It’s the Galyan’s Woodsman III

steering the Solo

are you using the chines for direction ? as a sea kayak, lean left go right ?

load balanced appropriately.

I’d Bet It’s a Northwind

– Last Updated: May-08-15 9:13 PM EST –

I'm pretty certain he measured it incorrectly and it is the Northwind, Dave? The ones made by Dagger didn't have the metal seat hangers that Bell was using occasionally in that time period. Dagger used trusses or dowels, no metal hangers. Not certain about the absence of the tumblehome, though?

And the two thwarts. Northwinds had a thwart between stern seat and yoke and behind the bow seat. Morningstar had thwarts only behind the bow seat.

If it's indeed 15'5, it would be the Morningstar that they "Badged" incorrectly with "Woodsman III" rather than "Woodsman II.". EITHER of those boats and I wouldn't have just dropped $1400 on a new royalex Prospector. And the "Patience being a virtue" doesn't apply when you strike out for two years looking for a Bell and keep finding them after someone else just beat you to it!

Buy it, Dave. You don't like it, I'll buy it from you at Income tax refund time next year for what you paid!

Bell Drifter?

– Last Updated: May-08-15 9:16 PM EST –

In later years Bell made a 15.5 ft Royalex model called the Drifter. Appeared to be the same hull as the MorningStar except it didn't have the shouldered tumblehome. (Specs were 36" gunwale, 36" max width for Drifter vs 32" gunwale, 36" max for the MorningStar.) If it is the Drifter it should paddle the same as the MorningStar except for a slightly longer reach, especially when paddled solo. The real tipoff is the elliptical bottom on the Bell vs rather flat bottoms on Dagger Reflections.

Ahhh, Hahhhh
I forgot about that model as they made it for such a short time frame and the fact I never saw one? Hmmmm. So, same as a Morningstar without the shouldered-tumblehome?

I never saw one in person,
just in their catalog. The fact that the specs are identical to the MorningStar except for gunwale width led me to assume that the hull was probably the same except for the lack of tumblehome.

Here’s a link to the ad

"Two thwarts"
Your comment about the MorningStar only having one thwart is correct for the composite MorningStar. The Royalex MorningStar also had a thwart between the yoke and the stern seat, I assume because the Royalex was floppier.

Decks and handles sure look like Bell

– Last Updated: May-08-15 10:41 PM EST –

Hard to tell the length from the photos. At that price you can't go wrong with either one! (The NorthWind is a little large for my taste for soloing, though. The MorningStar is fine.)

I’d Wager a Bet On It
The hangers also look like the ones Bell used for a few years (not a fan of those). By golly, I learned a few things tonight too!

Dave, when you get the boat take us some more pics and do some measuring. And I was serious about the “Offer!”

You’all have a good weekend!

Definitely a Bell. 36" wide, 15’6" long
The gunwales, deck plates and metal seat hangers are nearly identical to my royalex Yellowstone Solo.

It has a Bell manufacturing label inside.

I’ll post the HIN tomorrow. I remember that it started with DOH and ended with 01.

Looks as if you found the smaller, more maneuverable tandem you were looking for.

Time will tell, after I paddle it.
It is a very awkward beast for a smaller guy like me to get the thing up to my shoulders and carry it by myself.

Now I just need someone to tandem paddle it with me.

I’m thinking of trying it stand up paddling or poling, since it’s so wide.

Solo paddled it yesterday.

– Last Updated: May-14-15 1:39 PM EST –

It ain't no Flashfire.

There was a bit of a breeze. The most effective orientation, position and stance was stern forward, kneeling just behind the portage yoke and moving from one side of the boat to the other as the wind effected the boat. Not terrible, but I wouldn't probably want to do it all day.

I also tried stand up paddling it with a 76" Whisky Jack wooden paddle and never found a sweet spot location in the boat for controlling it without too much effort. If I were to continue trying stand up paddling, I'd definitely get a carbon paddle - the wooden one is way too heavy.

Edited to add: Now I need to try my Solo Plus solo again, to see which I prefer and to compare them.

The narrower gunwales of the Solo Plus definitely make it easier for me to pick up and carry. It also feels ligher, but I haven't weighed the Woodsman III, yet, so I don't know if the perceived difference in weight is real or just due to the physical construction and balance in relation to my physical dimensions and strengths/weaknesses.