Hello, fellow paddlers! I am seeking free advice - contrary to naysayers, I really do appreciate such advice! I have kayaked for a long time, and also canoed a bit, mainly on open water and slow rivers, but occasionally minor rapids and gravel bars, etc. Wanting to get back to (solo)canoeing, so am looking at 13-15 foot canoes. Day tripping only. Use kayak paddle when soloing in our current family-sized Wanonah. Saw a good deal on an older 13.5’ WW canoe, and wondered if WW canoes would fit my need. Not looking for speed on open water - tracking, weight, and stability are important. Thoughts? Much obliged! Happy paddling!
Yes. A good choice. Use flotation, build a saddle and add thigh straps. Solo WW canoes go down the Grand Canyon.
Whitewater canoes are designed to maneuver (turn) not track. That said, some track better than others and in general, those with a longer effective waterline length will track better.
The early solo whitewater canoe designs like the Whitesell Piranha, the Blue Hole Sunburst, and the Mad River ME were 14 to just over 15 feet in overall length. But there were a ton of Royalex whitewater solo canoes made that were 13 feet and a few inches in length. That is because at one time whitewater slalom canoes had to have a minimum overall length of 4 meters which is just under 13’ 1.5" and the manufacturers wanted to cater to those who wanted to use them to race slalom in the Royalex class.
Any whitewater solo canoe is going to be deeper with higher stems than the typical flat water cruiser and will therefore be heavier for length regardless of material. In general a 13.5’ long Royalex solo canoe will not be light, but will have a weight that is manageable for most people.
Always like both giving and taking it.
From what I can tell, you want a solo canoe to use in non whitewater, but for some reason think a WW one will fit. Are you into it for the price? IMO if you’re looking at tracking and stability a WW canoe isn’t it. I don’t know what WW canoe you’re looking at, but I had an old dagger and now have a nitro…and the latter wins in stability…but it’s still not a boat that tracks very well.
And do you want your easy day tripping to be on your knees? If you put in a seat or raise the one in there it’s going to be even less stable as they’re slender.
If it’s bagged, that’s just stealing space from you. Take them out to put gear in there and now you’re moving around in a slender, tippy boat.
What you’re looking for a lot of used, non WW canoes should fit the bill and there are plenty out there.
Long ago I had a coleman that I got for a couple of hundred bucks and it did all I wanted to–lakes, rivers, fishing and camping. I did solo by turning it around and paddling from the front seat, but facing backwards. Gave me far more than what I paid for it and I sold it for what I paid for it.
So my short answer is “no”.
I’m in the “no” camp as well. You miss out on all 3 of the qualities you are looking for. WW solos aren’t designed to track well, be really stable, or be lightweight. As Dago pointed out, you’ll also be on your knees if it is outfitted for WW.
Will one work? Sure, but it is going to be far from ideal.
I’m toying w/the idea of putting a smaller bag in the back of my nitro so I can stick a WP bag/w minimalist camping gear in it. My logic is I go camping in the national forests and some of the rivers have III and IV spots in them, especially if the water is high. Some places aren’t conducive to an easy or even feasible portage.
So those are the trade-offs for that for me. If you don’t have to make trade-offs, then why do them? I’d like to get another canoe, a bigger 2 seater, but will have to weigh that against wife giving me ‘the look’ and asking where I plan on putting that! Yup, that’s a trade-off I don’t think I would win, much less even make.
I worked for several years as a river ranger for the BLM and was mostly in my Ocoee. I kept the same rear bag, but put a second floor attachment point for it about 16" closer to the stern. If I was doing an overnight or had my dog on patrol with me, I would just short-lace my rear float bag and put my gear or dog in front of it. I never needed to get a shorter rear float bag, and it would just take a few minutes to change the setup.
Keep looking - for open water and slow rivers I wouldn’t want to be paddling an old WW boat. You can do it (you can do almost anything) but why torturer yourself with the wrong boat.
What I do now is unstrap the rear bag cover and put things down behind the seat, then re-attach the tiedown around the thwart/seat back. I guess I could just deflate the rear bag a bit to make room.
If I ever see one of those cheap green coleman canoes in a short length, I’m going to buy it. I think it’d be a blast to rock bash w/it and see how much it can take.
Would need to know which 13.5 WW canoe you are looking at. Some can track surprisingly well and others not so much. I’ve paddled a 12’ WW canoe 16+ miles on Lake Superior coming off of three days on the Dog.
Similar thoughts to some others. A WW specific canoe is just that - it will not give you a similar experience to either your kayak cruising or the Wenonah. PBlanc sums it up well.
It sounds like you are looking for a used Royalex boat that you will/can be less worried about if it hits rocks or a fibreglass boat (lighter, finer lines) that you could easily repair if it gets damaged. A 15’ prospector design would work but not sure how many there are out there in the hull material described. Most shorter boats are either wide heavy plastic boats or more specialized solo boats (whitewater as you have found or low volume, heavy tracking cruisers).
More specifics on your skills, size and paddling focus would help too - any boat could work, depends where on the continuum of price, handling, weight, durability you want to position yourself.
Used boats are a good way to go - if you can purchase for a decent price it will definitely hold its value if you don’t like it in the market these days.