Yellowstone vs Argosy ?

Well, with the info gathered on the Merling II thread, I am now looking for info and opinions between a Yellowstone solo and an Argosy, Merlin II is not the boat for me.

Looking for a boat to do the following, “light boat to do a little of everything, creeks, open water, fishing, tripping, day paddle etc. I want a stable manoverable boat with decent speed. I trip with 60 about pounds max.” I am 6’4 @220 and kneel/sit both, kneel like 80% of the time, do sit when fishing.


Concepts and size

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 11:34 AM EST –

Despite greater overall length, Argosy has a shorter waterline length than the Yellowstone Solo at the same width. We've seen Argosy described as finer lined but more stable on these pages. With shorter w/l length at the same width I don't think that possible and suspect YS must be a little more stable and able to haul a little more burden. Both have differential rocker - an aid to tracking at the expense of maneuverability. Bell's Black/Gold is the superior laminate available in these similar hulls.

Another boat in 30" class that will offer greater seated stability and forward speed is the longer Swift Osprey. The extra foot adds volume and forward speed at the cost of maneuverability and portage-ability. The Swift can be had with integral, infused, rails, saving ~3lbs.

CE, I would not want people thinking

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 2:20 PM EST –

that differential rocker always aids tracking at the expense of maneuverability. It's quite true in the kind of boats you are discussing, but in whitewater boats it may or may not apply.

Another way of saying it is that it is not just the differential rocker, it is what the boat designer does to produce the differential rocker that makes the difference. I could probably think of some totally stupid ways to crank in differential rocker that would make a boat slower but more maneuverable.

I have a RX Bell Wildfire,
which as Charlie points out is not a “Wildfire”. (It took me a while to figure that out, but now I get it.) Anyways, I paddled the RX Argosy this spring for a short while and liked the feel better than my Bell. It felt more stable, more maneuverable and posssibly faster. I am 6’ and 180#, and I kneel exclusively. (I still love my Bell.)

I can’t tell you anything about dimensions and how it should effect this or that, I just know how I felt while paddling the boat. And that is what you really need to do now.

Can’t compare new and used

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 5:10 PM EST –

As per John Winters, a moderately used hull has half again the skin friction of a new one.

We had a FS champ claim we'd changed Flash - the demo was so much faster than his boat. His boat was used, the demo was new and was faster, although both came out of the same mold. The demo just had less skin drag 'cause it was new.

The Argosy may well be faster than YellowStone. Industry history suggests WeNoNah will have finer lines than must other mfgs given the same length and width. My point is that it's pretty difficult to have finer lines AND more volume with the same dimensions.

Again, per Winters, Tracking improves with lower block coefficient, increased Length/width ration, stern down trim, increased deadwood aft and increased Length/draft ratio in that order.

Tracking is also marginally affected by Longitudinal center of gravity, Mid section shape, waterline shape and Prismatic coefficient.

I'd have to see that Dagger and start measuring to get an idea what Steve changed, but it was likely one of the items mentioned.

John Winters combined and condensed Benford, Gillmer, Saunders, Van Dorn and multiple SNAME publications into "The Shape of the Canoe." That CD is a good reference for those interested in understanding hydrodynamics and hull design.


– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 8:43 PM EST –

The point I was trying to make is that anecdotal reviews / test paddles / opinions are, taken by themselves, pretty worthless, whether they come form Eric, Bob, or myself: to many variables and personal foibles/ preferences.

Numbers give comparisons of real value. Increased length increases tracking and stability with the same width.

Again, all other things being the same, decreased stern rocker also improves tracking.

That said, at 6'4" the fit issue in a 30" kneeling boat might be problematical. The key here is triangulation of the knees in the chine and the paddlers fanny perched on the front edge of the seat.

We do not know the posters thigh length, but Eric's suggestion of a wider boat is likely a useful suggestion. There seem to be three; Sawyers Solo 13, Wenonah's Wilderness and Bell's new RockStar. Rockstar seems to be in the ~mid length, similar differential rocker genre as the Argosy and YellowStone. Wilderness is longer and has less rocker at both ends, hence may not be as maneuverable as the others but will track better. Solo 13 isn't priced online, so there is some question as to availability. It was a sweet boat in its day, with the Wilderness's minimal rocker at both ends, but shorter, [less stable, less tracking], than Wilderness. On the other hand, it carries is bubble higher, so can be heeled to pop the stems for very tight skidded turns.

As per block or prismatic coefficients, I'll be glad to explain both, but please contact me privately. Some members of this board seem allergic to math, however useful, and should not be further irritated.

Allergic to math?
You might be right Charlie…

My algebra teacher in high school was most definitely of the opinion that I was not only allergic to math, but dense to boot.

He was present at our 30th high school class reunion.

During the actities he asked how many had received their Associate Degree from college.

I among a few others raised my hand.

Then he asked how many had received their Bachelor’s Degree from college.

I & a smaller number of others raised their hands.

He then asked about any advanced degrees.

I was the only one in my class who raised my hand.

“What did you receive Bob”?

“I received a Masters Of Science degree Mr. S------; what degrees did you get”?

He looked at me, and with a smile stated,

“Let’s just say that I may have underestimated you”.

Nobody else knew what he was talking about, but he & I remembered.


P.S. I was never close to being irritated. I thought the information in your recent post was quite clear Charlie. But what the heck do I know; I’ve always been a little dense.

Curious about how the Sandpiper compares to the Argosy & the Yellowstone CE for river paddling in simple terms. I compared the Argosy & Yellowstone, but really felt more comfortable in the Sandpiper (bought the Yellowstone). I don’t know how it compares statistically & would be curious.

Failing memory
Sandpiper preceded Vagabond, apparently on the same sections. It is also ~ 30 in wide, but flatter of bottom and with just enough rocker to keep the mold from hogging.

If i could remember the length, let’s guess 13.5’ I’d be ready to die happy.

So: ~ same width, similar length, flatter bottom with less rocker. Sandpiper has more initial stability and probably, due to ~0 stern rocker and finer lines, tracks better than YellowStone/Argosy. It is also less maneuverable, especially in moving water and probably less seaworthy in heavy stuff. Nice enough entry solo but limited.

Wenonah Sandpiper vs Bell Yellowstone

My recollection is that the Sandpiper is more maneuverable than the royalex Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo, hence some members of MCC use their Sandpipers on smaller and twistier creeks and save the Yellowstones for bigger streams.

I’ve only tried the Sandpiper on lakes a couple times for no more than 10 minutes at a time, but my impression is that it’s more maneuverable, has less initial stability and is slower than the royalex Wildfire (which I own) with me paddling (5’6" and 155 lbs). The Sandpiper handling on lakes with me kneeling reminds me more of a slow version of my Blackhawk Zephyr than my royalex Wildfire.

I have not paddled the royalex Wildfire and Sandpiper one right after the other on the same day, which, in my opinion, is the only valid way for a person to compare the handling characteristics of two or more boats. Memory has a way of distorting over time.

I’ve considered acquiring a Sandpiper for the smaller and twistier streams. I still don’t handle my royalex Wildfire to my satisfaction on moving water and don’t feel very confident in it.

I don’t paddle the Zephyr in shallow water because that V bottom drags too much in shallow water. It drags in places where the roaylex Wildfire slides right through.

That’s just the opposite of what I remember of my experience in those two boats.

To provide context, back when I was ready to buy my first solo canoe, I decided to choose between a Royalex Sandpiper (13 feet) and a Royalex Vagabond (14 feet). (Each boat was approximately half a foot shorter than their respective composite version). I had heard from one P-netter (who shall remain nameless) that the Sandpiper was “very tippy” for a newbie, but having had a couple year’s experience in my guide-boat, that Sandpiper felt like an aircraft carrier to me as soon as I set foot in the thing, and I hardly could have fallen out if I tried. Then, after about four years of solo-canoe experience I tried a Royalex Yellowstone Solo for the first time, and I found I had to use quite a bit of care getting in and out to avoid getting pitched out, at least compared to other solo canoes I’d tried up to that point. There’s no question in my mind that the Sandpiper has a lot more initial stability than the Yellowstone Solo.

As far as maneuverability, the Yellowstone Solo I test paddled in the Ozarks responded quickly to sweeps and off-center draws and pries, while the Sandpiper (which has virtually no rocker in the Royalex version) takes more muscle to spin, and when it pivots it does so rather grudgingly.

That said, I’ve heard of people “tweaking” a Royalex Sandpiper by changing the length of the thwarts to create significant rocker, and I hear that those boats pivot nicely. I’m pretty sure that P-net’s own ‘rbturtle’ has such a boat.

No way…
If I were the original poster; 6’4" tall, weighing 220 lbs., and on occasion carrying up to 60 pounds of additional gear…there is no way I would even consider a Wenonah Sandpiper. I think that would be a big mistake. Nor would I consider the Wenonah Vagabond.

I would consider both the Yellowstone Solo, and the Wenonah Argosy.

I have owned & paddled all 4 boat mentioned; I am 6’4" tall, and weigh 200 pounds.

I currently own a Wildfire, and an Argosy. My wife paddles a Vagabond.

While there are subtle differences between the Yellowstone Solo, and the Argosy, I would not hesitate to suggest that either boat would be capable of suiting Brammy’s stated needs. A beginner who is motivated & learns how to use a variety of strokes correctly, will quickly adapt to & become proficient in either boat. I am of the opinion that both are good, multi purpose, solo canoes. Test paddling both of them prior to the purchase of either would certainly help the decision making process.

Another boat that might be considered is the Mohawk Odyssey 14.


I’m at the novice end of the scale in solo canoes, but it seems that real-world maneuverability is as much a factor of boat fit and confidence than hull design. If I’m in a boat that fits and that I’m comfortable edging aggressively, I’m probably going to maneuver much better than in something with more rocker that’s two sizes too big. It’s like using a small-frame bike for trials riding. The folks who like the Sandpiper may just be more comfortable tossing it around than the larger Yellowstone, even though the Yellowstone is a “looser” hull.

It’d be a lot simpler to choose boats if those pesky irrational humans weren’t involved…:wink:

I was only responding to another poster’s answer to Mystical about how the Sandpiper compares to these boats. You are very correct that the Sandpiper is much too small for the original poster. In fact, I even thought it was just a bit too small for me at 160 pounds, even when carrying no gear at all.

The 1st time I paddled a Sandpiper,
I had my royalex Wildfire with me. I have my Wildfire set up for sitting with a foot brace. The Sandpiper seat was most likely the higher set up because the owner of that particular boat is on the tall side.

I first test paddled a Dagger Sojourn (which was one of the boats I went there to test paddle and possibly buy) and found it less stable feeling and less maneuverable and not obiously faster (reported speed was my reason for checking it out) than the royalex Wildfire.

I test paddled the Sandpiper as an after thought and first tried it in the sitting position (no foot brace) and it felt MUCH less stable sitting than my royalex Wildfire. I tried it kneeling and it still just didn’t feel good to me and I felt that the royalex Wildfire was a better all around canoe for me at that time than the Sandpiper would be. I still feel that way.

My last experience with a Sandpiper was a couple weeks ago and I could sit and paddle it, but it was more fun kneeling and messing around with weight shifts - weight forward and to one side and the stern skid around much like my Blackhawk Zephyr for pretty quick turns. I don’t recall my royalex Wildfire turning that nimbly with me kneeling in it. I haven’t been back in the Wildfire since paddling the Sandpiper, and I never paddle the royalex Wildfire on lakes, so maybe I need to get it on a lake and re-evaluate it on a lake and mess around with weight shifts, just to be fair.

At 5’6" and 155 lbs, my experience will be different than larger paddlers, obviously. I wasn’t suggesting the Sandpiper for the O.P., just responding to Mystical’s question regarding Sandpiper vs royalex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo. Mysitcal is acquainted with the same paddlers I am that often choose their Sandpipers for the smaller, twistier streams and leave the roayex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo at home.


– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 12:15 PM EST –

I'd would just like to go on the record that in the poster's original post [somewhere down the page] I recommended the Wenonah Wilderness for what he described to use the boat for "all around" and is size. But, my recommendation was totally ignored [gosh I hate when that happens] so I must assume he is not at all considering the Wilderness.

Ignored Wilderness…

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 1:25 PM EST –

I did not ignore the Wilderness.

I did not comment on the Wilderness because I have never owned, or paddled one.

I can only speculate, based on the specs of the Wilderness, that the paddler may give up some manueverability for tracking ability, because of
it's length & lack of rocker, when compared to the Yellowstone Solo, and the Argosy. I don't think the additional few inches of length & fractions of inches in depth difference will provide much more carrying space for gear. If I use the Argosy or the Wildfire/Yellowstone for multi overnights I travel heavy(easily 50 lbs), and I have never come close to overloadeding either.

Yanoer: What is approximate difference in body weight betweeen original poster's 220 lbs & that of the paddlers you spoke of who are giving up their Wildfire/Argosy for a Sandpiper for day floats?
I'm betting the Sandpiper paddlers aren't 6'4", 200 plus pounders & several of them may be smaller sized women? Right or wrong?

Just for fun; take your Blackhawk Zephyr & royalex Wildfire to a lake. Put on your drysuit.
Drop the gunwales on both boats low enough to wet down the gunwales. "If" you can get the Zephyr that low without capsizing.......take a look at what is happening behind you. There is a good chance water will be coming "over" the gunwales in the stern on the Blackhawk, because of it's unique stern decking design.


P.S. All things being equal(paddler skill, weight, height)I don't think a Yellowstone Solo can outrun a Sojourn at "any" distance on flat water. I have a Wildfire & a Sojourn & the Lake of the Ozarks about 25 minutes from my driveway.
Wanna race? :^)

I like the Wilderness in Tuff Weave
Flex Core at a claimed weight of 44 pounds. Great price. At my height, I could drive it around turns easily for stream fishing, but it lacks the controllability of boats like the Vagabond.

More on royalex Wildfire
Curiosity got the best of me as a result of above discussions, so I took my royalex Wildfire out on the city lake today, which is about one mile around it’s twisty shorline, for the first time in a couple years and was quite surprised that I was able to do three laps in 46 minutes using sit & switch with my Zav bent shaft. That’s about as good of a time as I get with any of my canoes and it seemed pretty easy to keep at that pace for that amount of time and wasn’t too hard to keep on track. I’M SORRY FOR ALL THOSE TIMES I REFERRED TO THE ROYALEX WILDFIRE AS A PIG ON FLATWATER. It’s not.

It’s obvious to me that I need to raise the seat if I want it to be anything resembling comfortable for kneeling.

Maneuverability is quite good, but I still dont’ feel very comfortable heeling it over very far when sitting and using the foot brace - I feel like I could go right on over without much warning. This is the only canoe that I’ve ever dumped while paddling rivers, but I’ve also tested my limits more in this boat on rivers than I have my others.

Bob, the paddlers I referred to are all taller and heavier than I am, but probably shorter and lighter than the O.P. - again, I’m not suggesting the Sandpiper to the O.P., just answering Mystical’s question. Their not giving up their Yellowstone’s for river use, just choosing the Sandpiper for some of the narrower and twistier streams. I’m not aware of any women in our club with both the royalex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo and a Sandpiper. You’ve probably paddled with Gene from the Mackinaw Canoe Club - he’s one that uses the Sandpiper on the smaller, twistier streams.

I don’t own a dry suit and have never intentionally taken a boat’s gunwales to the water, at least not with any speed. I have however, taken the royalex Wildfire past the gunwales and into the river on a few occasions unintentionally. To me, the Zephyr seems easier to close to the gunwales without going over. Keep in mind that my Zephyr has the ICS rather than a fixed seat and that changes the hull shape slightly, which results in my Zephyr handling slightly different than yours and any others without the ICS. I haven’t heeled it over far enough to bring water over the stern - yet.

I’ll take your word that a Sojourn if faster than a royalex Wildfire over distance on flatwater. You could probably out pace me either in a sprint or over distance if you were paddling a Sandpiper regardless of what boat I was paddling because of your much superior skills (your reputation precedes you), so a race between you and I probably wouldn’t prove much regarding hull performance. When I test paddled the Sojourn, I already had a Summersong and the royalex Wildfire and didn’t think the Sojourn would displace the Summersong for lake paddling or the Wildfire for lake paddling, so I didn’t let go of the cash for it. I believe you that the Sojourn is faster than the royalex Wildfire, but I didn’t perceive it to be as fast as the Summersong.

Happy paddling.

…brings back so many lovely thoughts

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 6:13 PM EST –

That sounds like a healthy relationship between former pupil and a math instructor. I had pretty much the same with my Physics teacher in HS, but would've enjoyed simply pistol-whipping my Trig teacher and leaving her to rot...(Whew) back to our scheduled show....;-)
*Initial_Bob..imho...they need to be demoed...too close to call by specs. Think you're gonna have to paddle em' the way you're comfortable, especially on streams.