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Starting From Scratch: My Solo Canoe Shortlist

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    Starting From Scratch: My Solo Canoe Shortlist

    Backpacking the past few years has sustained my desire for being "out", but watching Youtube videos of canoe tripping has infected me with a new fever -- and the desire is all I currentIy have. I'm well equipped for backpacking, but I don't (yet) have a canoe, paddle, or PFD. I've been doing a lot of research and thought my initial perceptions may be of interest to some.

    First, though, some essential data. Me: 180 pounds, 5'11" and expect to travel solo on trips from 3 to 10 days in length. Typical load: 35-40 pounds which is a few pounds heavier than when backpacking. Geographic areas of interest: Algonquin PP, Michigan rivers, and the BWAC so small to medium sized lakes and rivers with the occasional winding creek. No whitewater or Great Lakes paddling.

    The boats (in no particular order) and my suspicions:
    • Northwind Solo: Ted Bell is a name that has shown up several times in a positive way. The canoe is a few pounds heavier and a bit bigger than the others, but the price is attractive. Don't care for the aluminum trim, though.
    • Swift Adirondack 13.6 Pack Boat: Probably the most Youtube'd canoe due to the Robinet, et al, videos, but Joe is physically quite a bit smaller than I am. Other posts I've seen suggest that 14' is for smaller paddlers and loads and that 15' is more typical for larger paddlers or longer trips but my anticipated 220 pound total load is very close to the 210 pound mid-range load for this boat. On the other hand, the 11.5" of center depth seems a bit shallow and I suspect the load carrying ability of this boat may come at the expense of some efficiency. I also don't know if I want the pack boat style seating.
    • Swift Keewaydin 14 and 15: Lots of positive comments about Yost designs and the Keewaydin's appear to be the latest. The tumblehome on both these boats seems like it may be a bit much and I noted one of the posters on the forums here had the 14 and put it up for sale rather quickly. I've also noted that videographer My Self Reliance has a 14 but used a different canoe in a later video. As for the 15, the numbers suggest the 15 is just a tad bigger than I need or would really want.
    • Swift Osprey: Looks like a good boat in most respects...except for consistent comments mentioning it being unwieldy in following winds/waves.
    • Northwind Trillium: Perhaps a better size than the Northwind Solo, but the emphasis on "performance" and the amount of rocker has me doubting its tracking and straight-line paddling.
    I'll be test paddling the Swift boats next month and will see where I stand on the Northstar boats after that. I also considered Wenonah, but I really have an aversion to rivets in composite construction. The other builders I researched may rise on the priority list after I test the Swift boats, but for starters, I'm going with the ones I listed above.

    I should also mention in all these boats, I'm strongly favoring the carbon construction option. The standard kevlar layups may be too lightweight and the expedition kevlar layups too heavy. I plan to own and use this boat for quite a few years so I'm willing to pay for the durability of carbon...the lightness is a secondary, but important, benefit.

    Additional insights? Comments? Corrections?

    Jim
    Last edited by jm0278; 07-26-2017, 06:59 PM.

    #2
    The Keewaydins tumblehome holds nicely heeled to the rail
    As paddling is a consortium of paddler boat and paddle it's possible the paddler was not matched well to the boat
    As far as tracking goes the same goes for that. You can make pretty much any touring boat track even one with two and a half inches stern rocker
    A gel coat is a real plus for APP portages. You get quite a bit of protection from rocks that you may scrape on the way in. The Hemlocks and Coldens two of the sturdiest boats around come in at 31-33 lbs They are a carbon fibre Kevlar mix . Hemlocks only come with wood gunwales

    Carbon does not have to mean all carbon. With 35 pieces of fabric there can be judicious application of both

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      #3
      While you're YouTube shopping for boats, I'm going to share a bad influence with you.

      https://www.youtube.com/user/mjdetviler

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        #4
        I wouldn't put too much stock in the "unwieldy in following wind and waves". It's an issue to be dealt with, but certainly not a deal killer in an otherwise excellent boat. Not that I've paddled one, but I notice that over time I have read those same comments about other boats that I have found to be not that big a deal.One advantage the Osprey may have over the others mentioned, is that particular model has been on the market longer and is accordingly more represented in the used market. Makes it more of a possibility to try one and recover your money if not happy with it.

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          #5
          One of the boats you mentioned is a sit on the bottom pack boat-essentially an open kayak- a very different experience from a solo canoe with a high seat. I think this should be the first decision-high or low seat? I owned and liked an osprey-probably the most versatile solo out there. yes more venerable to rear quartering winds than most but not a deal breaker. I would recommend a carbon/Kevlar layup-not a pure carbon one. I'm your size and trip for up to 4 days. personally I get more enjoyment out of small solos and my favorite is a Flashfire.
          Good Luck, Turtle

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            #6
            Hemlock Kestrel is also in your load range and intended for lake travel... IIRC they have weekly demo days somewhere in western NY and from the website are in the business to match the individual's needs to the right canoe. There are experienced paddlers here in Ontario that have chosen Hemlock over Swifts.

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              #7
              No one has mentioned the Nomad? More wind friendly than Osprey. The last boat I would ever dispose of. By Colden now. Old Curtis Nomads pop up time to time

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                #8
                Also this thread, Charlie Wilson's comments Osprey vs Keewaydin...

                http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/view...=43456&start=0




                And this thread, including CW's email address to get the numbers on various solos to possibly help narrow down the choice.

                One important piece of data not provided is the OP's height which will allow guesstimates of useful hull/ waterline width. OP's weight is less an issue, as we have a 220#/100 KG max.

                One hull not mentioned above is FlashFire; 13'X28.5", also formerly by Bell/ Placid now by Colden.
                Symmetrical rocker demands a decent forward stroke. I have a list of composite solo canoe dimensions available to all that may be helpful. Email charliewilson77@gmail.com for an electronic copy.

                Swift's Kee 15 is another DY solo tripper, iteration 1g, i.e. the 7th version of the large model. It is a little wider than earlier ones because solo trippers are getting fatter. It is faster than the Bell Merlin II and turns faster as well. Tumblehome is reminiscent of DY's earlier bubble sided Sawyer and Curtis boats except the width is carried higher. I have paddled Kee 15 extensively and in comparison with Osprey. Kee is faster and tracks better, Osprey turns more radically and fits larger paddlers due to increased width at the waterline/chine. While I stay locked into the chines on the K15, I need to move a knee to cross heel Osprey and suspect the OP will need do so as well.

                http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/view...41151&start=15

                Comment


                  #9
                  Kim,

                  A gel coat is a real plus for APP portages. You get quite a bit of protection from rocks that you may scrape on the way in. The Hemlocks and Coldens two of the sturdiest boats around come in at 31-33 lbs
                  Yeah, some of the ports can be pretty rough wrt entry and exit. Also rough beachings at times when wind and waves are up.

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                    #10
                    Personally, I prefer something in the 16' range.
                    The efficiency when going fro a 15' to a 16' is big.
                    Again, that's ME.

                    Jim
                    Keep your paddle wet, and your seat dry !

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                      #11
                      Hi Jim,

                      In the Swift line, I have tripped in all 3 of those boats in Algonquin.

                      - Osprey is a good all round boat, large capacity, stable, pretty agile,not particularly fast, I am not a fan of it's behavior in rough weather, as it can get pushed around in wind and waves
                      - Adirondack Pack 13.6 is incredibly light, the bottom seat makes for a stable ride, it is so light you could shoulder carry it, capacity is adequate, handles well, you are pretty much locked to a double paddle (which I prefer in a solo anyway) ... this would be a definite on the list to try when you are at Swift, it is simply a blast to paddle in
                      - K 14/15 sort of sits between the other 2 for capacity, stable, agile ... overall good boat, it is another "must try to see if it fits" when you are at swift

                      Brian

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                        #12
                        Shorter is sometimes faster. Think skin friction and read John Winters.

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                          #13
                          I prefer a small tandem for my solo boat, gives me more options.
                          Not all who are lost wish to be found..............

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                            #14
                            yes, I really like my colden nomad. it's the best big lake solo I have ever paddled, but the flash is more fun.

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by BWCA66 View Post
                              I prefer a small tandem for my solo boat, gives me more options.
                              I have relied on small tandems for solo, but definitely don't prefer it. If one is allowed only one boat, a small tandem of efficient design can be a good compromise.

                              But....having lots of boats gives you even more options.

                              Comment

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