A History of David Yost's Solo Tripping Canoes by Charlie Wilson

Glenn MacGrady

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Charlie Wilson—sorely missed as an expert poster here—has written the following history and specification comparison of David Yost's solo tripping canoes over the past 40 years and has authorized me to post it.

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David Yost’s original Solo Tripper, 15.5 ft by 30” max, 27” wl was offered as a Fiberglas or strip-built canoe in the Canoe Specialists 1981 Catalog, a mold having been made by Curtis Canoes. The hull had flared sides and minimal rocker with a Length to Width ratio over 6.5.

The next year Yost designed the Vagabond, a 14’8”X27.5/25.5” smaller version tripper for Curtis, with 1.5” of the shouldered tumblehome he developed for the DragonFly and 1.4” symmetrical rocker. The abrupt tumblehome required a two-piece mold split along the keel line.

Yost also designed similar sized tripping solos for Sawyer, the StarLight, 13’4” X 28/25 and the Autumn Mist, 14’10”X30.5/28, both with minimal rocker and 2” of bubble sided tumblehome with W/L ratios nearer 6. Bubble sides allowed the hulls to be extracted from single-piece, split, molds. Seats were height adjustable sliders and rocker was minimal.

DY and Curtis updated the larger Solo Tripper in 1985 with Nomad, at 15’4”X28.5/26.5”, symmetrically hulled with shouldered tumblehome and symmetrical rocker. The hull had increased stem layout so waterline is shorter than overall length indicates. Yost also designed a wood and Dacron 15’ X29/26” solo tripper, Mistral, for Loon works in1989. Molded by Colden Canoe in the mid 2010s, the Nomad mold was destroyed at DY’s suggestion in 2021.

He designed his third “small class” tripper, the Loon,14’ 6”X28/26” and his fifth medium class, the Heron, 15’X29/27” for Swift Canoe ~1990, both bubble sided to come out of split rather than two piece molds and with symmetrical rocker.

In the later 90’s Bell Canoe needed a solo tripper and Merlin II, 15’X29/27”, DY’s sixth large series solo tripper, was stripped and molded; slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome; the first DY tripper with differential rocker and differential radii at bow and stern, the bow’s arc larger to improve maneuverability, the stern’s tighter to resist paddler induced yaw.

Hemlock Canoe developed their Peregrine and Kestrels from Nomad and Vagabond. Both Hemlocks have flatter bottoms and reduced rocker. Initial stability is increased with speed and maneuverability somewhat compromised.

Designed for pack canoe outfitting with low seat for double blade paddling, Placid boatworks’ RapidFire, 15’X27.5/25”, R 1.5/1”, is slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome and strongly differential rocker, and was DY’s fourth small class solo tripper in 2005. Placid’s combination of infusion with integral, composite rails significantly reduced hull weight.

DY’s seventh standard sized hull is Swift’s Keewaydin 15, introduced in 2011; 15’X29.5/26.5”, R 2/1”, mildly Swede-Form with bubble sides and stepped bow rocker. The additional width was added to fit today’s larger paddlers. DY’s new stepped rocker is applied throughout the Keewaydin series to improve forward speed and maneuverability.

DY designed his fifth small class solo tripper for Swift as the Keewaydin 14 over winter 2013-14, featuring tumblehomed sides with slight Swede form, and differential rocker with stepped bow rocker. At 14’ X28”/25”, R 1.5/.7”, it is more efficient at cruising speed than the larger Solo Trippers due to reduced wetted area. Infusion manufacturing with integral foam and composite rails significantly reduces hull weight for Kee 14 which is available as a web seat, single blade canoe and in low-seat, double blade, pack canoe, configuration. Swifts Cruisers, developed in the last few years are more Delta shaped, have more bow rocker for improved maneuverability and S shaped rails to improve reach to the water. Available with pack canoe or canoe seating, the canoes prefering bent paddles.

Ted Bell/ NorthStar Canoes commissioned the NorthWind Solo from DY’s son, Carl, over the same period, the eighth Yost designed Solo Tripper, up-sized to fit larger paddlers at 15.5’ X 30” / 26.5”, 2”/1” NorthWind Solo has slight Swede form and shouldered tumblehome but reduced rocker and does not include stepped bow rocker to visually resemble to the older Bell canoes in NorthStar’s line. Early NorthWInd Solo hulls exhibited hog, from hurried mold building or applying straight rails to lightweight hulls, so do not maneuver as well as the rocker specs suggest.

NorthStar’s Charlie Thompson worked with DY in the fall of 2016 to develop a sixth small class tripper, Trillium, at 28.5” wide, 24” waterline and 14.5’ length. It claims increased rocker, 2.5” bow and 1.5 stern and should be a nice boat for small to medium sized paddlers and the most maneuverable of the small class hulls. To maintain trade dress with other NorthStar solos, Trillium does not have the stepped bow rocker. DY thinks of Trillium as a shorter Bell Merlin II.

The theme throughout the series has been fast and easy tracking tripping hulls, so W/L ratios have been kept near 6.5. Over time, the hulls have become mildly Swede-Form as a drafting function of differential rocker and have included tumblehome to improve paddler reach across the rails for increased bio-mechanical efficiency. Rocker has increased, become differential and most recently, stepped into the bow to improve forward speed and maneuverability. The hulls are widening as paddlers gain girth, and unseemly reflection of the success of McDuck’s Super-Size promotions.

These trippers are conceived as advancing / intermediate skill level hulls that do everything pretty well. DY’s Sport or Touring Series Solos are logical next steps for more targeted performance for more specific water conditions.

DY’s Solo Trippers and Delta Cruisers, other builders.

Form, Lnth, Sheer: B-C-S, Widths: Rail-Max-w/l, L/W, Rocker, Wt

Hemlock Canoe hand laminated, ash trim

Kestrel SY 14’9” 16-11.5-14 T 25.5-27.5-25.5 6.8 1.8/1.3? 29

Peregrine SF 15’9”L 17-12-14.5 T 26.5-28.5-26.5 6.8 1.8/1.3? 33


NorthStar C wet bagged


Trillium SF 14.5 17-11.5-15 T 26-28.5-24 6.4 2.5/1.5 29

N’wind Solo SF 15.5 18-12-16 T 27-30-26.5 6.6 2.0/1.0 34

Magic D 16’ 17.5-12.5-15 T 23-29-25.5 7.3 1.5/0.8 34


Sawyer Canoe hand laid and wet bagged


Starlight SY 13’4’ 15.5-11.9-13 T 24-28-25.4 6.0 0.25/ 0

Aut'mn Mist SY 14’10” 17-13.5-14 T 26-30.5-28 6.1 0.25/0

Summer Song D 15’4” 16-12-14 T 22 29 26.5 7.2 0/0


Swift Canoe
infused, two tone, synthetic or aluminum trim

Keewaydin14 SF 14’ 17-11.5-15 T 23-28-24 6.5 1.5/0.7 24

Keewaydin15 SF 15’ 19-12.5-16 T 25.5-29.5-26.5 6.8 2/1 26

Cruiser148 D 14’8” 17-11-15 T 23.5-28-25 6.8. 2.5/1 25

Cruiser158 D 15’8” 17-11.5-15 T 25.5-29-25.5 7.1 2.5/1 28


WeNoNah wet bagged, alu / ash trim

Argosy SFD 14’6” L18-14-16 T 27-30-27 6.0 2.3/1 30

Wilderness SF 15’4” L19-14-17 T 27-30.5-30 5.7 1.3/1.3 31


Notes:
SY is symmetrical form, SF is Swede Form, D is Delta shaped
L indicates excessive layout at bow
Hemlock, Northwind, Wenonah rockers are overstated

SIZE CONTINUA < Smallest to Largest>

Symmetrical to mild SwedeForm:
Starlite, Kee14, Kestrel, Trillium, Nomad, Peregrine, Autumn Mist, Kee15, NW Solo

Delta SwedeForm:
Cruiser 148, Argosy, SummerSong Cruiser 158, Magic, Wilderness, Cruiser 168

Cc CEW Drafts: 2019, 2021
 
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Fun summary. I think I've owned 6 or 7 of those boats over the years. I like the description of the Trillium as a smaller Merlin II vs the Northstar description of "smaller sibling to the NW Solo". I'd like to try a Swift Cruiser 15.8. I hope I don't like it!
 
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Two points: It is a draft document, and I have started to include recent delta designs in the text and charts, but have excluded out of production hulls; hence no SummerSong, ShockWave, DY Special, or Solo Tripper for that matter. Should also remove the Colden Nomad as the mold has been chain sawn into pieces as I understand.
 
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Great article.

Question about the Vagabond -- is Wenonah's 14'6" Vagabond derived from the Curtis Vagabond, or is it a different design?
 
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I think it would be a more valuable summary if the methodology behind the numbers was clarified and editorial comments were not included. Not sure why the waterline widths of Trillium and Keewaydin 15 are different than what is shown on the manufacturer websites. Not clear how length to width numbers are calculated and how 4" waterline widths of Curtis/Hemlock boats are normalized to compare with 3" waterline widths of Bell/Northstar. Not clear why Hemlock boats are included along with editorial comments. Still a fun summary but could be more clear.
 
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Methodology is not uniform. For example there is no standard method of measuring rocker. Some measure the difference between waterline at the stem and at the middle. Others use a 12 inch measurement from the stem. Waterline widths depend on volume of the submerged part. Some builders used to use the depth at various loads. Ie what the load supported at two inches was and three and four. The "editorial comments" re Hemlock were based on fact. Perhaps some here are not in on the history of how these canoes evolved. CEW however is a part of most of them.
 
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That's my point YC. If methodologies are inconsistent then the length/width numbers and waterline widths can't really be directly compared as people will tend to do when they see a bunch of numbers.

If Charlie's numbers are more accurate than the manufacturer's published numbers I think that would be worth clarifying too.

The comments on Hemlocks being slower and less maneuverable than the Curtis boats that they were derived from are not consistent with my experience and in any case I think they are too simplistic. Faster for cruising? Top speed? With what load? In what water conditions? For all paddlers? Same with maneuverability. Comparing Vagabond to Kestrel, personally I found that you could spin the Curtis boat better on quiet water at very low speed with high lean (like freestyle) but once cruising on moving water with a gentle to moderate lean I found the Kestrel more cooperative than the Vagabond which felt like the ends were very sticky. Kestrel always felt faster to me too, especially loaded to (or over) max rated capacity. Even if my subjective impressions were "wrong" the (unqualified) performance comments just on Hemlocks seem out of place in a summary of design chronology of DY tripping solos.

I always enjoy anyone's comments on canoe performance and I'd very much enjoy a performance discussion of all the boats on Charlie's list. If any supporting facts are available I hope they are shared.
 
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Hand laid and vacuum bagged layups are subject to a lot of variability. My Peregrine had negative rocker. At a canoe symposium we chalklined the overturned hull

Top speed ; theoretical Hull Speed. It can be overcome by some very high horsepower paddlers and on the other end lower horsepower paddlers never can attain theoretical hull speed; they have a big problem with skin friction. Thats why LDC designed two levels of the same tripper ; the Peregrine and the Kestrel.. Precisely so he and his long time wife Carol could paddle together on a trip.

At some point there are way too many variables to make graphing performance of various canoes worth the time and the investment. Perhaps when a canoe is $100 k it will be worth it.

Sticky stems of course are a problem without full on heel. Its not called a lean because then people do lean.. And then swim,

I have a whole Freestyle manual of J Winters graph on canoe performance in general that is lacking in explanation for us mere laypeople. But he did write the Shape the Canoe a treatise on performance.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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My Peregrine had negative rocker.

By this, do you mean it had a hogged keel line? If so, I'd guess it was defective somehow out of the mold or got hogged by usage. (You bought it used, as I recall.) Even highly rockered whitewater canoes can become hogged in the middle due to weakening of the bottom due to impacts.

Certainly, the Hemlock Peregrine is not designed or properly manufactured to have true negative rocker or a hogged keel line.
 
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hmmm, I guess based on the numbers the key take away here for the average paddler comparing possible selections in this list is get which ever one in the color you like best :)
 
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I think Charlie's summary is great as-is. I also think that any additional background/supporting info just makes it better for knowledge capture. For example if different rocker measurement methods are used it would be nice to know the different methods and which boats used which method. I'd appreciate any rule of thumb for comparing 4" waterline measurements to 3"; I'd assume that length/width decreases with heavier loads but I'd be guessing.

Just last week I was trying to compare the speed of my Merlin II and Magic, timing them over a 2.5 mile downstream stretch trying to keep my route and effort constant. Timed Magic at 27.5 minutes, then Merlin II at 28 the next day. Timed Magic again next day at 25.5! I think I may be a bigger source of variation than the boats I'm trying to compare. I still think the Merlin II may be more efficient for long cruises at a more moderate pace. I remember a discussion with Glenn about whether a Wildfire or SRT is faster. I should have said that at a leisurely cruise pace of 2.5-3 mph my experience is that a Wildfire can still easily out-accelerate an SRT although I'd agree that I think I could sprint an SRT to a higher speed.

Yesterday I paddled my Osprey which has rocker listed at 1.5/1...yet it is (for me) much more maneuverable than Keewaydin 15 or Merlin II which are listed at 2/1. It would be nice to measure the Osprey using some standard method since it sure doesn't feel or look like 1.5/1 to me!
 

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By this, do you mean it had a hogged keel line? If so, I'd guess it was defective somehow out of the mold or got hogged by usage. (You bought it used, as I recall.) Even highly rockered whitewater canoes can become hogged in the middle due to weakening of the bottom due to impacts.

Certainly, the Hemlock Peregrine is not designed or properly manufactured to have true negative rocker or a hogged keel line.
I bought it used. It was hogged. It was mint. The only other owner had never paddled it as right after he bought it he was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer and died within two months. Surprising hull shapes are not uncommon coming off a mold.. The Aquaterra Spectrum was the worst kayak I have ever paddled so when I found DY had designed it I was not only surprised but I got a chance to ask him in person why.. He said the stern sprang coming off the mold and Perception was not amenable to retooling the mold.
 
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Gumpus comparisons are really valid only when all other variables are held constant. For us that means we can only compare boats to us. Not me or you. We have to have the same factors. paddle, wind, waves, wind direction. That is a tough call. The Osprey is said to be very wind sensitive and the Nomad not.. Well tell that to my hubby who battled with the Nomad in a wind funnel in the Everglades. It was blowing about 30 mph and due to bathymetry three foot steep breaking waves.
 
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It was hogged. It was mint.
I am confused by this. I personally would not consider a hogged canoe as mint but what do I know.

As far as theoretical and dimensional comparisons I am finding that, for me, boats that have similar dimensions paddle roughly the same for my unsophisticated purposes. I am using GPS on flat water on the same day, same conditions.
 
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I am confused by this. I personally would not consider a hogged canoe as mint but what do I know.

As far as theoretical and dimensional comparisons I am finding that, for me, boats that have similar dimensions paddle roughly the same for my unsophisticated purposes. I am using GPS on flat water on the same day, same conditions.
It was unused. Whether or not it assumed the shape right off the mold I do not know.. It had zero rocker and maybe half an inch of hog. Not a slam of workmanship if you are thinking that was my intent but these things can happen with hand laid up boats under certain weather conditions. I find LDC layup schedule quite robust. I took that boat on several two week long trips in Northern Ontario but just found it stickier than other paddlers found theirs. It is happily currently residing in Azle TX on a reservoir under the care of a friend who likes to paddle straight for distance.
 
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I find LDC layup schedule quite robust. I took that boat on several two week long trips in Northern Ontario but just found it stickier than other paddlers found theirs. It is happily currently residing in Azle TX on a reservoir under the care of a friend who likes to paddle straight for distance.
Good to hear because I am getting one. I paddle straight most of the time - getting from A to B, exercise, and doing some fishing.
 
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Gumpus comparisons are really valid only when all other variables are held constant. For us that means we can only compare boats to us. Not me or you. We have to have the same factors. paddle, wind, waves, wind direction. That is a tough call. The Osprey is said to be very wind sensitive and the Nomad not.. Well tell that to my hubby who battled with the Nomad in a wind funnel in the Everglades. It was blowing about 30 mph and due to bathymetry three foot steep breaking waves.
 
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Osprey is indeed quite wind and trim sensitive relative to many other solos in my experience.

One can have many variables (including different people) included in a study and still draw conclusions. It requires measuring the variables as you perform multiple trials. A standard analysis of variance (ANOVA) tells you the Main Effects and their level of statistical significance. Even Excel offers this basic statistical analysis. It's often critical to include multiple people in studies since biases within individuals are often a dominant factor (that's why "blind" studies are often done when possible).

An ANOVA is also part of standard Gage R&R and it will reveal what type of conclusions (if any) can be drawn from measurements. Your Peregrine may have been hogged, I don't know. In the engineering world if you make one or two measurements and claim "my boat was hogged by 1/2 inch" you'd have to answer some basic questions about your measurement system with supporting data to show that you have a capable and unbiased measurement system...or you could just use more defensible words like "I think mine might have been hogged based on one measurement we did".

I think it's inappropriate for you to insinuate that Dave's boats have any issue with manufacturing variability based on one piece of anecdotal information. I've owned 4 perfect Hemlocks and I see significantly more manufacturing variability in some of the well known higher volume brands although like you I don't have nearly enough data to draw any defensible conclusions about the variability of the dimensions of hulls across manufacturers or manufacturing techniques.
 
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