It is a long shot, but here goes ...

Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
459
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
Has anyone ever paddled an Island Falls Willow or Willow Wisp? If so, any thoughts about them being a tripper for about 300 pounds of paddler and gear?

Bob.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
I've paddled Willow Wisp. Unloaded. It's still wide for me. It's a delight at 200 lbs. I wouldn't put 300 in it. That will leave about 7 inches freeboard. Insufficient IMO. It's all about Archimedes Principle (volume) and not anything about a specific make that determines capacity.

Willow I did not paddle. It's just too big for me. I like my 15 footers leaner
 
G

Guest

Guest
I came across a nice Willow Whisp on a MN Craiglist recently.
 

Glenn MacGrady

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
1,998
Location
Connecticut
Bob, I haven't paddled or ever seen one of these canoes, but I can form an negative opinion to your 300 pound tripping question just from their specs and pictures.

Both models have a 12" center depth, which is too shallow for heavy tripping loads in my opinion. The larger Willow is stated to be "for general pleasure and light tripping, or set up for Freestyle paddling." Freestyle canoes typically have shallow depth for the specific purpose of being easily heeled to the rail, and I don't think 300 pounds constitutes "light tripping".

Look at the pictures of the empty smaller Wisp with the slim girl paddling it. There's not much freeboard even with that tiny a load.
thumbnail.aspx
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
Bob, I haven't paddled or ever seen one of these canoes, but I can form an negative opinion to your 300 pound tripping question just from their specs and pictures.

Both models have a 12" center depth, which is too shallow for heavy tripping loads in my opinion. The larger Willow is stated to be "for general pleasure and light tripping, or set up for Freestyle paddling." Freestyle canoes typically have shallow depth for the specific purpose of being easily heeled to the rail, and I don't think 300 pounds constitutes "light tripping".

Look at the pictures of the empty smaller Wisp with the slim girl paddling it. There's not much freeboard even with that tiny a load.
thumbnail.aspx


I was thinking about this canoe and wanted to add my 2 cents.

Glenn feels 12" is too shallow for heavy tripping loads, but 300lbs is not really a heavy load for a 15'/12" depth canoe imo. My 15' Chestnut Chum carries me (215lbs) and two packs which comes pretty close to 300lbs, and it only has 12 1/4" depth. The Chum is an excellent wood canvas solo tripper imo, I have used mine on some extended trips and never had a problem with the 12" depth.

Glenn also made it clear what he thinks of wood canvas canoes in a recent post: Glenn said: "I'd consider a wood-canvas canoe to be not only non-essential for a canoe trip, but a ridiculously heavy burden to be avoided.", so I would consider his opinion on wood canvas canoes biased and possibly unfair..

The picture Glenn supplied is not really a good example to answer your question. Being the self proclaimed photography critic that he claims to be, he provided us with a picture that:
1. has a stripe that appears to be the water line and distorts the viewers opinion.
2. the canoe is leaned over towards the camera, you can see the interior of the far side of the canoe, thus the camera side gunnel is closer to the water and appears lower than it should.
3. as sweet as this young lady looks in her swim suit and glasses, the canoe really looks like a cottage canoe at best in this picture.

I easily found this picture, although it doesn't show the waterline, it clearly states that someone who has a Willow or the builder of the Willow feels it can carry a load:


The real issue with the Willow is it's weight, not the waterline. To get a wood canvas canoe to 45lbs the builder had to cut corners somewhere. Possible thinner plank, 1/8th" vs. traditional 3/16th" in this size canoe, maybe thinner ribs and rails, and no doubt a lighter canvas or dacron. This all makes for a more fragile canoe and when paired with some packs, a canoe which might not stand up to the rigors of the trail.
You have to ask yourself what you are willing to trade off. A lightweight w/c canoe might loose some ribs and plank during a canoe/rock encounter, or the canvas might not hold up to being dragged over beaver dams, but unlike carbon or kevlar it can be restored to like new condition without any indicatoin of having been damaged.
If weight was becoming an issue in my advancing years, I would consider this canoe over a Carbon/kevlar canoe any day of the week. Of course, like Glenn, I'm biased too, but I like wood canvas canoes and thought this one should get a fair shot.
 

Glenn MacGrady

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
1,998
Location
Connecticut
Robin, your snarky and out-of-contest remarks about my posts don't really contribute to this topic.

My comments on the Willow and Wisp had absolutely nothing to do with the material they are made out of. My comments were based on specs. The Wisp, at 14-6 x 31 x 12, is a much smaller canoe in volume than the Chestnut Chum, which is 15 x 34 x 12.5. The picture of the Wisp with the bathing beauty simply confirms the small volume of the canoe. Your speculation that the canoe is tilted toward the photographer is irrelevant if not wrong.

The Willow at 15 x 33 x 12 is still smaller in volume than the Chum. As I said, one could trip in it, but my personal preference is for a deeper canoe. On all sites for many years, I have almost always recommended against solo canoes for larger paddlers that are less than 15' in length and 13" in depth. Based on my experience in many kinds of waters, I think those are reasonable and practical suggestions for heavy loads. I frequently recommend smaller tandems for solo tripping for certain paddlers, including Chestnut-based models such as the Bob's Special and Pal.

I have no prejudice against wood canoes. I've owned one for 34 years, an OT OTCA, and love it.

In a thread where I was answering the question as to whether an axe is "essential" to me on a canoe trip, I answered no. I gave other examples of things that are not "essential" to me on a canoe trip, including heavy wood canoes as well as "lightweight carbon fiber canoes and paddles, electronic gadgets and gizmos, or booze" -- all of which I own except booze. You quote my comment about heavy wood/canvas canoes out of the "essentiality" context. My only "bias" as a tripper is one in favor of light weight, other things being equal. Therefore, I do usually take my carbon fiber paddles, but don't consider them "essential", given that I tripped with wood paddles for 50 years. If someone doesn't mind the weight, a wood canoe obviously can be an excellent tripping canoe if it fits the paddler's dimensional requirements. I hope that clarifies things.

The photography thread was intended as a constructive suggestion, which got prolonged by some other posters getting into details about exposure and composition issue. Sorry if it offended you.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Well Glenn, I have a suggestion that might help. It works for me anyway. Every so now and again I find I'm out of sorts and generally disgruntled. I wind up picking fights and it seems the world is designed to annoy me at every turn. It feels a lot like somebody dumped a cup of coarse sawdust down my collar.

The good news is that it's a recognized medical condition: The cranky gland is backing up! What I do is to get to the vet post haste and have the offending article squeezed out! (given the delicacy of the site I'll not go into specifics, but you can imagine)

Now Glenn, I'd really like to thank you, I don't feel so alone anymore. I suspect that this may be a condition that comes on as we get older. After all being cranky is surprising in a young pup but about half the time old guys exhibit the symptoms.

Best Wishes for your rapid recovery!

Rob
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,458
I take exception to only one thing! Tripping without booze? Scandalous, preposterous, I've never heard of such poppycock!
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
The OP asked about the Willow or Willow Wisp as a tripper, you only addressed the depth, you never mentioned volume. Now you bring up the volume so I'll address that also.

The two Chestnut Chums I have owned are/where 30" wide at the gunnels (plank to plank), 31 & 1/2" at it's widest point. I also have a set of plans taken from a Chum from Carrying Place Canoe Works and they confirm these measurements.

This makes the Chum (15' x 12 1/2" depth x 31 1/2" wide) and Willow (15' x 12" depth x 33 wide) pretty much the same. I have done up to 12 days solo in the Chum in large Canadian Lakes and felt it was an excellent solo tripping canoe with a just under 300lb load.

I stand by my belief that the picture you used to point out the water line gave a distorted and inaccurate view.

Glenn said: "My comments on the Willow and Wisp had absolutely nothing to do with the material they are made out of."

I never said you mentioned materials used, although I was somewhat surprised you missed such an important factor in any discussion of these canoes suitability as tripping canoes.. I just pointed out that the real issue with the Willow was that it was built light, not the water line as you stated, and the lightweight material could be an issue but not a deal breaker.

When you make a statement like this : "I'd consider a wood-canvas canoe to be not only non-essential for a canoe trip, but a ridiculously heavy burden to be avoided." in any context and then chime in on what you think of a particular wood canvas canoe's merit for a canoe trip surprised me, but your negativity didn't surprise me..

I wasn't offended by your criticism of my header picture. You said in that thread: "If I may play the role of amateur and candid photo critic" which was fine, and I learned alot about photography from that discussion. I just feel that if you know so much about photography, you would know better than to submit such a poor picture to a discussion about whether a canoe is a "tripping" candidate.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
Continue on grumpy old men! I've been tripping for years in a 15 foot 12 inch deep canoe. Even 11 as in pack canoe. Yes the shellacked bottom makes an optical illusion of less being on top.

What Robin said about planking is true. But even a light hull can be stiffened with half ribs between the full ones and you have an intermediate weight boat.
 

Glenn MacGrady

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
1,998
Location
Connecticut
I'm not at all cranky. I'm human, former glands and all. I just don't appreciate a poster who seems to feel the need to raise what sound like personal resentments and completely irrelevant quotes and references to old threads about photography and axes. What the heck is the topical point of doing that?

I come on these forums mainly to share my experience, give un-self-interested advice to newbies, and help others with internet research that I may have more time to do. Occasionally, I try to offer some humor. I entered this thread simply to give a few thoughts to Bob based on the manufacturer's own specs, description and photos. I've been assuming from from recent posts of his that Bob is thinking about a w/c canoe for solo tripping.

Okay, I don't write every sentence perfectly. Let me make one thing clear. I have no negative views on w/c canoes in general. I think they are beautiful, and sincerely admire people who have the skills to build, maintain and repair them. Many, many times on this very forum, and it's predecessor, I have stated my lust for a Stewart River w/c canoe, especially the Ami. I'd also like a stripper.

I do have many opinions on canoes and tripping in them. One is that I, like thousands and thousands of other paddlers, like light canoes. I don't want to lift up heavy honker hulls, especially as I age. Therefore, I don't generally advise a heavy canoe for portage-type tripping unless a heavy hull is all the buyer can afford. I don't care what the heavy material is -- plastic, aluminum, wood. If it's a heavy hull, it's not desirable much less essential to me for portage tripping. That was the entire context of the sentence of mine that you keep obsessing on, Robin, not some universal prejudice against w/c that infects my advice. On the other hand, I'd certainly like to paddle a w/c canoe on a non-portage lake or river trip.

YC, using yourself as an example can be flawed exercise. I believe Bob is about 6-4. You are a short woman. What hull fits one person for tripping doesn't fit another, especially when people vary a lot it the amount of equipment they haul.

The specs of a canoe can tell you its volume, and its volume will largely determine its draft. Draft plus depth determine freeboard. This discussion about optical illusions in the bathing beauty picture is a bunch of irrelevant hooey. The Wisp is obviously not a tripping canoe for a 6-4 person with 300 pounds of load. YC herself, who has paddled the Wisp, has already confirmed in her first post that the freeboard with 300 pounds would be "insufficient".

As for the Willow, I simply pointed out to Bob that the manufacturer says it's for "light tripping". I'm sure it could be fine for heavily loaded trips that are solely on glass.

The Chum specs are interesting. Robin, I've never seen a Chum in person and I certainly believe your measurements. The measurement I quoted was from this Chestnut source. You'll see that two Chums are listed: one before 1967, which is 15x32x12, and the other after 1967, which is 15x34x12.5. Since you said you had 12+ depth, I figured you had the post-1967 model that was wider. The chart also seems to say that the pre- and post-1967 Chums had different width ribs.

Fragility is a legitimate concern, especially when one is far away from civilization. I once saw a picture of a Chum broken and buckled around a mid-river rock in a class 1 rapid. Splinter city. Bill Mason's old videos of wooden Prospectors and Pals aside, I'd advise Royalex for whitewater tripping. I think we have about 10 days left to get some.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
231
Location
Vermont
Not to throw gas on the fire, but - I think the suitability of a particular canoe for "tripping" might be impacted by the type of "tripping" you are talking about. Trips are not all the same. Tripping on protected waters without big rough lakes and significant white water is one thing - but if you are loaded heavily, traveling big windy lakes and/or wanting to run through significant white water that is an entirely different kettle of fish. Also you have the portage issue. Some trips have long portages, some do not. Some people like ultra light canoes, some do not. To each his own. I think it is difficult to comment about the suitability of a particular canoe for "tripping" unless you know what the original poster has in mind as far as the kind of tripping he/she wants to do. A small low sided canoe is probably a lovely boat on many trips and maybe not the best choice on other trips. Lastly, while I certainly enjoy a nightcap after the work is done I have many dear friends who do not partake. We all respect one another, we get along just fine, and we take great pleasure in our time together plying the waterways in the wildest country we can find. And finally - I cannot resist sharing this link to a movie of a group of young, energetic, and very competent paddlers on a remote northern river showing the type of craft they have chosen for their trip. I'd like to take a page out of their book and channel their energy and outlook on tripping -

.

There is more than one way to skin a cat and its a big wide world out there with people doing all sorts of canoe tripping and using all different kinds of canoes to get them where they want to go and back.
 
Last edited:
Top