Looking for opinions on a canoe

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Nov 28, 2013
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Red Hill, Pa
Looking to get opinions from anyone willing to give one.
I may be in the market come Spring to get a canoe.
Here is some info on me and how I would like to use a canoe.
I am 5'9" at 240 lbs...not a light weight.
I currently use a Tarpon 120 kayak SOT most often to float and fish from.
I normally float alone, so loading and unloading is a solo event. I have a bad shoulder so weight is of some concern.
I never have to portage on the rivers I fish. The water is mostly Class I with a rare Class II mixed in. I also float many lakes.
I did an overnight river trip and would like to do more. I did the trip in a raft and was all good until I hit some very long pools with no current. Wind was blowing up river and had to row a raft through a few miles of dead water. Not fun to say the least. Next time I would prefer a canoe.

Some things I would like to have:
I have a canoe now, but I feel a little too big for the canoe. We-No-Nah Vagabond. I also have the same problem in it that I have in the Yak, I have to sit too low and my back acts up. Would like to be able to sit higher where my knees were lower than my waist or there about.
I use a double blade paddle meant for canoe use.
I would like a stable canoe, initial stability a priority with decent secondary stability. I understand this always a trade off situation, but I fish from it. I would really like to bring my dog along, something I can't do with the Yak. She is a 30lbs CockerPoo mix.

I have been in many canoes in my youth and later on. Mostly in Old Town Discovery 158 models. I never was with anyone knowledgeable on canoes, just my dad and brother. We learned mostly the hard way, but it was always fun. In fact, I never realized that so many people kneeled in canoes. It only became apparent when I joined this site and read through thread after thread and saw many references to kneeling in the canoe. I had no idea and now wondering if my seat preference is even possible.

So that is all the info I can think of. In summary, I'm looking for a stable canoe to fish from, that I can bring my dog and some overnight gear, with a seat that can be up higher. Doesn't have to be a solo canoe. I think there may be tandems that reversed, could fit the bill.
Low maintenance boat preferred also.

Any feed back or questions would be welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Thanks for reading,
Schiff
 
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How much money you willing to spend? Nova Craft Pal is a good 'Solo" for a larger guy and a dog. Remove the back seat for extra storage room and you have a nice big solo. However, you will probably have to ditch the double blade and take up single sticking. Swift Shearwater is also a popular solo canoe for bigger folks, and you could probably use the double blade.
 
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Money may or may not be an issue. Won't know for a while, but hoping to be in the $900 range, plus or minus...new or used.
 
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Nova Craft Pal or maybe a Bob special gets my vote. I have both and paddle them both solo from the bow seat facing the rear. My Pal is kevlar/spectra and I use it for lake travel. My Bob special is Royalex for river use. If I could have only one boat it would be a Pal in Royalex. Dave

PS I went from a Vagabond to a Bob special and never looked back. Google some reviews from Bob special owners.
 
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If I remember correctly, the Old town "Camper" canoe was the Royalex version of the Discovery 158. It weighed 58 lbs. I owned one for a while and it was a good general recreation canoe. Old Town made a bunch of them so you might find one used at a good price. I wouldn't compare it to the Pal in handling but it is a stable boat in about the same length and weight. Dave
 
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I read today that the Royalex manufacturer stopped taking orders from canoe builders this week. If you want a canoe made with Royalex get it NOW.
 
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I own a royalite Pal I have added a solo seat to.To keep it's versitility,I added a slanted solo sear behind the ft seat facing backwards,using the existing aft ft. seat drop screws and drilling 2 more holes for drops toward the center. This lets it be still used as a tandem. The Pal's relitivly narrow width and low freeboard for a tandem makes it work OK as a solo. I can paddle it with a 250cm dubble,but prefer a single stick. It will haul a ton that way and is a sweet boat. A new one in royelex isn't much more than your $.
Tirtle
 
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I can't think of anything more stable than a Vagabond in a true solo (Its wide). Royalex canoes are going to be hard to find as Polyone is no longer making it. Used, I can think of Eaglet and StarFire and both are way more than nine hundred.

Mad River Freedom Solo also comes to mind. You said your seat being so low bothers your back in the Vagabond. Is it tilted (canted) at all? I would tilt the seat first so the back is lower than the front before discarding the boat.

Here are Placids specs for a seat.

http://www.placidboats.com/outfitting.html

The back height for the low pedestal is 1.375 inches and the front 2.5 inches. Yes outfitting makes a HUGE difference. Kayakers change their seats all the time if the seat is causing back pain.
 
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YC, yes the Vagabond is very stable and I really love this boat. I don't have any issues with it. The issues lie with me.
Maybe I should use it more this coming year and play around with the seat. Maybe since I never kneel, I could move the seat forward a few inches to get my weight closer to center and then raise the seat a bit. I could lose some weight too I guess, but that is never as easy or as fun as buying a bigger boat.
I looked at the specs for the Bob's Special and it is a bit wider. I'll have to find a few of the recommended canoes and try them to compare.
 
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Schiff - 5’9”, 240lbs, lakes and moving water, fishing, canoe camping, bring the dog, good primary stability, under $1000.

My first thoughts would be a used, symmetrical tandem in the 15-16 foot range. Royalex would be fine, or a well-made composite if you could find one used in your price range. I’d stay away from poly canoes if only for the weight factor.

Symmetrical rocker and symmetrical hull shape (not swede or fish form), so you could paddle it from the bow seat backwards with some trim weight (dog and gear) forward. Make sure there isn’t a thwart behind the bow seat that would preclude leg room when paddled backwards.

Seating height is easily adjusted by installing different seat drops, and some canoes have OEM seats on which the height is adjustable (aluminum bracket seat hangers with spacers are especially easy).

I have a blown L2/L3 and cannot paddle comfortably without a back band and foot brace. Both are easy to install. I use a Wenonah sliding foot brace and Surf-to-Summit back band. Double blading a canoe you will be much happier with a foot brace and back band. There’s another $100.

There are dozens of canoes that fit that bill. The 16’ OT Camper is one (or the OT Pathfinder at 14’ 10”). Both of those are flat bottomed and have gobs of primary stability, but the secondary stability vanishes at some degree of lean. Or a used Old Town Penobscot, a bit of shallow arch (or shallow vee) isn’t a bad thing.

A used composite Mad River Explorer or an MR Malecite would fit the bill as well. Those, like to Old Towns, are fairly common on the used market.

One advantage of buying a used RX canoe is that the foam core in the Royalex will have had time to firm up. Fresh from the oven RX canoes bruise like ripe bananas. I wouldn’t buy a new RX canoe unless I could let it sit and firm up for a year.

Given what I have heard and read about the state of the aging RX manufacturing equipment and the impending plant closing in April I don’t think I’d want one of the last produced sheets of Royalex used for my new boat in any case.
 
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YC, yes the Vagabond is very stable and I really love this boat. I don't have any issues with it. The issues lie with me.
Maybe I should use it more this coming year and play around with the seat. Maybe since I never kneel, I could move the seat forward a few inches to get my weight closer to center and then raise the seat a bit. I could lose some weight too I guess, but that is never as easy or as fun as buying a bigger boat.
I looked at the specs for the Bob's Special and it is a bit wider. I'll have to find a few of the recommended canoes and try them to compare.

Height. NOT weight is the first criterion for fitting a boat to be paddled solo. You deal with extra avoirdupois by trying to lower the center of gravity and then making a comfortable seat. Seats for kneeling are generally canted forward and for sitting low are canted backward to avoid back strain.

It seems that psychologically you feel vulnerable in a small boat and your mind is playing games with your experience. Have you ever intentionally flipped or is avoiding flipping of utmost importance?

If you can lift it find a Swift Raven. Its a huge solo but because it is a downriver tripper, sometimes they come up for sale in the oddest places. I got mine in Connecticut for four hundred dollars new.

Also I see a Curtis Nomad for sale in PA but its 1500. That is high. I paid eight hundred for mine used. Its another big solo that easily handles 400 lbs.
 
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"It seems that psychologically you feel vulnerable in a small boat and your mind is playing games with your experience. Have you ever intentionally flipped or is avoiding flipping of utmost importance?"

Interesting insight. I have never flipped. I do worry that if I raise the seat, I will lose stability. I don't want to flip and lose my fishing gear. Most is tied in though.
I think that sitting low, puts all my weight on my tail bone and lower back. Both start to hurt after an hour.
I think that if I could sit higher, that would give me some relief. Legs below me instead of parallel.
I think to get higher, I need a bigger boat.
Now I say "I think" because I really don't know.

Looking at this, I guess my goal is to have everything my Vagabond now has, but with a higher seat. Maybe I am approaching this in the wrong way?
Maybe I should modify what I have to be more comfortable to me.
 
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"It seems that psychologically you feel vulnerable in a small boat and your mind is playing games with your experience. Have you ever intentionally flipped or is avoiding flipping of utmost importance?"

Interesting insight. I have never flipped. I do worry that if I raise the seat, I will lose stability. I don't want to flip and lose my fishing gear. Most is tied in though.
I think that sitting low, puts all my weight on my tail bone and lower back. Both start to hurt after an hour.
I think that if I could sit higher, that would give me some relief. Legs below me instead of parallel.
I think to get higher, I need a bigger boat.
Now I say "I think" because I really don't know.

Looking at this, I guess my goal is to have everything my Vagabond now has, but with a higher seat. Maybe I am approaching this in the wrong way?
Maybe I should modify what I have to be more comfortable to me.


Well have I the solution for you! Not to tell you what is right and wrong for you but if you are amenable to travelling across Pennsylvania (it seems to go on forever like Kansas but with more up and down) the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous in June (first weekend) can help you sort it all out. Coopers Pond is so shallow that capsizes require just walking out.

Do you have a footbar in your Vagabond? That helps SO much with the back. Kayakers always have foot pegs..so should seated canoeists. What happens with every paddle stroke is that without a footbar you are pushing yourself forward off your seat.. Without foot support all the stress goes to your back.

Sometimes backs and cocci and the ilk do throw a proverbial monkey wrench in the mix.
 
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Well, the Rendezvous sounds like fun and probably the best place to try as many boats as possible.
I'll look into how far away it is from me.
I do not have foot pegs/bar in the Vagabond. I know I've seen them for sale and will look into getting a set that is adjustable.
 
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OOh ow... paddling sitting without a foobrace. I know I have trouble after an hour! My Nomad has one and its such a difference. My Peregrine does not so when my back seizes I swap to kneeling.
 
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I don't want to hijack here, but is there such a thing as a temporary foot brace instal? Something that can be removed when a tandem returns to double duty? I'm wondering if this, as well as a seat adjustment might help out schiff. Not trying to spoil a shopping trip schiff, I'm just asking & learning here.
 
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I don't want to hijack here, but is there such a thing as a temporary foot brace instal? Something that can be removed when a tandem returns to double duty? I'm wondering if this, as well as a seat adjustment might help out schiff. Not trying to spoil a shopping trip schiff, I'm just asking & learning here.
Sure, you can make one yourself very easily. Get a 1" wood dowel, cut to a length something short of the width of your canoe where your feet go. Cut one 3/4 inch hole in each of two tennis balls, so they fit tightly over the ends of the dowel. Use two ropes, or adjustable tie-down straps, attached to the ends of the dowel and your seat such that the dowel becomes your temporary foot rest. The tennis balls keep the dowel up off the bottom of the canoe. Boatmaker Pat Brown came up with this idea and you will see this method used from time to time on the Adirondack 90-miler.
 
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Joined
Nov 28, 2013
Messages
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Location
Red Hill, Pa
I don't want to hijack here, but is there such a thing as a temporary foot brace instal? Something that can be removed when a tandem returns to double duty? I'm wondering if this, as well as a seat adjustment might help out schiff. Not trying to spoil a shopping trip schiff, I'm just asking & learning here.

Brad, Hijacks are not a problem. It just stirs up more ideas, opinions and discussions. Thanks.
 
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Well Schiff, had the same problem, went from canoe to kayak back to canoe, nothing suited me for what I wanted, a good fishing canoe. I did a little research found myself a nice wide canoe at a decent price. sits high, very stable. Go to BearCreekcanoe.com,, look at the Chubby. I have not had it in the water yet but just looking at it and sitting in it solved my problem. I am in the process of rigging it up now and will post pics one day when finished. and for 550.00 can always sell it later. Mr. Moore did a excellent job in building this canoe, he can make it solo or tandem same price. Xmas came early for me this year
 
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Bluegrasscanoe, I just had a look at the site...bearcreekcanoes. That boat, the chubby looks pretty nice, but to get it at $550 I would need to go and pick it up from the factory. No shipping. Still, the canoe was looking good. Did you have to go to Maine to pick yours up?
I think 12ft is a bit too short for my preference.
Thanks for the heads up on this canoe and will look into it a bit further.
 
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