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Solo or small tandem (to fit the dog)

May 4, 2023
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Winnipeg-ish, Manitoba Canada
First time builder here trying to settle on a cedar strip design. I had decided on a dedicated solo canoe like a Kite or Ashes Solo Trip, but I don't think that leaves a lot of room for a dog. If I wanted to bring her along, I expect we'd be up over 300 pounds.

I was thinking something a little larger, both for the extra capacity and stability (Australian Shepard's aren't great at sitting still). I don't know if anyone here is familiar with the Ashes Angler's Day, but it seems like it would sit somewhere between a Kite and Bob's Special.

If anyone has experience with this boat, I'd be interested in your opinions. Any other recommendations would be welcome also.

Main uses would be solo trips, likely under a week, in lakes and rivers - no whitewater. A tandom might be nice for the odd time when there's an extra person, but still kinda planning on a solo.

Rex Stardust (Duane), I'm not one of the builders but want to welcome you to site membership.

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For the propose weight, my opinion is that the Kite would be too small. I have had the Osprey, which is basically the same boat, loaded up with 300 and over, and it starts to get pretty sluggish. My suggestion for larger solo's is the Raven, a J. Winters deign available from www.greenval.com
Hi Rex and welcome to the forum. I'm unfamiliar with the Ashes designs but I agree w/ Mem that 300+ lbs is a bit much for a Kite. My first build was a Freedom Solo (16 foot version). With me and gear, I was in the 270(ish) class and it handled well on lakes & slow moving water. To add 40 lbs to the load and have some of that increase embodied in a high-energy canine, I think I'd look at something closer to the Raven as Mem suggests.

Whatever you decide, I'll be looking forward to following along so, by all means, post a build thread. It really is a very rewarding project.
I have built 2 of the Freedom Solo 16'2" boats and they may be close to what you want IMO

You could go with a narrower boat like the Ashes which has high reviews as a solo, but if you consider the dog and potential movement , then you likely would be wise to consider a bit more stability, with a little extra width, I think the Freedom Solo would be a good choice.

Hey Mem, you built a cedar strip Raven I think? I think you posted it paddled better than a RX built boat. How tender would that boat be with a fidgety dog? I think the Raven in cedar strip could be a good idea.

Thanks for all the replies. I've seen those Raven build threads but hadn't considered it due to it having a more significant rocker. As a solo paddler, my assumption was that less would be beneficial for tracking but maybe I'm making that more of an issue than I need to. I've paddled a lot of different canoes over the years, but never my own, never solo, and never with any consideration for hull shape. Trying to anticipate how differences in statistics will affect the performance is a bit of a guess for me. I read your "Raven, part 2" post, Mem, and if you were happy enough with the first to build another, it sounds like it works just fine. The size is certainly in the range I'm looking for.

My canoe (and pup) are in my profile picture. It's a 17' Grumman that the previous owner cut the back off and bolted on a heavy wooden transom and rear seat. I portaged the beast last summer and it wasn't pleasant. I'd estimate it's weight at 600-700 pounds (felt that way at least). Basically anything I build will be a step up.

A lot will depend on the dog. Are you a 150 pound person with a 150 pound dog or a 270 pound person with a 30 pound dog?

I love my P15 for dog hauling. The Swift P14 is a solo, but it’s got the capacity. The problem with dedicated solos and dogs is the seat location will require more weight to trim the load.
How about a 15' Bob's Special, which is a classic small tandem that is often soloed. I have one in aramid. It's wide and has a lot of volume, not much rocker like a Raven.

I had original planned on building the Bob's Special after reading Canoecraft. Then I read some of the build threads here for the Kite and I reconsidered that decision. The main advantage with the Bob's Special is it would work with a second person as well. I was considering the Ashes canoe because they say it's modelled on the BS but it's slightly narrower which appeals to me. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere online yet so maybe I need to be the guinea pig and try it out.

Alan, I'm 200 but trending downward - dog's around 50 pounds.
...the seat location will require more weight to trim the load.
That's the beauty of building your own; the seat can be placed wherever you like (understanding that you'll give up some control to reposition the seat) but you can move seats, thwarts, etc to suit your needs and, in my opinion, you should... experiment and make it your own.)
The problem with solo canoes is the seat placement. If you add a big dog, you need something to put at the other end. Moving the seat back a little is possible but complicated. I could do it with my Phoenix, but I’d lose the rear thwart. I’d do it in a minute if not for that.
I'm leaning towards a solo canoe. If that means I take the dog only on shorter trips where I can pack lighter and perhaps deal with less than ideal weight distribution, I can live with that. It's not always a bad thing to move slower and do more fishing. And if it really won't work to have the dog in a solo, that just means I have to build another canoe - not opposed to that (my wife might be, but it'll be an "ask for forgiveness" thing, not an "ask for permission").

Thanks for all the opinions. I'm sure I'll have many questions that I hope you veterans can help with once I start building. I'll try to post pictures along the way.

A 5 gal jug of lake/river water behind you will offset the doggie enough to keep you from plowing water. You don’t have to fill it completely depending on dog weight.
I always liked using a dry bag for water ballast. Takes up hardly any room when empty and fits the stem well when full.

I used to use rocks I'd find on sight until someone pointed out there was a legit possibility of sinking the canoe during a capsize.

IIRC, the design load for the Kite is 283 lbs (NOT 340!)
That still leaves plenty for gear.
As Alan said upthread, a 5 gal collapsible jug works well…I had build a DY Special and goofed up the seat placement, missed by 40 lbs 6ft from my seat, that water jug saved me!!
Better than rocks, they’re not always Andy, but there’s usually water where you’re paddling. Usually.
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I've found that I like a smaller size tandem to use with my 70# pup, has more room for the pup and my gear and seems easier to balance out everything than a solo was. Currently my go to is a 14.5' Merrimack Traveler that was/is a hybrid test model that came in at 39#.