Suggestions on a Solo Canoe?

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Hey guys,

I'm looking to buy a solo canoe this year. Right now I have a Nova Craft Tripper 16 Tandem and when I solo paddle it I use a kneeling thwart, it's made for tracking and It works alright but would like a solo that I can take on weekend solo trips on Rivers/Streams, and lakes with portages when need be.

Since I want to do lakes and streams with this I was thinking either a Nova Craft Bob Special 15 (use it turned around for solo, and then as a day tripping tandem), or a Wenonah Wilderness (1.5in of Rocker seems like it'd both track well and be useable in Streams/Rivers).

Thoughts? Opinions?

Thank you in Advance!
 
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My opinion (since you asked) is, first, that you should get a dedicated solo and forget about making do with a tandem. There are several reasons, the most important being that a solo is narrower and thus easier to paddle.

Several boats come to mind:
Bell Merlin II
Hemlock Peregrine or Kestrel (the Peregrine works better on rivers than I suspected)
Wenonah Wilderness- composite, not Royalex

The Swift Keewaydin 15 and Osprey are highly recommended, as is the Placid RapidFire.

I'd include the Nova Craft Supernova, but at 32" it's too wide.
 
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I have not had a chance to paddle one yet, but I was eyeing a Hemlock SRT (Solo River Tripper). There is good information and a new video on the website. Dave Curtis as a pretty extensive list of used and demo canoes available.
Erik
 
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What size paddler are you. It makes a big difference in boat selection. By the way, I have a NC Pal and a Bob special. I paddle both canoes solo and have no complaints with either one. I'm 6' 2" / 220 lbs and appreciate the room to move around and change positions. I use my Pal for solo tripping in the BWCA and my Bob for local day trips on rivers. I am not a ultra lite camper so I like having plenty of room for gear. I did not "make do" with a tandem, I chose both of them for my usage and preferences.
 
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I'm like Rippy, both in size and in canoe choices, kind of. I paddle solo a lot, I teach a lot soloing a tandem canoe, by choice to! I like a 16 foot prospector style canoe for soloing, It can handle everything from flat water to class 3 rapids. I like the room for gear, and the "speed" compare to a shorter canoe that would handle the same water bodys as mention above.
 
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I make do with tandems nowadays but I did own a MR Guide and a Wenonah Argosy. I didn't like the Guide but maybe it was me and not the canoe.

I liked the Argosy, mine was RX. I found it used at a very reasonable price, and used it on a few trips. Although I am by no means an experienced "dedicated solo" canoe paddler, I found it to be a very versatile and in the end I really liked the canoe.
I just never warmed up to having so much of the canoe behind me on a trip and that temporary carry thwart thing bugged me.I sold the canoe and just paddle w/c tandems now (15' x 30") (16' x 34") I like to have more of the canoe and my packs in front to add to my viewing pleasure and a permanent center carry thwart. But that's just me, the solo thing is fine.

Anyway, if you can get a chance to paddle one, I would give it a try.


 
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RipppppppppppppppY! Where you been?

Lurking in the boat build threads. I have nada to contribute there so I just read and look at the pictures. I know, It's hard to believe I can come in here and not stir the pot, so nobody noticed me over in the corner. Also I have been out in the garage more. Glad to know I was missed.

Since the OP mentioned a NC Bob Special, I mentioned that I love mine. Lots of reveiws on the net of people who enjoy their Bob paddled solo. After trying a dedicated solo for a couple of years I went back to paddling tandems backwards. A solo might be the best fit for you, it might not. A test paddle will tell the story. Since you mentioned tripping it would be good to throw in a pack or two to see how it paddles loaded.
 
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I would agree it's personal preference but it would be good if you could try one out. Over the past few years I have rented 2 different kevlar solo canoes for a BWCA trip, one was a Bell and one was a Wenonah and I had a double bladed paddle come with each too. I learned a couple of things - one, I am not a double blade guy but that's just me. Second I learned I can go either way, having a little more room in a tandem along with the permanent yoke cause I tend to take a lot of portages is probably where I lean.
 
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started soloing in a nc-bob special in the late 80's -- is a nice enough boat, tho a bit beamy -- i moved to a w/c chum for a few decades, and now prospectors -- tho i'm a larger guy and 'solo' with a larger sled-dog these days...the prospector is a supremely adequate boat, tho if i was only using the boat for solo, i would go with a 16' cruiser, PAL, or maybe a 15' prospector...

this is how it trims with a single-pack weekends worth of gear...
 

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I have a Wenonah Wilderness (32 lbs) that I trip with. I like it a lot. I made a removable yoke for it which is a bit of a pain if you have a lot of portages, but you get used to it. If I have just a small pack I usually shoulder carry it on day trips and leave the yoke behind. It has more depth to the hull than most solo canoes so it will carry a load if need be. When unloaded it has a bit of windage if it is blowing. It is generally faster than a tandem being paddled solo but that is totally dependent on the paddlers. You do have to split your load when tripping to balance the trim. I just put a sliding bucket seat in mine and I think I might be able to place one hvy pack just behind the seat and slide forward a bit for balance. Haven't tried that yet. Lots of different ways to go. It becomes a personal choice in how you want to do it.
Regards,
Dave
 
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Thanks all for the recommendations. I'll look into those models... Can Composite really handle Class I and sometimes Class II rapids if need be? Also I'm 6ft 1in and 210lbs...
 
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Whether composite boats can handle rapids has more to do with the paddler than the boat. Composites can get dinged up, but they can also be repaired. The great advantage of composite boats is that they can be made with much more refined hulls than Royalex. Many (all?) of Esquif's whitewater boats were composite designs.

Anyway, Class I's aren't really whitewater, although they can be shallow and rocky; and Class II's usually offer enough passages to avoid most rocks.
 
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Phil, just a small clarification, only one Esquif whitewater hull, the Zephyr, was made in composite, the other ten or so were royalex and poly.

I would not be afraid to run any of the modern composites through white water, just keep in mind you should avoid collisions with immovable objects.
 
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I run class II-III rapids in composite boat all day. I have a solo Millbrook Shacho. I have a 16' Composite Creation, and a 17.5' Hellman Slocan. They all can take a fare amount of hits before any damage can be seen. That said, there is a lot of difference in composites, the way they are made and the different layup used in there construction can make a huge difference.

As for Esquif, like mem said, only the Zephyr was "composite". The spark was design by John Kazimierczyk of Millbrook boats. but never been made in composite.

If you know how to paddle, a properly made composite canoe will withstand a lot of abuse before needing repairs!!
 
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Phil, just a small clarification, only one Esquif whitewater hull, the Zephyr, was made in composite, the other ten or so were royalex and poly.

Thanks for the correction. I was remembering what I saw at Canoecopia - obviously not the full line.
 
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Great input guys! I think after reading everyones input I'm definitely going to go Composite. I think the local shops sell Wenonah and Bell. Probably the Wilderness and Magic (the merlin II doesn't seem to be made anymore?) So I'll probably look into those first and go from there. Hopefully test paddle before I buy.
 
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You should talk to John at Millbrook boats, I know he had a shorter "AC/DC" that have a blem... I'm sure you could get it for cheep. His boats are fabulous boats for a really reasonable price! He's really easy to contact true Facebook. Or you can contact him here http://www.millbrookboats.com
 
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One of the things you have probably already considered is what kind of paddling/tripping you do. And then ask yourself what kind of tripping you want to do.
The weight of the solo canoe is very important; many folks make it the most imortant consideration during the purchasing process. I believe that the lighter the canoe weighs, the more it will get used.

When I went from using an 80lb Grumman to a 56lb MR, the amount of days I spent paddling increased by 4x. Then when I purchased a 30lb solo, the amount of days I spent paddling increased by 4x again. Now I have to admit that over the past 33 years of being married, family dynamics played a big role in the amount of time I spent paddling during the various seasons of life. The ease of loading the canoe onto a car and portaging a canoe was also an equal factor. Many lakes and ponds that I previously deemed to hard to get to, I now consider no big deal to portage to them.

Single trip portages have been my SOP, thanks to light weight canoes. However, my aging and aching back has me thinking that my single trip portaging days may be numbered.
 
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I guess since we don't portage or rarely portage, weight is not a real issue for us, but durability is more importent, so a heavier layup is what I look for. My Shacho for exemple I could have bought it at 26#, but I went with a heavier layup and it is about 8# heavier than that... I don't think a super light canoe up here would last really long on the type of trips we do. But again it really depends what you are and will be doing with the boat!!

Good luck, and let us know what you decided!!
 
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