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      3-Person or tandem & a solo for group of three?     
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Pilgrimpaddler
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06/15/2019 07:14PM
I had one of our group of four drop out of an upcoming trip. My original plan was to rent two tandem MN II canoes, but that obviously won’t work now. I’m trying to decide between a MN III or a MN II and a solo. I’ve found that the middle paddler in a 3-man canoe usually has a more difficult paddle than the bow and stern paddlers, so I’m thinking that an added solo and a tandem will give everyone a good experience.

Am I wrong or just over-thinking here?
 
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GraniteCliffs
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06/15/2019 08:32PM
I think you would be much more efficient paddling the MN3. Easier to Portage one boat and your paddling speed will be faster than having one person in a solo.
The upside of using a solo is it might be a new experience for your group and it would give u some options if you decide to base amp.
On my trips if we wind up with three folks I always take the 3 but we paddle and Portage all day on every trip.
Pilgrimpaddler
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06/15/2019 08:48PM
GraniteCliffs: "I think you would be much more efficient paddling the MN3. Easier to Portage one boat and your paddling speed will be faster than having one person in a solo.
The upside of using a solo is it might be a new experience for your group and it would give u some options if you decide to base amp.
On my trips if we wind up with three folks I always take the 3 but we paddle and Portage all day on every trip. "

The plan is to base camp (hopefully on Cherry Lake) with only one difficult portage on the way in plus maybe an overnight foray into the nearby PMA but with numerous day trips, so speed isn’t too important for this trip.
Reke0402
member (42)member
 
06/15/2019 09:45PM
We had an odd number last year and went with the 3 man, this year we went with 2 3 mans instead of 3 2 man canoes guys like the speed and less canoes to carry
kajsa
member (16)member
 
06/15/2019 11:24PM
The only times I’ve been in a group of 3, it was 3 of us in a very loaded MN 2. If it were me, not having an extra boat to portage would win out. We’ve also had bad headwinds where it felt like the 3rd paddler was the only reason we were making any headway. Depends on your trip plans, though - if you don’t have a lot of portages, or if only one person wants to fish, then having the flexibility might make sense.
06/16/2019 04:25AM
Is any one, or all, of you familiar with soloing? If nobody has paddled a solo canoe long distances, you may be underestimating the extra time and frustration. Paddling a solo, somewhat efficiently, is different than paddling tandem. If you get much wind, this problem gets multiplied, not just for travel, but for fishing in the solo also. If none of you have tripped solo before, rent a designed 3 man canoe.
x2jmorris
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06/16/2019 07:13AM
If speed isn't any issue I would go with two canoes. That way once at camp if one person wants to stay back they don't feel like they can't rejoin later. Just so many more options available.
DRB
member (14)member
 
06/16/2019 08:18AM
We had the same issue this year with a late dropout due to a severe medical problem. I have always been hesitant to go with an odd number. We used a MN III and I was incredibly impressed with it. The middle paddler does have a tougher time paddling efficiently but it was fast. We had plenty of capacity and ot handled very well. The portages were nice with one canoe and two “pack mules”. I would do it again without a second thought. I almost went with a single but we were very happy not to post trip! Good luck!
06/16/2019 12:42PM
Just a sidenote, If you're going to Cherry you might consider going to Amoeber via the north portage, then Topaz and Cherry. It's pretty easy.
lskidder
member (36)member
 
06/16/2019 03:57PM
We had the same thing happen a couple of years ago. Canoe Country Outfitters recommended that we take a Souris River 3 seater. I had my two high school age grandsons but the canoe had no problem handling us and our packs. We hit Kekekabic facing a good 25 mph wind and still made excellent headway with no problems.

I had made a solo trip back in 1974 when I was 22 years old and had my AlumaCraft Quetico. I dropped my Duluth Pack in the bow and had a good trip with no problems except on the last day running against a gale force wind on Newfound and Moose lakes and a tight schedule dictating me. I'm getting old now but would still do a solo allowing plenty of time and discretion for the wind.
Pilgrimpaddler
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06/16/2019 08:41PM
cowdoc: "Is any one, or all, of you familiar with soloing? If nobody has paddled a solo canoe long distances, you may be underestimating the extra time and frustration. Paddling a solo, somewhat efficiently, is different than paddling tandem. If you get much wind, this problem gets multiplied, not just for travel, but for fishing in the solo also. If none of you have tripped solo before, rent a designed 3 man canoe."
I did an 8-day solo last year so I’m comfortable paddling solo. However, there is an added wrinkle, as there will now be a 70 pound dog going with us. Given the added dog, I’m a bit concerned about having room in a MN III for three men, packs and a large dog. Is that an unnecessary worry?
Michwall2
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06/17/2019 07:45AM
Pilgrimpaddler: "cowdoc: "Is any one, or all, of you familiar with soloing? If nobody has paddled a solo canoe long distances, you may be underestimating the extra time and frustration. Paddling a solo, somewhat efficiently, is different than paddling tandem. If you get much wind, this problem gets multiplied, not just for travel, but for fishing in the solo also. If none of you have tripped solo before, rent a designed 3 man canoe."
I did an 8-day solo last year so I’m comfortable paddling solo. However, there is an added wrinkle, as there will now be a 70 pound dog going with us. Given the added dog, I’m a bit concerned about having room in a MN III for three men, packs and a large dog. Is that an unnecessary worry?"


I have lots of questions for you. But here is the bottom line:

(Disclaimer - I love the Minn's. We do mostly travelling trips and they are great for efficient travel. But, that comes at a price and since you asked:)

I have paddled both the Minn II and Minn III. They are great boats for covering distance in a hurry. Even fully loaded you will be faster than almost everything else out there. However, to achieve this, the design of the boat has less initial stability than other canoes. Fully loaded is better than without the packs. (What kind of canoe rider is the dog? Quiet or constantly shifting from side to side?) . I won't call the Minn's "jittery", but they do require more attention to trim and weight distribution. And, like any canoe, they are much better while in motion than sitting still in the water.

Room - The narrowness of the boat affects the amount of room available. The front seat moves to help trim the boat, except that the front of the boat is narrow. (Remember this is a fast boat!). Some people don't like the foot space that is left in front. (This is the same with either the Minn II or III.) . How many packs are you carrying in? Most people who base camp carry more gear. In my experience the space in front of the third paddler (between the thwarts) will hold 4 full size (#3) canoe packs standing up straight. (Maybe you can pile one pack up and carve out a space for the dog?) Anything else will start going up and affect the height of the center of gravity on the canoe. Will the dog sit at the feet of either the stern paddler or the third paddler? (No room at the front.) . You can put a small day pack or some fishing gear behind the stern paddler. And depending on the trim of the boat the bow paddler may have some space behind them for a small pack.

Weight - You have 3 people (average 180-200 lbs?). At least 4 packs. (average 40-50 lbs?) One dog = 70 lbs. (plus dog food!) At the least you are probably at about 800 lbs. At the most you are looking at almost 900+ lbs! That's getting right up there for any canoe. Wenonah doesn't list a weight range for their 20' boat, but I looked at another canoe builder's website and they list their 20' boat weight range from 600 - 1000 lbs. So you are probably ok but I would say you are in the upper end of the weight range.

Portaging - The portage ends nearest the entries are usually no problem, but as you get further into the wilderness, those portage ends get narrower and narrower. It is often impossible to pull up parallel to many portage ends in a 20' boat. That means having to use some spacial reasoning to maneuver the canoe around rocks and trees to get everyone out in something less than waist deep water. The same can be said of getting packs out.

Most portages are ok with a 20' boat. They are more cumbersome and require some thinking in spots. It must come out bow first. Don't think you are going to spin it around at even the widest portage ends. Weight distribution on the shoulders is critical since the ends are so far away. I have encountered a couple portages that require a Y turn in spots. (That can happen even with the 18.5 boats, but it is more frequent with the 20'.) . I am not at all sure about bushwacking with a 20' boat into a PMA. Perhaps others can comment on issues with this plan.

Paddling - Both the Minn II and the Minn II are battleships in the water. The Minn II has no rocker at all. It tracks like crazy. Getting it turned takes some muscle. The Minn III has a minimal amount of rocker (1.5") but the length still makes it tough to get turned. Paddling either in a meandering river setting requires steering input from the bow paddler. I like the Minn III in the wind. The bow and middle paddlers provide the power and the stern steers. However, fully loaded these boats tend to cut into and through the waves rather than ride up on them.

The middle paddler in the Minn III can provide more power. He or she is closer to the gunwale and can be more vertical with the paddle. However, the middle paddler is close enough to the stern paddler that unless they can keep a steady cadence and rhythm going, they will need to paddle opposite sides of the boat. (I think this is the same with any 3 man canoe.)

I am sure that this is more info than you were looking for about the Minn's. But it should help you make a good choice.



Jaywalker
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06/17/2019 07:55AM
Mostly that depends on the dog. Has it been in a canoe before? Does it have a strong prey drive if it sees a moose, ducks, loons, or canoe with another dog near you? Some are dead weight, and some are a constant threat to tipping. I've been inclined to speak up and suggest two boats which I'd say provides a bit more adventure and flexibility for fishing, but with the dog I'd definitely say go two canoes. With some gear in the solo, I think you'll be better able to create a space for the dog in the tandem - probably right in front of the stern paddler who can them help control it if needed. If well mannered, it could go in the solo with a bit less gear. And if you should tip, you can use the second canoe to right the first!
Nordstjernen
member (42)member
 
06/17/2019 08:10AM
"
I did an 8-day solo last year so I’m comfortable paddling solo. However, there is an added wrinkle, as there will now be a 70 pound dog going with us. Given the added dog, I’m a bit concerned about having room in a MN III for three men, packs and a large dog. Is that an unnecessary worry?"

I did a great 10 day 350 mile trip in a Minnesota 3 with two friends and my golden retriever.
It mostly depends on how much gear you pack, because a Minnesota 3 is very stable and so it is quite a good boat for a dog.
However, I know what it can be like to pack for a base camping trip and I could see it being quite overloaded.
The solo tandem combo might be a fun way to take everything including the kitchen sink.
If you stick to two large packs and one small with a minimal amount of fishing gear you would be pretty comfortable in a MN 3. Ask the outfitter for a test drive or advice, cause I guess it could depend on how much ya'll weigh too.
magaak1
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06/17/2019 10:59AM
If you are 3 larger individuals or have a lot of gear, consider the MN 4 for extra room. It is a barge, but very stable. It gave the 3 large guys more room to paddle and fish from.

Just another option to consider. Enjoy your trip!
OCDave
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06/17/2019 12:41PM
Just to make sure you are considering all your options: 3 Solo canoes;)
CampSnkRpr
member (12)member
 
06/17/2019 01:06PM
GraniteCliffs: "I think you would be much more efficient paddling the MN3. Easier to Portage one boat and your paddling speed will be faster than having one person in a solo.
The upside of using a solo is it might be a new experience for your group and it would give u some options if you decide to base amp.
On my trips if we wind up with three folks I always take the 3 but we paddle and Portage all day on every trip. "


+1 on this...

The last two years we have had 3 guys and taken the 3-man. My friends are larger dudes, but we also pack quite efficiently. The boat had no issues with the weight and keeping things balanced. The first year took a bit to get used to paddling and maneuvering, but after that we could navigate about anything - including crossing Agnes the long way in less than 25 mins with a strong tailwind, the waves about coming over the gunwale, but thats part of the experience right - We fish almost all day and it worked out well with three of us. We would rotate a person paddling to keep things moving while the other two fished or changed lures. When someone got snagged the other two would paddle until he could get freed up. We have thought about changing things up and going with a 2 and solo, but everything has gone so well the last couple years we have decided to stick with it.

I see that you will have a dog as well....I do not have any experience with that, so might change your decision here. Good luck!
 
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