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martenskier21
member (6)member
  
04/14/2024 08:06PM  
Planning a solo trip and all I have is a 12 foot fiberglass canoe. It is in good condition however, only issue is it is really wide at over 40 inches in the middle but I can make it work. It’s an old town Stillwater 12. I tested it today on a lake that was windy and wavy and made about 2.5 mph with my backpack. My route that I planned is 80 miles and I have 14 days to complete it putting my average at 5.7 miles a day. That would mean an average of 2.5 hours of paddling a day.

I would ideally rent an expensive Kevlar canoe. However, my trip is two weeks and I really don’t want to pay $45 a day X 14. I’m an Eagle Scout and have a lot of backpacking experience as well as kayak camping on rivers. Just wondering if I should just go for it with what I have. I know it would be nicer to upgrade but I'm really just wondering if I will be fine with this canoe.
 
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CatchMe
senior member (55)senior membersenior member
  
04/14/2024 08:30PM  
80 miles in 14 days will be easy. You could probably do it in half as many days with that canoe. I like that you have your own canoe and want to put it to work. I also take my canoe on trips that are better suited for other boats, but it is free and ready to go. I wouldn't upgrade canoes unless you plan to take a dozen+ trips and have a desire to cover more distance per day.
04/14/2024 08:39PM  
Make sure all your gear fits into the canoe and it can handle the weight. Fourteen days for your trip means 12 days for paddling, one day for weather delay, and one day for misc. Two miles per hour is a good round number for planning purposes.
04/14/2024 08:44PM  
Can you portage it? Does it float? Does it fit your gear? If the answer to those 3 questions is yes, then don’t worry about fitting some kind of “norm” and enjoy your much cheaper trip!
martenskier21
member (6)member
  
04/14/2024 09:16PM  
Yes, yes, and yes. I think i'll go for it. I'll stay close to the shoreline at all times just to be safe.
04/15/2024 06:09AM  
So long as you can carry it OK and paddle 2.5-3 hours per day you'll be fine. It's not a race. When you solo you can go at whatever pace you want.

One other option is to buy a used canoe and then sell it when you're done. It shouldn't lose much if any value. That can be a hassle, though, and requires plunking down a good chunk of change.
04/15/2024 07:38AM  
A few years ago I saw a group with two 12ft canoes that they had made; They told me they loved them--they seemed a little unstable to me. I do a 15-day solo trip every year and I don't know if I could fit my gear in one of those. I'd make sure you test it with all your gear before committing to it.
04/15/2024 08:16AM  
I agree with others with some caveats . . .

I don't know much about that canoe, but it's probably OK if you know its limitations. One key will be keeping proper "trim". Does it have a portage yoke? On your test paddle with backpack, will have more weight on the actual trip? How big (and how windy) was that lake compared to the ones you'll have on your trip?

I don't know you, your experience, your route, etc. I don't know what you know, what you don't, and consequently what you need to know. You don't mention portaging . . . ?

Like bobber, I generally used 2 mph avg. for the total miles paddling and portaging, which included the extra portage miles to double portage. Will you be single portaging? I generally figured [conservatively] 5 hours or 10 miles per day on average, and every 4th day or so as a weather/layover day. That would make your trip an easily doable trip with 10 days of travel assuming all other things are equal.

Will this be your first BWCA trip? First solo trip? There's a special interest solo tripping forum that might be of interest. You can also read trip reports covering your route, and if you share it people will chime in with additional information.

Have a good trip!
04/15/2024 08:22AM  
martenskier21: "Yes, yes, and yes. I think i'll go for it. I'll stay close to the shoreline at all times just to be safe. "

I have made more than a dozen trips using my Old Town 119 (11 feet 9 inches) as a solo in the BWCA, duck hunting, fishing and just messing around. I'm not even sure what mine is made of; poly something and weighs empty at 43#. Maybe not as stable as a tandem.

Do you have a yoke? If you can portage your canoe without killing yourself, go for it.

Staying close to the shore line has it's own safety concerns, running up on rocks or logs can tip you just as well as wind and waves. Keep your eyes open, wear your PFD and have a wonderful trip.
tumblehome
distinguished member(2928)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/15/2024 09:33AM  
Well I will stray from the consensus and say you will absolutely hate that canoe. The length and width of that canoe is the very last thing you will want when going on a long solo trip. You won’t know just how awful that canoe is until you get in a solo meant for traveling.

MOST, not all, solo canoes will range from 14’ to 16’ and be around 30” at the waterline. Usually a little less at the gunwales. A long narrow solo canoe is the ticket for solo canoeing. It’s just basic physics, not a personal opinion.

I implore you to try and get yourself in a solo canoe meant for travel and try it for a few hours. Please.

College students have made canoes in engineering classes made of concrete. But it doesn’t mean they will take it to the BWCA. Your canoe is similar to a concrete canoe, not in weight but in water displacement.

Tom
04/15/2024 05:05PM  
Toms post got me thinking about my Old Town Pack.

12' long 32 inches at the gunnels, 35#'s. I moved the seat back and keep a full time yoke on it. I camped in it many times in the BW with my 80 pound GS dog. One trip was a week solo.

My pack is a slow boat, sure you have lots of time but remember, you will get winded bound often, you better stick to small lakes. My pack is also hard to paddle, trim is super important/my 80# dog helped with that.
Guess I will kinda side with Tom. I am mostly concerned about the length and the Gunnel width. You are going to catch a lot of wind and be a sail. You better be a savey paddler. I am glad things seem to have gone well on your windy day trial, this is comforting. I would consider other options.

Some have said buy a canoe and sell it after the trip.
Borrow one or ask on this site if someone will rent you theirs cheap to you.
I don't know. If it is all you got it is all you got.

Tell you what, send me a pm and I may rent my Old Town Pack to you for cheap. It is sort of beat up, has skid plates on it and floats fine. Pick up in Duluth.
RedLakePaddler
distinguished member (268)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/15/2024 06:24PM  
tumblehome: "Well I will stray from the consensus and say you will absolutely hate that canoe. The length and width of that canoe is the very last thing you will want when going on a long solo trip. You won’t know just how awful that canoe is until you get in a solo meant for traveling.


MOST, not all, solo canoes will range from 14’ to 16’ and be around 30” at the waterline. Usually a little less at the gunwales. A long narrow solo canoe is the ticket for solo canoeing. It’s just basic physics, not a personal opinion.


I implore you to try and get yourself in a solo canoe meant for travel and try it for a few hours. Please.


College students have made canoes in engineering classes made of concrete. But it doesn’t mean they will take it to the BWCA. Your canoe is similar to a concrete canoe, not in weight but in water
displacement.



Tom"

I agree with Tom. You will tire of that canoe quick on the first day when every one passes you. Borrowing a good solo canoe would be the best in my opinion. I have solos I would borrow , but I am on the far west side of Minnesota, I can see ND from my yard.
Best wishes on your trip.
Carl
04/15/2024 07:06PM  
You can take that canoe for sure but as others have said you will tire out from lugging it around and paddling it in the type of conditions you would likely encounter in the BWCA. I think a shorter trip would be better to see how it's really going to work for you. Maybe instead of 80miles/14days, 40 miles/7 days. At the very least give yourself an out if things don't go according to plan and then you can head back to the entry point. I don't mean to discourage, by all means bring it if that's all you have. Just be realistic in your expectations and you'll have a good trip
Z4K
distinguished member (419)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/15/2024 07:14PM  
My first solo was 150 miles in a $100 fiberglass Scott Explorer tandem with all sorts of patches, cobbled together seats and... well, it leaked. It was indeed the ugliest thing on the river but it carried me, the dog and plenty of gear for 11 days. On another forum, a year or two ago a couple young men posted a youtube video about an ambitious trip they had taken with inferior gear. Many of the comments were talking about how their Sportspal (with sponsons!) was the worst tripping canoe ever made. The young men didn't have a clue about it until they came home and opened themselves up to comments from the internet. Don't be discouraged by the gatekeepers here, you'll have a great time.


I gave that Scott Explorer away last spring for free. Nowadays two of my seven canoes are purpose-built tripping solos and I wish I could afford two more. I will never again take a solo trip in a lesser canoe, and pity those that do.
04/16/2024 06:45AM  
Sounds like you've thought it through...if that's what you have and can afford to take, go for it. You know you'll be slow and that it won't handle rough water well. Act accordingly and you'll have fun.

As others have said - be sure you have a yoke. If the boat does not have one, find/beg/borrow/buy/build a clamp-on one. I don't see that as optional.

Lastly, if your solo trip is planned for then next few weeks when the water is still deathly cold, then maybe rethink the plan.
Driftless
distinguished member (365)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/17/2024 09:29AM  
At some points during your trip you will regret it - long portage, windy day. Obviously it is not the idea canoe for the BWCA.

That being said, I started going to the BWCA over 40 years ago in high school and have done so every year since. We had no money to rent a light weight canoe. So it was fiberglass and aluminum beasts through high school, college, and grad school. The rest of our gear sucked too - heavy tents and sleeping bags.

My friends and I joked that we were "building character" and we needed it. The thing is, those are the most talked about trips still today. Would I give up my Kevlar canoe now and go back? Not a chance!!!

If you can borrow a more appropriate canoe, do so. If not get a yoke and go with what got and start making memories that will last lifetime!
04/18/2024 06:07AM  
naturboy12: "Can you portage it? Does it float? Does it fit your gear? If the answer to those 3 questions is yes, then don’t worry about fitting some kind of “norm” and enjoy your much cheaper trip!"
+1
04/25/2024 11:23AM  
When it comes to paddling, the only regret you will have is not taking any canoe. :)
Michwall2
distinguished member(1452)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/27/2024 10:31AM  
My very first trip was in a 14 foot royalex canoe that weighed 60+lbs. It was only 3 days and afterward I swore never again.

I understand why we the outfitter gave it to us. it was bomb proof for first timers in the BW. But, we spent more time going sideways than foreward in the wind on lakes. It was good for the winding river travel we did. But we didn't bounce the canoe off rocks. We were wet footing and doing everything else right to protect the canoe. Anyhow, the next year we rented kevlar and have never looked back.

My advice, rent a different canoe that you might like to own for the next 2 years. Take notes. Save to buy yourself a good solo. (Maybe by then you will find a paddling partner?) I look at the cost of rental as doing research. If you are working through the right outfitter, they may deduct the cost of rental from your purchase price?

I learn something every time a rent a piece of equipment. Even if it is: I don't like that brand. You know and can move on.

Johan
Guest Paddler
  
04/29/2024 08:10PM  
Go for it!!!! I have a very similar vessel, named the birch bark. Its tough trying to keep straight against the wind, but sure does beat walking or staying home! Load it up n pin it! You got this!!!
RiverOtter23
member (7)member
  
05/02/2024 03:32PM  
Depending on where your canoe's seat is located, you may want to consider using an oversized (longer) kayak paddle. If your canoe is a solo, the seat is likely towards the center of the canoe and with a beam width of 40" you'll need to reach a bit to get a shorter kayak paddle into the water; a single blade would be even worse. At 40" your canoe is likely fairly difficult to tip; however, the more you reach over the side to get that blade in the water, the greater your risk of tipping. All good suggestions here. Have a great and enjoyable trip.
RiverOtter23
member (7)member
  
05/02/2024 03:32PM  
05/04/2024 04:14PM  
Ya - Just go for it. You won’t regret it that is for sure.
Have fun!
 
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