BWCA Wenonah Sundowner 18 for Boundary Waters? Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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overland
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06/22/2024 09:58AM  
I've been looking for a used and not too expensive tandem canoe that's also light. What about an old Kevlar Sundowner 18--about 44 pounds? How would this be for a touring canoe? It's a little bigger than we need, but it's relatively light.
 
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06/22/2024 12:01PM  
I think it would be a very nice touring canoe, depending on its condition, of course. Sundowners had a good reputation. You might want to try it before you buy to check condition, initial stability, secondary stability, etc.

Have you seen the old spec sheet on the Wenonah web site?
Sundowner 18

By the way, I have a kevlar Spirit II that I'll be putting up for sale this month, but you may not find it interesting: 54 lbs with a green gel coat.
 
06/22/2024 12:21PM  
I own 2 Sundowner 18's. Really nice to travel in, hauls a good load and if paired against a 17 footer it will be out in front as it paddles so well.
 
06/22/2024 12:56PM  
I used a Kevlar Sundowner over 20 years ago and did not like it at all. One of the least stable feeling tandems I've paddled.

I don't remember if it was a 17 or 18. Some people seem to like them but reviews are all over the place, some with my experience, some calling it stable. Not sure why there is such a discrepancy. Definitely one you'd want to paddle before purchasing.
 
ockycamper
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06/22/2024 01:35PM  
I had a sundowner 18 and loved it.

I think if I drilled down on those that say it is not stable the issues would show. . . Their seat is too high or they are elevating themselves with a seat cushion; they don't have it trimmed correctly or have gear piled up above the gunnels (again weight too high); or they are trying to paddle the sundowner (which is a faster performance boat) like a Minn 3 which is a barge.
 
06/23/2024 06:19AM  
ockycamper: "I had a sundowner 18 and loved it.


I think if I drilled down on those that say it is not stable the issues would show. . . Their seat is too high or they are elevating themselves with a seat cushion; they don't have it trimmed correctly or have gear piled up above the gunnels (again weight too high); or they are trying to paddle the sundowner (which is a faster performance boat) like a Minn 3 which is a barge."


MNIII is a much faster hull than a Sundowner, not even close. I think the Sundowner is one of the poorest designs Wenonah ever produced. Slow, relatively unstable (especially when not in motion), very high sides to catch wind. During its hey day as a rental tandem I saw more swamped Sundowners in the process of loading and unloading than any hull I've seen since. We rented one on a 14 day trip that was paired with a MNII- with the two best paddlers the Sundowner (we rebadged it Sundogger) would lag far behind. In windy conditions it would get pushed around. Shed water decently in waves but really its only strength was that it didn't weigh much. Terrible design and thus discontinued for the equally doggy but much more stable and user friendly Spirit II.
 
tumblehome
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06/23/2024 06:30AM  
I don’t know much about that canoe but it is 14” deep which is pretty crazy deep for a canoe. It will ride high out of the water and be prone to catching wind. On the other hand, you can probably throw a ton of gear in the canoe.
Tom
 
06/23/2024 10:19AM  
plmn: "I used a Kevlar Sundowner over 20 years ago and did not like it at all. One of the least stable feeling tandems I've paddled.


I don't remember if it was a 17 or 18. Some people seem to like them but reviews are all over the place, some with my experience, some calling it stable. Not sure why there is such a discrepancy. Definitely one you'd want to paddle before purchasing. "


There are two kinds of stability, initial and final. My 18' Grumman lightweight has very high initial stability but once you start tipping, you're going to swim. My 18' Sundowner is very tippy when you get in but as it start to tip it gets more difficult to tip over.
 
fenrirrr
member (43)member
  
06/23/2024 03:09PM  
Tumblehome: "I don’t know much about that canoe but it is 14” deep which is pretty crazy deep for a canoe. It will ride high out of the water and be prone to catching wind. On the other hand, you can probably throw a ton of gear in the canoe."

14" sheer line at the center seems pretty normal for a tandem (looking at most of Wenonah and Northstar's lineup). Bow and stern sheer seem below average too. Maybe folks are just under-loading this boat?
 
scottiebaldwin
distinguished member (241)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/24/2024 01:23AM  
So much good advice here but it can be a bit overwhelming to the OP. It all really has to do with what your intended use is, the conditions under which you are paddling, the load which you will be carrying, price range, are you buying new or used, from a private seller or outfitter, etc. etc. etc.

My humble advice is to get out there and paddle a few canoes to see what you prefer. I had no idea I would like Northstar Canoes but found I preferred them over anything else. One of those factors is that they are located near the Twin Cities and have great knowledge and customer service. It's also the reason I buy all CCS gear as well. It's one of the intangibles that come into play when selecting a canoe. Ultimately most of us end up with a couple of canoes in our quiver and they all have a reason for being there. The right ones will find their way to you.

Good luck in your search and enjoy paddling.
 
jasp205
member (5)member
  
07/02/2024 09:55AM  
My dad bought a Kevlar Sundowner back in the 80s and passed it down to me. My husband was much happier with me bringing my canoe to our marriage over my Dodge Neon. LOL
I have used it on many trips over the last 40ish years and love it. We have used other canoes including a Spirit II, but I prefer the Sundowner. My husband and I have both felt it is much easier to paddle a fast, straight cruise with Sundowner in open water. The shorter canoes are easier to maneuver around obstacles though so they make better river canoes.
I have never had an issue with tipping the Sundowner. We have used it loaded heavily though we are careful to keep everything low. I can see why some people find them more unstable as you feel the initial shift a bit more than in the other canoes I have used. However the tipping seems to stop at a certain degree as RMinMN stated. I don't feel it would be easy to actually swamp it and we never have. It just has a feel you need to get used to.
One downside to me would be that the 18'6" length means shorter people like myself have a harder time portaging on steeper hills as the clearing both the front and and the rear can be tricky. Thankfully my husband is 10 inches taller and has no problem.
 
07/03/2024 01:26PM  
jasp205: ".
One downside to me would be that the 18'6" length means shorter people like myself have a harder time portaging on steeper hills as the clearing both the front and and the rear can be tricky. Thankfully my husband is 10 inches taller and has no problem.
"


Sundowner is 18' not 18'6".
 
jasp205
member (5)member
  
07/03/2024 10:20PM  
Banksiana, I stand corrected. I have never actually measured it. That's just what I thought I remembered.
 
07/04/2024 07:58AM  
jasp205: "Banksiana, I stand corrected. I have never actually measured it. That's just what I thought I remembered."


I was hoping you'd discover you actually owned a MNII (I hull I love) rather than the Sundowner........
 
jasp205
member (5)member
  
07/04/2024 09:51AM  
"I was hoping you'd discover you actually owned a MNII (I hull I love) rather than the Sundowner........"

I definitely wouldn't mind a MNII :-)
I have to defend my hand-me-down Sundowner though. I have been in the stern of this canoe and have been able to to keep up and even out pace my stronger paddling husband in a Spirit II in ideal conditions. We both had a small child in the front. It just doesn't take as much effort to cruise across a lake.
I do agree that other canoes have advantages over this one as far as maneuverability and sturdiness when lightly loaded. For me the free price tag has probably swayed my opinion and I am just used to the feel of it.
 
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