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   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
      Solo Canoe??     

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josterchild
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12/24/2014 10:39AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
I am seriously looking at purchasing a solo canoe and I would love to hear what others have to share in this decision making process. Here is the thing, I am not the type of paddler to get hung up on the fastest boat or the one that turns the tightest on a dime and tracks like a laser. I feel confident that the majority of canoes out there are of high quality and for the most part will get the job done.

First off, I want to say that I have never paddled any solo canoe out there, so this is obviously a huge missing piece of the puzzle and I of course will try to do this prior to any purchase. As of right now, I really like the way the Wenonah Canak is set up for solo trips. Based on others, I like how it's profile allows for possibly a little safer travel in wind and waves. It appears to have the capacity and capability for large packs traditionally used in a canoe.

Here is my biggest hangup with this boat. I live in the cities and of course will use the heck out of whatever I get around here for general paddling and fishing. I have a golden retriever and would love to be able to take him for short paddles around home. It looks like he would fit in the front of the Canak, but I feel like he would be more comfortable in a traditional open canoe. Based on this assumption, my question to everyone is this . . . . is it illogical to purchase a Canak that I feel will suit my desires better for solo trips in the BWCA and NOT suit my desires for a general paddler around home?

Does it make more sense to purchase a boat that will meet my needs for me and my dog (95% of the time) as well as still allow me to solo trip in the BWCA?

In addition, I am currently recovering from a 2 level fusion and weight is certainly something I want to consider in a boat. In your opinion, is something like the Wenonah Vagabond adequate for solo tripping in the BWCA. Getting down to 30lbs certainly is attractive!

I really feel uneducated as I move into the area of solo tripping, so reading all these threads has been amazing! Truly a community of very knowledgeable individuals . . . . definitely something to strive for!
 
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Alan Gage
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12/24/2014 11:27AM  
If you're only going to get one boat I'd get one that meets your needs both at home and while tripping. Not very many people own Canaks but still seem to get by tripping in all sorts of conditions with their regular solos.

I'd be worried about having enough room for the dog AND gear in a Vagabond, though I guess that would depend on how long the trip is and how you pack.

What tandems have you paddled and what do/don't you like about them? What's your skill level? You say you don't care how the boat tracks but there's a huge difference between paddling a Magic and a Wildfire; and depending on where you paddle and how you paddle either one of them could be very unsuitable for you to the point of taking a lot of the fun out of it.

I think there's more variation in solos than in the tandems that are normally seen around here.

Alan
 
Longpaddler
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12/24/2014 11:31AM  
I think you have the right idea, not to buy until you've paddled a few different boats. There is a wealth of experience on this board to help you, but it still comes down to buying a boat that "feels" right to you for what you are going to use it for. Just to throw in my 2 cents worth, I love my Bell Magic. I've used it for tripping, river running, and just lazy lake paddling on weekends. It's about 32 lbs and portages comfortably. Good luck and have fun paddling .
 
josterchild
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12/24/2014 11:40AM  
The only canoes I have paddled in the BW are the Wenonah II, III and the Souris River 17. I do like the extra width of the SR and feel it is more stable. I enjoy all types of water and have paddled all three of these in lazy rivers, small and big water. I am definitely more concerned with stability than speed as I plan to fish out of this quite a bit.

The only time I will be taking my dog with me will be around home. He is a 10 year old golden who is tipping the scales a little over 100lbs so he will not be making it on trips into the BW with me. I would love to, but not having ever done it, I feel it is too late to introduce him to it (plus my wife won't let me!).

As far as experience, I like to believe I am a proficient paddler. I "feel" confident in all types a water, but certainly know my limitations and I am not afraid to hurt my ego by staying off the water when needed.

Any thoughts on the Souris River Tranquility?

The problem is that there really is no perfect canoe . . . I guess I will just have to make this solo the first of more to come!
 
yellowcanoe
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12/24/2014 01:23PM  
I got into solo canoeing from solo kayaking and had developed a bit of rapport with shop owners that found me a good deal.

I just bought a canoe and learned how to paddle it. Of course the danger is that many more solo temptations will follow and they did so now I have ten solo boats.. most all a little different.

I would just find one at a price that doesn't annoy you as long as it fills your basic criteria of weight. I would not build a boat around a dog.

Your dog may not like canoeing at all. Mine is obedient but definitely unhappy in a boat and has no trouble expressing her self. Many dogs love to be in a boat, but it't not a given. She is a Golden.

Your Golden is big so in any boat will make the bow heavy. A boat trimmed extremely bow heavy won't steer better than a drunk. The dog has to go in back and then you can't see them.
 
josterchild
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12/24/2014 01:41PM  
You bring up a very good point about how my dog may not even like being in the canoe. He is extremely laid back for a golden so my guess is he would be fine, but perhaps not.

I just thought of this option . . . the Wenonah Solo Plus. For times with my dog, around home, this would fit the bill as he would be in front of me keeping the boat balanced with me in the stern. For solo tripping this would work and for when I am able to finally talk my wife into tripping with me, this would also work.

Does anyone out there have any experience with this canoe?
 
josterchild
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12/24/2014 02:37PM  
The more I research, the more questions I have! What about a symmetrical tandem? Should work paddling from the bow with the dog in front. Should work as a solo with gear in the stearn and should obviously work as a tandem.

How many of you paddle a tandem in "reverse"?

Is this method adequate?

The only issue is solo paddling with no gear. Is placing a third seat into a tandem an option for this application?
 
Minnesotian
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12/24/2014 04:22PM  

I own a Wenonah Vagabond and go solo tripping in the Boundarys Waters on a regular basis with it. I personally love it. Small, lightweight even in Royalax, and very stable. It isn't fast, but that doesn't concern me.

However, I am a smaller guy and the smaller boat fits me. Plus, I am a lightweight canoe camper, coming from a backpacking background. Thus I can haul myself, two weeks of food/gear in the boat. I have found though that not many people find the Vagabond the right sized boat for them.

I suggest looking at the Wenonah Wilderness. I was really tempted to get that one initially, but felt it was too much boat for me. And if you are looking at the Canak already, you should look at the Prism, as the Canak is based on the Prism's hull.

I also own a Wenonah Prospector and have paddled that backwards for a solo trip. It was because of that trip I pushed myself to get a true solo boat. I have found since, paddeling other tandem canoes as a solo as well, that while I could paddle them and they got me to my destination, a true solo canoe was much more enjoyable.
 
Ho Ho
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12/24/2014 07:23PM  

Here's my two cents, while echoing the statements that this is a very personal decision in the sense that every person has different preferences and needs, and that you should try canoes.

I bought a Wenonah Prism three years ago when I had very little solo experience but wanted to paddle solo. I spent a day with a couple friends testing boats from Piragis on Miner's Lake (when there was still ice on parts of the lake - gives you the full solo experience!), and the Canak was among the boats I tried. I really liked the way it handled, but ultimately I rejected it because I thought it was not practical for wilderness trips for me (though I know others have used it for that purpose at times). Also I was intending to adopt a dog and take him/her paddling and did not think it would work well.

I now have the Prism and the dog, and I take both out locally in the Ely area, and have taken the Prism on solo camping trips but not with the dog. I think there are a number of good solo canoes out there, I've tested others since buying mine, but I don't feel like I got the wrong one. I will say that no solo feels 100% comfortable with a good-sized dog (ours is 65 pounds), but the Prism is pretty stable and I like it. Other all-purpose solo canoes from top manufacturers will also do well. Most are also not much more than 30 pounds in kevlar. But I think I would avoid the canak for that purpose. At least that was my decision.

I should add that my sister recently bought one of the new Bell Magics and had the thwart in front of the paddle seat moved forward a few inches to make room for her dog, and she seems to really like it. I find the Magic tempting but in the end like the Prism a bit more overall. My sister is 5'2" in her 50s and not hefty and she can portage her Magic or the Prism pretty well (but she won't portage a tandem canoe), so you should be fine portaging.

On the point that you are not sure your dog will like canoeing - I hope he will - your canoe will last for decades. You may adopt another dog. Your future dogs might even go on solo paddling trips with you. If you are a dog lover, get a boat that accommodates the dog. Nothing beats being out in the wild with your dog!

 
josterchild
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12/24/2014 08:25PM  
quote Ho Ho: "
Here's my two cents, while echoing the statements that this is a very personal decision in the sense that every person has different preferences and needs, and that you should try canoes.


I bought a Wenonah Prism three years ago when I had very little solo experience but wanted to paddle solo. I spent a day with a couple friends testing boats from Piragis on Miner's Lake (when there was still ice on parts of the lake - gives you the full solo experience!), and the Canak was among the boats I tried. I really liked the way it handled, but ultimately I rejected it because I thought it was not practical for wilderness trips for me (though I know others have used it for that purpose at times). Also I was intending to adopt a dog and take him/her paddling and did not think it would work well.


I now have the Prism and the dog, and I take both out locally in the Ely area, and have taken the Prism on solo camping trips but not with the dog. I think there are a number of good solo canoes out there, I've tested others since buying mine, but I don't feel like I got the wrong one. I will say that no solo feels 100% comfortable with a good-sized dog (ours is 65 pounds), but the Prism is pretty stable and I like it. Other all-purpose solo canoes from top manufacturers will also do well. Most are also not much more than 30 pounds in kevlar. But I think I would avoid the canak for that purpose. At least that was my decision.


I should add that my sister recently bought one of the new Bell Magics and had the thwart in front of the paddle seat moved forward a few inches to make room for her dog, and she seems to really like it. I find the Magic tempting but in the end like the Prism a bit more overall. My sister is 5'2" in her 50s and not hefty and she can portage her Magic or the Prism pretty well (but she won't portage a tandem canoe), so you should be fine portaging.


On the point that you are not sure your dog will like canoeing - I hope he will - your canoe will last for decades. You may adopt another dog. Your future dogs might even go on solo paddling trips with you. If you are a dog lover, get a boat that accommodates the dog. Nothing beats being out in the wild with your dog!


"


Everyone is providing very good points, which is no less than what I expected. Ho Ho, I absolutely would love nothing more than going on a solo with my dog and I will ALWAYS have a four legged friend in my life so you make a very good point about choosing a boat that will accommodate a dog.

I guess I just keep getting hung up on the fact that the majority of the time, I will be using the canoe on local lakes for the day. Am I wrong to assume that paddling a tandem in reverse with a dog in the stern will provide better weight distribution than a true solo with a large dog in front of me?

Here are my wants:

1. Solo tripping in the BW with and without dog
2. Day use on local waters with and without my dog
3. The ability to take my wife (if I ever talk her into going)
4. A boat that is stable for fishing. I care about stability more than speed

If I had to put a number on each of these manners in which the canoe will be used . . .
Solo use on local waters with my dog will be the primary use. I am a teacher so I have plenty of time during the summer to paddle local waters for the day. This is assuming my golden will enjoy the canoe.

I hope to solo trip in the BW at least a couple times per year.

As I am typing this, I realize that purchasing a boat with the hope of talking my wife into going is not very logical. If by some chance I get her to accompany me, it would probably make more sense to just rent a canoe for that trip.

To be honest, I never really knew that manufacturers customize parts of the canoe such as adjusting the location of the thwart . . . this adds an additional element to the decision making process.

The most important factor in all of this will be the ability to paddle a number of different canoes. I live in the Twin Cities. When and where are the best opportunities for such a thing?

I also realize that there is no "one" boat that will meet all my needs to the highest level as compared to a boat specifically designed to meet one specific need.
 
Alan Gage
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12/24/2014 10:19PM  
Sounds like you're thinking of buying new? I'd recommend against that. Seems foolish to buy a new canoe when you don't know from experience exactly what works for you. Start searching Craigslist and don't be picky. Find something that you think is in the ballpark and buy it. If it works, great! If not, sell it for the same price you paid and get something else.

That will get you on the water, with your dog, in a hurry, and for not much money. It will give you real seat time, which is invaluable. I demoed boats at retailers a few times when I was starting to paddle and while it was fun it really didn't tell me much, I simply didn't know what I was looking/feeling for.

Plus, if you're willing to buy a new composite you can get two nice used composite boats for the same price or less. Maybe a small tandem for locally paddling with a friend/wife/dog and a nice little solo for your BWCA trips.

Alan
 
kanoes
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12/24/2014 11:22PM  
quote Alan Gage: "Sounds like you're thinking of buying new? I'd recommend against that."
but new is so much fun.
 
12/25/2014 11:21AM  
quote kanoes: "quote Alan Gage: "Sounds like you're thinking of buying new? I'd recommend against that."
but new is so much fun."





Ha ha! Yep new is very fun!

If your dog is 100 lbs I'd stay away from a standard solo and go with a tandem that can be paddled solo... backwards or otherwise. I had Bernice in my We no nah Encounter. With no load it was difficult at best. Very hard to fish and such. It was much easier in my tandem at home. Bernice was only 75 lbs. When traveling I took a lot of stuff to counterbalance her weight. The solo plus is a possible choice and I think there is still one up at Spring Creek if you wanted to try one out. They might be able to test it now yet as there is a lake in Virginia that has a power plant on it and it keeps it open most of the time... Road Trip!
 
12/25/2014 12:52PM  
Spring Creek, and other outfitters offer paddling demos to potential buyers, I have test paddled canoes at Rutabaga in Madison. Try outs are your best bet to obtain the info that you need. Paddling groups get-togethers are another source, Paddle Nite on Nokomis sound great, both to meet paddlers in person and try out different canoes. Keep an eye out for WingNite gatherings also.

butthead
 
billconner
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12/25/2014 12:54PM  
quote josterchild: "The only canoes I have paddled in the BW are the Wenonah II, III and the Souris River 17. I do like the extra width of the SR and feel it is more stable. I enjoy all types of water and have paddled all three of these in lazy rivers, small and big water. I am definitely more concerned with stability than speed as I plan to fish out of this quite a bit.


The only time I will be taking my dog with me will be around home. He is a 10 year old golden who is tipping the scales a little over 100lbs so he will not be making it on trips into the BW with me. I would love to, but not having ever done it, I feel it is too late to introduce him to it (plus my wife won't let me!).


As far as experience, I like to believe I am a proficient paddler. I "feel" confident in all types a water, but certainly know my limitations and I am not afraid to hurt my ego by staying off the water when needed.


Any thoughts on the Souris River Tranquility?


The problem is that there really is no perfect canoe . . . I guess I will just have to make this solo the first of more to come!"


The only solo I have paddled is the Tranquility and I loved it. I previously trekked tandem in a SR Q17. I found the Tranquility very stable both initially and secondary. I sat in the seat, and paddled with straight blade. I'm 6'-2", 220-225, and 62 years old. I had two decent sized packs and would say a large dog would fit comfortably. Hopes that helps.
 
MacCamper
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12/26/2014 06:42AM  
quote josterchild: "The more I research, the more questions I have! What about a symmetrical tandem? Should work paddling from the bow with the dog in front. Should work as a solo with gear in the stearn and should obviously work as a tandem.


How many of you paddle a tandem in "reverse"?


Is this method adequate?


The only issue is solo paddling with no gear. Is placing a third seat into a tandem an option for this application? "


Currently I have a 15 foot tandem OT Trapper and 16 foot tandem Winona Adirondack, both of which I solo paddle as you say, in reverse. The Trapper is a beauty, but through trials last summer, is real heavy and, when planning long trips with many portages, will be traded for the Winona which is half the load. Both perform very well as solo canoes with fine stability. That being said, I will be building a solo cedar stripper late in 2015 to add to the fleet. Both canoes also perform well as tandem boats. However the canoe of choice for me will always depend upon portaging challenges ie, length and quantity.
 
12/26/2014 07:23AM  
I have a Bell RockStar (No longer made)and a 75 lb Lab. It works fine for the dog and I. I would not hesitate on a Wilderness at all.
About the same size as a RockStar. I have taken 4-5 solos with two labs, and they figure it out. spend time on local water training them to get in and out and comfortable in the canoe. My lab's after training loved canoeing and it became second nature for them to get in and out of canoe and portage with me.
NorthStar (The "new" Ted Bell company) The NorthWind Solo is a good option also...Problem is you will have to leave the wife at home, and or get a 2nd canoe (which you should do) Tandem canoe for you + her + dog. :)
Those are what I would go with if it was me, but there are other good options out, there.
SunCatcher

 
ZaraSp00k
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12/26/2014 12:43PM  
quote kanoes: "quote Alan Gage: "Sounds like you're thinking of buying new? I'd recommend against that."
but new is so much fun."


cost of that fun = about $1000
wish I had money to burn like some of you seem to

there are about 2 dozen boats the OP would be happy with, probably around a dozen be very happy, and half a dozen immensely happy

IMO, keep an eye out for a boat in good condition, paddle it while keeping it in good condition as possible while keeping an eye out for an even better boat, then upgrade when you find it

you'll likely sell the original boat for the same you bought it for, maybe even make money
 
josterchild
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12/26/2014 12:53PM  
Ok . . . . so I openly admit I am all over the board when it comes to my rambling thoughts on boats! The more I read and research, the more questions and revelations I have.

Here is where I am currently at . . . .

I didn't mention my size in earlier posts. I am 5' 11" 195. I know I mentioned how weight of the canoe is a factor and the lighter the better . . . BUT this obviously comes with a price (literally in this case).

I have also failed to mentioned my preferred style of tripping. Although I have done everything from base camping to 75 mile loops in 5 days, I prefer to "meander" so to speak. On a solo trip, I see myself with a sort of destination in mind, but not in any huge hurry to get there. I can imagine having a lay over day if I find a really nice site on a really nice lake worth exploring and I certainly love to fish, although fishing won't "make" my trip.

I also tend to be drawn to smaller water and river/creek systems (I just like the aesthetics of this environment).

I also tend to pack on the lighter side. Everything I eat is dehydrated for the most part, with the exception of GORP and some bars. I don't bring any creature comforts like camp chairs for example and VERY limited fishing gear.

I have come across a new Wenonah Vagabond in Royalex for about $800.00. This canoe comes in at 45lbs. Yes this is significantly more than their lightest Kevlar version, but I started thinking about it and I started to wonder if on a solo trip I would ever attempt to single portage in the first place.

In all the trips I have taken, the only place I have ever really almost injured myself were on portages. Personally, I think I may take the extra time to double portage, even with a Kevlar canoe, just to be on the safe side. Given this, does the added weight of the Royalex present as much of a factor?

The thing that has me scratching my head the most continues to be the fact that I will be using this canoe around home 95% of the time. From what I have read about the Vagabond, it would be more than adequate in this manner.

I have read a few posts of some paddlers using the Vagabond as their primary BW canoe. I guess I just get a little worried because it seems short, but that is probably because I am new to the idea of solo paddling.

Do you think it would be adequate for solo tripping in the BW considering my preferred tripping style?

(seriously too much time on my hands!!)
 
elfhair
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12/26/2014 01:12PM  
Hands down , Bell Magic is a very good bet to fit your needs/wants.
 
yellowcanoe
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12/26/2014 03:21PM  
The longer the boat the less sunk it will be in the water with a tripping load and your dog.

For that reason most solos for expeditions start at 15 feet waterline length.

The Vagabond is too short to pack in a large dog. It is available to you at a good price.. You could get it.. daytrip with the dog and find out for yourself the cons and the pros. Not much outlay and if its too small you can recoup the cost. Try that with a new boat!
 
Coda1
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12/26/2014 04:59PM  
Multiple canoes is the best solution but not everyone has that option.

A tandem in reverse might not be a bad choice for your situation. I generally don't like the idea and have never tried it myself but if you are only going to buy one canoe then it is something to consider. When solo you will lose a lot of control over the canoe because you are not in the center. If you are not in a hurry and are willing to sit it out on windy days it will work. You are going to have more weight to portage also.

One of the combination solo/tandem canoes are the other option if you want some tandem capability. The Solo Plus you mentioned or if you can afford it a Savage River Deep Creek. The Savage River would get you down to about 30 lbs. I haven't paddled either of those two but have used an older Bell Fusion which is similar. It wasn't a great solo or tandem it was acceptable as either. Would work fine for day trips with your wife but you would have to pack fairly light to be able to use it as a tandem tripping canoe.

If you decide to go with a dedicated solo canoe then there are a lot more options. I would recommend paddling as many as you can. You might discover what you think you want is not what you want after all. The canoes I was looking at completely changed after demoing a few. What one person likes in a solo canoe can be completely diffident then the next. Midwest Mountaineering has some demos on Lake Nokomis or Calhoun. The first one of the year is right before the spring expo sale. They have an used canoe auction during the spring expo also. If you get a good deal on a used canoe and take good care of it you can always sell it for about the same price.

 
barracuda
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12/27/2014 10:30PM  
The Lab (60lbs) and I (5'11", 150) share a prism. Works great! From front to back I load it day pack, lab, me, and then gear pack. The lab loves laying at my feet and would have a hard time being in a separate compartment.

We do small rivers and creeks, some medium/large lakes. Would have considered a Bell but the price/availability meant Prism was the way to go for me.

For max flexibility get a prism and add canvas from CCS (like butthead) to make it canak like.

 
12/28/2014 09:19AM  
On my first solo trip which was last Sept. I rented a Souris River Q16 and it worked out great with my 85lb lab. I'm 5'8" and 160lbs. It is a tandem but this one was set up with a center seat for paddling solo. It was very stable and I thought about buying a used one from the outfitter but just don't have the extra $1200. It would work for both my solo excursions with the dog and it would be better for my tandem trips with each of my daughters than our SR Q 18.5.

If I really had some money to spend I would get the Savage River Deep Creek 16. It's a beautiful canoe and 30lbs sure is appealing.

Since I have not paddled a true solo I do not know what I'm missing out on by paddling a small tandem as a solo :) I would not hesitate to use a small tandem solo again.

Here's Echo on my solo trip in the SR Q16
 
Tony
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01/03/2015 06:15PM  
Several of the outdoor stores in the cities have paddling demos during the summer. At these demos you could try a variety of different canoes to get an idea of one you might like. I know Midwest mountaineering and Joe's does and I think Hoigarrds and REI does also.

tony
 
KarlBAndersen1
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01/12/2015 09:39PM  
Or build your own and put all the parts where you want them!!
 
builditbetter22
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01/13/2015 08:50AM  
quote KarlBAndersen1: "Or build your own and put all the parts where you want them!! "

That is a beautiful canoe
 
01/13/2015 09:25AM  
quote builditbetter22: "quote KarlBAndersen1: "Or build your own and put all the parts where you want them!! "


That is a beautiful canoe"





You should see his knifes.
 
01/13/2015 09:27AM  
I paddled an encounter with a 75lb dog. Trim was only had I feel because I took enough stuff to counterbalance her weight. With a hundred pound dog I'd think even a prism or a magic would make trimming hard. I think yc mentioned with the smaller boat your deeper in the water and your working that much harder. Oh how true.
 
markaroberts
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01/13/2015 04:37PM  
I all ready had a Wenonah Wilderness in royalex to use in the BWCA and on larger water here in KY.

I just added a Bell Yellowstone Solo in royalex for use in streams and rivers here in KY. Looking foward to trying these out.

I formerly had a Wenonah Voyager in kevlar. Too much boat for KY rivers and streams and not the type to knock in to rocks. The only time I would use it is once a year in the BWCA. So I went with the Wilderness/royalex. Royalex is heavier but opens up a lot more options when you are not paddling just flat water.
 
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