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thinblueline
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03/27/2016 12:58AM  
I believe I'll be renting a Wenonah Encounter in May for my first ever solo canoe trip. I'm 6'3" and weigh 260 pounds and I am looking for a canoe that can handle big water with a big load, while also providing a stable platform for a lot of fishing. I will be double portaging and bringing two packs. I have three CCS packs to choose from for my trip; a Guide model, a Pioneer, and a Bushcrafter (same size as the Rucksack).

Ideally I'll take the two smaller packs, but I'm curious from those in the know, can a CCS Guide model pack fit behind the seat laying down flat across its back so that it is even with or below the gunwales, or would it have to lie a little taller, on its side, or worse yet, stood up? I can't stand loading a canoe with a bunch of pack above the gunwales because it seems to me to make the canoe feel a little less stable and it also seems to catch more wind that way, although it might just be a figment of my imagination.

In addition to the two packs, I'll also have two 20 liter dry bags I can fill with water for ballast, if necessary while tripping or when fishing without my packs in the boat. If you folks could give any advice on trimming the Encounter in different conditions I'd be much obliged. Thanks a lot!

 
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03/27/2016 12:01PM  

Although I generally paddle a Wenonah Voyager, (which has been my mainstay solo tripping canoe since 2004), I purchased a used Ultra-light Kevlar Encounter for my son a little more than a year ago. In-order to gain some experience with actual tripping usage in an Encounter, I took my son's Encounter on a 9-day BWCAW solo trip last August.

My route took me from EP #14, (Little Indian Sioux River), then through the Pauness Lakes, Shell, Hustler, Oyster and over to Agnes. From there it was up to Lac La Croix to Boulder Bay and to Tiger Bay where I based camped for two days. I eventually traveled up and over through Pocket Lake, Finger, Bear Trap, Eugene, Steep and then to Slim and Loon Lake, before returning to Upper and Lower Pauness Lake, and then back to my EP. I had moderate waves on Lac La Croix as I swung Northeast. Loon Lake provided the biggest challenge as far as wind, waves and some sizable chop. The Encounter handled Loon Lake with ease.

I also have a CCS Guide pack that I had purchased at Canoecopia in 2015. I was essentially using the Encounter and the CCS Guide pack for the first time in a tripping situation.

I tend to pack a lot of gear and food. When taking a two person tent for solo use, (The North Face Tadpole 23), a 9x9 Nemo Bug-out shelter, a jungle hammock, Helinox chair, and enough food for my ravenous appetite, the weight and bulk add up quickly.

Despite the amount of gear pictured, I was still able to double portage. One trip across was with the CCS Guide pack with the NRS "Bill's Bag" thrown horizontally across the top of the Guide pack. I portaged the Encounter wearing the CCS Quad pack with my paddles and PFD "Bungee Dealy Bobbed" to the canoe.

I've posted pictures below of the packs and gear I took, and how they were positioned on the Encounter. The wider gunnel width of the Encounter allowed better positioning of my CCS Guide pack than the Voyager. In the Voyager, I need to either put the Guide pack on its side, or drop the pack in, then twist the pack and let it ride higher while it rests on the gunnels. The gunnel width of the Encounter allows me to lay the CCS Guide pack perfectly flat against the bottom of the Encounter. Although for short jaunts across smaller lakes to the nest portage, I'd often let the CCS Guide pack ride slightly higher.

As often mentioned, the Encounter has more initial stability than the Voyager, although initial stability has never been a big concern of mine. I've paddled and own several canoes that would make some paddlers feel very uneasy, (E.g. my Wenonah Jensen C1W and Blackhawk Ariel). I actually like a canoe with a "lively" hull.

I'm 6' 4" and I currently weight in at approx. 210-pounds. My CCS Guide pack was over 100-pounds! In addition, I had the small "blue barrel" CCS Quad Pack, and a NRS "2.2 Bill's Bag". With my body weight and gear weight, the buoyant hull of the Encounter was pushed well into the water, therefore tracking was excellent. Performance in wind and waves also very good. As advertised, the Encounter handled the load, as well as some big waves and chop, with ease.

The Encounter doesn't quite have the glide and performance of my Voyager, but it's no dog either. For most paddlers, the Encounter would most likely provide a better comfort level when paddling in rough seas or if used for fishing when not loaded.

As you can see, I had the CCS Guide pack and the NRS "Bill's Bag" positioned behind the center seat. In the bow, I only had the CCS Quad Pack, but I the seat to put my weight forward to compensate for the weight of the CCS Guide Pack and the NRS "Bill's Bag" in the stern. Depending on wave action, I also adjusted the CCS Quad Pack's position in the bow periodically as well.

As far as paddling the Encounter empty, I haven't had a lot of problems with wind or waves when paddling the Encounter lightly loaded either. Then again, I haven't been confronted with high winds, large waves and turbulent seas as I did when it was loaded either. I've also paddled the Encounter on local waters without much effect by the wind either.

On one of my lay-over days, I traveled from my base-camp in Tiger Bay on Lac La Croix and across across Lac La Croix to the Bottle River. I then bushwhacked up the Bottle River and paddled across Iron Lake to Curtain Falls. Upon my return, I once again crossed Iron Lake, but used Bottle Portage to return to Lac La Croix, and eventually back to my base camp in Tiger Bay.

Although carrying only a small pack, the deep, buoyant hull of the Encounter was not a problem on the aforementioned day trip. That being said, I wasn't hit with any substantial wind or waves then either as I was on Loon Lake.

I like the Encounter very much and for a guy my size, and for the amount of gear I packed, it performed except-ably well. In my opinion, given the different solo canoes I've used for Canoe Country tripping, the Encounter is second only to my Voyager, which I still prefer over the Encounter. I just prefer the performance and the feel of the Voyager better. Then again, I don't sit and fish much, if at all, and I like a hull with a little more "wiggle" to it.

Hans Solo

 
Mickeal
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03/27/2016 02:27PM  
I had a Encounter for a long time. I never took it to the BW. I paddled it on Lake Amistad here in Texas. Amistad is a big windy lake on the Mexican border. I am 6'2" 270, this was the only solo I have owned that did not put me the water. Sold it last year to a member on this site.
 
thinblueline
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03/27/2016 03:04PM  
Thanks guys! Hans Solo, your report was exactly what I was looking for and thank-you for taking the time to write that all out and post pictures. Your pictures also answered another question for me in that I will have to bungee dealie bob my rods in the front half of the canoe, as the guide model pack just doesn't look like it leaves enough space for them in the back.
 
03/27/2016 03:12PM  
Many trips with similar stuff and packs with a big dog in my encounter. Lots of big water in big wind. You have to be on your toes like anything, but it handled it well. I'm downsizing, but will always keep that boat. Only thing is fishing in wind with no load.


 
thinblueline
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03/31/2016 10:15PM  
Quite a while back, I thought I saw a post from someone indicating if you were to special order an Encounter from Wenonah, there is some sort of design modification they can do to possibly make the Encounter perform a tad better in the wind, or not be blown around so much. I can't remember if it was to reduce bow depth by an inch, or center depth a little bit, or what. I can't really remember what the modification was. Does this ring any bells with you folks well familiar with the Encounter?
 
04/01/2016 08:26AM  
I did talk to Wenonah (via Piragis) about special ordering a Voyageur with less free board. Wenonah was willing to accommodate. Adding a spray skirt will also help in reducing the wind profile of the hull.
 
thinblueline
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04/04/2016 03:28PM  
I just received an email from Wenonah answering my inquiry about such a design modification as slightly reduced freeboard and/or bow depth. They said they would not make any design modifications and if I wanted a lower profile canoe to take a look at their Prism. I guess that's that.
 
timf1981
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02/28/2023 02:35PM  
Nice review of the encounter and the voyaguer
I am surprised you dont youse a kayak paddle, you will probably gain a mile per hour with less wasted energy J stroking.

I like the Iron lake area. Do you have any fishing spots you wold like to share?
We are headed just north of there into Quetico.
 
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