View topic - The benefits of a solo canoe - advice needed

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 5:47 pm 
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I’ve been wrestling with the idea of getting a solo canoe for years. I could never really figure out whether the advantages of a solo canoe over my prospector was worth the $5000.00. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could let me know if a solo canoe does make the type of tripping/canoeing I do more pleasurable. If yes then what solo canoe would you recommend. Here are some details that should help direct any advice you may have. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

I typically paddle Algonquin Park for overnight trips, 3 to 5 nights, often rivers but not always. I do several day trips in the spring usually the following rivers - Oxtongue River, Nottawasaga River, Beaver River, Big East River.

I’ve been canoe tripping x 20 years, often solo, often in shoulder seasons. I’m comfortable in Class I rapids, and some Class ll. I kneel and sit equally. I prefer single blade. My primary paddle is a 10oz bent shaft.

I would like to think I’d be super careful with my canoe but the level of care drops as the scratches accumulate. I presently paddle a 16‘ kevlar/carbon prospector. (approx. 42 -44 lbs.) I sit in the bow facing the stern.

I’m 200 lbs., 5’ 5”.

Gear on trips typically includes one barrel, one day pack.

Goal 1. Reduce the frequency of correction strokes. Read - my elbows ache, my shoulder hurts. I’m sure paddling technique and proper conditioning could resolve some of my frustrations but I can’t help wonder if a different canoe would too. The wind was a persistent problem on day river trips last season. Weighing down the bow may have helped but I never did try it.

Goal 2. Lighter - Again proper conditioning prior to trips involving multiple portages would also be useful but going lighter would too. Note - I like portaging.

I hope that gives enough information. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 6:08 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
I think a dedicated solo would make paddling more pleasurable for a couple of reasons.

You will have better control over the bow. Right now you are seated aft of the center point and basically have no control over your "bow" ( the real stern). Anything you do wrong in the stern re paddling technique is magnified.

Yes technique matters. I am an old lady and 25 km days don't faze me. My shoulders don't hurt and my arms don't either. I use neither as much as my torso muscles. Its way worth a short tune up session with a coach to bring back the pleasure of paddling effectively with minimal effort. Will the right boat matter.. Well not so much, but where you are sitting now it is just critical and very hard to attain ( stroke parallel to keel line, not following the gunwale)

You will be less affected by the wind. Not only is there less skin but trim is easier if you are in the middle of the boat.

I like portaging too but I like it a whole lot better with my 31 lb WildFire than I do with my 40 lb Heron. Less of me would certainly help too but...

$5000 for a solo boat???? I know the exchange rate is horrid but depending on where you live you can pick one up for far less. Think USED.. not new.

Run to Swift and see if they have a Keewaydin 15 at discount or know of one used. You don't have to go for integrated gunwales.

You most likely will be happiest with a 15 or 14 foot solo. 15 is the traditional benchmark for solo canoes. Ample volume for when the waves come up but not so much you blow around.


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 6:18 pm 
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Thanks Littleredcanoe. That's very helpful.


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 7:19 pm 
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Location: Horseshoe Valley, Ontario
I always feel awkward with self promotion, but you may want to browse some of my YouTube videos for my answer. I went through the same thought process last fall and ended up with a Keewaydin 14. My trips are similar to yours, and I live in the same area as you, so same paddling waters. I wish I'd bought a solo boat twenty years ago. My old 1980s 12' Sportspal doesn't count.

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 7:45 pm 
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Cliff Jacobson's book might help.

http://www.amazon.ca/Basic-Essentials%C ... 0762705248

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 8:24 pm 
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Location: Ringwood, NJ
In solo boat, which gets narrower forward of the paddler, the sit and switch technique comes more natural than from the bow of a tandem, which gets wider in front. It all depends on the wind, but I had trips where I didn't make any correction strokes for days - I paddle solo Nomad, which is 26" wide in the center.


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2016, 1:39 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
The right solo canoe will help achieve both of your goals--easier to paddle/control and be lighter.

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http://www.JohnstonPursuits.ca

 


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2016, 2:12 pm 
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Joined: April 30th, 2011, 6:55 pm
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Thanks so much for the feedback everyone.

A solo canoe it is. Reinforced with skill development, conditioning and addressing those unattended old injuries.

I’m leaning towards a Swift as they are so conveniently located.

I was thinking the Keewaydin 15. Although I trip super light my body weight puts me in the top range of recommended load for the Keewaydin 14. Any thoughts on whether I should still keep the K14 in the mix of possibilities? I was also wondering if the Osprey would be suited.

P.S. Shawn, I have watched some of your videos and followed the discussion around your choice of solo. I went back to check out a couple today and the first one that popped up was the Madawaska River near Pog Lake. I was paddling there in November, picture perfect day like yours. Then the next one was your Tim River video. I love that river, especially in the spring and fall. Damn near cried wishing I was there right now. But alas, the canoe is stored, and even though BCKC were planning to go out on Kempenfelt Bay today I resisted the temptation and am continuing to research my next canoe. We really do have similar paddling interests. Cheers.

Frozentripper, I’ll definitely check out Cliff’s book. One never has enough good resource books in one’s library.


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2016, 2:29 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
Osprey is fine.. The Keewaydin 14 should be tried too.

More important than weight in the 14 is your height and possibly kneeling stance. I can't really get my knees far enough apart in anything other than narrow solos like the Colden DragonFly. The theory is your knees should fit in each turn of the bilge. I can't do that and do get away with it.

But I am like you short. Weight really has nothing much to do with it( you can go ten percent over and no one will notice so you can actually still fit in the 14 and carry 90 libs of stuff, probably more than you would ever think of doing.. Your center of gravity is more important. A 6'4" inch guy at your weight should go with a 15 or a 16 footer.


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2016, 2:34 pm 
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Littleredcanoe, thank you. That's helpful.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2016, 10:57 am 
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Location: Horseshoe Valley, Ontario
I haven't had more than 260 lbs in my 14', including me and my gear, so I can't comment on performance with heavier weight. I have paddled it loaded and unloaded in heavy chop on Kempenfelt Bay and Georgian Bay and never once felt at risk of capsizing, even in three foot waves. You're more top heavy than I am, so I'm not sure how that affects stability (the experts here will comment), but I assume a little more bouyancy from a 15' would be beneficial. If I were you, I would paddle both, as well as the Osprey, if you can before purchasing. I could meet you at BCKC this weekend or this week if you want to try mine before the lake freezes.

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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2016, 11:20 am 
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I would recommend getting out in them and trying them. If by skill development you mean spending some time with experienced soloists and/ or lessons, doing some of that prior to buying may help you make a more informed long term decision.

I paddle a Shearwater (among other boats) which I love - I take my dog with me so the extra size is needed. I have an Old Town Pack for pond hopping by myself.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2016, 2:26 pm 
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Thanks again for the feedback. Test paddle it is. Thanks Shawn for your offer but it's probably best to go up to Oxtongue for a half day and test each together. I suspect the 15' is what I'll end up with.

Christine, I used to love tripping with my Bouvier. Sorely missed. I also like trying to decipher the physics around paddling and playing with different strokes. I dream of the day when there’s a book/video that visually explains it to me at the level Charlie Wilson and others here can in words. Proper instruction is a good idea. Thanks.

Is anyone installing a foot bar or footholds in their solos? I think I'd like the added stability and control when sitting. I’m leaning towards the bar as it has greater versatility.

From what I've read on the forum, I should forgo skid plates.

I'm not concerned with the visibility of scratches but the 'champagne' bottom also provides a little extra protection according to Swift's website. Any thoughts on this?

I'm going to test a variety of setups previously suggested here before considering a detachable yoke.

I'm likely to go with the lightweight gunwales as my hands are like blocks of ice most days and would dread touching aluminum in wet and/or cold conditions. Wood is always nice, but it does require care and it weighs more. My canoe would be stored outside, under a tarp, off the ground.

I can install the knee pads myself and will possibly install some paddling for the gunwales/bilge, depending on where my knees press/rest.

One other question. Should I be considering a sliding seat? The youtube video with Charlie shows both foot pegs and sliding seat.

Thanks again for everyone’s advice.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2016, 4:18 pm 
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There are lots of great instructors around if you choose to go that route. There are also great videos. Becky Mason's new(ish) DVD is fantastic. Andrew Westwood's is good too.


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2016, 9:54 pm 
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Location: Milton
I wouldn't give up on the idea of using a double blade in a solo.
You will find it much easier on your shoulders and your body and you will be able to cover longer distances on the lakes.
You can still use the single blade when the need/enjoyment is needed.
The double blade will also re-open some routes that you may have considered no longer viable.
The double blade will also give you more chance for paddle workouts with out the shoulder stress so your trip are more enjoyable.
Jeff
PS congrats on going for a solo boat, you won't be sorry.

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


Last edited by jedi jeffi on January 4th, 2016, 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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