View topic - W solo canoe for a Northern Forest Canoe Trail thru-paddle

It is currently January 27th, 2021, 10:42 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: November 27th, 2016, 3:17 pm 

Joined: April 8th, 2013, 8:11 pm
Posts: 8
I have 1-2 months off in May and June, too early for the regular northern expedition. It would be a first solo trip.

I’m looking for a solo canoe to thru-paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail from New York State to Maine. From what I read, there are many sections of RI and R2, some upstream portions, big lakes like Champlain and many portages. Hard to find a boat that performs well under such varied conditions.

I’m 5’ 5”, 125 lbs.
I have a WW river expedition background, mostly in tandem (Dagger Caption and Evergreen Starburst). I also own a nice Mad River Outrage that I use for short trips and playboating. Great in R2-3 but definitely not designed for wind, flatwater or longer trips.
I would like a faster and better tracking solo boat with a little more volume, which is easy to achieve without big float bags and Appaloosa saddle. I have compact and lightweight backpacking equipment so I don’t need that much volume or weight capacity.
I prefer kneeling that sitting, and I’m used to traditional straight single blade paddles.
As a woman, weight is definitely an issue for longer portages! Max 40 lbs would be great. I would also prefer a canoe on the shorter/narrower side given my size.
Unfortunately I guess Royalex/lite or other stronger material would still be needed for shallow and rocky river sections.
I have read about solo canoes for women on myCCR and other forums. I would love to try a kevlar Kestrel or a Keewaydin 14 for an eventual flatwater trip but I don’t think they would survive the NFCT, at least in my hands :)
Maybe Hemlock SRT would be stronger?
Thanks for your help.

PostPosted: November 27th, 2016, 5:04 pm 

Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 424
Sounds like you've some wonderful plans for next year. 40 pounds and under will require a composite hull i.e. kevlar. A hull in "expedition kevlar", i.e. a Swift Osprey or Keewayden might be good. Kevlar/composite hulls can often survive quite a lot of abuse. Unfortunately, most used royalex or royalite tripping boats start in at 60 pounds and go heavier from there. "T-formex" is being touted as a slightly lighter replacement for the now defunct royalex. "Esquif" canoes are leading the way with that material as has been noted on several threads here. I'm sure there will be no shortage of boat recommendations made to you by some highly experienced paddlers at this site. In any case, good luck with your plans for next spring. Sounds exciting!

PostPosted: November 27th, 2016, 9:40 pm 

Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 1995
Location: Manitoba
I'd go with a composite canoe. Get a tough layup and it will serve your trip well. Light but Tough enough for CI/CII.
I'd also go shorter and narrow because of your size as well as your lightweight and compact equipment.



PostPosted: November 28th, 2016, 11:16 am 

Joined: January 2nd, 2015, 12:02 pm
Posts: 2
I read recently that Wenonah Canoe will be building seven models of their line in T-Formex this year, including the Wilderness and Spirit II - but both around 60#. A wheeled portage cart is suitable for most (shorter) portages found on the NFCT, offsetting your boat weight limitations.

PostPosted: November 28th, 2016, 12:36 pm 
User avatar

Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 9079
Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
Timing.. Starting in May in Old Forge.. surprise. Like snow. Altitude is much higher than Ontario. Its unlikely that the lakes will be ice free in early May.. Ice out on the bigger lakes in Maine is about the 25th of May. The NFCT guidebooks says starting out around May 10 is feasible

You will need a drysuit.. And shallow rocky streams are a September Dream. Most of the rivers are snowmelt supplied and very high in May. This covers the rocks and makes upstream travel much harder. Except for the Missisquoi which is best done in spring.It dries out in the summer

The Saranac River ought to be a lovely float though. Its awful later in the summer

As far as your craft you need to think big.. The wave action after ice out often is quite strong as the land heats faster than the water. One to two meter waves are the rule.. You need something with more volume especially on Champlain. Northerly winds are usual.

Wheels are not always useful and its nice to arrange a drop before you get to Mud Pond Carry. It is NOT cartable and two miles long. You might be able to arrange a dropoff of wheels in Chesuncook Village which is now road accessible. You actually wont need then after the NE Carry.

Hemlock Canoes builds strong canoes and the SRT is no stronger or weaker than any of them.. Dave has various builds. He just got quite a stash of used canoes

You're Vagabond size but the Nomad would be better ( but slower) for you in big water.

Some gals friends of mine paddle a Blackhawk Zephyr..

Don't be afraid of composites.. Wrapping on the Trail is mostly a function of low water and in June that is very uncommon. There is a shuttle around Chase and its fine to take the shuttle if you are worried about the boat.

If you can find a Mohawk Solo 14 that might work . Its royalite.

Do you have the NFCT guidebook?

PostPosted: November 28th, 2016, 4:47 pm 

Joined: June 6th, 2011, 9:56 am
Posts: 29
Bestiole I have paddled the entire Northern Forest Canoe Trail, although I completed it in sections over several years. The NFCT has been completed by paddlers in a wide range of boats from very light Kevlar and carbon-fiber touring/ racing boats, to ‘expedition’ Kevlar boats, Royalex, wood-canvas classics, and at least one aluminum Grumman. There are long portages that are not feasible with a canoe-cart, so having a boat and gear light enough to carry is a must. In my opinion you are on the right track looking for a sub-40 pound canoe.
As it happens, my family owns a Hemlock SRT, Kestrel, and Peregrine. In my experience they are plenty strong enough for the NFCT, and a gel-coated composite lay-up such as Hemlock uses is a good choice for long-distance, mixed water tripping. I paddled the Missinaibi River this past summer in the SRT, and was happy with my choice of boat. For what it is worth, I’m 5’9”, 180 pounds, and had about a 90 pound load of gear + food, when my food barrel was still full. I would think that a Kestrel could be a good choice for you with your backpacking-style gear. I have paddled long sections of the NFCT in the Peregrine, a Hemlock design slightly larger than the Kestrel. Most of the whitewater in the NFCT is not difficult by the standards of an Outrage playboater, and all of the difficult whitewater can be portaged.
Take a look at Katina Daanen’s NFCT guidebook as you plan your trip. If you are located near northern Vermont I’d invite you test paddle the Kestrel and/or SRT. - Kalmia

PostPosted: November 28th, 2016, 6:29 pm 
User avatar

Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 9079
Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
And I have a Nomad and a DragonFly.. The latter is symmetrical rocker and more whitewater oriented though I did a NFCT section from Sebomook to Umbazooksus with it.
I am more apt to do short segments since I live very near the Maine sections of the NFCT and there are lots of sections amenable to shorter trips.

I have a Peregrine too but find it less maneuverable and a little slower than the Nomad. Its not as much fun in moving water either.

I'd toss in Wenonah Argosy and have one but its one skittish boat with waves from the side that ride right up.. Its Royalex and 47 lbs.. It seems to be heavier on portages.
Also have a Swift Raven in RX that is an excellent NFCT boat but at 65 lbs is NOT portage friendly.. I wish it had been made in not so thick a RX layup

The Allagash is not reputed to be friendly to Kevlar but frankly if its going over 1500 cfs at Allagash Village Kevlar is fine.. One ole outfitter Norm L'Italien told me upon looking at my Kevlar canoe.. You rack zee boat... Showed up back at his campground two days early and with Kevlar boat intact.
I am in western Maine but things are about to seize up..

PostPosted: December 1st, 2016, 10:13 am 
User avatar

Joined: July 29th, 2009, 9:29 am
Posts: 387
Location: Lower Saranac Lake, NY
Davis Yost’s Solo Trippers DRAFT June 2016

David Yost’s original Solo Tripper, 15.5 ft by 30” max, 27” wl was offered as a Fiberglas or strip built canoe in the Canoe Specialists 1981 Catalog, a mold having been made by Curtis Canoes. The hull had flared sides and minimal rocker with a Length to Width ratio over 6.5.

The next year Yost designed the Vagabond, a 14’8”X27.5/25.5” smaller version tripper for Curtis, with 1.5” of the shouldered tumblehome he developed for the DragonFly and 1.4” symmetrical rocker. The abrupt tumblehome required a two-piece mold split along the keel line.

A similar size series set of tripping solos soon emerged for Sawyer, the StarLight, 13’4” X 28/26 and the Autumn Mist, 14’10”X30.5/28, both with minimal rocker and 2” of bubble sided tumblehome with W/L ratios nearer 6. Bubble sides allowed the hulls to be extracted from single-piece but split molds. Seats were height adjustable sliders and rocker was minimal.

DY and Curtis updated the larger Solo Tripper in 1985 with Nomad, at 15’4”X28.5/26.5”, slightly Swede-Form with shouldered tumblehome and differential rocker. The hull has increased stem layout so waterline is shorter than overall length indicates and is now available from Colden infused in carbon with lightweight integral rails. Yost also designed a wood and Dacron 15’ X29/26” solo tripper, Mistral, for Loon works ~1989.

He designed his third “small class” tripper, the Loon,14’ 6”X28/26” and his fifth medium class, the Heron, 15’X29/27” for Swift Canoe ~1990, both bubble sided to come out of split rather than two piece molds and with symmetrical rocker.

In the later 90’s Bell Canoe needed a solo tripper and the Merlin II, 15’X29/27”, DY’s sixth large series solo tripper, was stripped and molded; slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome; the first DY tripper with differential rocker.

Hemlock Canoe developed their Peregrine and Kestrels from Nomad and Vagabond. Both Hemlocks have flatter bottoms and reduced rocker. Initial stability is increased but speed and maneuverability are compromised.

Designed for pack canoe outfitting with low seat for double blade paddling, Placid boatworks’ RapidFire, 15’X27.5/25”, R 1.5/1”, is slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome and strongly differentiated rocker, and was DY’s fourth small class solo tripper in 2005. Placid’s combination of infusion with integral, composite rails significantly reduces hull weight.

DY’s seventh standard sized hull is Swift’s Keewaydin 15, introduced in 2011; 15’X29.5/26.5”, R 2/1”, mildly Swede-Form with bubble sides and more abrupt, stepped, bow rocker. The additional width was added to fit today’s larger paddlers. DY’s new stepped rocker is applied throughout the Keewaydin series to improve forward speed and maneuverability.

DY designed his fifth small class solo tripper for Swift as the Keewaydin 14 over winter 2013-14, featuring bubble sides with slight Swede form, and differential rocker with stepped bow rocker. At 14’ X28”/25”, R 1.5/.7”, it is more efficient at cruising speed than the larger Solo Trippers due to reduced wetted area. Infusion manufacturing with integral foam and composite rails significantly reduces hull weight for Kee 14 which is available as a web seat, single blade canoe and in low-seat, double blade, pack canoe, configuration. Swifts Kee 12.5, new in 2017 will be 28” wide. Reduced Length to Width ratio will compromise tracking and render it more a sport solo.

Ted Bell/ NorthStar Canoes commissioned the NorthWind Solo from DY’s son, Carl, over the same period, the eighth Yost designed Solo Tripper, up-sized to fit larger paddlers at 15.5’ X 30” / 26.5”, 2”/1” NorthWind Solo has slight Swede form and shouldered tumblehome but reduced rocker and does not include the new stepped bow rocker to retain visually resemble to the older Bell canoes in NorthStar’s line. Early NorthWInd Solo hulls exhibit hog, from hurried mold building or applying straight rails to lightweight hulls, so do not maneuver as well as the rocker specs suggest.

The theme throughout the series has been fast and easy tracking tripping hulls, so W/L ratios have been kept above 6, usually nearer 6.5. Over time, the hulls have become mildly Swede-Form as a drafting function of differential rocker and included tumblehome to improve paddler reach across the rails for increased bio-mechanical efficiency. Rocker has increased, become differential and most recently, stepped into the bow to improve forward speed and maneuverability. The hulls are widening as paddlers gain girth, and unseemly reflection of the success of McDuck’s Super Size promotion.

These are conceived as intermediate skill level hulls. Once sized and fitted to the aspiring paddler, they do everything pretty well. DY’s Sport or Touring Series are logical next choices as solo paddlers select more targeted performance for more specific water conditions.

cc CEW

Form Lnth Sheer Widths L/W Rocker WT
Rail max, wl

Colden Canoe infused, two tone, synthetic or cherry trim
FlashFire SY 13’ 17 12 15 T 25.5 28.5 25 6.0 2.5/2.5 25
WildFire SY 14 18 12.5 16 T 27 30 26 6.0 2.5/2,5 28
DragonFly SY 14’6” 17 14 15.5 T 24.5 28.5 24 7.0 2.5 /2.5 30
Nomad SF 15’4” 17 12 14.5 T 26.5 28.5 25 7.2 1.5/1.0 28

Hemlock Canoe hand laminated, ash trim
Kestrel SY 14’9” 16 11.5 14 T 25.5 27.5 25.5 6.8 1.8/1.3? 29
Peregrine SF 15’9”L17 12 14.5 T 26.5 28.5 26.5 6.8 1.8/1.3? 33

NorthStar C wet bagged, ash or aluminum trim
Magic S&S SFD 16 17.5 12.5 15 T 23 29 25.5 7.3 1.5/0.8 35*
Phoenix SY 14.5 18.5 12.5 16.5 T 27 30 26.5 6.3 2.5/2.5+ 32
Northwind Solo SF15.5 H 18 12 16 T 27 30 26.5 6.7 2.0/1.0 34

Swift Canoe infused, two tone synthetic or aluminum trim
Keewaydin 14 SF 14’ 17 11.5 15 T 23 28 24 6.5 1.5/0.7 24
Keewaydin 15 SF 15’ 19 12.5 16 T 25.5 29.5 26.5 6.8 2/1 26
Osprey SF 15’ 18 12 15.5 T 26 29.5 27.5 6.4 1.5/1* 27
Shearwater SF 16’2” 19 12.5 16 T 27 31 28 6.8 1.5/1* 29

WeNoNah wet bagged, alu / ash trim
Argosy SFD 14’6” L18 14 16 T 27 30 27 6.0 2.3/1# 30
Wilderness SF 15’4” L19 14 17 T 27 30.5 30 5.7 1.3/1.3# 31

Notes: SY is symmetrical form, SF is Swede Form, D is Delta shaped
L indicates excessive layout at bow
? Hemlock hulls have less rocker than indicated
+ Phoenix has more rocker than stated
* Winters designed hulls understate rocker [unique JW measurement]
# Argosy, Wilderness rockers are overstated

Smallest Largest

FlashFire, DragonFly, WildFire, Phoenix

SwedeForm, mild:
Kee14, Kestrel, Argosy, Nomad, Peregrine, Kee15, Osprey, NW Solo, ShearW

Delta Swede Form:
Argosy Wilderness Magic

PostPosted: April 2nd, 2017, 7:38 pm 

Joined: September 22nd, 2016, 7:04 pm
Posts: 94
Location: Omemee
No personal experience but a buddy has the Swift Shearwater 16' that he uses extensively in Algonquin and he raves about it.
Weights range from 41-29lbs.
Let us know what U end up with and a trip report would be a great read.
Happy/Safe Paddling.

PostPosted: April 2nd, 2017, 8:54 pm 

Joined: September 22nd, 2016, 7:04 pm
Posts: 94
Location: Omemee
H2O has Solo 15 in a white water layup that comes in at 33lbs Kevlar to 38lbs integral/basalt, 2.5" rocker bow, 1.5" stern or a straighter tracking 16'.
Again no personal ex.
I'm lookin at a tandem from them in the Inegra layup I hope to try out this weeekend.
Good Luck.

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group