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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 11:21 am 
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Hello all!

I am in need of experience-based suggestions for a featherweight solo canoe that will stand up to frequent roof-rack load/unload and flatwater tripping.

I have been a short-stay (3-4 days) solo tripper for many years. I primarily travel within north-central Ontario.
I have been a solo canoeist for 35-40-ish years. I rarely paddle with a partner - rarely meaning once every few years. Most of my years of tripping was done in a '96 Swift Shearwater in expedition kevlar (55-ish lbs with the maple yoke).

Background: A few years ago I developed a health condition that results in intermittent muscle weakness and peripheral neuropathy (basically my hands and feet go numb, but don't actually "fall asleep"). Tiredness and heat/cold tend to be the biggest triggers. My CNS reacts slowly to temperature extremes. When it hits I tend to become stumbly and fumbly, but not disoriented at all. To add to the fun, I am on medication that causes me to be more prone to bone breakage.

I started to have difficulty with the portage carries a couple of years ago. I had a few times where it hit me coming across a portage that "crap! I shouldn't be out here if I can't get myself home" Eventually, I sold my Shearwater as I knew, based on her weight, that our days adventuring together were over.
I thought that I would just rent something lightweight for a while. However, I quickly realized that not owning a canoe made spontaneous trips and "out for the afternoon" paddles impossible.

Last summer, with the help of the nice people at Swift Canoe, I bought a 16' Keewaydin Kevlar Fusion (CK trim) tandem canoe (36lbs?). The intent was to find a paddling partner and/or do short solo excursions.

The paddling partner didn't pan out even once (my boyfriend of 6yrs has zero interest in canoeing or sleeping on the ground, let alone tripping). So, I paddled the canoe alone all summer. As much as the tandem Keewaydin is a nice canoe, it doesn't solo well. I spent most of my time kneeling just behind the center thwart with a kitchen stool under my butt.
I also found out the hard way that 16' of canoe may still be too much for me to carry over multiple portages. I stumbled (caught my foot in a root) at the end of the portage at the top of the Barron Canyon and managed to take a chunk out of the end of my brand new canoe. It was the 4th of 6 portages that day - I fell again on the final one.

Please don't tell me to just stay home. I am not looking for that kind of advice. I know my limits and I need to play within them. I'm fine on the water and on the campsite.

I have an inReach on order. I will limit myself to two-portage trips. And, I need a very light dedicated solo canoe.

I am looking for suggestions. I am considering a Northstar Northwind or something in a dedicated solo from Swift. I have eliminated the Nova Craft Fox from consideration as I hear on good authority from a well-known experienced solo paddler that it is too twitchy (no names to be divulged).

I do have an older 12' Bell Bucktail pack canoe that I picked up at the end of last season. However, I have no interest in double-bladed paddling. Johnny (in Huntsville) is going to look at it to see if he can fashion me a kneeling saddle for tooling around in the day with a single blade. I don't think that 12' is quite enough for tripping though.

Can anyone offer suggestions?

I'm 54, 5'10", 170lbs. I will paddle only flatwater. Again, I know my limits and I will respect what my body can do so that I can stay safe out there.

Thanks!!

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after



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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 12:02 pm 
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Julia B wrote:

Last summer, with the help of the nice people at Swift Canoe, I bought a 16' Keewaydin Kevlar Fusion (CK trim) tandem canoe (36lbs?). The intent was to find a paddling partner and/or do short solo excursions.



The Keewaydin is an asymmetrical boat which is wider in the back than the front to make it go faster. Assuming you paddle the boat backwards sitting at the bow this boat will be hard to manoeuvre and will be slower.

I just picked up a 16 Prospector Carbon Fusion with CK trim (36 lbs) so I could use it tandem and solo. It is symmetrical so backwards is the same as frontwards for width. I tried out the Kevlar fusion version of the boat (39 lbs) as a rental in Killarney and it was great. I have an xtra dry bag I fill with water for bow to help with wind when my gear is on the campsite.

Hope this helps!


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 12:51 pm 
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Joined: September 8th, 2003, 4:23 pm
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Location: Toronto,Ont .
I've got an old UL novacraft bob special at 37 lbs that I solo and have used tandem many times. I think it makes a good dual purpose canoe


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 1:06 pm 
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Thanks Richard.

No. I don’t sit backwards in the bow seat to paddle the Keewaydin. I kneel forward of the stern seat, with a stool or a dry bag to support my bum.

I do have a dry bag that I used as ballast in the bow when paddling solo on day excursions. I place my gear (barrel and pack) as far to the bow as I can when heading out overnight.

I am planning to keep my Keewaydin for the possibility that one day a friend wants to go out. I would just like another dedicated solo as it seems that is what I will be doing the most.
Swift sold me the Keewaydin tandem as they told me that it would be most similar to my old familiar Shearwater. They advised that I would find the Prospector comparatively slower. However, it may be better for me in a shorter solo. I appreciate this information!

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after



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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 1:07 pm 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
You should definitely be looking at something around the 15ft range or even shorter. Not only will they be lighter but a shorter boat gets blown around less when it's on your shoulders. That's something I find tiring with our 17ft canoe.

Do you want a traditional looking hull or a more modern design? I have owned a Dagger Sojourn, Bell Merlin II, Wenonah Argosy and currently paddle a Wildfire. The Merlin was my favourite though I had to sell it when we moved to Canada. Of course, of these only the Argosy is still made so maybe that doesn't help!

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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 1:14 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
The swift Keewaydin 14 in carbon fusion comes in at 26 pounds. Looks like it would be a fine solo. However, seems like you would need about $7000.00 to make it happen.

Expedition kevlar with aluminium trim looks like about 3600 plus taxes. Comes in around 39 pounds

If I had the money, I would probably splurge on the 26 pounder......that sounds like a game changer.


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 2:34 pm 
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RHaslam, just priced out the 26 lb carbon fusion version with carbon Kevlar trim at $4550 CDN + tax!

Add another $1000 for carbon tech but that will save you 1-2 lbs....crazy!

price list is here: https://swiftcanoe.com/wp-content/uploa ... DNSolo.pdf

Cheers!


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 3:23 pm 
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The Keewaydins are fine dedicated solos though I prefer the 15 footer. You really have to think what that extra pound of savings are worth in cost. I was able to carry a 15 footer until I was 73 and all were about 35 lbs.
One thing to consider is that a tandem has a lot more skin and that extra foot makes swing weight ( up on to you and around corners) more of an issue. In other words a 35 lb dedicated 15 foot solo is going to heft quite differently than a 35 lb 16 foot tandem.

If you are lake traveling canoes with symmetrical rocker bow and stern can be a handful in winds. Prospectors in some manufacturers lines have this predisposition though most are now not faithful to the original Prospector design as they have differential rocker.

Not sure if you have any Northstar dealers near you but look at their lineup esp Trillium and Northwind solo.


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 5:31 pm 
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If you are living in Canada then I'd say the available boats to look at are the Keewaydins, 14 and 15. For lake travel, a carbon hull will do. Expensive, but you should be able to easily portage either of them for years to come. We are talking here about boats listed in the 26 to 30 lbs range, depending on canoe length and how much carbon you add to the rest of the canoe chosen. If you live south of the Canadian border, then, I'd add both Northstar canoes LRC mentioned. Good luck with your search.

GG

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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 5:57 pm 
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Gerald and Julia B., there actually are Northstar dealers in Etobicoke and Thunder Bay. What they have in stock of course I have no idea.


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 6:51 pm 
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Location: Burns Lake, BC
Have a look at the Savage River solos.
Maybe a new Harmony Solo?


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 8:07 pm 
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Not sure if you can get Hellman Canoes but they have a couple of possibilities.

Purcell: https://hellmancanoes.com/the-purcell/

Solitude: https://hellmancanoes.com/the-solitude/


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 8:30 pm 
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I have both a northwind 20 and have on order a north wind 17. I really like the hull design, and their starlight layup is remarkably light. Handles well and is quick across the water. Had I not gotten a shearwater, the northwind was next on my list. I think Northstar builds great boats.

I know your love for the shearwater, have you contacted swift about a lighter layup? I was paddling with Mr. Swift in the fall and they do still have the mould, and at the time they had an ultra-light used (dealer buyback) sitting on one of their racks. Won't lie, I was tempted by it. I was also told at the time there were a couple of new swift solos hitting the market this spring, I believe (please don't quote me on this) one was a 15ft solo prospector.


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PostPosted: April 11th, 2022, 8:48 pm 
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Here's a new Northwind solo in Toronto.

https://completepaddler.ca/product/nort ... 5-solo-sl/

GG

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PostPosted: April 12th, 2022, 5:57 am 
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Location: Florida
JulieB, I have health problems too that make the portaging difficult. I'm 68 and your situation sounds similar to mine, although the specific health problems are different. I really relate to your problem.

Right now I have a 13 foot Mohawk, royalex. It is heavy-ish at 42 pounds. But it is easier for me to carry than a longer boat. Although the newer boats are lighter...the Mohawk can be pulled and pushed over things in the event of a difficult portage or getting through a shallow rock garden. It's tougher and for me, right now, this is better than a lighter weight. This may be sour grapes as I cannot afford the $3000 and up boats.

I also find the 13 foot easier for me to handle than longer boats on the water. I also don't like double paddles. This paddles very nicely. It's not fast, like some of the newer boats.

I am finding these recommendations interesting and will research further. If you find something you like, I hope you will let us know.


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