View topic - Nova Craft Prospector 15 as a Tandem and Solo Tripper?

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PostPosted: October 10th, 2019, 3:01 pm 
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Hey all, first post on here after lurking for some time. I've done a wide search on as many threads as I could find on the Nova Craft Prospector 15, and I still have some questions.
First of all, I have never paddled solo, only tandem. I'm eager to learn and practice so that I can go on solo trips eventually.
The tandem trips would be for my wife and I, and no longer than a week. Our packing is pretty minimal, we would each have a 115 litre dry bag backpack and just one small cooler. I'm wondering if anyone knows that the 15' would have the room for that load?
I know the 16' Prospector is the most common, but I wondered if the 15' would be easier to handle on the water, and easier to learn to paddle solo, am I right in thinking that way?
I am a fisherman, and a huge part of finding the right canoe is finding one that is a stable fishing platform. Can anyone comment on fishing from the 15'?
I'm wanting to stick with Nova Craft as they are made and sold near me. I have spoken with them, and they are recommending the 15' Prospector. I was just curious to hear from folks who own them.
I'd like the Tuff Stuff layup, seems like a great combo of durability and light weight.
Any help is really appreciated!
Thanks!


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PostPosted: October 10th, 2019, 3:55 pm 
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Joined: February 18th, 2005, 12:41 pm
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Location: Denver, CO
I did a lot of tandem tripping in a 15' Grumman - for up to two weeks, no problem with hauling all my gear.

One thing you can do is load up those two 115 litre packs, just to get them full - even a blown up trash bag, and take them to the Nova Craft dealer and see how they would fit in the 15' Prospector. I looked at the boat online, and it seems that you would have to put both packs ahead of the center thwart - perhaps one might slide partly beneath the thwart - you need to keep enough room behind the thwart for the stern paddler to have legroom, and to be able to kneel. For tripping, I'd load one of the two bags much heavier than the other, and place the heaviest bag closest to center. You always need to think about "trim" - i.e. the weight distribution; you want to be just a little bow light.

Fishing from any canoe when solo can be a pain - wind will always be an issue unless it is dead calm.

The extra 12 inches in the 16' version comes in the middle, so you give up that room for gear, but you give up some weight as well - a 15' boat is easier to maneuver, but is a bit slower than a 16' version. As far as being a "stable fishing platform", that's mostly up to you - boat is always more stable if you kneel, which lowers your center of gravity - you aren't going to be able to stand and cast in any case. I wouldn't expect the 16' to be noticeably more stable than the 15'.


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PostPosted: October 10th, 2019, 9:54 pm 
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Joined: November 16th, 2007, 1:11 pm
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Location: Virginia
I wouldn't be shy of the bigger boat. Gives you more options down the road. You said you and the wife might paddle together - kids in the future? You'll want even more space. (And remember this boat will last you decades if you take care of it.) I find a 15' boat a little small for tripping but I'm a bigger guy - around 220# and 6'2. I use one on a lake to fish when it's just me and a kid. I've done solo trips in a 15' OTD, which was ok - it shipped a lot of water in the ww, but that was partially design. I certainly wouldn't want to trip with 2 people and gear in any 15' boat I'm familiar with. But I'm biased to paddling my own boat. I loved my 17' OT Tripper - great for tripping with me and the Newfy in up to CIII water, if it wasn't too technical. I replaced it with a Novacraft Moisie, which is 16.5' I think, and I've been very happy with it. Pretty nimble and carries a ton and handles big water with total ease. All my buddies love their Esquif Canyons and find them good picks for going back and forth btwn solo and tandem, and they are great in ww. As for fishing, any boat that has stability for ww will be plenty stable to fish from. I don't find the differences in weight btwn the 15', 16', and 17' models noticeable.

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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 6:16 am 
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Joined: September 6th, 2019, 10:19 am
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Thanks for the responses guys. This feedback is very helpful.
Another reason I didn't mention about why I'm leaning towards the 15, is that I would be loading the canoe in the box of my truck with the tailgate down. My box is 6'6'', and then the tailgate down makes is 8'6''. The 15' would balance out better and would be a bit smaller of an object sticking out the back as I drive down the highway. A rack would be nice but I have a tri-fold hard tonneau cover that I love.
I'm not a big guy, I'm 6' 190lbs. Sounds like the 15' size would work ok for my solo trips. As for the trips with my wife, I like the idea of filling our packs and taking them to Nova Craft and seeing how everything fits.
And no kids for us (found that out a few years ago) so there wouldn't be anymore than 2 people in the canoe.
Thanks again guys, keep any suggestions or feedback coming!


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 8:07 am 
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I have the NC P16 in Royalex and love that boat. Have also paddled the same one in aramid (kevlar) that a buddy owns. It is important to note what someone said above that the extra foot comes in the middle - so that's a lot of room for gear that you are giving up. But that said, if you travel light the P15 should be fine for tandem.

The P16 is not terrible to solo either if you get it trimmed properly. But the P15 would definitely be better unless you are a medium to advanced paddler in which case it wouldn't be a big deal.

Great tip above to fill your 115s with air and go into the dealer to try to load it.

My P16 is extremely stable for fishing - I have to think the P15 would be as well.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 10:20 am 
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Joined: March 26th, 2013, 9:27 pm
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Location: Winnipeg, MB
I have a 14.5' Esquif Pocket Canyon. You can look up the specs but I assume there'd be more room in the 15' Prospector.

See the attached photo.

A 115l drybag will take up roughly the same space as a 60l barrel. Nova Craft generally places their seats further fore/aft than Esquif so you'd have more space in the middle but maybe a little less stability. I wouldn't worry about stability though; outfit your boat properly and kneel when you need stability (fishing, moving water, big lakes). When kneeling (especially with thigh straps) and keeping your torso always upright, it's pretty hard to become unstable. It's easy to even lift a swamped boat (if it has air bags) in a rescue situation from a playboat while kneeling.

You seem set on Nova Craft but I will say that T-Formex is a far better material for a boat than Tuff Stuff. Personally, I would prefer a no-gel-coat composite (like Souris River) if consistently bumping/scraping rocks isn't a concern. If it is, I would go T-Formex. Nova Craft makes good boats (I have a 17' NC Prospector in Royalex) but I haven't liked the durability of Tuff Stuff boats I've seen. I also don't like the float chambers or the ridiculous metal hook sticking out of the ends. The chambers and metal hook aren't issues for flat water boats though, so if you're mostly using your boat for flatwater then I wouldn't worry.

Once you get your boat, create a post inquiring about outfitting. I was able to get knee pad positions for tandem with thigh straps, solo from bow seat backward with thigh straps and a removable kneeling thwart and still have the barrels and daypacks lashed to the bottom of the boat for floatation. I did not leave myself any room to bail though! I had to buy a pump.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 10:49 am 
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Thanks again for more great responses! Thanks Prospector16 for the reassurance on the stability, and thanks Neil for the picture, that really helps me to be able to visualize the load. I think the P15 would handle our gear perfectly.

The canoe will be used on these week long trips, both tandem and solo, but also I'll be taking it to some local fishing spots for evening paddles and to catch a few bass. I'd be going solo on these, and to help paddle I was thinking of using a dry bag filled with water placed up in the bow. Any other ideas, or will that do the trick?


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 12:25 pm 
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Oh regarding Tuff Stuff check out the reviews on the MEC website - there are a lot of serious delamination issues with it. I would not consider it personally. And speaking as guy who has 2 x Royalex P16s (Nova Craft and Trailhead) I would personally not buy T-Formex unless you were doing a fair bit of white water - that's really what they are made for. For the extra 10 lbs of weight over Tuff Stuff no thanks. Might take a look at the Nova Craft Blue Steel layup. Or just their regular Aramid.

I also agree with the above comment on Souris River - gel coat is highly over rated. I'd love to get a SR canoe next.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 12:32 pm 
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I have the Swift P15 and it handles nicely as a solo and works just fine for tandem tripping. Neil's picture is worth a thousand words.

I agree on avoiding Tformex unless you are serious into river tripping. Most of my boats are ultralights Kevlar or carbon layups.

They have had their share of beaver dams and rapids and are no worse for the wear.

Ultralights have no issue being used they just shoudnt be abused.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 1:47 pm 
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Joined: February 28th, 2018, 10:54 am
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Location: SW Quebec
My experience: 16-6 H2O Prospector, not stable enough and sensitive to wind; Souris River Quetico 16, stable but slow and not very maneuverable; Nova Craft Cronje, just right. And these observations may be completely opposite to those of the majority. So again, you need to try them for yourself.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 2:21 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB
Before buying anything with a gel coat, get feedback from someone who has repaired theirs. I had a couple composite boats with no gel coat (Souris River) and they are easy to maintain. Fill scratches with a little West Systems 105/206 wiped over with a tipping brush. And it takes a lot of abuse before you get to the point where scratches need to be tended to.

I've never repaired a gel coat but I have seen them chip (Tuff Stuff) which makes for more demanding maintenance.

I also wouldn't let weight scare you away from T-Formex. A short boat like that shouldn't weigh a lot. My Pocket Canyon is the easiest boat I've ever portaged. An ultralight may be easier to carry on a nice day but I hate carrying them in wind - extremely frustrating. I'm not a big guy (5'6" 170lbs) and I've never felt the Pocket was heavy. My 17' is a little tiresome to carry though....


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 3:19 pm 
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That's interesting about the H2O - I just recently sold an Alchemist P16 which were made by H2O for the Ottawa Paddle Shack before they merged with Trailhead. It was an amazing canoe except that primary stability was pretty poor when it was not loaded with gear - so not great for fishing or just paddling around. I was sad to see it go.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2019, 5:30 pm 
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Location: SW Quebec
Prospector16 wrote:
That's interesting about the H2O - I just recently sold an Alchemist P16 which were made by H2O for the Ottawa Paddle Shack before they merged with Trailhead. It was an amazing canoe except that primary stability was pretty poor when it was not loaded with gear - so not great for fishing or just paddling around. I was sad to see it go.


We had maybe 400lbs in it, which clearly was not enough. It was mid-May, 3 hours into a trip at the Rock-Pen portage waiting for traffic to clear. We took a relatively small gust of wind directly abeam and the lee-side gunnel dipped under filling the boat with at least 5 gallons of water. Not sure how we didn't go swimming. We lost faith in the vessel for the rest of the trip. Shame, because in the right conditions it was faster than any Prospector I've been in, and its maneuverability made me look much better then what I am.

ETA: With apologies to those that have heard this story one too many times.


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2019, 7:41 am 
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Thanks again for the advice everyone. I'm set on the P15, now its the layup that may be in question. For each bad review of Tuff Stuff I see, I see at least one or 2 positive ones (and not just initial impressions, but after several years of ownership).
I'm a fan of the aramid and bluesteel layups but my wallet isn't at the moment. That said, I'm not against waiting longer and saving some more cash.
Mainly this will be a flatwater boat, but if we come across Class 1's I don't want to be afraid of running them.
Also I don't want to be afraid of bumping up against a rocky shore when arriving at a campsite.
Based on that, any suggestions to help me narrow it down? Stuck between getting Tuff Stuff now, or waiting and getting Aramid or Blue Steel.
Thanks


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2019, 7:56 am 
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Keep your eye out for used would be my advice. Or since you can walk in and ask, walk in and have a frank discussion about Tuff Stuff and the delamination issues they've had, and what type of warranty they offer against that. Ask very frankly if they've done anything in their production process to resolve that issue.


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