Bob Special 15

Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Bob Special 15 Options

  • Fiberglass

    58 lb
    Fiberglass Composite
  • Aramid Lite

    40 lb
    Kevlar/aramid Composite
  • Blue Steel

    45 lb
    Carbon Composite
  • TuffStuff Expedition

    56 lb
    Innegra Composite

    Bob Special 15 Description

    The Chestnut Canoe Company responded to the need for a lightweight canoe well suited to solo tripping and casual tandem paddling by introducing the versatile Bob Special. While the canoe was very stable due to its larger than normal width, the hull shape was optimized for performance resulting in a canoe that was remarkably fast. This version is based on the Chestnut original with some improvements to increase speed and sea worthiness.

    It is ideally suited as a tandem day-tripper yet large enough for a weekend canoe trip. It really shines when paddled solo by a competent paddler. The Bob has a unique blend of characteristics that produce a canoe novice paddlers can enjoy yet experts can savor. Shown in Fiberglass.

    Bob Special 15 Specs and Features

    • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
    • Seating Configuration: Tandem
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate

    Additional Attributes

    • Base MSP - $1529

    Nova Craft Canoe
    Bob Special 15 Reviews

    Read reviews for the Bob Special 15 by Nova Craft Canoe as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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    I had my Kevlar Bob's…

    Submitted by: paddler1407891 on 4/5/2021

    I had my Kevlar Bob's Special for a few years as the culmination of a half dozen or so canoes previously owned. It was easily the best of the bunch, and a joy to paddle. Most often I would paddle solo in the evenings after work and dinner, on a lake and river 15 minutes from our house. That meant negotiating it out of it's spot in the garage loft and loading it on the roof of the car and again in reverse after returning. With previous, heavier, boats that would be enough of a deterrent to discourage going out on all but the finest of evenings. With the Bob's Special weighing less than 40lbs, that was not an issue.

    Typically I would paddle it backwards, kneeling on an extra life jacket just in front of the bow seat. My camera gear, in a dry bag, would be just in front of the center thwart. For the mostly calm evening paddles, a perfect trim was not an issue. Stable enough to risk taking my best camera and lenses with me, yet wonderfully maneuverable, I could pretend to be Bill Mason!

    Sadly, I sold her when we moved from our house to a condo and had no place to store her. Now we are hoping to move from the city, and I am counting the days until I can buy another Bob's Special.


    With my kids getting too big…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/11/2020
    With my kids getting too big for us all to fit in one boat, I bought this canoe in fiberglass as a sidekick to my larger tripper. After a couple months use I've come to feel that in this capacity it was a good choice. It's much more easy to paddle solo in a strong wind than my Explorer. Its also faster, lighter to portage, and tracks straighter. If I stand up and fish out of it I notice right away that its initial stability is not as good, but on the whole its stable, and runs pretty dry in rough water. As a second boat I feel this is a good choice, it doesn't quite have the versatility of my larger canoe and personally I'd be happy to give up a little tracking for a bit more maneuverability. But over all its a great fit for my purposes.

    I took my new Bob special…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/4/2019

    I took my new Bob special out for the first time and I was very pleased with the whole experience. Getting the canoe to the water was a breeze thanks to the light weight and my new canoe cart. It was easy to launch and I found it very stable and comfortable sitting as I was going to paddle solo.I filled a 20 liter dry bag with water and put it in a 30 liter dry bag for ballast ( this way no water leaks out) and put it in the bow area,actually the stern but I was sitting in the canoe backwards so I could paddle solo. I shoved off and found the canoe very stable and pretty easy to start paddling.It was not difficult to keep the canoe going straight with a J stroke I learned on my first time canoeing.I was amazed how responsive my canoe was and having great calm water conditions made it that much better! I was going pretty fast as well ,I could see the lake grass below me and I was surprised at how much I could glide after every stroke.My daughter bought me my paddles for my birthday and they were beavertail paddles and worked just awesome.This canoe is just what I wanted since I will be using it for fishing when I get more experience paddling. Getting it out of the water and back to my jeep was easy,as well as putting it on top of my jeep roof rack primarily because of the 49 lb weight tough stuff hull. My wife brought me lunch and saw me paddling on the lake and she said I looked like I knew what I was doing!,I did have one full day of instruction from the canoe dealer I bought it from in Idaho where I managed to capsize us out in the lake. I am planning my next canoe camping trip and can't wait to paddle my Bob special in a mountain lake with nice and clear water!I am so glad I bought this Sunray yellow bob special,it's just a beautiful canoe and we'll worth it!


    I was out camping this…

    Submitted by: paddler467501 on 9/12/2018

    I was out camping this summer with a friend who owned one, and he was kind enough to let me use it for a day. Great balance and control. I absolutely loved it... can't wait until I can get one myself.


    My Bobs Special in Bluesteel…

    Submitted by: paddler235878 on 8/22/2014
    My Bobs Special in Bluesteel layup has served us well over the years and was used in numerous Boundary Waters trips. It is stable, tracks well on flatwater, and really shines on the meandering creeks. It's large enough for two paddlers with two #4 packs. Customer service was a little curt when I inquired about some maintenance issues. Contrary to some claims about the virtues of paddling it solo from the bow seat, I have to say that trim required to stack the packs on top of each other on the (now) bow seat which made it look like the Edmund Fitzgerald.

    The idea of photographing…

    Submitted by: paddler231976 on 4/2/2007
    The idea of photographing among middle Potomac River islands and channels led me to my Royalex Lite Bob. Helpful sales staff had a genuine enthusiasm for the boat. Its impressive versatility is the thing. Here was my first canoe and only my second time ever in a canoe. Still, after 5 self-taught practice sessions on the slow moving and adjacent C&O Canal, I felt confident enough to try the river: at my chosen spot the max was Class I.

    Over the summer the boat showed itself to be everything claimed by the sellers: good turning, good tracking and fairly fast, stable but lively, great solo, confidence inspiring and capacious. I emphasize that the Bob flatters. Consider my inexperience and self-taught course. Within a short time and starting from zero, I was able to paddle a straight line from one side and to turn with assurance. Before the end of the summer I was paddling in open water for 5 hours as well as cutting around in tiny snag choked channels with a determined current.

    This canoe, as a tool, could at times excuse itself from my consciousness while I worked on photography. On the other hand, its easy handling and its go-anywhere capability enhanced my intimacy with that surprising 7 mile stretch of river, half land and half water, between Great Falls and Seneca Creek.


    I have the Royalex Lite…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/9/2005
    I have the Royalex Lite version of the Bob Special and it is the best canoe I have owned, and I've owned quite a few. At 52 pounds it is light for a Royalex tandem canoe.

    So far I have only used this boat as a solo but it excels in that role. It turns on a dime when paddled heeled over (I have added a kneeling thwart) and it is quite fast too. It is very stable and if you don't care to kneel it paddles extremely well from the bow seat facing backwards if you add ballast up front. I weigh 210 and I use a 20 liter dry bag filled with water. It is also fast when paddled this way.

    I took this boat out fishing on a small lake yesterday in moderate wind and I was pleasantly surprised at how straight it tracked and how little effect on me the wind had. At the same time it turned easily.

    With all the room this offers to a solo paddler it is perfect for fishing but it could be used for tripping for a two or three week trip for one.

    I have never like small, skinny canoes but the Bob Special is wide and stable without being heavy, and it paddles like a dream. I like a canoe that I can get up and move around in when I need to for accessing gear, stretching my legs, etc. and I can do that in this boat.

    I will add a review later regarding its tandem capabilities but as a solo boat, I don't think you could do better. As a solo canoe then, I have to give it a 10.


    Our first canoe. We sail,…

    Submitted by: paddler230730 on 8/9/2004
    Our first canoe. We sail, kayak, and winsurf, but never the slender boat. What a gas! Fast, steady, quiet, and a pleasure to paddle. The best though...the people at the factory...From Tim the owner, to his crew that I chewed their ears off. Kudos to Alda, Rachael, and John, all of which know the true meaning of customer service. Thanks so much for your help and guidance. Please keep up the good work, and your devotion to customer service.

    This is my first canoe - a…

    Submitted by: paddler230359 on 9/22/2003
    This is my first canoe - a Bob Special Royalex. I bough it in August and went on holiday to the north west of Scotland. I had a great time, on both sea lochs and fresh water lochs. I found it very light, to carry and on the water. It was very stable, but a bit un-nerving whenever the dog decided to change sides! I loved visiting islands that normally can only be viewed from afar and seem caught in a time warp. I tried the canoe solo, but found sitting so far back in the canoe the nose was out of the water. Kneeling in the middle resolved the problem - but I kept going round in circles! As a beginner I have nothing to compare it with, but I found the Bob Special good value for money and great fun.

    My Bob is a kevlar/spectra. I…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/11/2003
    My Bob is a kevlar/spectra. I got the canoe last year and broke it in by taking it on an 80 km trip into the Algonquin National Park in northern Ontario. Even though there were two of us with gear and pack for a week we still had room and didn't really feel crowded. We had some long portages of up to 2 km but this canoe weighs in under 50 lbs ! It was no problem! The canoe tracked well and handled great in the narrow creeks and small beaver pond of Algonquin. This a great general use canoe for solo or tandem and I highly recommend it!!

    I have had my bob for about 2…

    Submitted by: nelges on 4/1/2002
    I have had my bob for about 2 years It is in royal lite layup. Great boat and I've tried many. I have used it mostly solo, on flat and some class 3 rapids it handled well, although I would not recommend class 3 tandom. Great tracking and manuverabilty good load capacity, and at 52 lbs fun to portage.

    I have owned my glass Bob for…

    Submitted by: paddler229564 on 1/21/2002
    I have owned my glass Bob for four seasons now, and am generally happy with it. If you're looking for a do-all solo/tandem tripping canoe, this design is superb. Unlike other designs that focus one area (speed, capacity, tracking, manueverability) this boat is more than adequate at all of them. With it's large beam and tumblehome, it feels bigger than it is, more solid. But it still handles well in small twisty creeks. It definitely likes to be trimmed bow heavy, even with a sliding bow seat, an extra 20lbs. up front improves handling noticeably. With the big beam, capacity is outstanding for a 15' canoe, I can take everything I need for a solo ten day trip, and I pack a lot of gear. I paddled an Osprey this summer and after the Bob I felt claustrophobic. It's also a very dry boat, never had any problems shipping water and I'm not queasy about paddling in big seas. It can sometimes feel tublike in a headwind though, especially lightly loaded.

    The design is great, however the manufacturing is not. My boat was four months late, and even then I had to reject two hulls because of manufacturing defects. I've talked to other owners of Bob's and this used to be common to glass/kevlar boats, however I don't know if this is still the situation. Royalex hulls seem to be fine. Try to pick up your boat at the factory, and inspect the hull THOROUGHLY before accepting it. Don't have it delivered to your home, there could be problems and extra costs returning it. Once again, for a high capacity tripping solo/tandem 15', this can be an excellent boat.


    We've been paddling a Royalex…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/8/2000
    We've been paddling a Royalex Bob Special for a couple of months, and have been quite pleased with it. Most of the time it is used as a tandem, with occasional use solo, and all of the usage has been on lakes. The boat has pretty good speed, decent primary stability, and excellent secondary stability. The boat tracks well, although not as strongly as a pure cruiser. Maneuverability is excellent. With the combination of speed, decent tracking, and maneuverability, it is a really fun boat to paddle.

    I noticed the same thing about paddling solo as was mentioned in the previous review, which is that the bow rides high when you paddle solo from the bow seat. Putting a little bit of weight in the bow (I use a gallon jug filled with water) and kneeling behind the carrying yoke cured the problem. I usually paddle solo with the boat heeled to one side, and it works really well when paddled like that.

    It's a fun and versatile boat, and one that should meet quite a range of needs.


    Our Bob is R-Lite -- at 52…

    Submitted by: paddler228933 on 9/27/2000
    Our Bob is R-Lite -- at 52 pounds very easy to handle on and off the water. Great lines, good tracking (esp. tandem), pretty fast,and stable but quite maneuverable on flat water (all I've tried to date). The construction quality seems quite good. My only quibble is with seat positioning. The bow seat is so far forward in tandem there's not much room for the front paddler (maybe we're just adjusting to the smaller 15 ft. boat), and so far back when paddling solo that the bow rides high. Kneeling cures the latter problem, and I'll probably either add a kneeling thwart or just put a couple weights at the bow. I suspect, however, the canoe would perform a bit better and be a bit more comfortable if both seats were moved a bit toward center. Well, nothing's perfect, but overall I am very pleased with this canoe. Much preferable (to me) than the similarly-sized options readily available in this area (mid-Atlantic U.S.).

    I've paddled this canoe for…

    Submitted by: paddler228337 on 12/4/1999
    I've paddled this canoe for about 10 seasons. It has an ultra-light kevlar lay-up weighing about 36 lbs. Very light to portage and a very good solo boat. Have used it on many severe wilderness trips as a tandem canoe and the hull has held up surprisingly well.Had the same dry rot problems with the ash gunwales as the Prospector review reported. I replaced with ash from the manufacturer. Also a very fast tandem canoe. Will out distance many 16' designs. Good capacity too at 800 lbs. Paddle it often with over 500 lbs gear and paddlers and it still performs adequately. Probably the best solo/light tandem tripper out there.