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.
Read and submit reviews for the Bob Special 15.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.