The Escapade defines efficiency and superb performance in one compact package. We-No-Nah redesigned this one in 2009, reshaping the bow and stern to improve efficiency, and adding more tumblehome to make solo paddling easier. A good fit for smaller paddlers, those who pack light, and people who prefer a shorter canoe. At 16'6" you can add a center seat to make it a maneuverable solo, as this is the most friendly length to switch between solo and tandem paddling. Truly a superior hull design and a great paddling canoe.
We recently purchased our Wenonah Escapade through Udo Wald and Janet Nichols at Back of the Beyond on Bainbridge Island. First voyage was Angle Lake in WA to get our feet wet on how she handles and were very impressed to say the least.
This 16' 6" canoe glides effortlessly through the water and felt very stable once we got used to it. We decided on the kevlar version to make it easier to transport and handle as a tandem or solo canoe and don't regret it at all.
Our second voyage was out in Puget Sound from Seahurst Park, WA and it handled very well in light wind and calm waters. It was a blast exploring the coastline down towards Three Tree Point. Once again the handling, balance, and overall feel of this canoe is amazing. A few rollers came in from the NW and she handled very well when it became a bit rough in spots.
The fit and finish is 4 out of 5 stars as there are a few areas where the surface has a few minor blemishes in the finish. Considering the price and material used, it might be tempting to assume it would arrive in perfect condition. The small blemishes are purely cosmetic and don't affect performance or even the overall appearance, so it's not a concern.
Working with Udo and Janet was the best experience ever. Udo was extremely helpful in helping us choose the right model, and he was very down to earth and practical in all of his recommendations. If you are in need of a canoe here in WA, make sure you reach out to Udo and he will definitely get you out on the water with the right canoe.
The main trade off for me is for river trips where there are class I and sometimes class II rapids. Also I frequently canoe in low water conditions where scraping gravel and rocks is the norm. I soloed the Escapade down a reach of the upper St. Croix yesterday. Water was high so avoiding rocks was easy. I found the Escapade could handle the rapids quite well - mostly class I and one class II. I don't advocate this canoe for white water but I am not going to portage every time I see a riffle. I was very surprised at the stability. I went through some standing waves that appeared higher than the gunnels and it did not take on any water and I never felt in danger of tipping even when I got turned almost side ways. I found it very manuevarable. This was especially noticeable in that I had a stiff head wind the whole trip. The speed is excellent.
For my canoeing, the main trade off is that the Tuff Weave gel coat is very easily scratched as compared to the royalex hull I am used to. So rock avoidance is now a high priority whereas with the Penobscot it was an afterthought. Overall, I think the Escapade performs better than I had anticipated for stability and maneuvarability. It is fast and fun to paddle and a "pretty" canoe at that.
The boat tracks great. We could trim it out well with the front sliding seat. It is a great physical fit for my daughter and me. And it is fast....
All and all a very versatile and enjoyable boat. The only complaint is that the removable yoke uses very tight cotter pins with sharp metal edges. It's nearly impossible to slip the pins all the way in without cutting a finger-- really wished they'd gone the gunwale clamp route rather than use cotter pins.