I paddle the big and fast Niagara, loaded with the dog, the beer and the fishing gear all summer. This boat is FAST. The initial stability is a bit rocky, but I have no idea how a "Expert Guide" could tip it all the way over. This boat does NOT want to turtle. Keep your head over the boat "expert".
Cons: I will say that you will need a good J stroke to keep it tracking straight. The Aluminium gunwales are a bit uncomfortable on the knees on long days. The Cost (yikes).
All in all I love this boat, It glides through the water effortlessly and it can handle the jack@sses in their cigarette boats flying by with 3 foot wakes.
Reading these reviews, it's like people are reviewing two different animals. It sounds like the Royalex version handles much less well than the Kevlar/Tuf-weave version, as the bad reviews all seem to be about Royalex versions. Fortunately I have a Kevlar Ultra light version, and it's a wonderful boat. It's a little heavier than some of my other Wenonah Kev ultra lights, but I'm guessing it gets a little sturdier construction given it's possible use in whitewater. But it's still under 40 pounds I'd guess. It's very easy to lift from the ground to over head without any special technique.
This was one of my very first solo canoes and was a good boat to learn in. It's very forgiving with excellent final stability, and not too bad primary stability either. As a whitewater boat, it's fun and very dry. I've been pleasantly surprised at how durable its been for me over the years. Sometimes you just can't avoid the rock garden, but the hull doesn't show much wear. Without the experience, I wouldn't have believed it. I've used my tuf-weave Solitude in whitewater too, and while it does well too, it shows the impacts where the Kevlar hasn't.
As a lake and river boat, I wouldn't have expected this one to do as well as it does. It actually turns out to be a decent tracking boat considering the rocker it has. It doesn't have the glide that my Prism does, but does about as well as my Vagabond or Solitude. It will paddle a nice straight line with regular J-strokes from one side without having to switch sides if you don't want to.
It's big enough to carry a load, but handles well empty for simple day trips. I've taken it on week long camping trips over various water conditions. It's a great all around do it all canoe that can handle just about anything you throw at it. Even though it's one of my first solos and I've added to the fleet since, it's still one I go back to again and again.
I can pack Lots+++ of gear and food for a multi-day outing,and still find it a fun boat to paddle.The boat does need foot braces in my opinion, for paddling thru the flats, or encountering high head winds and such,the boat is pretty fast for a craft with 2 1/2" of rocker. I also like the color [burgundy] because its different than most boats out there. I also fish out of it,so the stability is just fine with me, no problem. IMO a great Design!
Pros: hmmmm... can't think of any right now.
This is strictly an Expert Boat, not because an expert would ever buy one, but because it takes an expert to know how to compensate for its design flaws. Of the boats at our livery-- Bell Northwind and Northshore, Old Town Penobscot, Mohawk 14'-- this is by far the least favorite, and the only boat that has managed to dunk every guide (we don't put clients in it). It fails the stand-up-paddle test and the water-entry test. It wants to roll like a log but doesn't have the agility you'd expect. A Mohawk 14' in Royalite is a much better/lighter small solo boat, or for the Rendevous' weight/length I'd much rather be kneeling solo in a Royalex Bell Northwind or Old Town Penobscot. A nice fellow from Denver told me, "it's tippy when bow heavy. Has to be trim of bow up." Whatever... If you inherit one of these, condolences.
The Rendezvous makes a good long distance tripping boat and is a nice compromise in the tracking/maneuverability trade-off; easy to paddle and adequately nimble . My biggest complaint is with the adjustable seat which is for me a annoying nuisance. It's hard/impossible to adjust while in the boat, may increase tendency for things to get caught in its mechanism and would probably slip out of its settings on a portage if the boat were upside down . If I were taking this boat on a serious wilderness trip , I would drill out the seat rivets and junk the seat for a (better) normal hung seat or pedestal.
With a better seat I would give the Rendevous a higher score of 8.
For people trying to figure out if a boat is correct for them is difficult as posters have all different interests, skill levels, etc. I am extremely happy with the handling, speed, and stability of the Rendezvous. Having said that let me explain my interest and background.
I am 41 and have been paddling rocky creeks around SW Mo and NW Ar for many years. I do a lot of camp floating carrying much gear as well as fishing small creeks in the middle of summer in low water levels. In my younger days I paddled the upper Buffalo many times in high water as well as Hailstones. Paddled some WW rivers out east, and many others. With that said, I did my share of swimming and have not paddled WW rivers in some time and don’t intend to anymore. Also I had the opportunity to fish the BWCA four times in Rented Kevlar Wenonah’s. However, a good two or three day camp float on the Buffalo at Ponca with a foot of air space is certainly still in my sights.
Myself as well as all my buddies have owned several boats over time, but at this stage we have sold all of our bathtub rockered WW boats and stick with 16 footers with 36" widths and still have a hoot.
Over the last several years I have found myself paddling my Mowhawk Intrepid 16 by myself more often than not. Great boat, but solo I thought I might look for a smaller boat. I wanted a narrower boat for more efficient paddling strokes, a faster boat, Rocker between 1 to 2 inches, but did not want to sacrifice the ability to run down river and hit big rollers and did not want a shallow boat.
After researching boats it was evident that the canoe builders put slightly rounded bottoms on down river boats. That spooked me as far as stability, and low water fishing and swimming trips. Also, these boats were a great deal narrower than what I have been accustomed to and I did not want a tippy WW boat. I found myself looking at the Wenonah Argosy, Rendezvous, Bell Yellowstone’s, Nova Craft Supernova, Mad River Freedom Solo, and the Mohawk Odysseys. These boats are narrow and I was hesitant due to the stability factor as well as most of these boats have rounded bottoms and people consider them WW boats.
Well I found a nice Wenonah Rendezvous for sale used. Doug in KC had it and I decided to head north with cash in hand and give this northern/Canadian style boat a try. Paddled it the other day and I was pleasantly surprised with stability. Trust me I had my doubts about such a narrow beam width. This boat was great so I started fixing the skid plates as well as installing some anchor tie down points in the hull.
The boat is a typical Wenonah design with pointed and narrow ends for speed, but the bow of this boat is very deep and flares quickly to keep you dry in rollers. The boat had already been modified by increasing the bow width and moving the seat back a few inches per Eric Nyre at canoecolorado.com.
Now having paddled it, I’m glad I did not get a shorter boat such as the argosy or the yellowtone solo. This boats feels small and short when paddling and I need the camping space. Comfortable on the seat, but when technical stuff is coming I plan on dropping down to the knee pads
I still will float my trusty Mohawk Intrepid, but when paddling alone no way. Bring on the camp floats, and a mixture of water conditions and I’m set. I will also try to post my experiences with skid plate installation over the years, Epoxies, do-it-yourself tie mounts, & knee pads in other sections of the forum.
So, last year I decided to make the mods that Eric Nyre described in his review (new web page: http://www.canoecolorado.com/canoeing/wenonah/rendezvous/modification/). I had previously relocated my rear thwart to accommodate specific gear, so I used the original rear thwart as the front thwart (increasing the beam ~2.25"), moved the seat back ~4", and relocated my rear thwart back another 4" (which was the same as installing a longer thwart). Big difference: much drier in the waves and much more controllable with better trim when paddled empty.
However, I went a step further: I noticed that the bow was still slightly pinched in by the front grab bar. It still didn't shed water as well as one might hope. As such, I made a new grab bar that was about 1.5" longer than the original. Now we're talking! This is the ticket. The boat is *much* drier, with no apparent loss of maneuverability.
All in all, I still like this boat - but now I like it even better. If you've got a chance to pick one up on the cheap, make the move.
The Kevlar Rendezvous is actually fairly fast. It requires one to switch sides frequently, but with good paddling technique it scoots along quite well. My GPS topped it out at 6.2 mph, with a cruising speed of 5mph. The Royalex Rendezvous is not nearly as nice. The blunt entry pushes water, and the fixed seat makes adjusting trim difficult. The Royalex Rendezvous is better suited to moving water, while the composite is more versatile.
We-no-nah removed the Kevlar construction from their catalog. It is still available, with the same prices/ options as a comparable Prism.
If you have a Royalex Rendezvous bought before 2004, you may have noticed some problems with the boat. We have built a site at www.canoecolorado.com/canoeing/wenonah/rendezvous/modification.htm that gives guidelines on how to fix those problems with some simple modifications.
From my perspective, the Rendezvous seemed quite fast and easy-tracking on the lake. On the other hand, it did not turn NEARLY well enough for technical whitewater use. I weigh 215, and by leaning way back on the seat, I could get the bow light enough to force it to one side or the other, but then the stern was digging in seriously. It was not possible to sink the stern enough to loft the bow and get it to pivot.
While this boat could cruise well in wavy class 2 rapids, and could crash through some class 3 rapids like the Nantahala's Lesser Wesser, it is NOT a maneuverable whitewater boat. My Mad River Guide puts it to shame. I can actually run easy slalom gates in the MR Guide, while the Rendezvous would be hopeless on any slalom course I have seen. To put the case even more clearly, I would rather run whitewater in my 16' 10" Bluewater Chippewa, nominally a tandem boat, but much easier to maneuver. Glad some of you are happy with the Rendezvous in whitewater, but in the interest of protecting consumers, I have to say, this is a real decent, fast river boat, but not for cruising whitewater.
With respect to the seat placement, I've experienced all the problems that other reviewers noted. However, I believe it's due to the asymetrical shape of the hull and the specific water conditions in which you are paddling. I've found that when the Rendevous is acting squirrely ...and this tends to happen on flat, moving water ... the key is to weight the "off side" (not the paddle side) of the canoe and use good technique (near-verticle paddle, minimum of correction etc.). So, I think that Wenonah puts the seat in exactly the right position for this craft. If you move the seat back, it's harder to get fore/aft trim right (you need to add weight in front of you to balance the craft. Also, you must increase the amount of correction you apply on each and every stroke, no matter the water conditions. To me, these are unacceptable prices to pay for avoiding the problems which other reviewers mentioned.
Finally, I replaced the bench seat with a pedastal, didn't like it and went back to the bench. The only modification I've made to the seat is to raise the back and angle it downward so that it's set up for kneeling and makes for an easier exit/re-entry. This is especially important for running steep, rocky stuff at low water when you want the ability to eject yourself from the boat ... like bull riders at the rodeo.
The only drawback is the trim of the boat. As others suggest, it does seem to be a bit bow-heavy. It's not as much of an issue for me, because I travel loaded and just shift gear around, but if you're running empty you have to make sure you're back in the seat and sitting up straight (not leaning forward) or kneeling with your butt on the seat as opposed to resting against the front edge.
That small complaint aside, I have yet to see a better boat for my purposes. I had a chance to compare it with an MR Guide on a recent trip. The Guide turns more easily and seems to have a little shallower draft, but the Rendezvous tracks better, is faster, hauls more gear, is drier, and has a bigger cockpit (which we long-legged people like).
All in all, if you want a solo river runner, I'd say buy a Rendezvous.
Downsides? It's not a feather (it's every bit of 52 pounds) and it's not very graceful if you try to freestyle it (it does not need to be leaned to turn, and if you lean it way over it will scare you).
My opinion is that the stock position of the seat is MUCH too far forward and this is why many readers find the boat hard to control in the wind. When I put my 70 pound dog in front of me in this boat - I could not control it...it just spins out...the only boat that has ever been so uncontrollable. I removed the seat and replaced it with a Bell kneeling thwart placed about 3 inches back from the stock position, and I also removed the rear thwart and replaced it with a Bell kneeling thwart. If I'm solo I sit in the stock position (3 inches rearward from original position) and when I bring the dog (Jessie - 70 pound black lab) I put her in front of me and I sit on the kneeling thwart where the rear thwart used to be...the trim is perfect with the dog. The boat is much more controllable and friendly than stock.
Royalex is fun...you can ram your friends.