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Name: wildernesswebb

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This boat is another Nova Craft offering originally built by Chestnut in wood & canvas. It is symmetrical and has a shallow arch bottom. Fit and finish is excellent, as most Nova Craft boats I've seen. The laced seats are the most comfortable on the market and I'm unsure why Nova Craft is the only one to use them? Mine is royalex, but lighter composite models are available.

I was a bit dubious when talked into trying this little boat out. My prior experience with my XXL 6'2 frame in a 12 foot canoe was less than pleasurable. But, I gingerly climbed into the little boat and pushed off figuring it would be a submarine or a tub? It was neither, it is a pleasant little boat. The shallow arch hull emphasizes secondary more than initial stability. It turned predictably and didn't spin like a top as I thought it might at that length? It has just enough rocker to make for easy, predictable turning while not so little that the stems "Dig in" with a heavy load.

As I gained confidence that my size would not sink the diminutive canoe, I began testing it's limits. I took it out into some significant boat wakes on the Chattanooga riverfront and it handled them like a champ. I could lean it almost to the gunwale and it felt reassuring.

A few months later and I was in the boat again, this time having bought it. I've had it on both ponds and rivers now and it excels on both. Most folks look at the 12' x 32" specs and think it would have to paddle like a pool toy or spin like a top. But the narrow (for royalex) stems and shallow arch seem to overcome the width to length issues? You wont win any races in it, but you will enjoy paddling it if you don't plan to be doing any 20-30 mile per day slogs.

Now, I've already explained that I'm a big, tall guy and it suits me for day tripping even in winter with extra gear. I would also have no problems doing an overnight in this in summertime. But, also, my much smaller wife also likes the boat. She's tried it sitting from the seat and using a double blade and kneeling with a single and she prefers to use a double blade in it. And the friend whom I bought it from is also a small guy and found it enjoyable. He too used a single blade. So "Size" doesn't seem to be a big issue on enjoyment or useability? I've had close to 400lbs (probably top end for the boat) with gear. My friend and wife as little as a 130lb load. While it would work with a double blade, I think kneeling with an Ottertail paddle is the perfect way to enjoy this little boat?

If you are looking for a nice, small boat to toss in the back of your truck or sling over your shoulder for small rivers and ponds, I highly recommend it. It is a unique little boat that I think I will keep for a long time

So glad I was "Steered" toward this boat. I prefer small tandems for solo river paddling as I like to take a lot of pictures. For years I've tried a lot of boats trying to find the "Perfect" match of turning easily on the river, but not so much that it's spinning as soon as I drop the paddle to pick up the camera.

I had decided upon a Nova Craft Bob Special and called the late Lynn Lyon at KC Paddler whom asked me a few questions, gave his opinions, and told me to research the Wenonah Prospector 15 for a few weeks and if I was still "Sold" on the Bob he would sell it to me. Well, unfortunately, this "Exceptional" man had passed away when I called him to order the boat. With some work, I found another dealer whom ordered the last royalex Prospector 15 to leave the Wenonah factory.

The boat was a "Blem," and upon delivery the only thing I noticed was that the the vinyl skin was somewhat "Pebbled," like a golf ball in some places. Fit and finish was impeccable, but I do not like aluminum seat hangers and had requested they enclose wooden dowel seat hangers to replace them with.

After paddling it solo from bow seat with some ballast in the opposite end, I noted it balanced and paddled better than most 15-16' tandems I've paddled. But, since I plan to use it mostly solo, I experimented with different seat positions and settled upon a position 1' aft of center and putting a wing nut on the yoke to make it removable.

I'm VERY pleased with this boat. It responds consistently to paddle stroke lightly loaded or laden with tripping load. One of the points Lynn made was that the Wenonah Prospector 15 had just the right amount of width in the stems to allow for ease of paddling without being so narrow it will "Bury" in large waves. I wouldn't use it in "Serious" Whitewater, but Class I or II wave trains and drops on Ozark rivers are the kind of environment this boat thrives in. Stems seem to have the "Perfect" height to keep most of the water outside the boat while not being so high as to catch as much wind as most "Prospector" hulls? Wenonah did well with it's design!

The width is a bit much for an averaged or small paddler, unless you can lean it and paddle it "Canadian" style. And I would expect it to be a handful in the wind for a small person with no load. But I've had it in a few of those 20+ MPH wind days and found it manageable; more so than most Prospectors IMHO? It's a perfect river boat for tandem day trips or overnights and big guy river tripper. And really nice boat for photography on the river. Turns easily enough, but not so much that you have to focus on the boat when you want to pick up the camera.

I expect the composite version would paddle even better? Very pleased with this boat.

Well, I've had the boat 3 years and counting now and still in love with it. I've only paddled it solo, so I guess this is only half a review? Tracks well enough, but if you want a flat water boat you'd be better served by a composite boat. But, unlike it's sister the Legend, it doesn't feel like you're pushing against a log when just paddling straight ahead.

It has just the perfect amount of rocker to turn with a little lean and a stroke, but it doesn't spin 180 degrees if you put the paddle down to take a picture. Stability solo is rock solid. I could imagine it could be a bit "Wobbly" with seats toward the stems? If I were to use it tandem I would probably put my stern seat closer amidship to alleviate that?

I've only dumped this boat once, and that was by going down the wrong line into a "Hole" in a Class II in high water. Otherwise, the bow is plenty voluminous and just enough flare to hold itself above Class I-II wave trains.

I've been paddling since the '70's and have paddled a LOT of boats. I cannot imagine selling this boat unless it was to replace it with another boat with the same specs. Tough to find a better solo on the river IMHO. Sure, some want those skinny little boats that paddle faster and try to spit you out when you hit a squirrely eddy line. ME, I want to swim when I want to swim, not when the boat dumps me out! The Reflection 15 is my all time favorite river boat.

Well, this is the 3rd season I've owned it and I figured it's time for a review?
I'd looked for a used Starfire for years to no avail as I paddled a couple and thought it was the best boat I'd paddled? Finally found one and thanks to a friend had it delivered from Texas.

The Starfire can be paddled tandem by smaller paddlers or like I paddle it, a large guy solo boat. The Starfire has 3" rocker, so if you are looking for a boat to paddle lakes, this is probably not what you're looking for? If you are not proficient with a paddle, it will wander about looking for someplace else to go. But it turns, ferries, and moves wherever you point it and it just feels like it wants to please?

The depth is just perfect for a couple smaller paddlers or a large solo paddler. Low enough that the wind doesn't bother it much, but deep enough for some waves or some Class I rivers with wave trains. The stability is predictable and the more you lean it, the harder it pushes back. It's a good boat to paddle in the wintertime when you need a "Predictable" boat to keep you dry.

Even loaded off center, it's easy to paddle. Once, with the seat in the center position, I loaded my wife after she'd capsized her boat. I pointed it upstream and prepared for a tough slog to ferry it upstream and across. I was pleasantly surprised that it easily slipped across the river even with the boat bow heavy and off balance. I've also found that unlike most boats I've paddled on my home river, MO's Current River, I can easily check out a line and if I don't care for it I can turn it around and ferry across to a line more to my liking before turning it back downstream.

The only downside I've found is with photography. I like to take pictures and this boat likes to wander if the paddle is out of the water. Of course, it's easy to nudge it back on track when you put the camera back up.

As for the layup, I have the Black Gold with built in skid plates in the stems. It's very tough, and it is easy to sand down and slap a little epoxy or clear coat to make it look good as new. I have toyed with getting a different solo for when the river is running low because every rock that reaches out and touches this beautiful boat makes me feel like I'm kicking my dog!

I've never given a boat a "10" in a review until now. This boat deserves it. If you want a straight tracking flatwater boat, you won't rate it that high. If you are wanting something to run Class II and up, this isn't the boat. But if you are a large paddler that wants to paddle it primarily solo or are a smaller sized couple paddling tandem, I don't think there is a better river canoe out there?

Of course, Bell doesn't make it anymore and used Starfires are difficult to find. Most folks who paddle one won't part with it until they quit paddling. But Colden Canoes now makes this David Yost hull and they certainly are beautifully done.

Have had my Mistral for a year now. I paddle it on rivers, with some flatwater experience paddling in one of the rivers that has several pools. Bought it from a guy whom thought it had too little initial stability. I don't get that feel at all. Actually more initial stability than most shallow arch hulls IMHO.

Nice, contoured yoke, but I removed it to install a center seat and I have set mine up to paddle solo or tandem. Holds a LARGE amount of gear with plenty of freeboard. With too light a load those stems are very prone to catch wind.

Rivers and maneuvering are where this boat shines. If you paddle a lot of flatwater, you better have a good forward stroke. I had a bit of trouble with the stern "Skidding" around tricky spots, but noted that loading so I had a little more weight in the stern solved that problem.

As for the material, it seems very tough. More resistant to abrasion than other composites or royalex. I bought this boat for roughly 50% of what it retails for so I have not felt the need to "Baby" it. It has come through a couple hard knocks on ledges and rock as well as scraping on Ozark streams pretty much unscathed.

As for paddling it solo, it is a BIG boat. I don't recommend it unless you are a big guy and enjoy paddling Prospector-type hulls and haul a big load. If you are small with narrow shoulders......

If you are looking for a Prospector type hull to paddle primarily rivers tandem and occasionally solo, this would be a darn good choice. It is dry, maneuverable, and stable. I've been very happy with this boat. I would give it a "8.5" if that were a choice. I'd give it a "10" if it had a bit less rocker and a bit lower stems. But nothing's perfect!

Bought a Fiberglass Ranger in May and have used the canoe for a season now, so ready for a review. Have paddled it tandem from the bow facing the stern with a bit of weight (cooler works well) in the stern. Also paddled it tandem on day trips and overnights. Tracks very well, turns easily enough with a light load or day tripping, but can be a bear to turn on a river with a heavy load. I love the lower stems to shed the wind more easily and haven't found them to be an issue in waves up to 1.5'. The combination shallow-V/shallow-arch is comfortably stable, and is faster than I thought it would be. Having paddled hundreds of different boats over the last 25 years, this is definitely my favorite tandem in the 15-17' class. As for similar boats, it reminds me of a Mad River Malecite with a bit more stability. Having Owned a Mad River Explorer, Souris River Quetico 16, and Wenonah Adirondack, the Ranger is a bit faster than all and as stable as the Explorer without being as affected by the wind. Fit and finish was good; I would prefer real wood decks, but that adds weight. The ash gunnels are well made as were the contoured seats. I did switch out the seats due to my wifes complaints but I found no fault with them. Supposedly my boat was a "Blem," but don't remember what it was it was so insignificant. Very well made canoe and was an excellent "Value." And the owner/builder/designer/ was great to deal with. Giving it a "9" as nothing is perfect except maybe a Kruger. It's definitely the best 15-17' flatwater tandem that can also be pressed into some river paddling. WW

Decided rather than making a solo yoke for my wife's Bell Bucktail, I would purchase a nice, "Ready-made" yoke from the company that built her canoe. Should have sent it back! The ends are rough, don't appear to have been sanded. They slapped a bit of walnut-colored stain on the yoke, but not enough to cover the rough-cut ends. I had to modify (with a saw) the yoke to make allow it to expand large enough to fit Bell's smallest solo canoe, the Bucktail. When I tightened the loose yoke pads tight enough to prevent movement, they imbedded into the yoke. Interestingly enough, the pads still occasionally slip arround despite them being as tight as possible. The cordura covering of the yoke pads are stapled on with what appears to be light, "Office" staples instead of heavy duty fasteners. Everything about the yoke makes me think it was made in China by someone who's never even paddled a canoe! Thank God, Bell's canoes are made much better than this yoke. I give it a "1" because it does work, but only after I modified it. It will require sanding, varnishing, and re-doing the yoke pads to get more than a few months use out of this shoddy peice of equipment. I'm appalled that Bell would allow something like this to leave their factory. I will not buy any more after-market equipment from Bell!

I bought this little boat in Fall '03 after falling in love with the hull upon paddling a friend's. I have the royalite version and feel this light layup is fine for my use. I use it on Ozark streams and sometimes just to play around on the farm pond. I think it would make a very good freestyle boat.

I've paddled class II on the upper Buffalo, and this is the upper limit for this boat. If you paddle this type of water frequently, you probably should opt for a boat with a deeper bow and mid section, or you will need to dump the water that will spill over the bow. Class I with only the rare to occasional class II is more this boat's forte. I feel the initial stability is good and secondary excellent. The only time I've come close to dumping this boat accidentally is when hitting a strong upstream eddyline. I've leaned this boat to the rails without a brace, just to see how good the secondary stability is. I did dump it when I took it a bit past the rail, but that was without bracing.

Speaking of braces, this boat can be ordered with foot brace, which I would recommend. I didn't order the foot brace, but am fortunate that my 6'1" frame and size 11.5 feet makes the thwart in perfect position to serve that purpose. If I was a little shorter, or had smaller feet, this wouldn't work.

Tracking is fair when paddling the flats, but this boat is more suited to rivers, than lakes. If you need a boat for long stretches of flatwater, I'd look elsewhere. I have thought of possibly adding a second thwart to reduce the flex of the boat, which you notice only when entering, exiting, or paddling very hard. This is the only reason I give this boat a 9 instead of a 10. If only they could use Wenonah's Tuffweave, it would be the perfect solo canoe for the class I to occasionally II rivers I paddle.

I tried a Zaveral for the first time in summer '03 (thanks McWood) and thought there was no way a paddle that feels like a wiffle ball bat could stand up to the paddling I do. It felt so good in my hands, though, that I soon bought a "Blem" Rec model to use on flat, deep water paddling. I found the more I used the paddle, the harder it was to put down! I also soon found that, contrary to popular belief, J-strokes and river paddling with a bent shaft are not only possible, but easily mastered with this paddle. Also this paddle, while ultra-light, does NOT have to be "Babied." When I forgot my heavy, wide paddle for the upper Buffalo last spring(class I-II and very rocky run), I went ahead and tentatively used this paddle since it had more "Bite" than the others I had with me. The more rocks I "Banged," the more impressed I was with this little paddle. After that, I no longer hesitated to use it in shallow, rocky water, and on our twisty, boney Ozark rivers. I now have two "Blem" Zaveral Rec paddles, and feel the only way to improve a Zaveral would be to lower the price! This is the first time I've rated any product a "10," but then, I've never owned a product more deserving of such a rating.

I have owned 3 Adirondacks, two 'glass, and one royalex, with the 'glass being the better layup, in my opinion. I used the Adirondack for both day trips on Ozark streams and wilderness trips in the BWCAW, both solo and tandem and it performed admirably for those applications. The initial stability was very good, in my opinion, but a few novice paddlers I've had in the boats thought it a might "Wiggly" at first. Secondary stability EXCELLENT! Once had my 100+ lb Labrador Retriever unexpectedly vacate the canoe to greet another dog he noticed on a Current River gravel bar. Took the boat to the gunnels and past, spilling a few gallons into the boat, but the Adirondack returned to an upright position readily. Tracking was fair, but this is a 16' boat designed primarily for streams. Turning and responsiveness is very good. Boat can be soloed with the canoe turned arround and sitting in the bow seat faving the stern. Works well, since the stern depth is a few inches less than the bow depth. I have on occasion paddled this boat in extreme conditions. One time on Gunflint Lake (in the BWCAW) it was loaded with a weeks worth of gear and two paddlers and there were 3+ foot rollers following and quartering from the left and except for an occasional splash over the stern, the boat performed like a champ. Bear in mind, I DO NOT encourage one to use this canoe in that scenario, but on this occasion the wind and waves were such that we were able to ride approximately 10-20 offshore, and if swamped would have been pushed towards a gentle shoreline. We were in no danger, but the experience gave us the oppurtunity to see just what this canoe could handle. Needless to say, we were very impressed! As for durability, the 'glass version held up well on boney, rocky Ozark streams, even surviving a nasty broaching on a strainer once. The royalex did oilcan and flex a bit (nowhere near as stiff as Mad Rivers royalex layup) but it also survived a broach on a rock. I would have no qualms, due to the quality and durability of Wenonah's 'glass layup, choosing the 'glass over the royalex. The royalex is noticably slower and less responsive. And, if you would purchase the olive coloration of royalex, be forewarned that it is this color on the outside AND inside of the hull. The reason I mention this is the dark olive royalex has a propensity to absorb sunlight, making the olive royalex very hot and uncomfortable in the summertime. If you could only own one boat, this would be one of the few hulls that would work well in most situations. It is similar in nature to the Souris River Quetico 16, with the Quetico 16 being lighter unless you fork out the extra cash for the kevlar Adirondack. I would give the Souris the "Edge" if primarily paddling lakes, and the Adirondack for rivers. I must note, that my second 'glass Adirondack's yoke was off center, so it balanced poorly. I fixed this by removing it, balanced the canoe on a sawhorse, and riveted in the yoke in a bit different spot. This is the only "Fit and finish" problem I noticed with any of the three. I give this canoe an "8," for performing very good in a variety of situations. If used only on twisty streams, as Wenonah intended, it would probably be a "9."