Chestnut Bob's special ?

left coast eh!

New Member
Hello Everyone

Been a member of WCHA for about a year and refinished a 17ft Prospector last year thanks to all the help from everyone here.
This is my first post and it is a question about the Bob's special.
I bought one that needs a little work and was think about removing the keel. I want to take this down some rivers and trip in it solo.
How important is the keel to this boat for strength?
How well does this boat do in rivers class 2-2+ with a keel vs keeless?
It does seem a lot more fragile than my Prospector because of the thin planks and ribs.
I am just not sure what to do and could use your help.

Thanks again Tod
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I'll offer my 2 cents. I have a Bob's and it is an older one - (1930's ?). It has thinner 1/4 inch ribs, but standard 5/32's inch thick planking. The canoe had seen considerable use, reportedly by fishermen seated in a folding chair in the bow, and the ribs and especially the planking were surprisingly intact.

In contrast, I rehabbed a Old Town 50 Pounder from the sixties that had 1/4 inch thick ribs and 1/8 inch thick planking. The planking in the bottom of this canoe was a disaster. It had seen some hard use including a collision or two on the rocks sailing etc. The ribs were okay for the most part in this canoe.

That doesn't specifically answer your question, but if your Class 2+ water involves many rocks, you might consider another canoe. If not, or you are comfortable with repairs, great. It is also a beamy canoe, so it may not be as responsive as you may like for whitewater runs.

My Bob's has a shallow keel. I bet it makes little difference with respect to tracking etc., but may help stiffen and protect the bottom some.

If I recall correctly, there is a book called, "Blackflies and Whitewater", by Tony Sloan. He recounts his extensive tandem travels, including some whitewater runs in a Bob's Special. I remember being surprised at his choice for a tandem tripping canoe.

Looking at in terms of rock strength vs. canoe strength may be the wrong way to look at it. Sort of like what, “car is it best to be caught in a tornado in?” Top priority should be avoiding rocks, in which case that Prospector is your best bet because of its maneuverability. Definitely shed the keel if you want to maneuver faster in the Bob's.
Thank you both for your replies.
I have never paddle a keeled canoe. So not sure what to expect in a river situation. If river levels are low and bony I will always take my 16ft Mad river explorer royalex. My 17ft chestnut is big but GREAT on big lakes with a lot of gear solo or tandem.
I was hoping I could with caution solo river paddle the Bob's.
It has 1/4 ribs and 1/8th planks and I do see some 2-2+ spots.
I do not plan on play boating with it so would look for the easy way through runs. But you do feel the odd rock once in a while.
Maybe I am asking to much of this canoe?
This canoe was not designed for running rivers nor have I found it a great canoe too paddle. This was designed as light, stable [ 37" beam ] canoe to hunt or fish out of . The thin Oak "shoe keel" that is standard on a 15' Chestnut Bobs Special was put there for a reason. I agree with Fitz and vote to retain the keel for a few other reasons too. As wood ages it gets brittle. The keel will help greatly in preventing damage. Is the bottom of the canoe hogged? Probably not thanks to the keel even after all these years of use and storage.
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Judgment and skill of the paddler is 99% of the story. You could, in the Bobs, portage, line, or frog around anything that really worried you. If you make a big mistake, whether you're in the Bob's or the Prospector won't make much difference. Take the Bob's for a few less challenging river trips and try it out first. I'm sure with the keel it won't spin on a dime. With equal loads, I'm guessing the Prospector would draw less water, ride higher, and be more stable.
Your bang on what I am coming around to thinking. I will leave the keel on and take it on some easy and or frogging river trips. I did buy it for my sons 3rd birthday,ya right says my wife. It is perfect for a youngster to learn on in lakes. One day we will do solo lake tripping together.
The 17ft Prospector is one amazing canoe. Mine is built one extra inch deeper than standard and can take huge weight and big waves. I have paddled it for 20km days on Murtle lake and had a very nice campsites with all gear I can take.
Thank you for the help.