solo w+c canoe

phil jean

New Member
planning to build 14 or 15 ft wood and canvas canoe for wilderness travel both upstream and downstream. At 150lb and 80lb of gear max. thought the willowwisp would be a good choice. any repiles would appreactated


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I think we need more information about the "willowwisp" you would like to build.

Who puts out the plans? The only Willow Wisp I can find is a very nice canoe built by Jerry Stelmok at Island Falls Canoe.
Rollin's 15' Cheemaun would be a good choice (but then I'm biased). Seriously, mine hasn't seen much river use but I have played with it up and down stream with paddle and pole. It has some rocker and a slightly rounded bottom (at least that's the way they come off my form :rolleyes: ) plus the ends sweep up a bit - all characteristics that give maneuverability in moving water.


Cheemaun: 15' - beam: 35" - depth: 12" - weight: 65 lbs

Willow Wisp: 14'6" - beam: 31" - depth 12" - weight: 45 lbs

I've never paddled Jerry's Willow Wisp but his marketing pitch sounds like he designed it for quiet backwaters strictly as a solo boat.
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If I were going out solo overnight that 20 lb difference between the Willow Wisp and the Chemaun would certainly be something that would be considered.

Poling shallow rocky streams, the Chemaun may be better. But paddling deeper streams up or down then the Willow Wisp may be better. You might also want to look at what Alex Comb of Stewart River Canoes has. I believe that he has a solo canoe or 2 that may be interesting and meet your needs.

If you buy a set of plans then you can decide how close you are going to stick to them. Are you going to build a heavy weight or a light weight. Are you going to mill your own ribs and planking? If so how thick or thin? What weight canvas? New fangled lightweight filler or old fashioned "heavy" filler? The major difference is use of micro spheres or silex. You get to set all the variables, have all the headaches and fun.
Besides Chestnut Chum there is also Peterborough Minetta 15 ft that seems to be a great solo boat....if you could get lines from....or check out solo 15 ft. set up with solo paddling seat posted about elsewhere here by Jim Davis)....and weighing in at 42 lbs....apparently copy of Chestnut 15 ft Prospector
Solo W/C canoe

Hi All: First post but I've been a long time reader. I'm very interested in this topic as I too would like to build a solo w/c canoe. I'm think somewhere between 14'-15', max beam 30'ish, with fine ends and a graceful sheer line.
The Cheemaun is a fine craft but the beam is a bit wide for my use. (Ambr607-that's a beautiful canoe and nice photo diary too!) Jim Davis's Canoe 1 looks beautiful as well as Robin's Chesnut Chum. Robin what is the beam on your boat? Thanks all for the information.
White Cedar,
Chum was 15 ft. with 33 inch beam and 12 inch depth (1957 specs); great diagram of in Roger MacGregor's When The Chestnut Was In Flower. Interesting the Peterborough Minetta was produced from 1954 to 1961. It was also 33" wide and 12" deep amidships. Like Chum, it weighed 65 pounds. (As I understand, very likely made by Chestnut for Peterborough under Canadian Watercraft Ltd. auspices, and probably from Chum form.) With its narrow beam and fine entry lines, it is a dream to paddle solo, especially for Canadian Style Paddling or Omering (and that's why I own one).
I don't have the Chum anymore, but it weighed 58lbs with a #10canvas, 1 &1/2 inch ribs and one seat.
The Jacks Special is 29 inches from plank to plank at the gunnel and 31 inches at it's widest point 7 inches up from the bottom. He told me that he took the measurements from his Chestnut Chum to make the Jacks Special fwiw.
I found the Chum to be a really nice tripping canoe, I took it on alot of 1 week trips and found it to be just right for a larger paddler like myself. I even got caught out in some heavy seas in Quitico and was able to ride them out without any problems.
I think the Chestnut Robinson looks really nice also, probably pretty fast.