Suggestions for a solo canoe


Curious about Wooden Canoes
This should be interesting...

I currently paddle an early 60's Chestnut Fort (I believe - never quite figured it out). It's 16' and about 72 lbs. I have been quiet happy to throw it over head but as with many of us, even if in good physical shape, the weight gets a bit much by day 3 or 4, especially when one canoes alone.(But man it's a sweet paddle!) So I'm looking for a lighter option.

I figure I have two options, modify my canoe to lighten it 10 lbs or search for another canoe.

Here are my needs: I want to start doing longer trips, ( week or more). I will be solo on these trips except for my constant companion, an 80lb lab. I want to have a canoe weighing in no more that 60 lbs, preferably less. I am 190 lbs and 6'0. I paddle on my knees, boat heeled over most of the time. So, given that I already have 170 lbs in the boat plus I have to add a weeks worth of supplies ( I don't carry ovens or heavy cooking stuff)...who can suggest me a boat? Or is there such a creation?

I do not particularly want to go to a - can I even say the word here - composite canoe.

I look forward to your suggestions.
The fact that you are taking a Lab, I really don't think a smaller canoe will work!
You could try a lighter covering on your canoe, but that is not going to lower the weight by much.
The only other thing that I can suggest is working out to increase body strength. It does help!
Dave, does an OT Trapper weigh any less? I know my fifty Pounder doesn't at 15'. Man they paddle nice solo though and would take a descent load too.
Thanks guys,

Body strength isn't the problem for me, (not to be boastful) it's really going for a lighter canoe to make the longer treks/portages more enjoyable.

I've decide that modifying my canoe would detract from it's originality and possibly it's value. Further by the time I make the changes, (lighter canvas, spruce gunwales and seats) I would be into the cost of another boat anyway.

I've heard that the Bob's Special weighs in at about 55 lbs. Do you think that canoe would be suitable for longer treking?

Wouldn't advise a Bobs Special as the ribs are much thinner plus you will lose 2" of depth and 12" in length. Further it doesn't paddle as well as the Fort due to its' wider, flat hull. The only choices I think you have is to go plastic or train your dog to help pack the canoe. I'd go with the latter.
Dave, what did your Champlain finish up at for weight? I love mine, and take it on trips all the time when i solo. My kids weigh about as much as a Lab, but dont sit nearly so still! I dont find it bad at all to portage either, and waves dont bother it. Then again, hard to imagine getting something traditonal much under 60 or 65 pounds. I havent weighed mine, but me and that Lab would already be about 340 but still lots of room for gear. Yup, sounds like plastic will be about the only option unless maybe strip built...
Maybe I need to reconsider Dave's idea: me AND the dog will hit the weight room and put on another 10lbs of muscle! LOL

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll just have to look around and see what I can find. I just keep thinking back to portage I did this year that I couldn't have done without the help of another canoeist who had just put his carbon canoe under his arm (well nearly) and gone through before me. That's what got me thinking.

Andre, I'll look into a Champlain as well.

I agree w/ Dave Mc, I would opt for a little additional beam because of the live weight of the Lab, and add length to compensate for the additional beam. Get a collapsing cart and let the Lab make the carries, he created the need for the added weight. ;)
Here are my needs: I want to start doing longer trips, ( week or more). I will be solo on these trips except for my constant companion, an 80lb lab. I want to have a canoe weighing in no more that 60 lbs, preferably less. I am 190 lbs and 6'0. I paddle on my knees, boat heeled over most of the time. So, given that I already have 170 lbs in the boat plus I have to add a weeks worth of supplies ( I don't carry ovens or heavy cooking stuff)...who can suggest me a boat? Or is there such a creation?

Hi beeman86,
I have (or I should say had) the same issue. I have a 16' Chestnut Deer I have been tripping with for quite a while. Great canoe, but as I get up there in tripping years (add a year for every month on the trail with a wood canvas:D) I looked for a lighter solo canoe.
I found a Chestnut Chum and a Bob's in N.S., Ca and here's a picture of them next to the Deer shortly after I picked them up. I mistakenly labeled the Deer as a Pal, same boat but the Deer has narrow ribs (unless I'm mistaken)
Left to right, Bob's, Chum and Deer

Here's the Red Chum and Bob's below

I had a Chum a while back and found it to be a real nice solo tripping canoe. I set it up solo and it performed well. I would say it could carry your gear and your lab. It's narrower than the Bob's and a pretty fast canoe. Here is my old Chum with my gear when I carried too much stuff, that's a Duluth "Kitchen Pack" which was a dumb thing to carry on a solo trip...I just kept stuffing more useless junk in it cause I had the room....but with a reasonalble solo outfit and a well behaved dog, lots of room for the solo tripper under 60lbs

BTW, I found the Bob's to be a pretty nice paddling canoe for being so wide. Lean it over a bit and it moves right along.
Having said all that, there are lots of canoes out there at 15' that would make good solo tripping canoes, just sharing my own experience with the Chestnuts, which I am a big fan of.:)
I agree on the Chum and the Bob's. I paddle a Minnetta 15', and it is a great solo canoe for me and my gear. But I just can't imagine adding an 80 lbs. active lab.
Just my thoughts, for what they are worth.
If you are going to go with a new build, a Medford Explorer seems like a logical me anyway..

Medford Specifications:
~ Length......... 16 ft.
~ Depth.......... 14"
~ Beam........... 34 1/2"
~ Bow Height..... 21 1/2"
~ Weight......... 70 lbs.
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Or you could find one of these. Chestnut made a few which they sold through the major department stores. You won't find them listed in any of their brochures. They where cheaply built on a Prospector form but with the narrow Pal/Deer ribs. They also had very basic babiche seats [ sometimes slat seats ] and only one thwart. Since they were built on the Prospector form they have the 14" depth and 36" beam yet only weigh 65 pounds. I do have a restored one available if anyone is interested. See pictures. The Chestnut Pal, I believe, was rated at 68 to 72 pounds. The Champlain comes in at about 70 lbs.
As a further note Chestnut sold the narrow rib Deer and the wide rib Pal but also dropped the Deer in certain years to sell the " Pal " with only narrow ribs. It depends on what year the canoe was built as to whether they called a Deer a Pal or a Deer a Deer. Make sense??
Then there was the Chum and Doe - but not right now 16' Chestnut Pal Prospector combo 12 11 016.jpg16' Chestnut Pal Prospector combo 12 11 018.jpg16' Chestnut Pal Prospector combo 12 11 019.jpg16' Chestnut Pal Prospector combo 12 11 025.jpg.
I think that you would be looking for a
-narrow beam canoe maybe 34" so that the reach is not bad and to keep the w
with little rocker, for tracking
a length of not more than 16 feet, closer to 15 feet would help keep the weight down
-a depth of not more than 12"
-a cross-section that is pretty round.
What about the 65lbs Peterborough Minnetta: WoodnCanvas had this one.
-edit, I see that the Minetta was posted above. After a few swims, you dog will probably learn to settle.

All very interesting!

Robin, I like the Chum idea. I'm going to have to find a few boats to heft up over my head and see.

I live just out side the GTA so if there's anyone with in a 6 hour drive I'd love to come and see and lift some of these canoes to get an idea. My goal is to have my boat by April if I can find one.

My lab is content to sit and watch the water go by as am I. I have no concerns that way, (not like when he was a pup and nearly pulled me and my canoe off our feet when I tied his chewing bone to my painter....but that's another thread!)

Paul, the Minetta is another consideration for me. I nearly bought one this year. It would be interesting to see if it was too skittish or not. I imagine it's just a case of getting to know the canoe though.

I would suggest that you at least try a large dedicated solo canoe like the Swift Shearwater (yes a composite). As well as being lighter, it is designed from the ground up as a solo canoe. There are some cedarstrip plans for many solo canoes as well; e.g. the Osprey.
I do believe the Minetta , Chum and Doe are the same canoes. I thought we were looking for a canoe that would carry a large dog, it's owner and a week or " more " supplies? I wouldn't want to try it with one of these but that's just me.
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Dave, I didn't know they were all the same, I thought the Minetta was a bit narrower - I haven't looked up the figures yet. Either way I think they are all capable of taking a good load and still leave a fair bit of free board, BUT a test run will answer all those questions.

As far as composites, I do have the Shearwater on my list although I think any of the wood boats would carry a heavier load better (IMHO). Also it's asymmetrical which I have no experience or knowledge of other than what I've read.

I was at Langford Canoe in Georgetown today. I looked at a lovely 15' Signet (stripper) and a composite 16' Prospector. Both very nice. If we get a break in the weather and the water opens up nearby I'll take them for a spin.
The Peterborough Minnetta is similar to the Chestnut Chum. As I said earlier the Minnetta's and Chum's are great solo canoes, I have owned both, But I just don't think they would work well with a large Lab. Labs tend to need room to move around, and with a weeks worth of gear I don't think it would work well!