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Good points: nothing goes into moderate wind and waves straight on or quartering with the tracking and speed of this boat. Even loaded with 650 pounds it is the fastest tripping canoe there is except for the original MinnII, I believe the new MinnIII's have more rocker than mine did. If you are big people you would be happier with the capacity of the MinnIII, but not the handling. They just don't put the rocks along the landings in the right places to get a 20 foot canoe to shore without rock damage. either canoe should wet footed and loaded only when floating, the thin enty lines put a lot of pounds per square inch on the ends and they get serious rock damage very easily.
Once on the Bayley bay beach there were 2.5' whitecaps coming in we found our MinnII took them sideways better than straight on, straight we got a lot of water over the gunnels. While all of MinnII folks were standing there watching the waves, two big Canadians with a 16' Chestnut Prospector came from the north. One was about 275 pounds the other 235pounds, with three number three Duluth packs. Heading for Lac Lacroi, with their life jackets still wrapped around the seats they headed straight in the Southwest gale and disappeared around the far west point, riding out the giant waves one at a time like they thought nothing of it. Which boat do you think was the fastest boat on the beach that day?
A previous review stated that the Min II is a specialized canoe and I agree with this statement to an extent. It is the fastest canoe in its class (C2 Stock) and any race picture will show these boats almost exclusively. It can be a little tight in the bow but given the speed of the boat, the Min II can carry a massive load and still perform faster than any other similar boat with the same weight.
If you want a boat that can travel a lot of distance in a single day but can also carry a heavy load? This is, in my opinion, the best boat on the market for two paddlers. If you want more bow space look to either a Bell Northwind or a Spirit II. They are a bit shorter and slower. Or go with the Min III they are longer and faster if you put a third or even fourth paddler in the boat with you.
We recently entered a fund raising, six mile, canoe/kayak race in my area. We won our class easily and outrun everything else, except the purpose built racing kayaks, by a large margin. The people with mass produced sea kayaks could not believe their eyes.
This boat is perfect for the Tennessee River. It has spoiled me.
Here's the deal - the front end is tight for the front paddler and extra leg room would be nice - but the boat is very fast and that front end is why. I personally like the fact that the gunnels are close and I can get a paddle in the water without stretching to the side. I paddle the front because I prefer it and my wife really doesn't like how tight it is. For us it works, for others, you may want to rent one to see before you buy.
The boat is stable! I don't know what people who are complaining about that in other reviews are comparing to. We paddle with a 50 pound dog that moves from side to side constantly and the boat barely moves. It's almost as stable as my kayaks in my opinion.
Both my wife and I can portage this boat easily. It is well balanced and super light. If you packed like a backpacker for week, you should be able to portage and pack in one trip. Since we have a boat that was a rental, we can see how it wears and the issues of abuse. There are a few patches and some slight flexing where the kevlar attaches at the gunnel. It doesn't affect performance, but I think if you want kevlar it's good to know how to do repairs. I don't care for the way that front seat slide lock works, although it has never shifted during paddling.
I really like this boat, but think that you should do an on-the-water comparison of others out there and find the one that fits what you want to do. There is no such thing as a perfect boat. I have modified every boat I have ever owned to meet my needs (9 so far)!
This canoe is very stable, very fast and inspires confidence under all reasonable conditions that one should be on the water in a canoe. Quartering waves cause a little wiggle, but the boat tracks true and stays on course easily. Only a little water has ever splashed over the side and this is a rare occasion.
Turning is not difficult with good communication between paddlers and even as intermediate paddlers we can spin the boat 360 around the mid point with ease. This canoe is very fast and once we kept up with a 10 hp pontoon boat in a mini "drag race". Unloaded, this boat is a dream to take out for day paddles.
This canoe is, IMHO, much more user-friendly than a Bell Northwoods we demo'ed alongside this canoe. The only point deduction is for a stern seat that tends to squeak and rock a little when really pushing the speed. When I'm in the stern I can lay backwards and my head rests on the gunwale endcap so I can go right to sleep.
Mr Jensen, where ever you are, you made me a believer in your designs after using this boat and I really want to try a Jensen solo. I highly recommend the Min II for lake and slow river travel.
Having owned other Wenonahs in Kevlar lay ups I can tell you this one is paper thin in some places and very strong and stiff in others. Durability is the question, but then again, you only live once, right?
Looking forward to putting it through its paces. Would rate it a 10 but for the lay up.
That being said, I have have used this canoe in a variety of situations such as Lake Superior on windy days with big swell with 2 kids who are inclined to lean over the edge, and have never felt safer nor in more control in any other canoe. It is stable, tracks well and goes fast....this performance comes at the expense of manouverability. As a person who also sea kayaks, it never ceases to amaze me that moving from the kayak to this canoe IS NOT like moving from driving a sports car to driving a bus.
I have the ultra-light kevlar model with wood trim. The kevlar portion of the construction is very good, the wood fit and finish is ok. I expected better woodwork. Dealing with Wenonah in making my buying decision was a pleasure and I found their catalog to be a helpful resource rather than simply pro-Wenonah propaganda.
The good way to look at this canoe is that when loaded properly and with experienced paddlers this canoe really flies and getting it in the 43# model or 39# carbon model makes this boat a breeze to carry. What it all boils down to is that I think that canoes are suppose to be a versital watercraft and the Minn. II is a speciallized canoe.
The only weakness of the boat is when it is used for an unintended purpose, such as narrow twisty streams. She doesn't like to turn on a dime, though leaning and help from a good bow partner will get you by.
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