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On the other hand, on a still morning or evening the light weight and long and slippery hull shape are almost effortless to paddle. Just a few strokes will put a big smile on your face. I also appreciate the light weight which enables me to load and unload the boat on top of a pick-up by myself.
I'm 200lbs and carry minimum of 20lbs up to 100lbs depending on trip length. Boat is FAST solo and i can cover alot of distance. It tracks really well with minimal correction stroke (just jstroke at moderate speed and switch if I'm in a hurry). The trade off is the stern sticks, the bow seems to blow around in the wind alo t and is very hard to turn into the wind. I don't like to take this boat out if it is over 10-15 mph wind. Also in tight tidal creeks i was having trouble side-sliding around corners. I could get the bow around the corner but the boat just keeps sliding sideways and i need to draw on the off side to keep off the bank.
Other issues are i switch between sitting and kneeling to minimize joint pain and the seat is to low to kneel under with sandals (I'm only size 10.5) and barefoot is tight which probably is not safe in the event of a capsizing.
Tandem it is VERY FAST and paddles up to cruising speed with very little effort. But i see no advantage in any other aspect vs my old town canadienne. But its nice for it to double as a serviceable tandem i suppose especially when its your only boat.
Speed 10 - Tracking 10 - Build quality 8 - Turning/maneuvering 5 - Solo 9 - Tandem 5
When paddled solo with my 175lbs and gear (tackle, rods, small cooler) I know it is loaded well over 200lbs. My only complaint is that the stern tends to stick. I believe I have my cargo loaded in a neutral position, I have found I gain the most control with the center seat high in back, low in front, feet braced against the Wenonah footbrace. From this position, even with substantial side heeling, the stern makes a swooshing noise as it sticks in moderate current. I paddle with a 250cm kayak paddle, I will be going longer in the future.
The canoe paddles well upstream and handles dam tailwater waves easily. As a tandem it is adequate, it paddles nicely with with my 8 year old boy, loading properly to balance weight, J-strokes nicely in this configuration. I have 2 friends I fish with regularly and while a hair twitchy the Solo-Plus is acceptable for this use, they are of similar weight to me, and the craft is only suitable for downriver use as the load is too much for good upriver paddling. I have a third friend that has fused vertibrae in his lower back, with his inability to keep his upper body vertical with the movement of the canoe, this canoe is just to twitchy at this loading to be safe.
Overall I am happy with this canoe as I ask a lot from one boat. If it were designed just for me I would like a little rocker and some flare in the bow and stern (might not be possible in royalex)
All in all, a great boat for 1 or 2. We even canoe camp and take it thru the 1+ with 2 people and lots of gear 'cause canoe camping is about being comfortable!
Its initial stability is fantastic and secondary seems to be fine so far as well. On calm water its perfect and in a current its great upstream, downstream and cross current. But in current it doesn't like to turn and is a real bear if you need to do it often. As a solo fishing boat its wonderful. I removed the stock center seat and installed a board with a standard Action boat seat in its place. Now I can sit comfortably all day with the seat at its highest level station.
Highly satisfied and only wish it were a couple of feet shorter and 15lbs lighter.
As a tandem, I am fine with a rather lightish (130 pounder plus/minus) in front and with me in back, however, I have been in front with an inexperienced 230 pounder in back on a calm lake, and found the experience quite unsettling. The big guy can go solo in the middle seat, but don't put two together in this boat, in my opinion.
I'm a pretty big guy(260#) and my partner for this trip is around 200, plus 150 lbs of gear. When we first loaded up I left the middle seat in place and loaded gear around it, that really cramped me in the rear of the boat and left me feeling pretty unstable. I was wondering if the solo plus was the right canoe for me. At the first portage we removed the center seat and were able to distribute the weight more evenly. The difference was incredible, exactly what we needed. For the remainder of the trip this boat was a pleasure to paddle, not to mention portage at a svelt 39 lbs. This boat performed so well, my beer can paddling friend is going shopping for his own kevlar model.
This boat is a very versatile craft and I would strongly recommend it, even if you are planning to tandem quite a bit and only solo once in a while.
I like to use this boat to introduce people to canoes. The secondary stability is decent so that you can show them (soloing) about heeling the boat. It is also efficent enought that when your new paddler wears out, you are not too bogged down. I took two friends, my Solo Plus and my kayak on an 8 mile trip. I started in the kayak, I ended the last two miles paddling the canoe on my own and dragged the kayak with a friend in it, and I was still just cooking down the river (reletively with 300 LBS of dead weight and a kayak)
Mine is an Ultra Light and is an all around pleasure. The only thing I would want to improve it (in my eyes) would to be some rocker. I would easily recomend it to anyone with small children, or looking for a decent compromise boat. I am looking forward to haveing this boat for MANY years (I had better for the price I paid). The company's write ups on this boat are entirely accurate.
I bought a Solo Plus for my 7 and 9 year old boys late last year (ok, it's for me too). I thought it would be a good tandem for them since it is quite narrow at the ends and has no rocker making it easier to keep straight. The first time we had it out, I was in the center seat and they were in the ends. I did most of the "driving." I thought it would be kind of tough to turn with no rocker and each of them on the ends. I was surprised that it turned fairly easily (all things considered).
Next outing, I let them paddle by themselves in a fairly small class one creek. This is the first time they have ever been in a canoe by themselves. For those who would gasp, I knew what they were in for since just did it a few days before. We only did a few miles but they did absolutely great in the Solo Plus. There were lots of turns and a few small rapids and constant innocuous strainers along the banks. I was surprised at how well the boat responded to their strokes. At their weight, the bow and stern both responded instantly to their little draws and prys. They never hit a thing and were able to keep a very good line. It was really cool to watch.
I would recommend the Solo Plus for anyone who wants to introduce youngsters to canoeing. Not to mention, you have a decent solo for yourself as well. I can't really comment much about its solo ability yet since I only paddled it that way around 4 miles so far and am not used to it yet. But for youngsters going tandem, I'm extremely pleased.
For dealing with larger waves, winds on lakes with one or more mile of fetches, I have added a canoe cover, and knee braces with straps and foot pegs (from another kayak), and raised the center seat a little (so I can kneel on the kneepads and easily remove my feet if I capsize). This is borrowing a few ideals for the whitewater canoeists. I have tried to try to eskimo roll this canoe with this configuration (I paddle kayaks, too). I have not had any luck yet. I like the low center of gravity in a kayak when in waves. I will do some testing during the next few years.
Wenonah should offer a nine foot kayak paddle with this canoe. I can keep pace with most other kayakers when using this nine foot kayak paddle.
I will also be trying the Spirit Sails downwind sail with this canoe. The board, which Spirit Sails gives directions for making, fit fine in this canoe. I may attach Sponsons while under sail, for more stability.
Overall, I am having fun with this canoe, with all the little minor teaks I have made. I used this for a one week trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area (solo). I pack heavy. This canoe worked quite well for the trip. The Royalex has worked well with a few scraps over rocks.
One note: I am lake or flatwater person. As this canoe tracks very well as it has zero rocker, I would hesistate to try this canoe on white water.
The pluses: Overall it is extremely stable, especially with some weight in it. It is least stable with just me, most stable with me and 3 days of gear, and suprisingly stable with 2 people, 2 dogs and 3 days of gear. Wenonah does not recommend that much weight but I thought the Solo Plus handled it great! I did max out the waterline with that load. It tracks well but again, me plus some gear improves the tracking ability. (I am only 135 lbs. so I provide very little weight on my own.) It handles well on still water, especially when leaned, and adequately on moving water except in fast, imperative changes in direction. Very stable on choppy, windy water. Hull is very solid and stiff.
The minuses: Handles terribly in fast, emergency moves on moving water. I bashed several fallen trees that I could have avoided in my last canoe. But to be fair I am getting better with emergency manuevers as I practice more. The gel coat is VERY soft (I have Tuf-Weave) and in two major trips it already looks very worn and scratched. I really wish I had ordered the white instead of the green to hide some of these scratches. I will be putting skid plates on.
Nuetral: Weight-wise I do not find it too heavy or especially light. It was beautiful to look at but, as I said, is showing wear very quickly.
Overall: I really like this canoe; I think it is just as advertised. I remove either the center seat or tandem seats depending on the trip I'm taking and they are easy to install/uninstall. A great canoe for lakes and wide rivers but be prepared for some difficulty on narrow, twisty and tree-choked rivers.
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