Length: 16' 0" - Width: 36.0" - Starting at: $1949.00See More Details about this Canoe
I am a strictly solo paddler. I like having a strictly solo boat so people don't ask to ride with me. I like to stand and paddle, and I like to pole. I like to kneel and I like to sit back and slack off. But there is nothing more uncomfortable to me than to be headed into rapids in a boat I can't turn. I've taken out various angling and recreational boats by very reputable companies, and I have been miserable because I can't spin them on a dime when I needed to. I'd give up every other criteria in order to be able to turn because it just feels unsafe. After 8-day tripping for a long time in a whitewater boat, this was something I just can't compromise.
The Prospector performed better than I had hoped. It actually paddles better with a load, still feeling light and agile even with a weeks worth of gear, a kid and a childs kayak riding on top. Tight for but doable. I'm a 33 yo woman, moderately fit, and even after 12-14 hour days on the water, 21 mile paddles, I didn't feel worn out at the end of the day.
It tracks pretty well, And it steers beautifully. Initial and secondary stability were very comfortable for me, and it allowed me to stand up through rapids to check on the kids progress, shout directions, or just stand up and stretch my legs through long flat sections. Handled Class I-III rapids wonderfully, and was truly a joy to ride.
The craftsmanship is truly impressive. It is a beautiful canoe, and the laced seats are gorgeous and comfortable. It is very easy to portage, and the lighter weight really made a difference when loading this boat solo over my head. The extra wide yoke and spine notch make it extremely comfortable to carry, as I found myself needing to carry this boat up hill about 100 yards. It was surprisingly easy.
We handled a pretty serious thunderstorm on the river, and I felt quite confident in high winds. The high gunwales do catch a lot of wind, and it does blow around, but it makes for a dry ride and it's difficult to dip a rail and swamp this boat, a trade off I'm happy to make.
All around, it tracks great in the flats, heels over great to paddle in the Canadian style, smaller rapids were fun, hauls everything and makes an outstanding kid wrangler. The only downside was the price, the only reason I gave it a 9- but I feel confident I'll have this boat for 25 years, and sometimes in life, you get what you pay for. I couldn't be happier with this canoe and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something to do it all.
Other than the fact that I get a few more scratches on the bottom with the Prospector, it is faster and more stable than the OT Camper, as well as easier to solo. It is much faster and a more stable than the Fisherman, although more effected by the wind - and pretty much makes up for the lack of comparable maneuverability when leaned aggressively for tight turns (which is easy, due to the wonderful secondary stability of the Prospector).
Compared to the Old Town Penobscot, the NC Prospector gives up some speed and some tracking ease. The Prospector is a little better in secondary stability - but not much. It is more effected by wind than the Penobscot, since the Penobscot has a lower profile and very little rocker. But the Prospector is much drier in the rough, due to it's rocker, it's fuller stems, and higher profile - and easier to turn, also due to it's moderate rocker.
If I had to limit myself to one tandem canoe in the ~$1400 and under price range, it would be a tough decision between the Prospector and the Penobscot. The Penobscot is the better flat-water boat, but the Prospector is better for the rougher stuff. I consider them both to be among the better, if not the best, all-around Royalex canoes - with each leaning slightly to opposite ends of the spectrum but considerable overlapping in their range of suitability. Both boats can be poled easily (the Prospector, more easily climbs drops because of itís rocker), and both can be paddled solo with relative ease. Both are well-constructed and show little or no "oil-canning." Fortunately, I don't have to choose. I do believe that you can cover most general tandem canoe needs with these two boats - as long as you can stand the weight.
Weight is more of an issue here, since my Prospector is the "standard" (heavier) Royalex lay-up. Wouldn't have been my first choice if I was buying new at list price, but mine was left-over stock and I got a great deal on it. This heavier (74lbs) lay-up has shown to be really tough though. Although the bottom is now pretty much covered with surface scratches and a few small dings, it seems to be holding up to my rough treatment with no sign of any damage that might need attention. It as taken some practice - but I find that I can lift and carry the boat by myself pretty well, so long as I don't have to carry it far. The contoured Nova-Craft yoke really helps in that.
My wife and I are still "novice" paddlers, in my estimation. We haven't done anything bigger than higher class 1 tandem, so I can't speak to tandem whitewater performance. But we find the Prospector to be confidence-inspiring and easy to handle in tricky river current. We are learning tandem eddy-turns, peel-outs, back-ferries, and such with no real difficulty in this boat. I have done some cl2 water solo with paddle and with pole, and find it well-suited for that. This is now my primary poling canoe and will likely remain so until I replace it with a lighter composite. I'm not sure if we will go with a composite Prospector at this point, but that is highly likely.
I really like the Nova-Craft seats. They are comfortable and easy to maintain/repair - and they are quiet (no squeaking, as we've seen with the seats on several other caned or laced canoe seats). I also like the fact that Nova-Craft puts grab loops through "tug-eyes" on their boats. And the yoke gets not one, but two bolts on each end into the gunnels. Great construction. Built to last. Although I know it saves some weight - I would prefer not to have the simple individual seat drops, but would rather have "truss style" drops for added rigidity. The Nova-Craft seat drops are more substantial than those that came on my Old Town canoes though, being heavier rectangular stock rather than simple round dowels. Recently, I added a kneeling thwart in the place of the standard thwart ahead of the rear seat - and eventually, I will replace the stock seat drops with truss drops. So my Prospector might be a couple pounds heavier than stock, but I think it will be worth it.
So - if you plan to spend most of your time on moving rivers cl1+ to at least cl2 (and probably a bit higher) the NC Prospector is easily up to the task. Probably one of the best all-around tandem designs for moving and twisting water. Not so much for lakes and other big flat water, although competent there as well (especially with a load). I give this canoe a 9 - only because of the seat drops and because the Nova-Craft Blue Steel composite version should be every bit as good or better in every respect (except the higher price) - with less than 2/3 the weight.
I would rate this canoe a 9.5/10 as is and if I could afford a custom build, to add a few minor changes I would give it a full 10/10. If you can only afford one canoe and you want it to do everything and last a life time, buy the Nova Craft Prospector.
This boat strikes me as handling and tracking pretty well, but I was testing it solo, with no load on a windy day and a shallow lake, so I had to work to control it. I imagine it would be much easier to steer with a bow paddler and even a light load.
Nova Craft is probably the best Canadian canoe maker and is upping its profile in the US canoe market, and runs with Mad River and Wenonah. Nova Craft is already miles ahead of Old Town in its boats. Nova Craft has designed some good hulls, including the hi-tech Retro Chestnuts, Bob Special and Prospector, and makes a good fit and finish boat. The Royalex Lite is a nice compromise for those who want Royalex's durability but not its heavy weight.
I am a little confused whether the NC Prospector 16 in Royalex Lite weighs 59 lbs. or 64 lbs.? I have seen it advertised at both weights, and the seller whose boat I tested told me 64 lbs. I was able to handle the boat better than my 75-80 lb. Explorer 17, and to get it up over my head and onto a car, so even if it is 64 lbs., it is quite a bit lighter than the Explorer, which is made of full thickness, bomb-proof, Royalex.
Plus, my seller's boat had vinyl gunnels and skid plates, which he puts on all his boats, standard and which add a pound or two to the weight. I do not know if you need skid plates initially on a Royalex Lite boat, especially if you do not plan to drag over or run into a lot of rocks.
At any rate, I am going to buy one of these boats and highly recommend it for all uses on lakes and rivers, based on my two test-paddles.
No, it is not as quick and nimble as the Bell, nor will it haul 1500 lbs like the XL, but it will hold its own quite respectfully in all conditions. I have been solo and light playing at different angles to the wind and actually got it to sail up wind with it heeled over to the lee side. This boat does not let me down in any aspect.
The most surprising thing about it was how comfortable it was to portage. I have fun with the other boats, and enjoy each ones special purpose, but when I don't know what to expect, I take the prospector. I can't recommend it enough. Only downer is the stupid rope pulls in the bow and stern. The dealer in Cabin John, MD gave me the best deal.Have fun, be safe, go far, u can do with this boat.
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