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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 12:30 pm 
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Hi everyone, This is my first post on the forum.

I've been enjoying camping/canoeing/outdoors in general for quite a few years and always get out for at least a few camping trips each year. Sometimes solo but mostly with gf. Depending on where and when we go we'll rent a canoe or kayaks and enjoy them for the day or the occasional back country/portage trip. When recently trying to plan out our summer/fall vacation time for 2020 it occurred to us that we renting canoes is quite expensive and maybe we should finally pull the trigger and buy one instead which got me pretty excited because I know if I buy one we'll get out more frequently and spend more time on the water.

I'm the type of guy who does a lot of research before I make any big purchase so the past few days I've been reading and learning a lot about canoes. I even went into the Nova Craft factory in London to check out their canoes and ask some questions. I've come to the conclusion that for my needs I'm best with a 16' prospector. From what I've read Nova Craft canoes are one of the best out there and i'd love to support a local business but my issue is trying to decide between 16' Prospector in Fiberglass ($1729+) or 16' Prospector in TuffStuff ($2879+).

Originally I thought, spend the extra money get a canoe that'll take a beating and last forever. But now i'm thinking that with what I'll be using it for (lakes,small rivers,ponds,shorter portages, no whitewater) Fiberglass will be sufficient albeit a bit heavier for portages and have to be careful around rocks.

If you're still with me after this novel...I guess my question is. Do you think a fiberglass Nova Craft Prospector is the right choice for a beginner? I take care of my things and will make sure to be careful around rocky beaches but I'm an inexperienced paddler so likely to make some mistakes. How durable is a Fiberglass canoe? will it crack and leak if I hit one rock?

Open to suggestions on other brands/models/materials

Thanks in advance!
P


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 2:13 pm 
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In case you have not seen this yet - something I wrote about canoes and had vetted by this forum.

http://www.prospector16.com/p/canoe-101.html

My one hesitation with the Tuff Stuff layup is the delamination issues they had in the beginning with it. Check the reviews on the MEC website and you'll see quite a few mentions of it. Since you can walk into the factory I would suggest you walk in and ask them about it - and please report back here!

I'd be more inclined to buy the aramid layup. I bought the NC P16 in Royalex but in hind sight to do over would get the Aramid (essentially kevlar)


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 3:37 pm 
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Prospector16 wrote:
In case you have not seen this yet - something I wrote about canoes and had vetted by this forum.

http://www.prospector16.com/p/canoe-101.html

My one hesitation with the Tuff Stuff layup is the delamination issues they had in the beginning with it. Check the reviews on the MEC website and you'll see quite a few mentions of it. Since you can walk into the factory I would suggest you walk in and ask them about it - and please report back here!

I'd be more inclined to buy the aramid layup. I bought the NC P16 in Royalex but in hind sight to do over would get the Aramid (essentially kevlar)


Thanks for the reply and that's some great info! I would have saved a lot of time on research reading that first!

I did see all those negative reviews on MEC about the gel coat and that just gave me another reason to lean towards the Fiberglass. I'd love to get the NC P16 in Aramid but unfortunately I can't justify spending the $3149 for my first canoe. I guess I should have added my that the Tuffstuff layup would already be exceeding what I wanted to spend. I guess I'm more or less just looking for approval from people more knowledgeable that the Fiberglass NC P16 is a good purchase.


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 4:04 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
seekingadventure13 wrote:
Sometimes solo but mostly with gf.
I've come to the conclusion that for my needs I'm best with a 16' prospector.
my issue is trying to decide between 16' Prospector in Fiberglass ($1729+) or 16' Prospector in TuffStuff ($2879+).

Originally I thought, spend the extra money get a canoe that'll take a beating and last forever. But now i'm thinking that with what I'll be using it for (lakes,small rivers,ponds,shorter portages, no whitewater) Fiberglass will be sufficient albeit a bit heavier for portages and have to be careful around rocks.

Do you think a fiberglass Nova Craft Prospector is the right choice for a beginner? I take care of my things and will make sure to be careful around rocky beaches but I'm an inexperienced paddler so likely to make some mistakes. How durable is a Fiberglass canoe? will it crack and leak if I hit one rock?


Lots to unpack there.

Working backwards, no, a well made fiberglass canoe shouldn’t crack if you hit a rock. A friend has abused one of my old 1990’s-era Mad River glass Explorers for the last 15 years as his do everything & poling canoe and bashed a LOT of rocks. The gel coat is wearing thin on the vee bottom and has some (surprisingly few) spider cracks, but the hull is still sound.

Is the NC Prospector the right choice for a beginner? I dunno, it is 36” wide x 15” deep and not twitchy “unstable”. If you keep your head(s) inside the gunwale line a Prospector should be beginner fine.

66lbs in glass is a manageable weight (or was when I was 30 years younger), 56lbs in Tuff Stuff is easier. Only you can answer if 10lbs less on short portages is worth the extra cost. Of course most of us have backs that aren’t getting stronger, and some years down the line the 10lb weight saving may be worth the extra $1100


“Lakes, small rivers, ponds, no “whitewater” is the most curious part. While a Prospector is a decent do-a-bit-of-everything canoe it is, to my mind, designed to carry a fair burden in moving water.

Lastly, you mention sometimes solo. Solo, paddled backwards from the bow seat with some gear weight forward for trim will work, but at 36” wide x 15” deep, with 23” high stems, it may be a handful solo in the wind for a novice.

Any chance you can rent or borrow a Prospector 16 to try, tandem and solo, on lakes, small rivers or ponds?


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 4:18 pm 
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Location: SW Quebec
If it were me, I would have a difficulty parting with that kind of cash for a new, FG canoe. Again, my opinion, but if I was looking to save some dosh and was okay with the 65lb weight (I am not), I'd be looking at used FG boats for a lot less. If I actually had $2K in pocket, I would be looking at lighter layups in London Paddle Shop's discounted boat section as well as checking the used listings amongst the many outfitters who will be turning their fleet before the season starts.


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 4:48 pm 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I am with Scratchypants on that advice. We have owned something like 30 canoes over the years, sold three last year and still have 13. We bought exactly one of them new and haven’t owned it for 15 years.

A couple things (of many) to consider about buying a used canoe:
You won’t wince as badly the first time it goes SCREEEEE over a sharp rock.
At a decent used price you can probably re-sell it for near what you paid.
And, mostly, the expense isn’t just the canoe. Decent quality paddles make a huge difference. A well designed, properly fitted PFD that you can wear comfortably all day long likewise. Other canoe gear; dry bags, barrel, throw bag, good painter lines. A proper roof rack set up isn’t cheap.

I’d look to save X amount on a used canoe and spend the balance on good gear.


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 6:02 pm 
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Mike McCrea wrote:
seekingadventure13 wrote:
Sometimes solo but mostly with gf.
I've come to the conclusion that for my needs I'm best with a 16' prospector.
my issue is trying to decide between 16' Prospector in Fiberglass ($1729+) or 16' Prospector in TuffStuff ($2879+).

Originally I thought, spend the extra money get a canoe that'll take a beating and last forever. But now i'm thinking that with what I'll be using it for (lakes,small rivers,ponds,shorter portages, no whitewater) Fiberglass will be sufficient albeit a bit heavier for portages and have to be careful around rocks.

Do you think a fiberglass Nova Craft Prospector is the right choice for a beginner? I take care of my things and will make sure to be careful around rocky beaches but I'm an inexperienced paddler so likely to make some mistakes. How durable is a Fiberglass canoe? will it crack and leak if I hit one rock?


Lots to unpack there.

Working backwards, no, a well made fiberglass canoe shouldn’t crack if you hit a rock. A friend has abused one of my old 1990’s-era Mad River glass Explorers for the last 15 years as his do everything & poling canoe and bashed a LOT of rocks. The gel coat is wearing thin on the vee bottom and has some (surprisingly few) spider cracks, but the hull is still sound.

Is the NC Prospector the right choice for a beginner? I dunno, it is 36” wide x 15” deep and not twitchy “unstable”. If you keep your head(s) inside the gunwale line a Prospector should be beginner fine.

66lbs in glass is a manageable weight (or was when I was 30 years younger), 56lbs in Tuff Stuff is easier. Only you can answer if 10lbs less on short portages is worth the extra cost. Of course most of us have backs that aren’t getting stronger, and some years down the line the 10lb weight saving may be worth the extra $1100


“Lakes, small rivers, ponds, no “whitewater” is the most curious part. While a Prospector is a decent do-a-bit-of-everything canoe it is, to my mind, designed to carry a fair burden in moving water.

Lastly, you mention sometimes solo. Solo, paddled backwards from the bow seat with some gear weight forward for trim will work, but at 36” wide x 15” deep, with 23” high stems, it may be a handful solo in the wind for a novice.

Any chance you can rent or borrow a Prospector 16 to try, tandem and solo, on lakes, small rivers or ponds?

Thanks for the reply!

As far as weight goes, I'd have to say 10lbs in weight savings is not worth over $1000 to me. I'm still relatively young (40) and in good physical shape.

Just referring to the fact that I've never done any whitewater paddling, I guess a canoe that could handle some if I do come across some in the future is a bonus right?

Ok, good to know! The majority of any solo paddling would likely be in a small calm local pond.

I'll have to look and see if Nova Craft has any demo days this summer.


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 6:07 pm 
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scratchypants wrote:
If it were me, I would have a difficulty parting with that kind of cash for a new, FG canoe. Again, my opinion, but if I was looking to save some dosh and was okay with the 65lb weight (I am not), I'd be looking at used FG boats for a lot less. If I actually had $2K in pocket, I would be looking at lighter layups in London Paddle Shop's discounted boat section as well as checking the used listings amongst the many outfitters who will be turning their fleet before the season starts.


Thanks, I appreciate your opinion. I'm not opposed to used at all but being so green and the prices not being a heck of a lot lower than new I didn't want to buy a used one and find out its a p.o.s.

I did look at some of the factory 2nds but from I saw even the 2nd tuffstuff's are usually well over 2k. Ive also been checking out outfitters but most seem to be the SP3 or really heavy canoes. I'll keep looking though!


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2020, 6:10 pm 
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Mike McCrea wrote:
I am with Scratchypants on that advice. We have owned something like 30 canoes over the years, sold three last year and still have 13. We bought exactly one of them new and haven’t owned it for 15 years.

A couple things (of many) to consider about buying a used canoe:
You won’t wince as badly the first time it goes SCREEEEE over a sharp rock.
At a decent used price you can probably re-sell it for near what you paid.
And, mostly, the expense isn’t just the canoe. Decent quality paddles make a huge difference. A well designed, properly fitted PFD that you can wear comfortably all day long likewise. Other canoe gear; dry bags, barrel, throw bag, good painter lines. A proper roof rack set up isn’t cheap.

I’d look to save X amount on a used canoe and spend the balance on good gear.


Hmmm thanks for your input. I'm generally pretty cheap but tend to spend more money on quality bigger purchases which is why I initially chose that route. I will definitely look into more used ones. Thanks


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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2020, 10:49 am 
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
SA13, I have an old fiberglass canoe that will reach fifty years this year... always kept in a garage or basement so sun damage or UV deterioration was not a problem. It's still usable with two heavy guys in it plus gear and can still take some hits. There are about a dozen patches on it from drops and rocks as well as several coats of paint. It was originally sold as a light weight F/G at about fifty pounds at 16' so heavier construction could have been more damage-resistant. Kevlar would have been much more resistant... probably.

The fiberglass did crack open with some of the worst impacts but duct tape stopped the leaks and fiberglass patching kept it going for more abuse as time went on.

IIRC Nova Craft has a place to test-paddle canoes... there are factory second fiberglass prospectors going for maybe $1400... not sure what the defects or blemishes are.

Going with harder used, Scott Prospectors in fiberglass might be had for as low as $500-600 at the Portage Store in Algonquin once they get their 2020 used canoe list up. Some fiberglassing repairs and paint will probably be needed. IIRC it's first-come first-served on the sale day... there are also used canoes at Algonquin Outfitters... good luck.

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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2020, 5:20 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
SA13, I have an old fiberglass canoe that will reach fifty years this year... always kept in a garage or basement so sun damage or UV deterioration was not a problem. It's still usable with two heavy guys in it plus gear and can still take some hits. There are about a dozen patches on it from drops and rocks as well as several coats of paint. It was originally sold as a light weight F/G at about fifty pounds at 16' so heavier construction could have been more damage-resistant. Kevlar would have been much more resistant... probably.

The fiberglass did crack open with some of the worst impacts but duct tape stopped the leaks and fiberglass patching kept it going for more abuse as time went on.

IIRC Nova Craft has a place to test-paddle canoes... there are factory second fiberglass prospectors going for maybe $1400... not sure what the defects or blemishes are.

Going with harder used, Scott Prospectors in fiberglass might be had for as low as $500-600 at the Portage Store in Algonquin once they get their 2020 used canoe list up. Some fiberglassing repairs and paint will probably be needed. IIRC it's first-come first-served on the sale day... there are also used canoes at Algonquin Outfitters... good luck.



Good to know on the longevity of old fiberglass canoes!

I was at the Nova Craft store the other day and they do have one or 2 for just under $1400 but have some big ugly defects on the side. Where as I could get brand new no defects at MEC for $1499.

Another question...why do you think the NC-P16 is cheaper at MEC ($230 less) than it is at the factory NC store?


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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2020, 7:33 pm 
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A few points here...the canoe is cheaper at MEC as retailers buy wholesale and set their own price. The London shop won't undercut one of their premiere dealers (if they did they'd risk the business relationship), so if it's cheaper at MEC, order it from there.

If it were me I'd be getting the 16' TuffStuff Prospector over the fibreglass. The boat will last you a long time, and 3 or 4 years from now you won't miss the extra money you spent, but you'll really appreciate having a durable canoe that's 10+ lbs lighter than the fg boat. You're only going to get older, and if you buy the fg you will eventually find yourself shopping for a lighter boat. Additionally, a heavier boat will always be a negative factor when trip planning.

When it comes to activities that I'm really into, I tend to be the type to spend a bit more to get what I really want the first time (nearly every aspiring photographer learns this the hard way, keeping Nikon and Canon in business). It's a bit tougher to fork over the cash at the outset, but a year later I'm more satisfied with my choice, and the purchase is in the rearview mirror - water under the bridge. In the long run I believe this approach actually saves me money.

BTW, I have 3 canoes, but if I could only own one it would definitely be a 16' prospector.

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PostPosted: February 4th, 2020, 12:35 pm 
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seekingadventure13 wrote:
I'm generally pretty cheap but tend to spend more money on quality bigger purchases which is why I initially chose that route. I will definitely look into more used ones.


You seem settled on a 16 foot Prospector, which helps in a used canoe search; any used Prospector model from a reputable manufacturer may be worth a look see. Nothing wrong with buying new, manufacturers and retailer need to sell new boats. But the MEC deal probably isn’t going away tomorrow, or next month, and you have time to keep an eye on the used market in your area, Kijiji or outfitters or (recently, I’ve been told) Facebook Marketplace.

To be clear about buying quality paddles, PFD’s and other gear, many, perhaps most paddlers, did not start out with the best gear. We had orange horse collar PFDs and junk Feather Brand paddles throughout our Grumman years, and thought Harrishok PFDs and Mohawk paddles were a huge improvement.

They were an improvement, and we still have some Mohawks; unused for years except as loaner paddles or beater spares. Same for PFD’s; we still have some serviceable PFDs (not horse collars) from years gone by, used solely as loaners. A modern PFD, designed for canoeing strokes and physique-fitted, is an all day comfort.

Having a properly sized paddle is as important as having a decent quality stick. I’d rather use a mediocre paddle than one poorly sized for my height, wingspan and canoe. A paddlesport shop with a variety of stock and a knowledgeable staff can be invaluable with help in selecting the right sized paddles. Plural, your paddle size may well be different than your girlfriend’s paddle. And don’t forget a spare paddle, even if a durable cheapie.

Same for selecting a canoeing PFD adjusted to fit properly, a well stocked paddlesport shop can help find and fit a comfortable PFD. Ask for help, don’t put your head through the armhole of a side zip PFD and become helplessly entangled until a salesperson comes to extract you. First side zip I’d ever seen. It was embarrassing. To this day I don’t like side zips.

If you do not already have a roof rack system that is biggest ticket item after the canoe. If your travels are all local you can make do, at least at first, with foam blocks, bow and stern lines and straps through the doors. More distant drives at highway speeds, high winds or long, bouncy dirt road travels, not so much. You gotta get the canoe home after you buy it; strapping a new $2000 canoe to a set of foam blocks is tempting the fates.

seekingadventure13 wrote:
I'm the type of guy who does a lot of research before I make any big purchase


Buying used roof racks that properly fit your vehicle is much more of a crap shoot than buying a used canoe. That is one item I would buy new, knowing the component foot packs and towers and etc were designed to fit my vehicle and are in pristine condition. Spend some time on the roof rack sites, plug your vehicle year/make/model into the manufacturer Fit-Guides and see what turns up. Yoikes, that’s a chunk of money.

Once you have a rack system future crossbar accessories like gunwale stops, kayak cradles, bike racks, rocket boxes, ski/snowboard stuff are easier to find used. For a real shocker, price “gunwale stops” while you are looking at rack systems. No, that’s not a misprint.

My personal bias about roof racks has two primary criteria:

1-The racks need to go on and off the vehicle easily. I saw a set of new (very expensive) Yakima bars with a “removable” design that required something like 100 allen wrench turns on each tower connection to put on or take off. I need to make them an allen wrench power drill accessory.

When I see a car going down a salt covered highway in February with naked racks corroding on the roof I see a design flaw. $400 in roof racks attached every damn day driving to and from work? That’s a nope. (Exception made for ladder/construction racks on pickup trucks).

Even if the roof racks reduce the gas mileage by a tiny amount, times 50,000 or 100,000 everyday miles. . . . .eh, somebody do that math.

2-If your vehicle roofline allows having crossbars wide enough to accommodate two canoes that extra length is invaluable. It is a lot easier to set a shuttle with friends and a second canoe if the racks take two. Need to put a rocket box or etc up there alongside the canoe? Again, wider crossbars.

FWIW most roof rack fit guides default to the shortest crossbar that will fit with the towers, a length often insufficient for anything beyond a single canoe, and sometimes barely that. As long as the crossbars don’t extend past the side view mirrors I figure we are (probably) legal.

If you have a total budget target in mind maybe work backwards; price out a couple medium quality paddles and PFD’s and, especially, a roof rack system.

Two PFD’s – Call it $200
Two (three) paddles – Another $200
Roof Rack – I dunno, $350 - $400?
Maybe X$ for some incidentals like a “heaving line”/throw bag, couple dry bags. Couple whistles, maybe a barrel. Oh look, knee high mukluks and folding saws on sale. Best to keep a firm grip on your wallet in a well stocked paddle shop or that will be another $100

What’s left in the budget for the canoe?

(Eh, if you enjoy canoe tripping, make that the “first” canoe)


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PostPosted: February 4th, 2020, 5:54 pm 
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cg and MM, Thanks so much for your replies and your advice. Looks like I have a lot more searching to do as well as some more saving!


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PostPosted: February 4th, 2020, 6:24 pm 
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Main issue with NC Prospector in Fiberglass would be the shoe keel. Don't like it, will make up for some lack of skill by helping with tracking. I have seen a couple Toughstuff boats( older ones) de-laminate but am told the new ones are much better.

That being said the price of the glass one cannot be ignored. Will get you on the water fairly economically allowing you to buy decent quality PFD's, paddles and other gear. Take a good hard look for second hand boats.


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