Well, we finally did it. We bought a canoe.
We've been talking about this for years, but in the last couple years, I looked at Pocahontas and said "We really need to get a canoe!" We are really sedentary people, and while we're all well read; we really all need some fresh air and exercise. And since we live in a place where it's warm well over half the year, a canoe seemed like a good idea.
We did our research, and I wanted either a Wenonah or an Old Town. A local shop: Great Outdoor Provision Co. was highly recommended, so we went there. They didn't have the canoe I was looking for: the Minnesota II by Wenonah, but they had a 16 foot Prospector in stock. I have to admit the Prospector caught my eye as soon as I saw it. It's didn't look like much on Wenonah's website, but in person it was beautiful: sweeping lines, high bow and stern, and a wide hull. But it wasn't what I had been looking for, so we thanked Amanda for her help, and went to the Bass Pro Shop.
The Bass Pro Shop had a few more canoes than the Outdoor Provision Co., but sales staff wasn't anywhere around, and the majority of their stock was too small for us. However, they had two Old Town Discoveries in the 16 foot length.
So now we had two 16 foot offerings available, from two excellent names in canoes, but the Old Town was a lot cheaper than the Wenonah (around $400 or so).
Of course I wanted the more expensive one more...
So I did some research online, and decided the Prospector was the right thing to do. It cost more, but seemed more along the lines of what we wanted. And it was slightly narrower than the Discovery, which means slightly easier to push across a lake.
So this morning we went back to Outdoor Provision Co. and talked to Amanda again (if you're buying a canoe or kayak in Charlotte, talk to Amanda, she's awesome). We bought the canoe, two padddles, some assorted gear, and lifejackets all around. A little pricey, but it'll have been worth every penny if we get some family time outside out of it.
The reason I finally went with the Prospector is this: when I was growing up, you bought a canoe. Now they're modernized the industry to the point where you can't just buy a canoe, you buy a canoe for lake travel on days when it's sunny, and you're heading due north. The canoes people make are uber-specialized, and it's a little intimidating. The first thing they ask is "what'll you use it for?" Well, when I was growing up, Dad and I took our huge canoe on lakes, whitewater, and even saltwater. If you wanted to go solo, you turned it around, sat backwards in the "front" seat, and went "backwards". Now you're expected to buy a seat to sit in the middle of your canoe, just for solo trips.
But the Prospector is a remake of a circa 1910 canoe. It's as old-school as you get. Actually, I noticed it was hailed as a great all-round canoe before I realized a lot of companies make a "Prospector", and they're all take-offs of one built in the early 1900s. So this is the closest thing to the canoes I grew up with. But being made of newer materials, this thing is light. I carried it more or less alone from the truck to the backyard, and it was a breeze.
And just for comparison, the Discovery, the other canoe we were considering, has molded plastic seats. So you couldn't turn it around and run it backwards if you wanted to!
Of course, a lot of canoes today wouldn't run backwards, as they're not symmetric front-to-back. Check out the Wenonah Minnesota II I was considering on their website for an example.
We got everyone to sit in it before we decided to buy, and we all fit great, with room enough for a night or two of camping supplies. So it's a good, practical choice.
It's been too cold to go out on the water, so the baby's sleeping in our backyard. But next weekend is supposed to be warmer, so we'll try again Saturday. Then I suppose we'll know whether it really is worth what we paid.
I'll be sure to post a full review of it here once we actually get it wet.