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Thread: Wenonah Escape

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Wenonah Escape

    Makers Spec

    Tuf. Flex 62lb
    Kev. Flex 53lb
    Kev.UL 41lb
    Graph. UL 38lb

    Makers Write Up

    For many paddlers our Escape may be the perfect tandem canoe. We based the design of the Escape upon our popular Minnesota II, one of the world's most renowned wilderness canoe designs.

    The Escape is an extremely efficient design in a more compact package than the Minnesota II. With similar lines as the Minnesota II, the Escape delivers excellent performance in a wide variety of paddling conditions. To keep the canoe dry in choppy waters, we added an extra inch of depth to the bow and stern. Combined with the flared bow, this canoe is dry in almost every paddling situation.

    A foot shorter than the Minnesota II, the Escape is more maneuverable, making it an ideal canoe if you plan to paddle on smaller streams and rivers as well as larger lakes and bodies of water. Yet with its added depth, the Escape has nearly the capacity of the Minnesota II.

    With this much versatility designed into a single canoe, the Escape may be the perfect canoe for many people looking for a performance canoe. Smaller paddlers, people who prefer a shorter canoe, and paddlers who spend time on smaller rivers and streams will find the Escape fits their needs perfectly. If most of your time will be spent paddling longer distances, or you appreciate the additional efficiency of an 18'6" canoe, or need extra capacity for longer trips, the Minnesota II would be a better choice. But for many, the Escape is a perfect match.
    Last edited by Chrish; 19th-November-2007 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    between Kinross and Alloa, Scotland

    Default Flexcore Escape

    I have had this boat only a few weeks and have only paddled it on day trips so far, so take these comments as initial impressions.

    Hull build quality seems to be spot on (ie the kevlar work, gel coat etc).
    Assembly quality (gunwales etc) is very good, but suffers from a few loose rivets, esp. on the rear seat assembly which is causing a 'click' when paddling hard. I need to track down the precise rivet and sort it.

    I have the full alloy version (gunwales, thwarts, handles, seat mounts, foot brace). I do not like alloy fittings but I'm very happy with the weight saving on a boat that will see lots of portaging.

    The gunwales are very neat, very narrow cf vinyl ones and they look better for it. The big BIG downside for me is that it is far from straight forward to fit things to them (like wooden thwarts, sailing thwarts, lee boards etc). It is not the alloy that is the issue, but the shape/profile. (the Novacraft alloy gunwales are very square and very easy to work with). However, it is possible and I will be rigging this canoe for sailing.

    I thought long and hard about getting a kevlar ultralite version of this boat but opted for the stiffer/stronger flexcore version to take the additional strain of sailing. At 53lb for a 17' 6" boat it is still light enough.

    I have replaced the yoke for a deep dish one (the only bit of wood on the boat at the moment), adding weight but improving comfort. Bare Wenonah yokes are only good for garage to car type carries, but are of course very light.

    On the water this boat is a revelation. It is very fast, has zero oil canning, and is set up for efficient forward paddling. (rear seat well back, bucket seats set for sitting, rear foot brace, which really makes a difference.) It will turn well enough when leaned (and is stable enough to do so), but it was never bought for fast turning. It goes from A - B fast and easy and is a joy to paddle. Obviously an exped load is going to slow things down, but I bet not by much.

    The front seat is a slider and looks naff, but again it serves a purpose. (trim adjustment) when paddled without kit. Moving kit would be a better option so that the bow paddler can find the most comfortable position and then stick to it. The extra length means that you are likely to have somewhere to move kit to. A short boat that is full as problems in this respect.

    The plan is to keep outfitting to a minimum in this canoe as it will be flat water only. It comes with built-in air tanks. These are very small and are designed to prevent the hull from going right down (not naturally buoyant unlike Rx) and the plan is to self rescue via a flip of an empty boat. It will never be used solo so hopefully between us we can do this. Training to follow asap!!

    I got one with a dark green gel coat. Looks great (looked great) but every scratch shows up. I got the green because it was available, but if I was ordering one I'd opt for a pale colour or even white.

    More to follow after a major trip.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    between Kinross and Alloa, Scotland

    Default major tip now done.................

    Having just returned from Inverpolly reserve in the N of Scotland (OS Map 15) I can now comment on the boats longer term performance in 'real' use.

    The 6 day trip involved linking 20 lochs (including the sea) and had 19 portages, some of which were very hard going, taking hours, and some of which were irritations, taking minutes.

    Weather conditions were generally perfect, ie little wind, or back winds. Until that is the last 2 days. Then the wind really kicked in and we had a 3 hour struggle to make 3km against rolling, white topped waves and constant high wind, with stronger gusts. We had to sit this out for 2 half day, taking an unplanned camp.

    As usual, despite the best intentions we took far too much gear/food (but not enough fuel!)

    There was one low water river section that we lined, but could have poled, and would have if the boat had been royalex.

    Against the above information on the type of trip, how did the Escape perform? (for point of rerference I have done similar trips in MRC Explorer 16, Wenonah Spirtit 2, MRC Horizon 15 and Wenonah Prospector 16, and to a more limited extent, Wenonah Prism (solo).

    As indicated in the post above the boat is fast, and remains so when loaded. Okay, so the actual speed drops a little, but it is a very easy paddle, and really flies with a tail wind. The fast hull design means that into the wind it continues to work its way forward when some of the other boats mentioned above would have really struggled. We pushed on in wind that was really beyond the limit of what was sensible and were able to make headway.
    At one stage we had to cut slightly across the wind, which naturally gave rise to a bit of rolling from side to side, and we did take a little water over the gunwale, but it was nothing to get too concerned about. The 17'6" length gave a fair bit of stablity on what is a fairly narrow boat in tandem terms, and things never felt too uncomfortable.
    Heading directly into the wind, the bow paddler needed to set the seat right back (contary to trim requirements) as the narrow end was ploughing through waves and although not taking on water, was close to doing so. However, even with the trim moved back the boat handled just fine, with no tendancy to turn away from the wind as is often the case. I put this down to the extemely good forward tracking.

    Running down wind in the rolling waves was great fun, and naturally very fast. The Escape is not a deep boat and the waves were pushing the top of the gunwales. Again the length works in aiding a dry run. I think adding length to increase capacity is a much better way to go than adding depth. If depth is added then so is windage, so there is a trade off. If length is added than you get better tracking and lower windage: surely the way to go for flatwater tripping?

    Some of the portages were done using a trolley and the stiff flexcore hull coped with some of the load being left in the boat (we carried the two heavy sacks). Some of the portages were done using the deep dish yoke, and I really appreciated the upgrade here.

    Most of the portages were sledged over the moor, avoiding rocks with grreat diligence! Despite being very much lighter than the Prospector 16 used on our last trip the Escape did not sledge as well. I put this down to the rocker on the P16 allowing it to side up over tussocks and bumps more easily. However, the Escape did well enough.

    Most of the lochs were very low on water and many of the landings/launching were over boulders. This accounted for many scratches on the hull, all of which really show up. (see earlier comments re colour). These scratches are all purely cosmetic. My point here is that the hull 'damage' is far less than I expected. I even dropped one end of the boat onto rocks, not from a great height, but it did land on the very fine, narrow stem. Thinking I'd need my repair kit, but keeping my fingers crossed, I looked for the damage. I could only find a very small gel coat scuff.

    The only negative thing we came up with was the ends of the rivets being painful on the finger tips when man-handling the boat over the steep rough bits. 'Normal' vinyl gunwales are much wider in-wale than the alloy ones fitted to the Escape, and in the latter case the rivet ends are not hidden. Again, this is the price you pay for cutting weight. Wooden gunwales would look superb on this hull, but add weight, and much cost !

    Final thoughs then? If I lost this boat tomorrow I'd order another one staight away. I have never paddled a tandem boat that gets anywere near as good as the Escape as a high capacity tandem tripper.

    (and I have plans to rectify those gunwales, whilst adding only a little weight...............but at this stage its a secret. Watch this space)
    Last edited by tenboats1; 24th-May-2008 at 07:46 PM.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Tunis, Tunisia.


    Good Review 10 Boats, done on a real trip as well, cannot be better! Many thanks for the info!

    Alan L.

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