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Thread: Hello from UK & request for advice

  1. #1

    Default Hello from UK & request for advice

    Hello, my wife son and myself live in the Midlands. The family is half Finnish half British. We did a reasonable amount of canoeing when we lived in Finland and for the last few years have hired canoes and gone on overnight trips with him when we've visited Finland in the summer. These have been really successful, and now that we're living in the UK would like to buy a canoe and start exploring the British waterways.

    Certainly the River Wye is high on our list. We also have friends in Aberdeen that we visit and would like to canoe in some of the lochs there. We also have a ton of stuff locally. So I think we'd do a mixture of river and more open water. As we'd like to do a lot of overnight or over several night trips, then we're looking for a fairly large boat. The ones we have hired have been around 17ft and I think that would suit us. We'd like to get a fairly light boat, as we find it awkward carrying heavy boats. We're generally quite keen on recycling, and would be like to get a second hand boat. Actually this could help us quite well because it looks like we could get a better boat going second hand.

    We've been looking primarily at Royalex boats due to the weight. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there seem to be very be prepared to travel to buy one. We can see three possibilities on Gumtree and Ebay. The first is an Old Town Penobscot 17'4", this is the most expensive of the three and perhaps looks the most used, and looks like it would suit our purposes. We can also see a 17' Nova Craft Prospector, this looks like a great boat, but would be quite far away from us (but I wouldn't rule it out). Finally, the curveball seems 16' Bell Vermont Backwater boat. I really can't find much information about these.

    I suspect the answer is that they're all good quality boats, and that any would serve us well whilst we refine exactly what we want to do, but it would be useful to hear some more informed opinions. Finally we have a Ford Focus Estate with fixpoints. I'm going to buy some Thule roof bars for these. Is the associated canoe carryier (Thule Portage) worth it, or do people just strap the canoe directly to the bars. We have no experience of actually carrying a canoe on the car ourselves! If you got here, thanks for reading. I thought that it would be useful to give more information than just say what boat should we buy!

  2. #2
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    Hello and Welcome!

    Partly depends on which version of the NC Prospector it is, if it is Royalex then that would be the best all round design I suspect. The Penobscot is a great flat water canoe, better for the lochs etc, but less easy to handle on rivers, especially moving water. I don't know the Vermont, found a reference to it being popular with outfitters which would suggest a good solid canoe, and the inside colour suggests it is indeed Royalex. The shorter length might be an issue, depending on age of your son.

    Just use roof bars on the car, you don't need a carrier thing as well for an open canoe.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  3. #3
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    Welcome to SOTP. A few thoughts in addition to Mal's.

    Since you're used to paddling in Finland, there's no 'Everyman's Right' in England and Wales (but see http://www.riveraccessforall.co.uk/). Scotland has much wider access laws (https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/).

    If loading a heavy canoe is a concern, a roller behind the rear roof bar can help - but if your Focus only has fixed points, not rails, you may not be able to get the rear bar far enough back to make a roller useful.

    Tie the ends of the canoe to the towing eyes. The car should have one screw in eye, you can buy another on eBay for the socket at the other end. Strap the boat tightly to the roof bars, and securely but not tightly to the towing eyes. Up to 1m rear overhang is legal without needing a flag on the end, but you can use one if you prefer.

    If you can get to the "Biggish Meet" later this month you'll meet a lot of SOTP members and can ask all the questions you think of!

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    Good morning and welcome here.
    To continue with what Mal has said; The Penobscot is a good, stable family boat. The boat you describe is 17' 4", so that's the heavier version and will weigh upwards of 37 kgs.
    I've seen the NC 17' Prospector on E Bay and it is indeed Royalex but will still weigh in excess of 36 kgs. Again, it will be a good, stable family boat and should you need it to, it will turn better than the other two you mention due to its greater rocker, but it will be affected by windage a bit more than the other two. I know it's a long way to go, but at its current price it represents very good value for money. When a boat is a long distance away, it has been known for other members who might be travelling in the right direction to transport it for you all or part of the way. It's always worth asking the question.

    Moving on to the Vermont; Some years ago when I started my canoeing journey and knew even less than I know now, the Vermont was my first ever boat. The Backwaters bit in the name is throwing me a bit as I don't remember that being on my boat, but things do get altered/updated during the course of a boats life. The boat is Royalex and is actually 16' 9" long and from memory Bell stated that it weighed around 29 kgs. I never actually weighed mine and although I believe it might be a bit more than 29 kgs, it's not outrageously heavy, is lighter than the other two and is manageable. It also is a nice stable family boat and if the price is right you won't go far wrong with it.
    When looking at boat weights, it pays to remember that some manufacturers seem to use poetic licence when stating the weights of their boats and invariably they will weigh more than stated.
    You don't mention the age of your son, but another route that some families take when they have kids, is rather than searching for a long open canoe, they'll buy two boats, either two smaller opens or maybe an open and a small kayak for your son or wife.
    Happy hunting
    Last edited by OLD MAN; 10th-August-2019 at 08:59 AM.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  5. #5

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    Dear all,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply, and for the various pieces of advice. Certainly from the comments below, it sounds like the NC Prospector might be the best for us - although we'll look into the Bell a little more.

    Our son is 8. We're hoping that the canoe will last us for a long time, so we want something that would also work when he's older. I might have over stated about not wanting to lift a heavy boat onto the roof. We went paddling for 2 days last week in a hire boat. We looked on the manufacturers page, and it said it weighed 45 kg. It was fine to carry from the storage to the water, but we tried to lift it high as though we'd be putting it on a roof and found it awkward enough to think that we wouldn't want to be doing it regularly.

    I hadn't seen the Big Meet up. It's very convenient for us (only 15 mins from our house!). I'm not sure of our plans for the weekend, but we'll certainly try and come by.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirodela View Post
    - although we'll look into the Bell a little more.
    Bell no longer make canoes - so second hand is the only option if you can find one for sale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirodela View Post
    Dear all,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply, and for the various pieces of advice. Certainly from the comments below, it sounds like the NC Prospector might be the best for us - although we'll look into the Bell a little more.

    Our son is 8. We're hoping that the canoe will last us for a long time, so we want something that would also work when he's older. I might have over stated about not wanting to lift a heavy boat onto the roof. We went paddling for 2 days last week in a hire boat. We looked on the manufacturers page, and it said it weighed 45 kg. It was fine to carry from the storage to the water, but we tried to lift it high as though we'd be putting it on a roof and found it awkward enough to think that we wouldn't want to be doing it regularly.

    I hadn't seen the Big Meet up. It's very convenient for us (only 15 mins from our house!). I'm not sure of our plans for the weekend, but we'll certainly try and come by.

    As a rule of thumb, the lighter the canoe, the more it will cost but the more it will get used.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  8. #8

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    Thanks Old Man,

    I spoke to the owner of the Bell canoe. I'm still torn between the prospector and this. He didn't know very much about it. He bought it second hand a year ago, but never used it. I think although he describes it as a Vermont Backwater. I can see the word "Backwater" more prominently than Vermont on the boat. I found a little on the Internet about it, and it seems that it has been used as a fishing boat. In the picture it seems quite shallow compared with the Prospector. He offered to reduce it to 750 (which as he said he bought it for 900 and hasn't used it sees like a fair price). I can see your logic about using the lighter boat more. I was thinking that if I could lift it on and off the roof myself, in a couple of years I could probably go out with just my son for the odd paddle when my wife is working.

    I've copied a link, in case the picture looks similar to your old Vermont.

    https://www.gumtree.com/p/boats-kaya...oe-/1347233731

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirodela View Post
    Thanks Old Man,

    I spoke to the owner of the Bell canoe. I'm still torn between the prospector and this. He didn't know very much about it. He bought it second hand a year ago, but never used it. I think although he describes it as a Vermont Backwater. I can see the word "Backwater" more prominently than Vermont on the boat. I found a little on the Internet about it, and it seems that it has been used as a fishing boat. In the picture it seems quite shallow compared with the Prospector. He offered to reduce it to 750 (which as he said he bought it for 900 and hasn't used it sees like a fair price). I can see your logic about using the lighter boat more. I was thinking that if I could lift it on and off the roof myself, in a couple of years I could probably go out with just my son for the odd paddle when my wife is working.

    I've copied a link, in case the picture looks similar to your old Vermont.

    https://www.gumtree.com/p/boats-kaya...oe-/1347233731

    Now you have a dilemma, so you'll have to weigh up the pros and cons . Yes, the Bell is the same as the boat I had, might even be the same one as I don't think many came into the country.
    Don't worry about the lower freeboard on the Bell compared to the prospector. There won't be much in it, it just looks more on the Prospector due to the extra rocker. I doubt there's much more than an inch difference.
    It always bothers me when a seller only posts one picture. I'd like to see more pics of the Bell, especially the wooden bits and the state of the underside of the hull.
    NC is currently cheaper, but might go higher. This is the 3rd time it's been advertised, but the first time there's been a bid. It's gonna cost you a lot more in fuel to get it than the Bell. If it's the boat you fancy, contact the seller and make him a firm offer - you never know, he might snap your hand off.
    I bought my Bell new in 2009 and at the time, I was told that they were no longer in production (don't know if that's true or not), but it could mean that the Bell is knocking on a bit, not that it matters if it's been stored properly and looked after.
    For me at my age, boat weight makes a difference. If you're young and fit then it's maybe less so, but there will be times when how difficult it is to get your boat from storage to car, to water and back again will likely figure in the equation.
    Colour and style of boat probably figure as well. Which boat do you like the look of and which colour do you prefer ??????
    If you like the Bell contact the owner and offer 700 and tell him you'll have it now.

    All these things to consider and at the end of the day it has to be your decision, but rest assured (condition of both boats notwithstanding) either boat will do the job you're asking of it.
    I can't choose for you, but if you get either one for a fair price and look after it, you'll be able to sell it for a decent price in the future.
    Good luck and let us know how you fair
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  10. #10

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    Thanks once again,

    I'm mulling it over, but quite relaxed about the whole thing. I figure that either would suit us well, so whichever we end up with we'll be happy.

    I agree that more photos would be very helpful with the Bell. The owner seemed friendly and honest, but very vague. He said that he thought the Bell was about 10 years old, which fits with what you're saying. Your previous comments about the Bell being 16'9" and around 30 kg are very helpful as he said around 16' and very light. I'll chat with my wife and make a decision. I'll certainly report back, hopefully reporting a successful purchase and maiden voyage!

    Roof bars should come tomorrow, so I'm getting ready.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirodela View Post
    Thanks once again,

    I'm mulling it over, but quite relaxed about the whole thing. I figure that either would suit us well, so whichever we end up with we'll be happy.

    I agree that more photos would be very helpful with the Bell. The owner seemed friendly and honest, but very vague. He said that he thought the Bell was about 10 years old, which fits with what you're saying. Your previous comments about the Bell being 16'9" and around 30 kg are very helpful as he said around 16' and very light. I'll chat with my wife and make a decision. I'll certainly report back, hopefully reporting a successful purchase and maiden voyage!

    Roof bars should come tomorrow, so I'm getting ready.
    Exciting times, good luck
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  12. #12
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    Firstly, as the Old Man says, whatever you choose here will do the job very well and last you for years.


    A few things on the Bell, none of which will make an enormous difference really!

    1. The youngest it could be is late 2010, as that's when they stopped importing them due to the US side going under. I bought the ex-demo Bell Prosector when Richard (Canoe and Kayak store, the importer) sold them off as the distribution had ended. The earliest is around 2006 I think, when they first started bringing them in. So the age sounds roughly right.

    2. I think they've moved the yoke away from the central balance point, to add in a more central seat without the yoke being in the way of their legs. This may well help you paddle it solo. It will, though, mean it doesn't balance on your shoulders, but it LOOKS like there's a "removable" yoke there too, which presumably they've added to mean they could still carry it in balance. Check this is included. If so, no worries.

    3. I think that Bell has less rocker than a Prospector.

    4 I can't see what type of seats the Bell has front and rear. The middle one has a webbing seat with "after market" seat hangers. There are also weird grab handles on the gunwhales here!. The other seats aren't visible, but the seat hangers are not the same as most Bell seat hangers (a wooden "arch" shape) so the seats may not be the same nice wicker ones.


    It seems to me that there is a Nova Craft "safe" option that is more hassle to get to, or a Bell "unusual" option that's been modified, that is easier to get to, but more of an unknown/risk. In my experience though, Bell only made good canoes. I know what you'll get with the NC is a great all round canoe that will do any job well, but no superstar performer; with the Bell it could be just ordinarily competent, or it could be a bit special!


    None of that will have helped much!!!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  13. #13
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    I can't see what type of seats the Bell has front and rear. The middle one has a webbing seat with "after market" seat hangers.
    I had some pics of mine somewhere but I can't find them now. Probably fallen down the hole that was Photobucket.
    Anyway from memory, the seats were webbing I think, but I'm almost certain that the seat hangers were metal plates rather than wooden hangers.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

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    I had some pics of mine somewhere but I can't find them now
    Found them !! The first one clearly shows BACKWATERS on the hull and the fact that there's barely any rocker, if any at all. There are no clear shots but they do show metal seat hangers, two thwarts and the yolk. The seats were cane, not black webbing. A sliver of one can just be spotted under my wifes rear.

    [IMG]

    [IMG]


    [IMG]


    [IMG]

    I doubt that will help but it was nice to see them again.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  15. #15
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    Nothing to add on your shortlist of canoes, but as for the Thule portage kit, I'd save yourself 100.00 and spend it on the canoe instead, or your Thule (wing/aero?) bars.
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

  16. #16

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    I just wanted to report back. We bought the Bell canoe; it looks just like the one in your photos. We decided that until our son gets older, we'll be doing flat water, and this looked like a sensible and stable option. My wife, son and I intend to join the group of people at Barrow on the Saturday evening and join the paddle on Sunday. Thank you for your help. I suspect we'll have many more questions coming soon.

    I stopped three times on the drive home to nervously check the that it was adequately strapped on. It was totally bomber. It fitted on our car really well, and despite a slightly strange noise it was very easy to drive. I was a bit nervous, but I think next time would be a lot more confident.

  17. #17
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    So glad you got yourselves sorted out. I did wonder if you'd got the NC Prospector as that went on Weds for 865. Any questions, just fire away, but I'm sure the guys at Barrow will help you out big time.
    It's likely that you'll always get some degree of noise when transporting your canoe. Sometimes it's just the way the wind is blowing through all the fitments inside the canoe, or it could be the way you have the straps tied up. You'll get used to it and with experience you may well learn different tying methods to alleviate it.

    Happy paddling, let us know how you get on.
    Last edited by OLD MAN; 16th-August-2019 at 02:56 PM.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  18. #18
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    Happy new (to you) canoe! If you live in the midlands, give the River Avon a try - you won't find any white water, but it's a beautiful and peaceful river, un-afflicted by weekend hires, as the Wye tends to be (at least, during the summer months).
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirodela View Post
    I just wanted to report back. We bought the Bell canoe; it looks just like the one in your photos. We decided that until our son gets older, we'll be doing flat water, and this looked like a sensible and stable option. My wife, son and I intend to join the group of people at Barrow on the Saturday evening and join the paddle on Sunday. Thank you for your help. I suspect we'll have many more questions coming soon.

    I stopped three times on the drive home to nervously check the that it was adequately strapped on. It was totally bomber. It fitted on our car really well, and despite a slightly strange noise it was very easy to drive. I was a bit nervous, but I think next time would be a lot more confident.
    Great, congratulations on your new arrival!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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