If you follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you will notice about 7 months ago we had a new addition. We started this adventure blog with the intent of canoeing and camping with Zoe, our brown Newfoundland rescue. In December of 2018, we added Birna to the pack; first as a foster that inevitably led to foster failure with us officially adopting her in March. Birna, a 6’ish-year-old black Newfie who was rescued from a hoarding/puppy mill situation along with five other Newfies – with over 100 dogs in total removed. With this new addition, we were going to need a little more space in the canoe. The Old Town Tripper that we have is useable for this endeavor as it is plenty big. It also is plenty heavy and with the flatter bottomed hull, it’s possibly not the best choice stability-wise for 250 pounds of excitable dogs. Birna had never been in a boat/canoe; and as a matter of a fact, she had never seen a river, creek or lake in her life, which is totally sad considering she’s a Newfoundland. Adding another pup to our trips would mean some extra gear/food some extra space too. So, we began the search for a little bigger, lighter, more stable, durable, and sleeker canoe that wasn’t a bear to paddle.
We researched for months, adding to knowledge gained from some less serious research over the last several years. We looked at numerous different companies. Many of the canoes we found were longer but heavier, more stable but too short, lighter but not as durable, sleeker but not as stable. I finally started to do some research on canoe design from a historical perspective. I came across a design from the Chestnut Canoe Company that was lauded as ‘The Workhorse of the North’. The prospector design was a very capable tripping canoe that could carry heavy loads, yet was nimble, stable and easier to propel. The most popular size of the Prospector is a 16 footer which would not satisfy one of our requirements. We needed to find a company that manufactured a bigger version and that’s when Alycia found Nova Craft Canoes of London, Ontario. Nova Craft makes an 18’ Prospector that weighs anywhere between 54 and 72 lbs. depending on which material you choose. After learning about their materials, we chose the Tuff Stuff which comes in at 68 lbs. (about 25 lbs. lighter than our Tripper in Oltonar/Royalex). So, now we had found a longer, lighter, more stable (thanks to a shallow arch hull), and durable, sleeker canoe design. The only question left to answer, ‘Is it a bear to paddle?’
I began searching for a used Prospector 18 and couldn’t find any. I actually couldn’t find many used Nova Craft canoes at all. That’s a good sign! Once people buy them, they keep them. I was able to find a dealer who had an eighteen footer in stock; although they were located in Marysville, P.A. No problem! We had a trip planned to Pennsylvania in a few months anyway. I called up to Blue Mountain Outfitters (BMO) and asked some questions and requested some measurements and pictures. They were very helpful sending along with pictures of the inside, outside, looking forward, looking backward, measurements between this thwart and that one, from the carry yoke to the stern seat, behind the stern seat, etc.
Finally, Alycia and I decided this was the one and made the purchase asking if they could store it for a few months until we were in P.A. BMO agreed and I also asked them to install Kevlar skid plates on the bow and stern while it was waiting for us to pick it up. The anticipation grew over the next two months as our trip date slowly ticked away. Once June had finally arrived, we were ready to get on the road to pick up our new canoe and try it out. Leaving our house in South Carolina at 0300, we arrived in Marysville, P.A. at around noon. BMO is housed in an old railroad station along the banks of the Susquehanna River just across from Harrisburg. While Alycia tended to the dogs, I went inside to do the necessary paperwork. Once completed, Ms. Mary showed us to the shed where our boat was living. We gave it a once over and I picked it up to carry it to the truck and found what a joy to carry it was. The deluxe yoke is perfectly contoured and the balance spot on. It seemed like a feather on my back compared to the Tripper. It was starting to rain, so I strapped the Prospector down and we were off again. Three and a half hours later, we pulled into Sinnemahoning State Park and set up camp. It was hard not to run down to the lake to try the Prospector out immediately, but having been up for 17 hours at this point, helped us to wait until the following morning. After breakfast the next day we headed to the water. It was a cool, foggy morning with a mist rising from the water when we launched. Pushing off from shore, after just a few paddle strokes, we knew we had done good research and made a great choice. The Nova Craft glides smoothly through the water with ease. It is very stable, tracks well and is surprisingly nimble in turns for being such a long boat. We paddled for a couple hours that morning with each stroke reinforcing our decision to go with Nova Craft.
All that’s left to do now is get Birna introduced to canoeing and we will be on our way. We highly recommend Nova Craft Canoe’s Prospector Series (and honestly based off of the Prospector, all of their canoes are probably fantastic). If you have any questions about the research we did on the Prospector 18 or if you want to share a story about your Nova Craft, leave us a comment below. And as always, remember to paddle true to paddle through.