Wenonah Spirit II
Price Paid: $300 used
My friend and I describe ourselves as middle-aged "fat-packers"-- but my best friend and hiking buddy got injured--really messed up her ankle, so hiking was out of the question for the summer. She grew up doing lots of canoeing, so it seemed like a good solution. Bottom line is she really had no idea where to jump in with selecting a boat. I helped her out by watching and watching Craigslist. Then this Wenona showed up. I read every bit of literature I could get my hands on...so she made her choice.
Having been in mostly camp canoes my whole life, and she had used nothing but beaters herself, the first time we took this boat out we literally stopped three strokes out into the water and looked at each other in awe.
This boat is beautiful in the water. Empty, she skims along. It's very responsive, like the above post mentioned. Loaded, she handles with even greater stability. We took lots of training paddles on a local lake, and then we took an 8 day trip on a lake in Idaho. We loaded it like a cross between backpacking and car camping. After learning how to load the canoe for balance, she was SO stable. We were able to keep at cruising speed with her full. We had to watch the wind a bit, as she is 17' long, but she turns on a dime, is so responsive, and is so balanced, the length is really not an issue.
We were out on a day cruise when a summer storm blew up. We were really afraid to take the canoe into open water as we are not young and strong any more. We decided to hole up until the white caps eased. So, we took a three hour break...and then we saw the rain coming. We decided to go for it. She was in back steering, and I was up front being the power. She told me she never once felt uncomfortable in the back. The boat took waves that had me digging into mid-air during my stroke. But even with the wind and the waves, she never once felt unstable. We were able to stay in a straight line, and the boat ate the waves like they were nothing. The worst part about the crossing was the lightening strike directly across the lake from us, not far from where we were trying to wait out the wind...
This spring, I took my daughter and her 85 lb Golden Retriever out this spring--this dog had never been in a boat. He was edgy, so was walking all over the center of the boat, knocking it off balance with every step, and I never once felt like we were going to dump. (I wouldn't say that I felt calm and relaxed...but we never got wet :)) And once he figured out how to be a passenger, he relaxed and really enjoyed the ride.
This boat is also outfitted with the specialty adjustable wagon seats. They are very comfortable to be in for long periods of time.
She would buy this boat all over again, and I am happy to help her transport it!
Where to Buy
The Wenonah Spirit II is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may want to check pricing and availability directly at these Wenonah retailers:
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
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A very versatile tandem, with excellent performance and easy handling
"Balanced" is the best word to describe the Spirit II. It travels distances easily yet turns extremely well. It's capable on rapids, and open water, too. It's big enough for trips. It's also very stable.
So, does it obsolete all others? No. If you want an elevated level of a certain attribute, say tracking or capacity, then a specialized design may suit you better. But if you need a canoe that delivers a good level of all types of performance, the Spirit II is ideal.
At 17' long, it strikes a good balance between the efficiency of a longer hull and the maneuvering of a shorter one.
The Spirit II is safe and roomy, too, having capacity for medium-heavy trips. With two large people it draws just 4", leaving lots of reserve buoyancy for gear. Loaded it becomes more stable yet still handles well, even on waves.
Should you have a Spirit? If no single Wenonah seems ideal due to its specialization, you likely need the wide versatility of our Spirit II, or its cousin, the Aurora.
Here's what other sites are saying:
Equally nimble on the lake or the river, the Wenonah Spirit II Royalex canoe combines durability with versatility. Royalex(R) multilayer composite offers excellent abrasion resistance and springs back from impacts. Royalex also makes a much lighter weight hull than standard polyethylene and offers excellent strength and toughness. Exterior layers of vinyl sandwich interior layers of ABS plastic and undergo heating and molding, producing a high-quality watercraft material. Rigid foam core provides structure and buoyancy. Generous width and depth allows enough capacity for an expedition, and shallow arch hull is stable when loaded. Moderately rockered hull offers a great balance between maneuverability and speed. Vinyl gunwales and black end caps offer excellent durability; molded carry handles at bow and stern decks aid in transport of 69 lb. canoe. Webbing seats are cool and comfortable, and suitable for sitting or kneeling. Seats are hung from the gunwales with aluminum plates to increase paddling comfort and eliminate the need for rivet heads on exterior of canoe. The Wenonah Spirit II Royalex canoe features wood thwarts and an ash yoke.