Prospector vs Bob's Special

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Morecowbell
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Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:20 am

Greetings all,

New builder and I think I have narrowed down designs but would like more experienced opinions. Building this for a trip to the Boundary Waters with my son (19yrs). Together we weigh about 310lbs, goal is to travel light, probably a 5-7 day trip that will include a bunch of portaging. Would like to keep it at 16' or less due to building space (and weight), also want reasonable stability (98+). So I think this points me to the Prospector or Bob's Special, possibly with a stretch to 16' on the BS. Since their profiles are so similar looks are not really an issue (whew!).

With more rocker the Prospector seems to be a better all around design, while the Bob's Special might be better for a BW trip - any thoughts?

Have also read some things about the Prospector being designed to carry heavy loads, and we're not heavy guys and won't be bringing the entertainment center, so any issues there?

Thanks Ted for a great book, and thanks all for a great forum. I was a woodworker in a former life so very excited to get started.

Thanks in advance,

Clay

P.S. Also looking for WRC sources in Indiana area - all help appreciated!

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Cruiser » Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:35 pm

There are a lot of good designs for a tandem canoe. My favorite tandem is the John Winters design, Kipawa ... I selected that one as my second boat.

As far as WRC, if you have the equipment already, making strips is fully doable, if you don't have the equipment then buying strips eliminates a lot of headache and time. I chose to find wood, buy some accessories for my equipment, as I intend to keep building. Making strips is pretty straightforward as long as you don't over think the process.

Sourcing the wood is probably the single biggest challenge, just finding a yard where it is stocked. Once you locate one source, others will magically appear (not magic, you just have learned how to find).



Brian

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:34 am

Thanks Brian - the Kipawa sounds fantastic to me, unfortunately doesn't quite make my son's visual grade, so now I'm wondering if some modifications to the profile (above the waterline!) might help. I'm sure this is a bad idea - nothing better than adding complexity to a first time project :laughing - but will do some sketching to see if this might work.

How do you find the stability of the Kipawa? One of the things I read re the Freedom was that if the front is light it gets tippy - basically it needs to be loaded correctly (is that why they show the sliding front seat for the John Winters designs?).

Thanks for the suggestion!

Clay

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Cruiser » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:47 am

The designers of these boats are the unsung heroes IMO, we build them, people ohh and ahhh over our build ... but it all starts with them and there is a lot left to the discretion of the builder. If all the choice of wood, seat, gunnels,thwarts, decks and accents aren't sufficient, you can plan to allow some change to the sheer line. IF you are thinking it needs to have more uplift at the bow and stern, just remember that that can catch a lot wind and serves no functional purpose except perception (which assuredly has it's place in plan selection). That will have less effect on a loaded boat, but in an unloaded boat (say, out fishing in BWL after setting up camp) the wind can push that big sail around some and make handling a bit tougher.

"Tippy" is a common but humorous term ( i use it as well) used to describe canoe stability, but it can be misleading. I built a Freedom Solo 16'3" and the boat is described, in that build thread, as "tippy". After being the boat 5 minutes, I would describe it as very responsive, but not tippy. If you wiggle your butt it moves very quickly and easily, giving the impression that it would go over easily. However, when I tried to push it over, the secondary stability kicked in and it wasn't easy at all to get it to go over. I had it out for the first trip last May, and of course everyone had to "review" how it performed. They all found it hard to push over as well.

Canoes have 2 types of stability properties, primary and secondary (if I get this wrong, there will be lots of corrections). Although, at first they seem like they will go over easy, the secondary stability kicks in and it's hard to take the canoe further over. This is true for these 2 boats, but it is different for each canoe, that's why when you get in a new boat, if at all possible, you should go out and roll it (in shallow water of course) so you get a feel for it's primary and secondary stability. Seems extreme, but that is better than hitting waves in a high wind and not knowing how the boat is going to react.

I think any tandem that is stern down will be unstable (more so as it is more stern down) ... I am reasonably certain that most people who canoe have been dumped when the front man of a tandem gets out of an unloaded canoe while landing. That is also why you solo a tandem from the yoke area, you need to have the canoe balanced to have maximum surface area in the water, less area, less stability.

My opinion on the sliding bow seat is that it's more for comfort and convenience. It makes it easier to adjust canoe balance (without shifting gear), and if you have a tall person up front, can give them more leg room (then shift gear to compensate). Although I am replacing my sliding seat in the Solo Freedom with a fixed design, I will likely put a slider in the bow of the Kipawa I am building.

Quite a few of the designs are licensed commercially, you may be able to find a rental of the design, then you can actually try the design. The Prospector is a popular choice and there are a lot of members here, some may be close enough to your area to make it feasible to hook up and try the design.

No matter what you pick, you are in for a great adventure.


Brian

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by sedges » Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:00 pm

I think either of these boats would serve you well, especially if you stretched the Bobs Special as many people do. I've often thought it would be a good eighteen footer!

I have traveled in the BWCA/Quetico with a prospector a bunch of times. We were on 10 to 14 day trips and a bit heavier than the two of you. The prospector handled really rough conditions on big lakes like Saganaga and Kawnipi and Knife. It really bobs like a cork in waves due to the shallow-arch hull and rocker. In moving water its my hands down favorite. The rockered keel line will really improve your paddling technique and will feel challenging for a while if you are used to straight keel/flat-bottomed canoes.

The Bobs Special has a bit softer bilge shape and has that "tippy" feeling a bit more than the prospector, though it has wonderful secondary stability. With less rocker it takes a little less attention to keep your direction, but significant really.

I like the prospector for the rocker, the extra depth, the seaworthiness in rough conditions. I would pay close attention to getting the lightest hull you can as you do your build to make the portages easier.

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:33 am

Brian - thanks for all the information. I'm really intrigued by the Kipawa - and its interesting because my son, who is more technically advanced than I am, likes the traditional look, while I'm the one interested in the technologically advanced hull! Maybe its because I've paddled a bit more than he has...

Sedges - thanks for the detailed review of the two designs. I'm still up in the air but doubt I can can go far wrong and after a certain point this seems to be like asking someone what beer they like! When I first got the book I fell in love with the Redbird, of course. More research led me to the Prospector, then I couldn't leave well enough alone and something about the Bob's Special caught my eye, and now Brian throws out the Kipawa giving me a totally different option. It's all great - I love the process. And I've discovered my wife works with some guys who canoe the BWCA every year, so going to tap into their expertise as well. At least I can start the strongback and wood search while I continue the debate!

Thanks again -

Clay

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by sedges » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:35 pm

It sounded as if traditional shaped canoe was a given. In that case the Prospector can't be beat. The really high-ends on a model like the Redbird serve no real purpose in performance and on a windy day may be serious drawback.

If you would consider a modern design there are no better designers than Steve Killing and John Winters. Besides my Prospector, my other canoe is a custom design very similar to the Freedom 17'9". These asymmetrical hulls move so easy through the water. The non-recurve stems allow flare to be carried out to the very end of the hull giving the canoe a lot of buoyancy in big waves. The Kipawa is a very popular boat in Canada, both homemade and the composite model by Swift Canoe and Kayak, and there is a good reason for that. It is a great boat.

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:09 am

Yes, we both feel it should have a traditional look, so I've been coming back to the Prospector but then I stumbled upon the Traveler; a Newfound plan designed by Hans Friedel:

http://www.newfound.com/traveler.htm

Modern asymmetrical hull with traditional profile (what is this magic?). I quick search hasn't turned up much about the design so wondering if anyone here knows anything about it?

Thanks again,

Clay

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Cruiser » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:20 pm

That's a nice style, but it does seem a tad wide and heavy ... remember you have to lug it around as well.

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:53 pm

Yes....was starting to realize that. If I reduce everything by 6% it starts to fall in line I think: 16' long, 33.6" beam, 33.4" BWL. May have to add a strip to the sheerline... Interesting! Please tell me if I'm nuts.

I have a call in to Newfound to get their thoughts.

Thanks,

Clay

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Cruiser » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:11 pm

While you can reasonably "adjust" the length of a design by changing the form spacing, I think the flexibility ends there. I wouldn't think it a good idea to change the actual form design to get a narrower canoe, that changes the interaction of the boat with the water.

If it's just the recurve look you absolutely must have, then I would select the best hull design for your needs and consider sweeping the top of the Bow and Stern stem molds to match your vision. I don't think this would be terribly difficult to figure out or execute and I can't see how it would impact performance (all above the water line).

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:21 pm

I appreciate the thoughts. I'm still curious - reducing all dimensions by 6% gets the measurements very close to other 16' canoes so would think it would be okay, but you're right - that will change its characteristics more than just shortening it and that might be good or bad - which is risky. Modifying a Kipawa above the waterline may be the safest bet. Looking forward to talking with Newfound.

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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Patricks Dad » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:03 pm

I'd like to offer a differing view. Simply shortening a boat by reducing the spacing between the forms is easy but I believe it would in fact alter the performance characteristics of the boat more than scaling it in all dimensions (which is generally harder to do). Most people who adjust a boat for length indeed only adjust the spacing of the forms because it is easy. I think the most correct way to retain the nature of the boat would be to scale it in all dimensions (and even then, only to a small degree). But of course, it still won't behave exactly the same as the original design for a given paddler(s) and their gear (you aren't going to be able to scale the paddlers or the gear...). As you note, the part below the water is the important part from a performance perspective. Everything else is mostly looks (and wind management).

All that said, I find it kind of surprising that for the 100's of years that canoes have been designed, that there really isn't a design out there that will work for you. You may be over-thinking this one a bit (which is perfectly fine that is what you find enjoyable - no judgement intended here). Just don't let the topic torture you or keep you from getting into a build.
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Jim Dodd
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Jim Dodd » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:33 pm

True story
Bruce Kunz from Eagan Minnesota designed a solo, he named the Merlin. It is an awesome boat for paddlers up to about #150. Then he decided to build the Merlin to accommodate larger paddlers. He enlarged the Merlin, in all dimensions by .38 %, thus the 38 Spl. The thirty 38 fit the bill perfectly for larger paddlers, or those wanting to carry more load. !
The 38 was built on 12.5" spacings, instead of 12" as was the Merlin..

Now a friend of mine used forms from a 38, only building it on 12" spacings, We named it "The Pomeroy Spl.". It was different in that it was slower, but more maneuverable, making it ideal for small streams where you need to turn sharply. I like all three boats, and they all fit what they were built for.

Moral to the story, try to paddle the design you want to build, before trying to reinvent it.

Good Luck !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

Morecowbell
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Re: Prospector vs Bob's Special

Post by Morecowbell » Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:40 pm

Thanks again for the thoughts. I do love the process, so that's just me. It won't lead to paralysis by analysis, just a level of comfort for my decision making. I appreciate the input on the various sizing methods and results - I'm still curious about a 5% or 6% scale reduction in the Traveler but that's not set in stone. To me this is simpler than re-designing the stems and possibly shortening another asymmetrical design (trying to stay around 16'), and I would expect it to mimic the performance characteristics of the original design pretty well. But before I go any further I'm going to talk it over with Newfound. I've also emailed the designer to see if I can get his feedback. His site is in Swedish so hoping I hit the right button on the contact form! Should also be connecting with some local BWCA guys who may have advice and some designs I can test.

Tack för hjälpen!

Clay

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