Looking for feedback from any owners of this canoe. On a previous post I expressed my interest in purchasing a Wenonah Spirit II. However, under the kind advice of my cyber buddies like Mr. Barley and Trygve I am now leaning towards the Kevlar Northwind. I'm pretty much convinced, but I would appreciate hearing the good and bad about the Northwind.
We rented one for a trip this past spring and I personally did not have good luck with it. For reference, I own a SR Q17 and often trip with a budy in a MNII that likes to travel fast so I am considering switching to something faster. We rented for this trip to test a couple of canoes so there was also a Wenonah Itasca along and I liked both the Itasca and the SR Q17 better than the Northwind.
Fishing while empty in a light chop, the Northwind had noticably less initial stability than the other two canoes. We had some rough water on Snowbank and while it handled pretty well going into the waves, it weathercocked really bad with quartering waves from behind. I know that has a lot to do with how the boat is trimmed but some canoes seem like they have to be loaded almost perfectly to handle decent in that situation while others seem to be much more forgiving. The Northwind was faster than the Q17, but slower than the Itasca.
The Northwind seems like a nice canoe, and my guess is that with more time in it, you could get the trim figured out and could eliminate the problems I had but my advice would be to rent one for a trip to get a good feel for it and make sure it is what you want.
We rented a Northwind and a SR Quetico 17 in June. I paddled stern in the Northwind and my dad and sister took the "stable" Q17. They capsized. We didn't (has way more to do with our paddling experience than hull design). I loved the Northwind-unfortunately we were wind bound much of the trip so I didn't get as much paddling time as I would have liked. It was my first time in a kevlar boat and compared to my tin can-yeah its not as stable initially but I felt very comfy and safe in it. Coming from a 17' UL Alumacraft I was expecting similar space but was surprised to see the space behind the stern seat and a little less space behind the yoke (length and width). Definitely more streamlined and fast! Portaged like a feather! If I found a good deal on one I would snap it up even at risk of it becoming my residence when my girlfriend kicks me out of the house:)
mine handled like a champ even in 3' rollers on winchell lake just this past week, and again into strong rollers on poplar last sat. stability has never been an issue, and it is really fast, even with the 13 year old up front.
Thanks for all the opinions guys. I think am have been swayed towards the Northwind over the Spirit II for sure. We'll see what happens on Thursday when I see her in person. The canoe rack is installed on the car and ready to bring one home.
The only issue left is to determine if the Bell is $500 better than the Spirit II. The Spirit's are listed at $975, but I don't know how old they are or the condition. The Bell is a 2006 and $1500 and has never been patched. I was told last night that Bell's are better built than Wenonah's. I'm sure the reason for the price difference will be evident once I'm there. It may just be a supply/demand deal to.
I have liked Bell in the past, there are alot of rumors here and on other boards that the change in ownership has somewhat compromised quality in favor of enconomy.
-The good news is your loking at an '06, so thats not an issue;
-Bell has become a COOLER brand then Wenonah, some will admit;
-The Spirit 2 is not a strictly Northwoods boat, is an all-around boat with less capacity and weighs more;
-The Spirit 2 is a more stable canoe, IMHO;
-The Northwind seems to be a bit faster;
-the Bell is significantly more expensive new ($2600 -> $2200)
I think you will do well with either boat, but I'd buy the Northwind as a strictly BWCA boat and the SP2 as a regular paddling boat, for sometimes use in the BW.
Yes, I own a Spirit 2...
"Opening a bottle of wine in a canoe is a desirable, but irrational act."
I purchased a Northwoods in May and have done three trips. On one of the trips we had 3 days of 20+ mph winds with 3 guys and 100lbs of gear. Somehow, all of the trip we were heading into the wind. On this trip it was a champ. However, tail winds are kryptonite to this boat. On one trip we had tailwinds hitting the boat at about 25 degrees and we were blown all over the place. We are experienced paddlers. What probably causes this problem is the 2.5 inch rocker in the rear. The front has a 1.5 inch rocker and is probably the reason headwinds are not an issue. I have a friend who has a Northwind and he has noticed the same thing. Overall, the Northwoods is a great tripping canoe that is 3 person capable but beware if there are tailwinds.
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