Sunday, 14 November 2010

New Toy, Nova Craft Prospector

Nova Craft Prospector SP3 16'

I've been getting some extra hours in at work for the last few months, mainly to get a bit of cash for Christmas but as encouragement I wanted to get myself a new canoe. I had a stitch and glue canoe some years ago which I bought and refurbished but it was left outside for too long and eventually rotted past the point of repair. I initially considered buying plans from Selway Fisher and building another one, a 14' 6" Hazelnut but to be honest didn't think I'd have the time so although I could have had something lighter and cheaper I decided to take the lazy way out and just buy one.

I initially considered a Mad River Explorer 14', then changed my mind thinking that the 16' model would be better before finally settling on a Nova Craft Prospector 16'. The canoes I looked at basically came in 2 versions, the cheaper ones in plastic and the more expensive ones in Royalex/RX. The RX versions cost almost 50% more than the plastic versions but can be up to 20% lighter however as there was only about 4kg difference between the plastic and RX versions of the Nova Craft Prospector I went for the cheaper option, £300 cheaper in fact.

The Nova Craft is nicely finished with wooden thwarts/carrying yoke and wood/webbing seats and I choose the Red option rather than Green. I considered ordering it from Brookebank Canoes & Kayaks but the shipping to N.I. was going to add over £100 to the price, a workmate originally from Manchester offered to bring one over next time he was back home which would have been fine and I even considered having a few days in the Cairngorms and picking up the canoe at the Brookeband shop in Perth but in the end found that Brookebank had a distributor, North South Marine in Co. Fermanagh just a couple of hours drive away. More on a whim than anything else I phoned them and when it turned out the had the model I wanted in my preferred colour I paid a deposit there and then.

Although I still had a couple of paddles my PFD was long gone but checking the price of PFD's I didn't really want to spend £60 each as I needed 2 adult ones and 1 smaller one. Something less technical would be fine and I found that my local Decathlon store had approved ones at £17.

I did treat myself to a nice laminated paddle though. I needed some floating line for painters but used the stuff I'd found during the summer when Marcus and I had camped near the Giants Causeway on the North Coast (See Here). It was still sealed in the plastic pack but after making 2 painters there's still about 25m left.

Tourism has boomed over here in the last few years and canoeing has gained in popularity, there are now some official canoe trails and details and maps can be obtained through the Canoe N.I. website. Although I previously spent most of my time on smaller local rivers I had done the lower Bann section but this time around I'm hoping to combine canoeing with some camping so it shouild be fun. I probably won't do anything until Spring apart from a few day trips and I've a few things to sort out for the canoe particularily buoyancy bags/blocks. I'd prefer the solid block type but they're quite expensive, Aguille Alpine make ones to suit my canoe but they're over £120 per pair so I've been thinking about how to make some, in the end though it might be simpler to just buy them.

Of course every boat needs a name and driving down to Fermanagh you get the signs for Enniskillen together with a more general 'The West'. My wife went with me to pick up the canoe and when we saw the 1st signpost for 'The West' we almost simultaneously said 'Into the West' referring to the 1993 film of the same name. If you've ever seen the film then you'll probably know that one of the wee lads named the horse Tír nan Óg/Tír na nÓg which roughly means 'Land of the Ever Young' or 'Land of Youth'. I'm usually accused of not growing up so it's appropriate, it simply has to be Tír nan Óg


  1. Nice. I like the prospector, I don't think there is a better all-round canoe, (Ted Moores apparently thought so too). I was looking at Nova craft canoes recently since I'm half looking for a one-man I can keep in my garden for playing in my evenings weekends (I'm luck enough to live at the waterside). Look forwarsd to seeing how this one works out for you.

  2. Hi Richard,
    That looks the business. It’s not something i know about i must add but it’s something that i have always fancied having a go at. Especially in Canada or Finland/Sweden.
    Hope you have some good trips in it. Did the moggy come with it ‘cause Sheila wants one? The moggy she means.

  3. @Dave, bit of a coincidence that you posted about your Ally just as I'd bought my canoe.

    I'm off work for a few days but can't get the canoe out as my car has just gone in for MOT prep, I'll probably keep the cano at my mother's as there's a small river at the bottom of the garden.

    I'll update as and when but I guess as long as it floats I'll be happy :-)

    @ Alan, I must admit I like the lines, it's pretty traditional.

    The moggy didn't come free with the Canoe but it, together with it's 3 sisters came free courtesy of a stray cat I was foolish enough to feed. One of the others had to be put to sleep as it somehow managed to break it's leg but I appear to have been adopted by the remaining 3.

    They've had more fun in the canoe than I have so far ;-)

  4. The Prospector rocks. If I'd buy a canoe, it be that one. Great buy, looking forward to your canoe adventures!

  5. Hendrik, I'd just be happy to actually get it on the water, my car was in for servicing last week so I'd no way to transport the canoe. The weather was rubbish anyway but I really want to get out this week.

  6. Good choice. Here in Canada the 16 foot Prospector is considered to be the iconic Canadian canoe. Moderate rocker, good tracking on lakes, carries 1000 lbs. Made many wilderness and whitewater trips in my NovaCraft prospector. Not too heavy on portages. Great to hear Prospectors are bring used over there....maybe a bit too heavy duty for UK /Irish conditions but enjoy. The best canoe ever!