The 17' Prospector is in its element when on a wilderness trip - loaded to the gunnels and beyond.
I’ve been paddling the 17′ Prospector for the past few days. It is one of the easiest paddling, most responsive canoes I’ve been in. It’s a beautiful craft.
-Dick Person, Yukon
The 17-footer [Prospector] made available for this review was constructed in the company’s standard Kevlar® layup. Though not as light as some other Kevlar-based laminates (Clipper also offers an ultralight version, as well as one made of fiberglass), it is a very durable layup and was by far the stiffest boat paddled for this review (remember, stiffness equals less effort!). A foam floor and ribs are laminated between layers of Kevlar, providing extra rigidity-extra noticeable after paddling Royalex canoes for an afternoon.
Like the Nova Craft version, Clipper’s Prospector 17 runs fairly close to the original design, with slight rocker for maneuverability, some flare for buoyancy and dryness, and a huge carrying capacity. Our test canoe was outfitted with tractor-style seats, which were comfortable, but standard cane or web seats are also available. Whether for extended river-tripping or ferrying large family loads, it’s hard to beat a versatile design like the Prospector, especially in a very manageable Kevlar weight.
–Canoe & Kayak Magazine, www.canoekayak.com
The Clipper Prospector 17 combines classic lines with careful workmanship and the latest in technology to produce an attractive, wee-made canoe. We took this canoe down 10 miles of Class I and II river at moderately high water loaded with 160 pounds of gear, plus paddlers. This is a boat that accepts mountains of gear, and even with the heavy load, I could see about eight inches of freeboard through the translucent Kevlar lay-up. There are no ribs or foam core, only layer upon layer of unidirectional cloth. The result is a stiff hull with minimal flex; as we paddled through shallow gravel bars, however, the hull flexed enough to allow passage. Very nicely done.
The Prospector 17 is quite comfortable. The plastic tractor style seats are large and comfy, and generally set low enough in the canoe so that the paddler feels enclosed by the canoe, not perched on top. I’d happily sit in it for hours on end. I find that I have to keep my lower hand from hitting the gunwale, but the overall feeling is one of security and comfort. A bow sliding seat helps trim the canoe and puts the bow paddler in the most comfortable paddling position. The slider is well fitted and smooth, but I would like to see adjustment holes drilled and a stop pin provided for quick and easy adjustment. This hull isn’t flat across the bottom, and underway it rolls slightly side to side – but with a load, there is absolutely no instability. In fact, with our load I couldn’t lean out far enough to get to an unstable point of capsize.
We took advantage of frequent eddies to test handling. Even heavily loaded, the moderately rockered Prospector cuts a fine eddy turn if you slow the approach and give the hull time to work the current differential. Turns feel smooth and secure. If you like whitewater, this canoe will give you some play when loaded for a long river trip.
The Prospector has reasonable forward speed, and paddling with bent shaft paddles works fine. On both the river and the lake, I had to monitor steering more than I am used to in a touring canoe. We carefully adjusted trim to improve tracking and although handling improved, it still demanded attention. Noting a similar characteristic with the other Prospector in this review, I wonder if that is simply typical of the breed. It’s not enough to be discouraging.
I like the lines of this canoe, maybe because it is such a classically functional model. Slight tumblehome makes for narrow paddling width at the ends; moderate rocker moves it away from the ‘rocket ship’ look and provides handling sensitivity; very slight recurve in the bow retains the classic look without going to extremes. The boat is full-bodied, and there is room for a lot of gear. We took a large cooler along just for the feel of fitting a wanigan; the cooler got lost in the available space. The rear seat is set quite far back, which adds storage space. It’s a big canoe that doesn’t paddle like one.
A big issue for any wilderness tripping canoe is how dry it carries a load. In moderate Class II waves, we were able to get the Prospector through virtually dry. Then we just went for the large waves and took on water behind my bow partner. Later, we paddled conservatively with an eye to keeping the canoe dry, just as I would in a wilderness setting. The Prospector has enough rise and freeboard to stay dry when paddled with skill and care. I’d willingly take it on an extended trip, where dryness is important.
The test canoe was hybrid Kevlar/glass finished with aluminum trim. Workmanship throughout was careful and precise. The hull is well-fared and smooth; even at the gunwale attachment, gunwales are secure. End chambers are carefully laid in, and the rivets and bolds are carefully fit. ABS end caps finish the trim package with durability and style. A simple but sturdy foot brace is easy to adjust on the fly. Factory-installed D-rings inside along the chines work for securing gear. Fittings and all other fiberglass work showed no excess resin or “pieced-together” parts.
Paddling for an afternoon on a local bay, I thought about what I like about this canoe. It has wonderful aesthetic shape, wonderful aesthetic shape, workmanship is all-around excellent, and seats and foot braces provide a most comfortable ride. The boat paddles dry, even with a load, and you feel secure being “inside” this canoe in choppy waters. The hull is stiff, and the Teal yoke is exceptionally comfortable. I didn’t like the sluggish ride in big waves, but I’d take this canoe for a long ride down a wilderness river. It has all the characteristics plus the heritage of a fine wilderness river tripper.
– Canoe & Kayak Magazine 17′ Prospector Water Test – May ‘99