• Happy Birthday, Bill Mason (1929-1988)! 🎨📽️🛶

Canoe Maintenance, once every gol dang year

Jul 6, 2021
Reaction score
The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
Without a current rebuild in the shop it was time to turn my attentions to annual canoe inspection and maintenance on the family fleet. Blimney Crickets, that’s a bunch of boats to Futz with washing and inspecting.

The Mohawk Odyssey 14 first. Sufferin’ Succotash that is my all time favorite solo canoe for shallow rivers and streams. Jeepers creepers, everyone in the family likes the Odyssey.

That is the only canoe in which I leave the floatation bags installed year round. As in year round since it was first factory outfitted in 2004; the bags, kept in place partially deflated, are sun bleached, but when fully inflated still did not leak. Even the factory installed D-rings and lacing cord are still solid. Dagnabbit it’s nice to have one canoe always bagged and ready at a Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat instant.

P6300002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Leapin’ Lizards, as with most of our boats the Odyssey has Dynel skid plates with graphite powder and black resin, and all the usual outfitting touches; Conk seat, knee bumpers, kneeling pads, foot brace and strap yoke. Holy Guacamole that combination makes for a comfortable canoe.

P6300010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Back band and slightly eflated seat pad under straps. Gadzooks, my derriere is held in loving cupped comfort, and my sitz bone still have Son of a Monkey contact with the seat.

P6300011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Odyssey has retrofitted bow and stern spray covers, Holy Cow those protect the float bags from UV exposure and errant branch puncture on small, tight streams.

P6300013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Zoinks, all of the machine screws and nuts were tight, rope and lines were sound, all it needed was new deck plate bungee painter keepers.

P6300018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Which, Phooey and crapake Mushrooms, it did not get; I had no quality marine bungee of a diameter to fit through a beefy cord lock. I’ll never again install bungee without running a bitter end through a cord lock; that easy adjustability prevents the bungee from being unduly stretched out.

Well Poo on a Stick, that’s good enough for now, ‘til I pick up some quality bungee cord. Back on the racks and on to the next canoe, my O-lineman son’s soloized RX Explorer.

With thick late ‘80’s old school Royalex the soloized Explorer is a beast. Always was, and with the permanent outfitting, including the ghastly original-owner installed kevlar felt skid plates (he at least did a decent job of it), Good Night and Great Scott, the Explorer weighs 85lbs, and that’s no Malarkey.

85lbs is Bull Spit for a 16’ soloized canoe. But aside from getting it on and off the roof racks (Portage it? Frack No!) it is a great do-everything big boy solo canoe, equally at home on lakes and rivers, day trips and long campers.

Gee Willikers, the Explorer has all of the usual outfitting touches; Crikey it even uses the same retrofitted spray covers, but Son of a Gun, it also has a utility sail thwart. The soloized Explorer makes a fine downwind sailing hull and ,Cheese & Crackers, with the vee bottom it skates sideways less without resorting to a Malarkey lee board.

P7040001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The logo on the right bow is a recreation of the original Passamaquoddy “Rabbit in the Ferns” design from whence Jim Henry borrowed the MRC logo. Schnikes, it wasn’t like Tomah Joseph was gonna take him to copyright court.

P7040006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There is a photograph of Tomah Joseph’s Rabbit in the Ferns on page 87 of The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. Blimey some of those “Mark of the builder” designs were Merlin’s Beard cool, I like that scooped band under the outwale

Time for one more tune up, my all-time favorite canoe for downriver daytrips, the Freedom Solo.

As usual, Dynel/graphite/pigment skid plates. I see where the bow skid plate took a Zoinks ding; everything is still solid and unfrayed at that shallow dent, and Cowabunga, it looks like I installed the Dynel just barely high enough on the stem.

That is a single layer of 5oz plain weave Dynel; had I installed an under layer anything cut on the Fart Knocker bias, even E-glass, Shut the Door, even that little dent would be absent. Couldashoulda on a rocky rivers canoe; Ay Caramba and Oh Snap, too late now.

P7040007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That Fragle Rock bow bing occurred when my younger son what the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks pinned it after a mishap. With a stout truss hung seat, stern thwart and double hung utility thwart the Freedom Solo has a slight dimple on one side; without those cross members, drat, it might well have folded Oh Corn Nuts folded in half.

That one sometimes gets float bags, so I leave the lacing in place.

P7040010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Again, the usual Peas and Rice of a double contour seat on truss hangers, back band, seat pad, knee bumpers and foot brace.

P7040015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The partially deflated beach balls in the stems are not Balderdash floatation; they are bird nest preventers for when the canoe is stored outside. Tied in with a piece of string poked up through the drain holes, just like the floatation bags are pulled in tight and secured at the bow those Mother’s Fathers beach balls work well to keep nesting birds out.

Early attempt at DIY spray covers. My Oh Coconuts construction technique, materials and aesthetics got better over time, but Galloping Gremlins that first attempt works just fine.

P7040018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P7040019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yeah, that is a little downwind sail in the bow paddle pocket. Well Sugar, I don’t often sail the Freedom Solo, but if I am on a wide river or open water stretch and catch a tailwind, eh, that little sail takes up no space, and goes up and down in seconds. Any hands-free ride is worth it; time to do a little housekeeping in the boat, and maybe light a pipe. Glances around Oh Snap furtively, and sheesh, there’s a Ranger.

P7040024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Oh Ship, there are still a bunch of canoes awaiting annual TLC. The Missus birthday is tomorrow, and she has a couple favorite boats, kinda considered “hers”.

“Happy Birthday, I washed and inspected your canoes”

Well Corn Nuts, maybe I should get a card too.
+1 on the Nice Fleet
I spent the morning pulling the fleet out of the upper barn and washing it for the annual family weekend paddle up in St Regis Canoe Area
We're headed into Long Pd on Friday and on Saturday a loop out to Hoel, Polliwog, Floodwood, and back to Long, with a departure on Sunday.
I'm trying to build up my 8-year-old grandson and youngest son and wife's paddling skills for an Allagash Run in the next two years. They're CT City folk, but seeing the fun of camping.
This is the 4th year we've done this long weekend trip in this area.