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Just got a Mad River Monarch

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I have now added a Mad River Monarch to my stable of boats. I had seen an ad on Craigslist for a “Mad River Canoe Kayak” and looked closely at it. Yep, it looks a Monarch. I’m already over my boat limit- all that the racks will hold plus one- but I had read about these Kruger designed decked canoes and wanted to try one. The price seemed low, the photos looked pretty nice and it was only an hour and a half away. I called and set up a time to see it.

When I saw the Monarch I was amazed at the condition: it looked like it had been in a time capsule since it was made in 1985. The finish showed no UV fading and even all the decals looked great. There were some light scratches on the hull, but random not longitudinal scratches from use and were not through the gel coat. The rudder system and footpegs worked properly and the Kevlar yellow interior floor looked unused. The seat/carry thwart was in as issued condition. Even the bow line and “pull the rudder up” line were not faded, soft to the hand and in good shape. From the photo of the catalog that I have seen it looks like this boat is totally stock with just the original hardware on the deck. This boat was going home with me!

I took out my new canoe for a 5 ½ mile test paddle on the Pacolet River today. It was 93 degrees and humid but I really wanted to see how this canoe handled. I had never paddled a ruddered canoe before and was curious how effective it was to paddle a bent shaft paddle without having to switch sides every 6-12 strokes. I think I am already spoiled! With just a light touch of toe pressure on the rudder pedal, I could paddle 50-100 strokes on one side before switching. With the deck, there were not any drops of water to sponge up when I did switch sides. I am already trying to figure out the loading of gear for my canoe trips.

A question for the Krugerheads out there. This Monarch has a Dark Olive deck and hull. My wife (an army brat) called it Army Green. I do not remember a Mad River offering this color in the mid 80’s on Kevlar boats and have not seen a picture of another Monarch with this color. Does anyone know of another one in Dark Olive/Army Green or what the Mad River name is for this color?
 

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Glenn MacGrady

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Very nice find of a historic canoe. I don't know what Mad River called that color. I'd call it sage green.
 
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Sage sounds good.
It seems that I must be in a "historic" phase right now. The canoe I picked up before the 1985 Monarch is a 1983 Sawyer DY Special. It needs some cosmetic work, but still paddles nicely.
 

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Mad River had a color called "Indian Brown" It was a dark olive/brown color. I think it was one of their best. My Malecite is "Indian Brown".
The Duck Hunter model also was Indian Brown.
IMG_2275.JPG
 
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Mad River had a color called "Indian Brown" It was a dark olive/brown color. I think it was one of their best. My Malecite is "Indian Brown".
The Duck Hunter model also was Indian Brown.
Yep, that is it! Even the decals are the same color. I had seen "Indian Brown" listed in the old catalog, but I figured that it would be more...well, BROWN. Thanks for the info.
Nice looking Malecite. I do like the color especially with wood gunnels.
 
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The Indian brown is a nice color - I don't know where to find a matching color if it ever needs it. It is a good boat - the only thing you can't see in the photo is that it weighs 75# in fiberglass, a challenge to handle off the water.
 
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The Monarch is a great find, and you must have moved quickly on it. I have seen a few for sale vastly underpriced listed just that way, “Mad River Canoe Kayak”, because all the owner knew was that it said “MAD RIVER CANOE” in large letters on the side, and looked like a kayak.

FWIW the typical asking price for a used Monarch, before the recent price craziness, was in the $1500 - $2000 range.

The Monarch was made from 1982 – 1995 and available in dark green, bluegrass, red, burgundy, sand, Indian brown, royal and white.

As far as packing gear for trips tapered dry bags in the stems, packed with your lightest gear, are a help. Either manufactured taper bags, which are pricey and, intended for skinnier kayaks, don’t fill the space very well, or custom made DIY tapered bags made with heat sealable fabric.

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/more-tapered-dry-bags.98705/

The Monarch is an amazing open water boat, big rivers, large lakes, coastal bays. And it sails very well.

DSCF1476 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It doesn’t get much better than cruising along at paddling speed hands-free under sail.

P4070917 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Working on installing a utility/sail thwart in a friend’s Monarch

P7150298 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I surprised him with a “Jamaican” rudder

P7240328 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

For in-camp use the Pamlico 145T storage cover fits the Monarch. With the rudder I don’t like flipping the Monarch upside down.

P1050476 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Nice find on the DY Special too.
 
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the info on things dealing with the Monarch. I am not sure about setting up a sail on mine, but the utility thwart is an interesting idea. After fitting the wood, did you glass it in or use screws to attach it? I do like the paint jobs on the rudders too; I might have to do mine in more of a "stealth" color in keeping with the Indian Brown deck and hull. I may also consider making/buying a spray deck for it.
I have made some float bags in the past using heavy plastic sheeting and PVC cement for some old school kayaks. I will have to give the heat seal fabric a try sometime. I have not tried my Granite Gear #4 Portage Pack in it (it is probably too big) and will just use my Osprey 88L backpack in it for trips in the near future. I do have a large tapered Headwaters dry bag somewhere in the shop that may fit it but i recall that it comes to a fairly sharp point which would stand proud from the flotation chamber. I might fold that end back and glue it down though. My mind is already working on the project.
When I called about the seller about the Monarch, the ad had already been up for 17 days. I was on my trip to the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous and the ADK when it was posted. When I bought it, he said that there had been a couple of no-shows and a few lowball offers on the phone, but I was the first to show up. It was not a well written ad but had quite a few photos, including the serial number. He did not know much about the Monarch; he took it in on a trade along with a Kevlar Mad River Compatriot which he had already traded for a Dagger Royalex boat for floating down rocky creeks. At least he didn't want to bang up a clean Kevlar canoe on the rocks. The asking price was $1200, and he was willing to take less (and did). I got lucky on this one and was surprised that someone had not picked it up before I got there. I had long read about the Kruger boats and been curious to try one, and I knew that if I didn't like it I could easily get my money back out of this one! But after paddling the Monarch I think it will be with me for a while.
 
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Lucky duck! I’d love to have a lightweight monarch someday. Once I went to purchase a basic used solo and the seller had a minty white Kevlar monarch hanging up…selling for $650 and it had been spoken for five minutes before I arrived. Alas, there really is something about the ones that got away!
 
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Another question.

How do you keep the seat/carry thwart in place when portaging the Monarch? I noticed short remnants of elastic cord behind the seat and feel that this is a clue, but how would they attach to the seat unit? Hooks?
 
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Lucky duck! I’d love to have a lightweight monarch someday. Once I went to purchase a basic used solo and the seller had a minty white Kevlar monarch hanging up…selling for $650 and it had been spoken for five minutes before I arrived. Alas, there really is something about the ones that got away!
Hi kona,
Keep your eyes open. You never know when one might show up.
 
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The sides of the wood are sanded and fitted to precisely match the slight curve of the coaming edge. I staple a piece of kevlar felt (yay, an actual use for kevlar felt) to the butt ends, saturate the felt with epoxy and, resting the utility thwart atop a temporary platform (cardboard box and couple pieces of 2x4, or etc), put it in place and walk away.

The epoxied kevlar felt fills any slight gaps at the butt ends of the utility thwart, and the next day I can lay fiberglass across the edge of the coaming and utility thwart top and bottom. Uber sturdy utility thwart, and I think it helps add rigidity to the coaming.

Even without a little downwind sail the utility thwart is useful. Great place for an easy to read deck compass, place to attach a map case or stick things under the bungee that I don’t want in the bilge water (sunglasses, gloves, hat).

With a ruddered boat some kind of simple downwind sail is a joy to have, even in light winds or waters too shallow to get much of a paddle blade submerged.


The DIY heat sealable dry bag bit is here

https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/making-diy-dry-bags.83031/#post-83364

Including making custom tapers that fit under the deck in the Monarch

P8111157 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

To keep the seat secure in transport I use two bungee ball tarp doohickies wrapped around the kevlar foam hangers and aluminum seat frame. These things

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FDR4ZG...1-2-a094db1c-5033-42c6-82a2-587d01f975e8&th=1

Available at any hardware store.

The earlier Monarchs used thinner kevlar foam panels for the seat hangers, and with age and use the slots where the seat frame rests would begin to deform. On one of the early Monarchs that came through the shop the deformation smush was bad enough that I epoxied some thin Dynel cord in the slots where the seat frame rested.

About the brightly painted and reflective taped rudders, that thing is a head klonking hazard when the Monarch is roof racked; a bit of “watch your noggin” is a good idea.

Enjoy the Monarch. It is a fantastic open water wind and wave boat.
 
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Your video has got me rethinking a sail on the Monarch. I had thought that a downwind sail would only be useful with the wind directly behind or just a few degrees off to the side; I had not factored in the ability of the rudder to allow for a greater angle of travel. Just curious, not having a sailing background in sailing, at about what angle does this type of sail lose the wind? Since there is no keel or dagger board, at about what angle does it start having noticeable sideslip?
The drybag/floatbag idea is a good one. That will probably be one of my upcoming projects once I get caught up on work. That is also good info on the head klonking rudder, I had done that, the klonk that is, on a ruddered kayak a while back. A bright strip might be a wise idea.
I probably won't get to any big water this year unless I take the Monarch up to BWCA or Voyageurs NP this fall. I have to be up in Minnesota and might make a side trip for paddling. I'll have to see how timing goes. for now it will just be local rivers and lakes through the summer.
Thanks again for all the great ideas. After that video, my wife is now wanting to get up to Assateague. She has already checked "and it is only eight hours away". I might get this boat in some salt water yet!
 
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SK, that simple compact “downwind” Spirit Sail was discontinued 10 years ago. It was, and still is, my favorite; I don’t want to deal with mounting or dismounting a sticking-up mast, and have no desire to tack to and fro into the wind with leeboard and such, doubling my “get there” mileage; I just want to be able to sail downwind when I have the tailwind opportunity, using a sail that doesn’t necessitate getting out of the boat.

The Spirit Sail vee design can be turned from 90 degrees straight downwind to 30 or 60 degrees offset. It loses the wind beyond 60 degrees (although I’ve used it semi-effectively set at 90), and I have never felt the need for a leeboard; off wind I know how far I am skating sideways and plan my route accordingly. The easy-read deck compass on the utility thwart is a huge help in keeping on course in that regard, just hold course right about there, make a 30 degree correction and hold that.

The conical “Wind Paddle” sails and cheap knock-offs are, in my opinion, crap. There are a bunch of other sails, most of which involve a mast. The next easiest, mastless, folds down on the front deck, may be the Pacific Action Sail.

https://www.pacificaction.com/gallery/

We have the Monarch set up with fairleads and cleats to accommodate a PA sail. Bought used it is the large size, and too much sail for wimpy me in winds over 10mph. The smaller PA sail would likely be much better. The larger size of the Spirit Sail has darn near made me piss my pants in too much wind.

Mike M Sailing 01 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Do I look calm? I was not; that ancient decked canoe was screaming downwind, and the carbon sail battens were bent so far over I had no hope of dismounting the sail. Pray for a sandy beach and run this puppy ashore. Not for the first time when using that large sail in too much wind; I darn near ended up in Delaware on one Maryland coastal bay trip.

I still bring the large Spirit Sail for light winds, but


And there are many other small boat sail rigs. BSD sails, and Flat Earth sails other, similar masted ilk.

http://www.baloghsaildesigns.com/

https://flatearthkayaksails.com.au/

Before we had utility thwarts and sail mounts we used a simple golf umbrella. Not “hands free”, but in a tandem, or in a solo hull with a rudder, still impresively effective. So simple even a child can do it.

EK_0011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Bring a golf umbrella next breezy trip, see what you think, and then ponder some simple downwind sail.

The “beware rudder” bit is helpful when car camping along the way, or in small town main street diagonal back end out in traffic parking, or, especially, when backed into a motel parking space with the rear overhang projected into the sidewalk.

Unlike a Feathercraft rudder, retracted18O degrees and held on the deck under a bungee, that Kruger-style rope retraction rudder is left protruding 13 inches out beyond the stern. I want some “beware” there, for me and other random passersby.

If you end up planning a Assateague trip – for salt marsh mosquito reasons not before the middle of November or after the middle of March – let me know. Or ask ALSG, he can give you a lot of helpful pointers on wind speed and direction ;-)
 
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Thanks again for the info. I've already got some DIY ideas for a sail that I might get around to trying.
Right now I'm just hoping for some cooler temps so I can get in some paddle time. We hit 96 degrees on the back porch today and I am stuck indoors with air conditioning.
 
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Enjoy! Years back a guy sold me his uncles kayak for $112,50. Yes that was the price. I used it sparingly over a few years. Fixed up a few items like new foot pegs for rudder. Sold it for $1500. Boatman53 did some work for me.
New owner was so excited. Just wish I could have used it more often but I already had about 3-4 other canoes. It did carry a lot of gear on an ADK NY paddle. Enjoy.
 
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