Opinionated Soloists Galt vs Roberts.

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not that all of us soloists are opinionated.. mff....:rolleyes: We were looking at a Blackhawk Canoe that has been at Lincoln Canoe and Kayak in Freeport ME for at least a year. Its 1994 mint and is either 12 or 13 feet long. Cane seat some rocker.. FreeStyle shape bottom. Its a beautiful solo for a small paddler. Its had the $1000 price tag on it for a long time. I bet they would dicker. Kevlar.

Has a label Canoe Country on it. I think that might be Dave Curtis retail end?

We talked to the guys at Lincoln and they aren't sure of the model but one recalled an event where Mike Galt and Harry Roberts almost came to blows. Apparantely they did not think alike..so to speak

I'm wondering what that long ago argument was about.

Differences are not limited to canoeists. The store guy said that if he had a million dollars he would ask six kayak designers to collaborate on and agree and produce one design. He gave a time limit of a year. Then they could take the million and split it six ways. No agreement :no million to split.

He was very sure his money would be safe.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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"the real pioneers are the new breed of paddlers who have the intelligence and sensitivity to recognize and appreciate the joy of paddling a slender, flared, high quality canoe. . . . It should be recorded for posterity that . . . the original centers of activity were and are: South Florida [Mike Galt]; Janesville, Wisconsin [Phil Siggelkow]; and Hemlock, New York [Dave Curtis]." -- Mike Galt
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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Galt and Roberts were both writers on canoeing in the 1970's and 80's.

Galt said it was sacred Gospel that canoeing should be done from the kneeling position, with single sided correction strokes, in slender, flared hulls. Elegance of form and turns was the Holy Grail.

Roberts said it was sacred Gospel that canoeing should be done from the seated position, with switching strokes, in slender, tumblehomed hulls. Speed was the Holy Grail.

For years in the 80's the two carried out public disagreements, in articles and columns, about their differing philosophies and viewpoints with the encouragement of their respective publishers. This sophisticated, opinionated and informative "dispute" greatly educated the growing movement toward lightweight dedicated solo canoes by exposing paddlers to both philosophies. They both agreed that solo canoes should be slender and they both liked bent shaft paddles, Roberts preferring small racing blades and Galt magnum touring blades.

Galt backed a bit off his preference for flare after his Lotus Caper was so successful. It has fairly straight sides and was the first commercially available canoe to feature "shouldered" gunwales. However, most of his designs were flared, and I don't recall any of his designs having tumblehome.

Roberts liked the early Dave Yost speed canoes and later became an executive at Sawyer Canoe, which produced a lot of fast seated solo canoes in competition with Wenonah. He coined a new name for sit & switch canoeing -- North American Touring Technique (NATT) -- but neither the name nor acronym ever really caught on.
 
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It may well be that thirty something years of marriage has taught me to value peace too well, but, I really don't like these guy's who are addicted to soap boxes and oracle like pronouncements. Of course, given the sheer volume of blab you've got to expect occasionally they'll get something right. The problem is that it's like trying to listen to a bird's song with you head under a waterfall.
And then there's that outdoor- how- to- do- it- writer and his millions of books. He's got opinions on everything under the sun.

The real no-kidding problem with this kind of stuff is that once you start developing these kinds of rigid opinions you've closed yourself to listening to new ideas and being a witness to new experiences that could teach you something. I don't know about you, but for me part of the pleasure of living is wakening up and seeing what new thing today is going to unfold and present.

Plus, I just don't like all that noise.

Rob
 
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Thanks Glenn for a peek back into history. I did not get into solo canoes til 1993 so I missed a bit. I can't speak to the rigidity of these two protagonists but could address "that outdoor writer". with the zillions of books.

When we read something, we have just words to receive from the author. Moreover we bring our biases and backgrounds to the table. Sometimes the words are not as artfully crafted as a skilled author would make and were more hastily written ( and not proofed by a team of pros). I have to take said author as a canoe person first and a writer second.

OM is out there in the West and its not easy to meet said people in person.. I've met Mr Canoe many times and he is a real hoot. Actually quite amenable to learning new things. He writes from genuine canoe experiences, however they are HIS canoe experiences.

We had a bit of fun one session at Maine Canoe Symposium about three years ago. He espoused tents with mosquito netting as "those tents with no seeum netting are too hot. Besides there are no no seeums". He had not been to Maine in June before. Just about then ( it was dusk) the no seeums set him on fire and he did not know what they were. The audience of 200 mostly from Maine DID know what they were. Some of the audience were laughing so hard they were getting sick.. Mr C started laughing too..oh they ARE real!

In person around a campfire its quite fun to discuss various opinions. It makes for a spirited conversation. So far at canoeing symposia though I have not seen anyone come to blows.. Many a bottle of wine has suffered unduly hasty emptying though.
 
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where i'm from, solo canoeing generally involves simply turning one's tandem boat around and mebbe tilting a little to the paddle-side...
 
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And then there's that outdoor- how- to- do- it- writer and his millions of books. He's got opinions on everything under the sun.

I've heard a couple of second hand stories about one such well known outdoor writer from friends who have tripped with him.

On one trip with a rainy blow everyone had set up their tarps in their preferred method. Next morning all of the tarps were fine except Mr. How to Do It. His was laying collapsed on the ground in a puddle.

One another trip Mr How To was spotted wearing something pink and lacy and confessed that some years ago he had forgotten to pack a change of underwear, and had to wear the wife’s. Well, the real confession was that after wearing her panties he found them so comfortable that women’s undergarments became his briefs of choice when tripping.

It could be the same guy. I ain’t saying. And hey, I’ve had tarps blow down. But I draw the line at women’s underwear.
 
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Also memorable was the one match fire that took 45 minutes to set up. Just before ignition..the heavens opened up.. and one match needed gasoline.
Not that I probably am better at fire starting at all.. It was fun to see the expert mess up as badly as I would.
 
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Mike Galt and Harry Roberts were close friends for much of their paddling/publishing lives. Harry made both Mike and Pat famous in the pages of Wilderness Camping, kinda selecting those two from the FreeStyle Community to build the story around. It was Harry's pen, or type writter that "Made" FreeStyle paddling. Harry also commissioned Mike to do a series of solo canoes for Phoenix, a composite kayak company he was running at the time. Only the mid sized boat, the Merlin, was produced. It eventually was tweeked into the Bardy Jones Express, BJX, for Mikes own Lotus Canoe Co.

When Harry was with Sawyer, he and Mike would often "debate" bent verse straight, sit verse kneel at canoe events, but it was a show with scripted format. Harry was selling sit down, detuned marathon boats for Sawyer, Mike was selling his own kneeling boats; of course they espoused their own stuff! Having paddled with Harry, I can attest that he could and would kneel. He competed in a FreeStyle Competition at the first Houston Canoe Club Rendezvous in Lakeland TX in 1989 on his knees.

Mikes Caper was not the first solo to exhibit shouldered tumblehome. The Yost designed Curtis DragonFly, closely follower by the Curtis Vagabond preceded Caper. Caper was never very popular either. While one of the more beautifully sculpted hulls, somewhat compromised by parallel center sections because it was conceived as the center in a three hull series, and surely one of he most exquisitely finished hulls ever produced, it was heavy due to mat partial construction and bog slow for a 14.75' solo due to being "hippy".

As Mike's business, romantic relationship and health failed simultaneously in the early 90's he "forgot" Harry's contributions to his career and got a little testy. Harry, queried as to why he kept publishing Galt in CanoeSport Journal, responded, "He's an important part of our paddlesport community, I can't take away his voice." We need more folks like Harry in our community now.

Where do I get this stuff?

I tripped with Harry, shared road trips, hotel rooms, stages, tents and dinners with him at canoe events and the occasional nip of Remy Martin. He and Molly stayed at my house in Illinois and they once stayed at my mother's, but that's another story. I wrote Harry's obit for PaddleSport, the successor to CanoeSport Journal and still carry his image in my wallet.

I shared road trips, my home, motel rooms, dinner table, wine and the organization of FreeStyle with Mike too, and wrote his obit for PaddleSport and Canoe & Kayak back in 2003.

They were close personal friends, and I miss them both.
 
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.........Well, the real confession was that after wearing her panties he found them so comfortable that women’s undergarments became his briefs of choice when tripping.

It could be the same guy. I ain’t saying. And hey, I’ve had tarps blow down. But I draw the line at women’s underwear.

I have to say, he was on to something. When I was racing motorcycles in the late 70's, one of the well-known pro riders let out that he was wearing nylon hosiery to prevent chafing. He was really fast and on a winning streak - so some of the more um, confident, of us followed his example, while the more socially timid suffered. (IIRC, this was pre-dated by pro football players doing the same, which if I am not mistaken also lead to some funny commercials featuring Joe Namath) After a while, some of us got relief to our manly image (or our manly parts - depending on whether we had shied from the nylons) when those great synthetic bicycle shorts entered our notice. Still kind of subject to snide remarks, but their growing popularity with the peddle crowd softened the blows. Now, it's all good. All this great silky synthetic underwear comes in manly BLACK with no lace (if desired) and sports company logos on the waistband. Whoever that was wearing his wife's silky underwear was ahead of the pack and getting through the trip with far less discomfort than others, I can assure you.
 
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I'm truly glad Charlie chimed in on this because while my friendship with Harry Roberts wasn't as extensive, I did meet him at many events; as well as the old Eureka Camping store in Binghamton, NY. I was also a subscriber to "Wilderness Camping" and "Canoesport Journal" and truly enjoyed the two of them going at it in the pages of each issue. If you read between the lines you could see a mutual admiration between the two. In each issue of "Canoesport Journal" Harry had a column (I think it was entitled something like "Scenes from Piety Hill") which was almost like a "Lake Wobegon" opinion column on canoeing. It was a hoot to read and was something I looked forward to with each issue.

As for being able to paddle all sorts of craft, I remember kidding Harry about it being blasphemy when I saw him in a kayak at one of the early sea kayaking symposiums in Charleston, SC. He just laughed and made me promise not to say anything; a promise I've held until now. I hope he will forgive me for that.

I guess that's all for now. Take care and thanks for giving me the opportunity to reminisce. Until next time...Be well.

snapper
 

Glenn MacGrady

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where i'm from, solo canoeing generally involves simply turning one's tandem boat around and mebbe tilting a little to the paddle-side...

That type of solo canoeing in that type of boat is what Harry Roberts and Mike Galt -- and many others in the American "solo canoe revolution" of the 1970's and 80's -- devoted their professional lives to changing. They partially succeeded.

I didn't know Harry Roberts. I knew Mike Galt very well from 1983 to 1989. I visited him many times in Tampa, Florida, to which he moved after his Miami days, and he visited me when I lived in Woodstock, NY. I bought a Lotus BJX from him in 1984 and a Lotus Caper from him in 1986. We paddled together in his 19' Heron tandem canoe on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, and he accused John Berry and me of trying to "kill him" in the rapids of the main Sacandaga River in New York. The last time I saw him was in the Woodstock Pizzeria. I miss him, and his strong opinions.

Galt's real name was George Robert Frampton. He took the name Galt because it was his mother's maiden name.

HERE IS Galt's famous 1978 article, "The Solo Mystique", from the magazine Wilderness Camping. The article was edited by Harry Roberts.

HERE IS an obituary of Galt written by his technical paddling mentor, Patrick Moore.

It's a small historical tangent, but according to Dave Curtis, and subject to his correcting my recollection, Galt's Lotus Caper was made commercially available before the Curtis Dragonfly. There is no doubt in my mind that the Dragonfly was the first modern design to incorporate shouldered tumblehome, but its commercialization was delayed. Curtis believes Galt may even have gotten the Caper's gunwale shouldering idea from seeing the Dragonfly prototype at an event on the White River in Arkansas in 1983.

I didn't, and wouldn't, say the Caper had "shouldered tumblehome". I said it had "shouldered gunwales". Perhaps "recessed gunwales" would be a better description. They are flush with rather the straight sides. The Dragonfly has actual tumblehome blended into the shoulder tuck. The Caper isn't slow by my lights. I time my canoes on my local run. The Caper is slightly faster than my Bell Wildfire and slightly slower than my Hemlock SRT, but none of the differences is substantial. Who knows what the Lotus sales numbers were, but I'd guess the Caper was probably Mike's third best selling canoe after the Dandy and Egret.

From a Solo Rendezvous in 1981 or 1982 on Canadice Lake, NY, sponsored by Dave Curtis, here is a picture of Mike Galt with Bardy Jones in the background and another of Dave Yost and Mike Galt paddling together.

galt_canadice_symposium.jpg


dy_&_mike_canadice.jpg
 
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I had a wonderful few minutes reading those articles Glenn. Thanks for yours and Charlie's input. I fear the history of the solo canoe is getting lost as the solo kkkk.. can't say it takes over the paddling world.
 
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