Personal canoe evolution

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Raymond, ME
I will just deal with the solo branch.

I got a Swift Heron from Collinsville Canoe and Kayak (the store did not have a K in it then!) in 1993. I wanted to be free from the tyranny of the stern paddler. Of course I didn't know exactly how to paddle it but I figured it out and also..shudder..took lessons.

My husband altered it in 1997 as he was paddling it on the Willimantic River. He bent the thing by bending the gunwales (aluminum) in a strainer. I was paddling a FlashFire that I got in 1996 when I was introduced to Free Style. He (NOT we) had to replace all the rails, which he did with cherry stock..(thank you for Tom MacKenzie). The Heron boat also acquired some weight in glass and epoxy from repairs from the folds.

Now I had a rather heavy kevlar/glass/gel coat boat. I found a Merlin II at 31 lbs from Country Canoeist in Dunbarton NH in 2001 as they were folding shop and I bought it. By 2005 I had bent that one and being a foam core boat it was not going to be the same. Again bent to heck alu rails. CEW made it whole again but couldn't make it purty.

In search of a non foamed core boat with wood rails that was at least somewhat related to the original Curtis Solo Tripper I bought from an ill paddling friend his Peregrine in the Premium layup. I think it was 2006.

In 2010 I tripped across a Curtis Nomad for peanuts mint. Who could resist? Well its a bit heavy.. I could be persuaded to order a nice Colden Nomad, if someone would give me the money.

Somewhere someone left me an Argosy.. but also something made me order a Colden DragonFly.. (same as the Curtis).

I keep buying relatives of boats rather than something totally new. So I am totally indifferent to Wenonahs.

Here is a bit of canoe history from the bowels of New York. Canoeists ought to know that New York is the epicenter of the modern canoe and the modern canoe builder. ( i expect Midwest feedback!) The compilation by Greg Spencer of the UK is quite interesting.

http://singleblade.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=141
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
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Dodgeville, Wi
Yellowcanoe ... I remember fondly the Curtis Ladybug and Nomad. The Nomad was a boat I coveted for years but never owned. Interesting post ... sans the New York comment.

Oh well, I don't do anything modern, let alone paddle something with a new design. I paddle tandems as my solos ... symmetrical with slight to moderate rocker - slow, heavy and methodical just like me.

Bob.
 
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Feb 1, 2013
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I started soloing when I found an old chestnut pal that had been fiberglassed over. That was around 1995 I think. I used that old canoe hard for a couple of years, meanwhile starting to build tandem cedar strips. I think it was around 1997 or so that I built the Osprey, and I paddled the crap out of that poor canoe, probably putting a few thousand hard miles on it at least. I gave that one away a few years ago, but before doing so, I built the Barracuda, another J. Winters design. I was quite skinny at the time, and thought it would be a really good fast tripping canoe. I was wrong, so I gave that one away too. In 2009, I built the Raven, which is a great solo, and I have put quite a few miles on that too. However, it's pretty heavy, so I decided this year to rebuild the osprey. I've got the forms up, gonna find some cedar and get busy, going to try to build it light and try to be more kind to it than my last one.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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My adult canoe-owning life began in 1980 with a Royalex Mad River Explorer, which I paddled in white, flat and ocean water in northern California. In 1981 I bought a new rib and plank Old Town Guide, which I traded to the Berkeley REI store for an Old Town wooden OTCA. I paddled that solo in flatwater.

Moving to Woodstock, NY in 1982, I continued mostly as a solo and tandem whitewater canoeist, a student of John Berry. I bought several whitewater solo canoes after that, including a Royalex Mad River ME, a Kevlar Millbrook ME, a Dagger Gyramax C-1, a Whitesell Pirana and a Dagger Encore.

In 1984 I went to Tampa to investigate the phenomenon of Mike Galt, and bought a Lotus BJX from him. I went back again in 1986 and bought a Lotus Caper. I actually visited Mike many times during the 1984-88 time period--sometimes contriving business trips--and witnessed the Florida development of "freestyle" canoeing from the banks of the Hillsborough River at Mike's house. I vividly recall his excited call to me one evening to describe how he had people paddling to music from a boombox on shore.

I bought a Swift Winisk from Dave Curtis around 1990. The Lotus Caper remained my flatwater solo canoe of choice from 1986 to 1996.

In 1996 I exercised poor judgment and joined the sea kayak phenomenon. I bought three sea kayaks between 1996 and 2000, and remained exclusively a sea kayaker from 1996 to 2004, with my serious whitewater hobby petering out in about 1998.

By 2004 I was sick of sea kayaks and double blades. So I bought a custom made outrigger canoe in California, even though I had never paddled one or even seen one in person. I drove from Connecticut to California in the summer of 2004 to pick it up, and "paddled" 10,000 miles on that trip back through the northern USA and southern Canada. I don't think I've paddled a sea kayak since buying that Hawaiian OC-1 or "va'a".

Between 2004 and 2008 I mostly paddled my va'a on lakes and the ocean, and the Lotus Caper on brown and black water rivers. Joining internet canoe forums in 2008, I developed a hankering to return to some mild whitewater and do some tripping. So in 2009 I bought a used Hemlock SRT from Dave Curtis.

In 2010, after attending a freestyle seminar, I decided the SRT wasn't the best boat for that style of canoeing, so I bought a used Bell black-gold Wildfire. Since then, I've paddled almost exclusively in the SRT and, less so, the Wildfire. The SRT is for tripping and any sort of bumpy water. The Wildfire is for day trips and maneuverable play.

I have no intention of buying another canoe, nor the finances.

Yet, I do wish I had an open canoe that weighed in at less than 30 pounds.
 
Joined
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Yellowcanoe ... I remember fondly the Curtis Ladybug and Nomad. The Nomad was a boat I coveted for years but never owned. Interesting post ... sans the New York comment.

Oh well, I don't do anything modern, let alone paddle something with a new design. I paddle tandems as my solos ... symmetrical with slight to moderate rocker - slow, heavy and methodical just like me.

Bob.


Epicenters move. At one time I would have given the Midwest the nod. But several makers have gone under and there has been a proliferation of canoe builders in New York. Dog Paddle Canoe Works, Colden Canoe, Placid Boatworks, Hemlock, Hornbeck, a new one whose name escapes me in the Adirondacks ( pack canoe). The Swifts of Canada are originally from New York.

Things change. What is most important is that our boats are not made in China.
 
G

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I,unfortunatly,got into solo canoes late in life. Other than tandem trips as a scout leader,I had no canoeing experience. I bought a Vermont tandem in the mid 90s and after paddling it tandem,bought a used swift Osprey and was hooked.A dozzen solos bought,sold and kept.(I still have that Osprey) Freestyle caught my fancy and a Perrywinkle blue Flashfire set the hook for manoverable solos. I had the previlege to become friends and be associated with Paul at Colden canoe during the birth of his great company. Also got to know and like and respect Marc Ornstien and Dave Curtis and buy a Paddle and Kestrel from Them. Living in western NY I feel lucky to be in the center of things. In the paddle group I joined here I was at first the lone solo canoer with scads of kayaks,now the ratio is reversed. It's been a fun ride.
Smiling Turtle
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
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Shohola, PA
Dad got me started paddling in "Indian guides" about 55 years ago and the fascination of paddling is still a dominant theme in this life.
In the eighties I begin messing around with some solo canoes that were in inventory at my paddlesport shop, a Dagger Sojourn and Merrimack Baboosic come to mind. While at a paddling symposium in Charleston, SC I was amazed by the paddling of and met Patrick Moore. Seeing what was possible in the hands of a masterful canoeist my relationship with canoes entered a new phase.
Over the years I've owned and traded and sold more solos than I can probably remember. The list includes a Moore Reverie II, Savage River Otegan, A Galt Dandy, Mohawk 13, Grasse river ?, Chesapeake Sassafras, Placid Shadow, Wenonah Advantage, and a Hornbeck New Trick 13.
With the advancing years and a bit more time to indulge, tripping has become the primary focus of this addiction. At this time the fleet consists of the Hornbeck for trips with single portaging and the boat that I'm picking up
TOMORROW!!!!!!,a Hemlock Kestrel.
 
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Raymond, ME
Dave you going to be able to paddle it tomorrow??:D

Even down here in South Carolina we passed lots of iced over farm ponds.
 
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Jan 8, 2014
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Minden, NV
Sawyer Cruiser
Wenonah Odyssey
Sawyer Charger (please build them again)
Mad River Reflection
Merrimack Loon
Old Town Guide 18, cedar and canvas
Bell Northwind

One sea kayak, a Pygmy Coho built from a kit
 
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Nov 10, 2013
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Shohola, PA
Hi Yellow. I met Dave Curtis and the Kestrel amidst a snow storm and eight degree temps yesterday. So while the conditions for a first paddle were nearly perfect, the river was uncooperative in its hardness. Hopefully by March we'll have it in the water. I had the chance to play with this demo boat several months ago at the PA canoe rendezvous and for me it seems to posess a lovely balance of qualities that should make it the ideal tripping companion.
 
G

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Many canoes, little time

Many canoes, little time

My time on water during my working years was spent in sailboats. After retiring in 2001 my sailing was winding down when I came across and old forlorn canoe for sale at the side of the road. I knew nothing about canoes and this one was in need of repairs. I thought I could do the repairs and beyond that the canoe looked solid. It was 15' a fiberglass canoe called a Mansfield made by Stowe Canoe Company. I repaired it over the winter and in the spring my wife and took it out on a local river for a trial run. We paddled that boat for a couple of years without really knowing what we were doing. We heard the term "divorce boat" applied to the tandem canoe and we knew why. Some of our time was spent in boney rivers where we banged the delicate boat into rocks.

In the fall of 2003, while on a long weekend in Vermont, we happened into a sporting goods store which was holding a sale on paddle boats. They were clearing space for their winter inventory. The prices were too good to resist and I bought two Royalex Wenona canoes. One was a tandem Kingfisher which we intended to use in the boney rivers and the other a Vagabond solo for me to...well, solo. You will note that we still did not know how to match canoe design to our needs.

Sometime during that winter I discovered paddling forums and began to learn what I did not know. By the next winter we were buying an Old Town Penobscot to replace Kingfisher. And before too long a Wenona Argosy came into the family to replace the Vagabond. Before the Vagabond could be sold, my wife tried it out and decided that she liked solo paddling. We were both still using double blade paddles most of the time.

By now it was about 2005 and I had figured out that we needed some formal instruction. We took a two day tandem whitwater course which was a real eye-opener that started us down the road to the modest competency that we enjoy today. Since then we have attended several freestyle symposiums and try not to miss the Maine Canoe Symposium in June.

The Penobscot went west with my son - I now paddle it on the Willamette River when I visist. It was replaced by an Old Town Appalachian and before long a Prospector and A Bell Northstar also joined the tandem fleet. Eventually the Argosy was replaced by a Bell Wildfire for my wife and I bought a Millbrook Souhegan set up for solo for myself. We no longer lust after any more boats. If fact we think about selling a few to free up space and get out from under the maintenance.

We each have a Royalex solo for rough conditions and a composite one for all the rest. And, we have more tandems than we can use. We are in our early 70s and the two of us can still wrestle a heavy tandem if need be, but we do not care for heavy solos any longer.

We paddle locally on a regular basis and get farther afield once or twice a year. We take friends or join others when we can. We've met interesting people and made new friends in the paddling community. We're glad we discovered paddling as there is more fun, more excercise and less upkeep than was the case with sailing. We will continue paddling as long as we can.

Peter
 
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Jul 13, 2013
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Fayetteville, AR
It started in Scouts with tandem Grumann boats. First boat I bought was a plastic Coleman with a big alum bar down the middle of the keel. I beat it up across many bony rivers. I went through a power boat phase for a number of years and have finally sold all of them. Happy days.
Canoe bug bit again and I bought a tandem rx Bell Northwind from New York. Having a strong desire to paddle without having to have a partner lead me to a Bell YSS rx. I was hooked. This allowed me to go whenever I wanted to whatever place I wanted. The scent of freedom was strong and because of a lot of you on this site and from the Solotripping site I began to pursue solo boats. I am like Yellowcanoe and tend to buy somewhat in family groups. I came across an expedition kevlar Swift Osprey and have really enjoyed this boat. I bought a Curtis Nomad kevlar, great open water tripping boat. A Curtis Vag glass for my wife, but I paddle it a lot for day trips. Picked up a white gold Wildfire that needed a lot of work. Finally, ordered a premium layup from Dave Curtis, Hemock SRT which I have put only a handful of miles on. She is tender without a load but firms up nicely with a tripping load. I need more time in it, prolly a better boat than I am a paddler! We have a 32 mile 2 night trip coming up in a few weeks that will be the real test.
-Todd
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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Hemock SRT which I have put only a handful of miles on. She is tender without a load but firms up nicely with a tripping load. I need more time in it, prolly a better boat than I am a paddler! We have a 32 mile 2 night trip coming up in a few weeks that will be the rest test.
-Todd

The SRT is a tender boat for anyone. I lowered the seat in mine almost two full inches from where Dave puts it. That helps very much with the tippiness, especially when seated -- as long as you can slide your feet out from under the seat. Wear thin and flexible watershoes such as neoprene ones. With experience, the SRT now feels quite comfortable when empty if I am on my knees. It's okay when seated except when any sort of wind or waves arise. Then, it's back onto the knees.
 
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Thanks Glen. Was hoping you might post. I will order some drops from Hemlock and see how that goes. I was wanting a down river tripping boat that had more volume than my Osprey and hope over time this will fill that void. I put the SRT on her maiden voyage on a lake around Christmas time with a 1-2 foot chop and could not get out of it fast enough. I realize most of it was wind/wave related as once I got home I paddled in my backyard pond and was much more comfortable. You give me hope I can master it. Thanks again. I should try to go to the Florida Symposium and speed up the learning curve!
-Todd
 
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I'm not sure you've achieved your goal. Both are 15 ft long with some waterline reduction where the stems curve into the bottom. Osprey is 30" wide with a flattish, curved, bottom, SRT is 28.5 in wide with a much more rounded bottom. an inch and a half narrower with more rounded chines will put your knees 2" closer together in the SRT, wich, delending on your thigh length, should make things lots twitchier. The SRT's higher sides may keep big seas out, but also weigh more and catch more wind. In terms of in water performance at a maximum draft of, say, 5 inches, Osprey has more volume in the water. At the same burden, or weight, the narrower SRT will sink deeper in the soup, the mentioned 5" being about the limit of maneuver control. If Osprey is also too tender, ORC's Bell, [RIP], RockStar might be be your daisy, or contact Bell composites, the 4th iteration?, r.e. their new Phoenix and Merlin III.
 
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Sunk too deep is a concern of ours. We will be off tomorrow for eight days in the Everglades backcountry including doing a lesser paddled route that is shallow at some spots. I expect RapidFire equipped hubby will have to get out a few times in over the head mud while I sail through in the Monarch with its much greater volume.
 
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Mad River Explorer for the last 22 years. I've used it for triples, tandem and solo. Flat water and plenty of WWater. The bottom has a "patina" of 1000s of scratches, I've installed my own thwarts just where I want them with a custom center carry thwart. It's a great boat for polling and I've completed several "first decent/assents" after big summer storms and hurricanes in some very small streams - nothing even close to hazardous.
 
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Lower Saranac Lake, Adirondacks
I started solo paddling when a partner failed to show. [Funny, that happens often?] I turned the MRC Malecite around, knelt against the back bar of the bow seat and was converted to solo. When MRC brought out the Screamer I ordered one of the first, and another in Kevlar when that became available. Both were rigged with a center pedestal, so my next solo, a BlackHawk/ Pat Moore Covenant, also with a pedestal, was a small, if smaller, step that was soon joined by a Curtis Vagabond of similar size. The Covenant became a Proem, and the Vag became a DragonFly, which proved too heavy and was swapped for a Nomad which became a LadyBug over time. I had access to Sawyer sit & switch boats when fast touring was the game.

Strangely, I was up on Oxtongue Lake in the mid 90s and had a chance to purchase an as-new Proem for $200. tried it; wondered what I'd been thinking a half a decade before.? I became instrumental in developing WildFire and FlashFire for Bell, as well as Magic and Merlin II. As Flash was built around my perimeters, it's been my go-to boat for two decades, but with the advent of infusion and integral rails I've a 30 lb DragonFly, both 28.5" wide, for times I need to tote more Zinfandel. A Loonworks wood and dacron work of art fits as well as the Flash and approximates it's dimensions.

When testing canoes I use the same set of procedures. Accelerate to a two wave wash, insert an onside inside circle, then an offside inside circle. Then I stick an Axle, an onside Duffek with onside heel, a Cross Axle, cross Duffex and cross heel, then the same series posted up; outside heels to get the bow carving into the Duffek activated maneuvers. If the hull fails to perform either inside circle or achieve 180 degree rotations on any of the four forward maneuvers it gets parked. I'll finish with a reverse Christie for fun.

My chosen canoes have always been narrow because my legs are so short they barely touch the ground. I need a ~ 28-29" wide hull with soft chines to triangulate when kneeling. They've gotten shorter as I take shorter trips and wish to deal with less skin friction. A wish to swim less has turned me towards softer chines and bow rocker to increase seakindlyness. Rocker has increased over time, and become symmetrical bow/stern since getting on top of the forward stroke. I have become averse to weight, so won't have anything that isn't infused with high carbon and integral, infused rails except that little dacron beauty.

I've gotten back into tandem with a powerful little Muskoka gal. We've a Colden Star on order for fun and have tripped in a Swift Kee 16 but would like more rocker. So it has gone over forty years, with physical skills now glaciating down the backside of the mountain.
 
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central NYS - 10 miles from the Baseball Hall of F
My first canoe was an aluminum no-name tandem I bought when I was 16. My sister painted it up a basic forest green with lots of colorful flowers (it was 1969!) and I would paddle down the Delaware River to work from time to time; my mom would pick me up at the end of the day. Eventually I sold that canoe after 10 years and purchased my first "real" canoe; a We-No-Nah Jensen 18. My wife and I still have that boat but we currently paddle our other We-No-Nah, a larger touring canoe that is no longer in their catalog, for most trips since we do a lot of camping out of it. When soloing I'll usually be in my Sawyer "Autumn Mist" which is a wonderful boat. Later this spring I'll be picking up my first Placid Boatworks canoe so I'm looking forward to the drop in weight on the solo. Now that my knee has been replaced I'm treating myself to a lighter boat.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...Be well.

snapper
 
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