Submitted: 06-13-2006 by DanMc
This is the promised follow-up review of the Royalex Spirit II after a 220 mile, 7 1/2 day journey down the West Branch and Main Stem of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. We put in near Shawville, PA, after loading up with about 175 pounds of gear. My son and I each weigh about 200 lbs. We set off onto the river in a slight rain. We had at least 12 inches of freeboard and were drawing about 5 inches (not bad considering how much weight we had on board!)
We clicked off 20 miles on the first afternoon, then set up camp. The next day we ran Moshannon falls (a Class 2+ rapid with a few haystacks with hidden rocks) with no serious problems, then many unamed riffles. Buttermilk Falls presented a bit more challenge (many barely submerged rocks) but the Royalex slid off any gotchas. We paddled down to the meeting of the West and Noth Branches of the Susquehanna after tough portages around dams at Lock Haven and Williamsport. The Spirit II glided efficiently through the Main Branch Susquehanna's flatwater, and took the few ledges with aplomb.
We were very pleased with the canoe's performance. the only time we wished we had a Kevlar canoe was the tough portage around the Williamsport dam. Even there Royalex was an advantage as we roped the canoe up and slid it down the other side.
The capacity was more then adequate, seaworthiness was amazing (even in rough chop produced by Memorial Day speedboat traffic on the 12 mile lake before Williamsport), and the tractor seats were remarkably comfortable. We can unequivocally recommend the Spirit II as a long distance canoe!