Submitted: 08-02-2006 by mrule
The Sawyer Cedar Voyager is a laminated, straight shaft, beavertail canoe paddle for flatwater use. It features fiberglass reinforced blade faces, composite tip and edge protection, an oval shaft and a slightly large grip. This is a high end paddle, among the lightest that can be found in wood, with lots of fine hand workmanship. It is a great expression of the art. It is also a serious, down and dirty stern or solo paddle with a big bite and tremendous strength. My rational for buying such a nice paddle is that approximately $100 seperates a good, sturdy paddle from a gorgeous, featherweight one of carefully wrought dimensions; from one that you hang in the garage to one you hang in the den. This is not to mention every paddlestroke being lighter, more effective and enjoyable.
First impressions were that it really is a pretty paddle, built of straight, exceptionally tight grained cedar. However, while very light, it was not the magical lightness of a composite design. Also, the fiberglass reinforcement gave the blade faces a somewhat rippled surface and the thick varnish was slightly less than perfect. On the other hand, the tip of the remarkably thin blade seemed like it had the ideal amount of spring, the shaft and grip dimensions felt perfect and the balance was simply exquisite.
Out on the water, this paddle has two characters, both very satisfactory. For slow, windless paddling, it is delicate and light and extremely quiet. It J's beautifully, with so much blade authority that simply making the motion keeps my 16'Penobscot in line. It excels at gentle, effortless, all day paddling. However, when the wind and current come up hard and you are being blown against the rocks and you are wondering how your paddle doesn't snap from the strain, this is the one to have. Under maximum effort conditions, this paddle doesn't show the slightest trace of flutter, swerve, or torque. The shaft seems to show no flex at all and you can feel measured tip deflection. It is not like the snap and twang I get from my AT Exception composite kayak paddle, but a softer rebound that seems very effective for moving a canoe. All tolled, a very nice, highly capable paddle that even has a finish that doesn't generate blisters. And oh that wonderful balance...