Submitted: 07-24-2007 by nycmhandy
I usually kneel in my RapidFire and use a single-blade paddle, which is not the intended use (it's designed as a deckless, easy-access kayak). But I find the boat a lot of fun as a true solo canoe; I even sit-and-switch sometimes. I was a little twitchy at first, because of the narrow beam, but I soon learned to rely on the flare of the sides; now I'm completely comfortable. No unintended capsizes yet!
The wind and tidal current where I usually paddle have let me try the RapidFire in waves up to three feet (measured peak to trough). Deep-water waves haven't been a problem. In shallow water, where the waves get steeper, I often take on water. I have the canoe rigged with whitewater-style flotation, so taking on a couple gallons doesn't worry me much (and has surprisingly little effect on stability). I have practiced sea-kayak-style assisted rescues and had no problems getting back in the boat. I haven't tried the RapidFire in whitewater.
As to speed, the canoe is noticeably faster than my previous solo (a WildFire). I don't have any useful empirical measurements, since tidal currents taint the numbers.
Negatives: My boat had a minor wood-finishing problem that I fixed myself, after consulting with the helpful folks at Pb (they offered to repair it for me, but it was easier to add some polyurethane myself). The laminate on my hull isn't stiff enough for the way I use the canoe (I weigh just over 200 pounds, and much of my weight is on the rails rather than the floor, since I kneel, and that lets the floor flex a little); Placid Boatworks tell me they have fixed this problem in current kneeling hulls. I wish it turned easier
(by design, the stern sits a little lower than the bow, to aid tracking, at the expense of nimbleness). I wish it had a deck to cut down wind effects and keep out the steep waves (Pb now offers a fabric deck -- haven't tried it yet). And while I'm dreaming, it would be nice to have a height-adjustable seat.
But over all, after 11 months, I'm very happy with my RapidFire. I rated it 10 out of 10 because nearly everybody gives a 10 on this site, so the ratings are content-free. Because of the negatives I mentioned above, I actually think of the RapidFire as a 7 out of 10 (tough grader), but I don't know of any production canoe out there that would be higher than a 7 for my needs, so I think I've gotten the best I can get. The RapidFire provides speed, seaworthiness, and comfort for me to do long trips with my sea-kayaking friends and usually keep up with the front of the group.