Submitted: 07-30-2007 by WLA
I bought this canoe last month. It's my first canoe, though I've had a lot of water experience in my life, in all kinds of craft (rafts, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, speedboats, drift boats, etc). I'd rate my paddling skills around high intermediate (no white water experience).
From my perspective, this canoe is simply great. While probably not the lightest canoe (it is Royalex), it's still easy enough to handle on my own while loading and unloading from the top of my car. I transport it on foam blocks on top of my tiny Pontiac Wave hatchback, but intend to get a rack someday soon.
In the water it performs better than anything I've paddled before, both solo and tandem. I actually prefer it solo but that's partly a matter of my partner's low experience level. Tracking in the lake is good and I can get cruising in a perfectly straight line at a very nice clip with some easy J-stroke paddling. It tracks very well once it's moving but has a tendency to turn a lot when you first start paddling, which is easy to compensate for and a reasonable trade-off for the maneuverability. Two or three hard strokes will turn it 180 degrees.
I've taken it out on the river solo, a somewhat fast but fairly flat section of the Bow River in Calgary, and it handled great. Even in high winds (20 kph with 40 kph gusts) it was a pleasure. The river has been fairly high and therefore rougher than usual in a couple of spots and I've taken it through some easy rapids (series of like 2 to 3 foot waves) and it bounced around and I got splashed a bit and it was great fun. Very easy to handle and maneuver to avoid rocks and stuff.
I've had it in a lake in moderate wind, and it takes a bit of work to keep it directed where you want, but you'll never be stranded anywhere. I can usually paddle it solo just fine from the bow seat, but when the wind picks up I kneel in the center to help it track a bit straighter. All around this is a great little canoe.
I'm not sure how it compares to other similar "all purpose" designs (like prospectors, etc), but you can't really go wrong with this one. You'd probably go with a 17' canoe if you're planning to carry really heavy loads, but this will take up to 600-700lbs without complaining too severely. The smaller size sure helps handling solo.