Submitted: 07-11-2008 by morgantruce
While I feel it is a bit presumptuous of me to write a review on a subject of which I know so little about, I am drawn to do just that because the Nova Craft PAL seems so delightful to me.
My only previous paddling experience dates back to the Eisenhower era with a few trips around a small lake in a heavy/noisy Grumman. In the interim, I've done a good bit of sailing, but of late have become more interested in slowly checking out what is going on along the bank with a paddled craft. Oh, those kayaks seemed so charming... but with my 260 pounds (and a strong desire for a slightly more normal sitting position) I soon started looking at canoes.
On paper, what I was looking for was a canoe with lots of secondary stability -- figuring that my sea legs could handle nearly any shortage of initial stability. With that as a criteria, it really didn't take very long to gravitate over to the Nova Craft website. After a few phone calls, I drove several hundred miles to meet the friendly, informative folks at Blue Mountain Outfitters and look at a Nova Craft PAL in Royalex Lite with White Ash gunwales. Now, this is a pretty boat: one glance down the sheer line explains why boats are always referred to as "she." The PAL seems almost eager to show off her maker's workmanship. All details point to a canoe that would be easy to live with and easy to maintain. Done deal.
I've paddled the PAL a few times now. It is a very nimble canoe, tracks well, and gives very good glide. This would certainly not be my first choice as a platform for time-lapse nature photography, but this canoe gives it's paddler a strong feeling that leaning over will be met by a reassuring amount of resistance. She is simply very well behaved---as one would expect given her fine reputation established long ago by the Chestnut Canoe Company.
The amount of time involved with oiling the gunwales (and the special winter maintenance made necessary due to the combination of wood and Royalex) seem well worth the effort – considering the beauty of natural wood. I hope to never own any boat that doesn't have at least a little wood to look at and feel.
I'll rate the Nova Craft PAL a 9 confident that I don't know enough about canoes to claim to recognize perfection after just a few dances.