Submitted: 08-19-2008 by WeeHooker
First let me say that this isnít my first canoe. In fact, Iíve had around 20 to date and still collecting. Recently, I craved another mid-sized fishing canoe that might double for some occasional mild river running. That meant something stable, maneuverable, keel less, durable(!) and friendly to both solo/tandem paddling (My Stowe Mansfield does all this very well but is just too nice to punish in some of these places). Based on this list, and the fact that stumbled onto a heck of a deal, I picked up a (used) Osprey 155 .
Given I havenít seen a lot of detailed reviews on this canoe yet, Iím going to do a in depth general and solo fishing review here and follow up on it latter. I figure most looking at this boat want it for "sporting canoe" anyway.
First off, it is tough! On purchasing the boat, the seller dropped the bow onto asphalt from my trucks roof rack. It landed square on the side of the bow and had no notable damage/scratches to show for it! Iíve since hit & slid across and grounded on several underwater rocks. The keel less Royalex hull, seemed to slide right over most with little deflection or scratching.
As for weight: At 68# (for this middles seat rowing version), this canoe is lighter than most in the 16í class and nearly 20# lighter than those 14í "sporting" canoes / pool toys sold @ sporting goods stores. This makes out of water handling more manageable. (A note on car topping here. IMHO, extra length in a canoe makes car topping easier. Rather than lifting the whole boat up, you just get one end up onto the racks and then lift & slide the other end into position. Much easier IMHO than fully lifting short canoes ovwerhead.)
So how does it paddle? Well as expected, itís not a rocket ship but it does move decently for a hull of this width and fullness. Largely I think because OT hit it right with the combination of the stiffer Royalex, arched hull and longer length. The arched floor flattened out when in the water but it hardly ďoil cannedĒ when stood in and there was almost no speed robbing flexing when underway. Cross wind can be a nuisance in this boat but I think that true of any keel less, shallow draft canoe and not overly unique or problematic in this boat. (Itís the tradeoff for maneuverability and fast water safety vs tracking.) For Solo paddling, sitting (210#) in the front seat and facing the stern, the boat trimmed out nicely with only a 15# anchor tucked up forward. This is important since wetting the entire 15í+ of hull aids in tracking and stability. A relaxed J stroke is all that was needed to keep it on track with a 5 knot quartering wind. BTW, I found that a slightly wider 7.5" paddle (and later a 240cm kayak paddle) aided greatly in speed, tracking and maneuvering of this full figured boat.
Other observations: While I havenít rowed the canoe yet, I think itís a nice option that will allow me to cover long distances quickly. Knowing a bit about row boat design, I think this hull should perform really scoot under oar.
More importantly though, the center seat option (vs center portage thwart) is a great addition to the fisherman. It allows you to lay (up to 10í) rods flat across all three seats & well below the gunnels keeping them protected and at right hand. The center seat is also only arms length from the "solo"/front seat so it can be used as a table for your gear, depth sounder, etc. Seat height was good too. Low enough to feel comfortable and aid stability but high enough to allow my size 10s to slide under for keeling (which I sometimes do.)
While we are talking seats, this is my only (minor) gripe in the boat. I do like that they are the traditional flat woven style but these have NARROW seating areas that have you resting on wood all the way around. I would think they could do better on a $1000+ canoe. (My 03í OT Discovery Sport has much wider/nicer seats.) (Whatever canoe you buy, consider the type of seat carefully. Molded seats have their place but donít allow aftermarket backrests and /or reverse seating for passengers/solo paddling.)
HTH, Iíll try to update as I use the Osprey 155 in other ways...