Submitted: 10-08-2008 by CanoeEWA
I was looking for a smaller boat that could handle a variety of condition when I purchased the 16-foot Royalex version of the Aurora and I couldnít be happier. I did take a hard look at the Spirit II and choose to go with a smaller boat that is a better match to our (wife and myself) smaller frames and a bit easier to move around and load and unload on our vehicle. I also wanted a solid yet maneuverable boat that could take a large wake from a power boat while loaded, but still be small enough to thread up some small water.
We typically paddle a large narrow lake on the Columbia River (Lake Roosevelt) with a modest amount of powerboat traffic, and have some smaller rivers (almost creeks) that feed and out of it that we like to explore. I usually go out with my wife, a 25 lbs dog and a mix of gear depending on what were up to that trip. Typically, our total weight is about 425 lbs.
After a number of paddling trips in a variety of conditions and weight in the Aurora here is my take on this boat. If youíre over 5'8" or so, this is not your boat. Iím 5'8" and weight 160 lbs and the boat is comfortable, but not spacious. Weíve owned a bigger boat and the width and size was a bit large for us to paddle comfortably, especially if paddling solo, but the Aurora is very easy to paddle solo for my size. The Aurora at 64 lbs is no problem for my 5'2" wife and myself to load and unload from the top of my Jeep.
The boat tracks fairly well for a 16-foot boat, but seems to track even better with a bit of weight in it. Iíve read that the boat is trim sensitive. I have found that not to be the case, but we typically load with a slightly weight forward trim while in tandem. I like to sit in the front and weigh the most of both of us, so it trims out just right for most head wind conditions. If you are out solo in this boat, I did notice that weight forward helped the tracking. The boat is as fast as any Iíve tried in the same class. The Old Town Penobscot 16 felt very similar, but had a tad bit more legroom in the bow. The Penobscot did not seem to be as fast and did not seem to track as well with my weight in the front, so we went with the Aurora. Quite honestly, they both seemed almost identical in build, performance and price, but the Aurora seems to have a better fit and finish. Honestly, I donít think you could go wrong with either boat.
The seaworthiness of the Aurora became evident on one of our trips. We had a large powerboat shoot around a bend in the lake that was pushing a lot of water while turning. The easy maneuvering of the Aurora allowed us to sweep into a quartered position and into the wake easily. The taller bow took the wake like a champ, even with about 500 lbs in it and trimmed a bit weight forward; the boat also road the up and down swell with excellent stability. I donít know if we would have been able to swing a slower handling boat around as quickly with enough time to develop decent forward momentum as we did.
The bottom line for the Aurora in my opinion: if youíre smaller in stature and arenít looking for massive payload and like a respectfully swift, seaworthy, responsive boat, you wonít be disappointed. If youíre tall or just have long legs, Iíd look at the Spirit II.