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Submitted: 05-10-2009 by Yanoer
Me, 5'6, 160 lbs. Been paddling solo canoes and kayaks to some extent since about 1993, mostly on lakes and flatwater rivers of central Illinois. I still consider myself a novice.
Boat, 1996 Sawyer Loon that weighs about 57 lbs. I don't know which construction it is. I bought it used about three years ago. I don't paddle it a lot because I have difficulty with the weight and don't need the capabilities of the Loon for the small lakes that I paddle most of the time, but when I need a canoe for larger lakes with wind and waves, I take the Loon, because it handles those conditions better than any other canoe I've ever paddled, which include Wenonah Advantage and Whisper, Blackhawk Zephyr, royalex Bell Yellowstone, Curtis Ladybug and Sawyer Summersong.
I've been paddling the Loon with the seat on the lower of the two heights, which is about 6" off the bottom and it is extremely stable, but still easy to edge for turning when not using the rudder. I only day paddle, no camping or tripping and don't have over 20 lbs of gear in the boat.
When double blading it, I never use the rudder, because it just doesn't feel right. I might drop the rudder if conditions were bad enough and I was either tired or not looking for a challenge.
When single blading (bent shaft), I sometimes use the rudder and sometimes don't, depending on my mood and conditions. Without the rudder, the Loon is quite maneuverable, especially at slow speeds. It responds very well to leaned turns and sweep strokes and is very fun in situations requiring quick turns, as long as there's room for the over 17' long boat. I'll usually use in-water recovery when paddling relatively slow. Dropping the Feathercraft aluminum rudder allows paddling on one side as long as you can endure it while focusing on pure forward stroke and getting into a great rhythm. The rudder foot controls are the sliding type, not gas pedal type. It's the same rudder blade as on my Sawyer Summersong solo canoe and composite Aquaterra Sea Lion kayak.
The excellent initial and secondary stability make it a great boat for birding and I would also expect it to be great for fishing, but I don't fish these days. It's very confidence inspiring in the wind and waves - I never feel like I'm going to go over.
It seems to be pretty efficient, but I don't have any cruising speed data, because I misplaced my GPS. I find the sliding tractor style seats of the Sawyer canoes to be very comfortable for multiple hours at a time. More comfortable than any other I've tried.
I did have some structural issues with this Loon. The cockpit rim was too flexy for my preference - it flexed when I would pick the boat up by one side of the rim and made carrying the boat more awkward. I remedied that situation by installing a 1"x2" thwart between the two rear seat support brackets using some aluminum "L" brackets and the coaming feels very solid now. The other coaming problem was that it wasn't epoxied all the way around when attached to the deck and some of the rivet heads had pulled through the coaming, which also contributed to the flexy and weak feel of the cockpit rim. I remedied this by drilling out the rivets that had pulled through and resecuring with two-part marine epoxy from the hardware store and relacing the rivets. Other than the shoddy coaming attachment, the rest of the construction quality and the gel coat seem to be first rate.
This Loon also came with a one piece cover that snapped on to the deck and also has shock cord that secures under the rim. It had a dual zipper opening from the top front of the tunnel to about two feet in front of the tunnel. The zipper does leak. I don't know the manufacturer. The cover fits so tight, that I have to wet it to relax it before putting it on. There is adjustable shock cord around the top of the tunnel.
If the Loon weighed 45 lbs or less, instead of 57 lbs, I would use it much more than I do, because I love paddling it. I wish there was a 15', 40 lb junior version of this boat.
Superior Canoes currently has the molds for the Loon and several other Sawyer canoes, but hasn't made any Loons yet, but is building the other solo canoes, with the exception of the Starlight, for which the mold no longer exists.
If you want a cruising canoe for rough conditions, tripping or poking around in dead tree studded inlets, consider the Sawyer Loon.
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