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Submitted: 09-25-2009 by Blake
I've owned this boat for about 5 years now and am very happy with it. Most of my trips take me down flatwater, and class 2 rapids. However, more and more frequently I've been taking the boat to the Nantahala River in North Carolina and Section 3 of the Chattooga in North GA. I would say these rivers are the limit of what the boat will do. I've got it set up with bow, stern and middle floatation but on many of the rapids and wave trains the low volume bow will go over the first wave and plunge into the second or third one. At The Narrows on the Chattooga the entire boat becomes submerged and only pops to the surface at the end of the rapid with our seating positions full of water and the floatation keeping us up. When this happens you've got to find a pull out spot to empty the boat.
With all this said I can easily say, this boat is easily maneuverable with the correct paddle strokes, this boat has incredible secondary stability as I can attest to from many many dicey river experiences. This boat will power through just about anything - the 17 foot length is powerful once it gets going, if you stall this boat out in rapids, they're too big to paddle this boat in in the first place.
This boat will haul a ton of gear. I've done trips with two tents, two coolers, a grill and tons of other stuff down class 2 and 3 rapids and handled the boat handled extremely well.
I would say the royalex skin on this boat is thin. Paddling in the South means many rock scratches. The rear of my boat now has two layers of kevlar padding and I found the standard royalex wore out too quickly.
The overall craftsmanship of this boat is very nice. The lines are great and the fit and finish is much better than the Mad River boats I've looked at. I also own a Mad River Outrage X and the Old Town is better put together in almost every way.
If I were buying a boat today, would I buy another Penobscot 17? Probably not. I'm very happy with my boat, but if I knew I'd be hitting these bigger rivers as frequently as I do now I would get a more ww specific boat. I'd probably get the Old Town Appalachian or a Bell or Esquif. However, if I was buying a boat for fishing, flatwater, river running class 1 and 2, and camping I don't think you can go wrong with this boat. You'll have years of great memories and great times. This boat feels tippy to some people new to canoeing - this is a good thing, you will be rewarded for advancing into a better paddler by growing into a boat that will outperform a beginners boat in every way.
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