Submitted: 03-04-2010 by ED
Something I've noticed about Grummans is that that each one has a story, usually a long and happy story. The story of ours is that my dad bought it new in 1973. About 10 years later he decided he wanted a kevlar canoe, so we got the Grumman. It's a 17' standard with a lake keel.
This is the boat my wife and I learned to paddle in over 25 years ago. (We're still married, by the way.) It was our only boat for several years, and the only one I could imagine wanting at the time. Other boats have come and gone from our life since then; others have come and stayed. The Grumman now has to compete with half a dozen other canoes and kayaks for time on the water, so it doesn't get out as much as it would like to. Every time I do get it on the water, I am impressed once again with the quality of its design and construction. Despite all the years we've had it, I'm still not tired of it. It's not for sale.
Although the 17' version is not a racing boat, people in shorter boats (Grumman or otherwise) think we're racing with them even when we're just sliding along trying not to leave them behind. It is an efficient cruiser. How fast it will go seems to be primarily dependent on the person in the other end. It's definitely slower when loaded to the gunwales with camping gear. Duh. If speed is all you're after, get a long skinny sea kayak.
The handling is very forgiving in a wide range of conditions, and it is as stable as a canoe can be. I can definitely recommend this as a canoe to learn in. The Grumman excels for flat and moving water up to class I. Out west here, what we call class II usually has a gradient of about 20' per mile, standing waves up to 2', and lots of snags and rocks that need to be dodged on short notice. With all due respect to other reviewers' opinions, the Grumman is not happy in these situations.
Other things you should know:
The aluminum hull transmits noise like a drum. The sound is very nice when splashing through the ripples on a lake. It is very unpleasant and embarrassing when you hit a rock in the bottom of a river.
The aluminum hull transmits heat very quickly, so the hull is the same temperature as the water it's on. This is nice in the summer but it means cold feet in the winter.
A Grumman will take more abuse than a wood or composite boat, but if you really want to bounce off rocks, Royalex is a better choice.
Salt water will attack aluminum pretty quickly, so it can't be recommended for marine environments.