Submitted: 10-14-2010 by cjb
My experience with the PAL ("Royalex-lite") is limited to day trips since purchase this past spring (2010) plus a 10-day canoe/camping trip (just over 200 km.) with my daughter in early Sept. Anyone familiar with the Kingston-Ottawa Rideau Canal route will know that this consists of a fair bit of open water --including some big lakes in the middle section-- plus some occasional canal cuts and relatively narrow river sections.
The PAL's capacity is rated at 900 lb. Our put-in at Kingston, with the 2 of us (400 lb., me accounting for the larger portion, and intending to shrink by next year(!)) plus our 200 lb. of gear (we were determined to depend only minimally on the various amenities along the way) was initially serious cause for alarm. We set off in windy conditions, and with the PAL's low profile/low freeboard we had visions of being swamped at any moment.
Our concerns turned out to be totally, absolutely groundless. As it turned out we had to deal with all sorts of heavy wind conditions (including a full day of 40 km/h, frequently gusting to 60 km/h, headwinds which we sometimes had to take on a close diagonal) and we never ceased to be amazed by the stability of the PAL.
Neither of us are particularly strong paddlers, so we were also pleasantly surprised by the momentum we were able to maintain in both benign and adverse wind conditions.
My one concern is that, so far, my experience paddling the PAL solo (albeit "light") has not been very satisfying. I do not have much experience as a solo paddler, but I know I did better in a Bob's Special which I had the use of last year. But I have received assurances from people much more experienced than I that the PAL also has excellent soloing potential, so I must reserve judgment until I have had the benefit of instruction and more experience in solo paddling technique.
One last point: I find the "traditional" lines of the PAL (and most Nova Craft canoes I have seen) to be really appealing aesthetically. I never tire of just looking at her.