Submitted: 05-24-2011 by JWM
Purchased the royalex version in Dec. 2010 based on reviews here and other sites without test paddling (normally not advised). We replaced a 1989 Oscoda family 17 which we purchased new and loved but it became too heavy for us to lift onto the car now that we are approaching our mid 60's.
The Northwind royalex is not the lightest canoe available but is a good compromise between weight and price, since budget was an issue. We have been paddling flatwater in canoes and kayaks for over 20 years and, although not experts,we have acquired decent skills and knowledge. The Northwind purchase is working out great and we are impressed with the design.
Some have said initially it feels a little tippy--we did not find that to be the case. Yes there is movement which is normal for a quality canoe and the secondary stability seems to kick in fairly early which makes for a very secure feel. We have encountered power boat wakes and are impressed with these handling characteristics as well--it seems to cut through the wakes more than riding over them, which makes for a smoother transition. The differential rocker seems to transform into a good tracking canoe that also turns with ease. While my wife gently controls our path from the bow I have casted for bass from the stern with great comfort and security--a great fishing platform.
The only complaint and reason for a 9 rating is the seats. Although the quality is decent the comfort is not great. The cane seat surface is only 11" wide and not enough for my 240 lb back side. My wife is a fairly small person but she was not happy with the seats as well. Those will definitely be replaced by Ed's contour seats in the near future.
Once we get the seats replaced this will probably be the perfect canoe for our needs.