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Submitted: 09-05-2000 by Tim Gittins
First I bought a Sawyer Autumn Mist. The next year I traded in for a Summersong with foot brace and fore-aft/vertical adjustable seat. My wife paddles a Blackhawk Zepher and I've paddled solo touring canoes by Mad River, Swift, Clipper and other Blackhawks. We've been on numerous backcountry trips in Ontario, Georgian Bay, the Everglades and Okefenokee Swamp (sp?). Big lakes, wide open bays, large rivers, and small streams. No whitewater above class I - definitely not the realm of the Summersong. The Summersong is a fast, capable tripper. Responds equally friendly whether using steering strokes or sit-&-switch. Very straight tracking yet can turn "on a dime" with the right amount of lean. I lean the Summersong way over without experiencing instability - the paddle is a trusty outrigger. When playing around I routinely heel over till water comes over the gunwales - not an easy task but possible with practice. Very comfortable paddling - no having to reach out due to extreme tumblehome. Very ample room for gear and food - disappear for several weeks no problem. Very bouyant in the bow to rise over waves and chop for a dry ride (I've never taken water over the bow - but I don't charge foolishly into snarly breaking waves either). My best story is of one trip in Georgian Bay south of Killarney: I paddle with a 48" and a 56" bent shaft. This particular day, about the 6th day out on a 11 day trip, the waves were enormous! They were coming at me on my starboard bow quarter. I sat with the seat at it lowest position. I was using my 48". When I was in the trough between waves I could reach up with my bentshaft and the tip of my outstretched paddle over my head was below the crest of the wave. That puts the waves at around eight feet high from trough to crest. I'm not exagerating! I was laughing the whole time. It was totally unbelievable. My wife was in her sea kayak having a great time. I've paddled head on and quartering in 20+ knot winds gusting to 30+ knots and made great headway with sit&switch power paddling. I've paddled equally in extremely narrow twisty streams and with outward leans and an offside post I fared just as well if not better than my wife in her freestyle rockered Blackhawk. Lastly I want to say that my wife loves her Blackhawk and doesn't like the straight tracking Summersong as much. Friends have taken our solos out and some like the Summersong and others don't. Everyone looks for something different in a canoe. The Summersong was radical when it showed up for the "Vortex of Visionaries" back in the 80s and it's still just as radical today. I also like paddling a legend.
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