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Submitted: 01-20-2012 by joewildlife
I'm on my second Loon, so I'll start off with a review of the first. It was actually an Oscoda Loon. Oscoda was a subsidiary of Sawyer, and I understand it was a line of canoes for livery use. The Oscoda was a "Chop Gun" fiberglass boat. Probably gel coat in the mold, then a thick layer of chop gun fiberglass, then an interior layer of a coarse weave cloth. The boat weighed about 68 pounds, and was equipped with a Feathercraft rudder. The seat was adjustable forward and backward and for height, but with a cruder and inferior setup than most other Sawyers. What was nice about it was that you could take out the seat and flip it over and it had portage pads...this is the only Sawyer adjustable seat I have seen with the pads that adjusts in both height and forward backward. The deck was flexy and the cockpit rim was weak and flexy. When paddled, the rudder would hum loudly when deployed, and was only marginal in its effectiveness compared to a Kruger Sea Wind rudder. Titanic like. A long blade type rudder is just inferior to a Kruger style, on this canoe. I'd give this boat only a 6, based on its construction, weight, and choice of rudder.
On to a 1985 Kevlar Sawyer Loon a buddy found for me. Weighs in at a light 45 pounds or so. Is equipped with an early Kruger rudder design. The cockpit rim is still a cheap riveted-on design and it is a bit flexy. The deck is a bit weak too. I added a couple layers of fiberglass in key places and rebuilt the rudder with a new hinge, installed in the original "split stern" style. The seam between the top and bottom halfs of the canoe was covered with a thick vinyl black tape that was in bad shape after 26 years of life. The same tape was used around the edges of the cockpit rim. I removed all the tape and residue. I then used a filler on the seam and covered in a gelcoat stripe painted on. I used basically door-edge guard around the edges of the cockpit.
The Loon is a trimmer boat than the Verlen Kruger redesign licensed to Mad River, the Monarch. Finer entry, slimmer stern. Is is a bit faster. Carries less cargo and a bit more tippy. But as a boat to race in the worlds longest nonstop canoe race, 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles on the Missouri River, I preferred the Loon to the Monarch. Loaded with a week's worth of gear or more, the Monarch is more stable, more roomy, and more seaworthy than the Loon. I also own a Kruger Sea Wind. Will I ever part with the Loon? Not likely. It is my go-to solo boat when I'm not packing heavy.
The Loon was built with many different layups and rudder combinations over the years. I think the mid 80's Kevlar models are the best. Avoid the Oscodas and the ones made in the 90's and later if you can. But get a Loon if you can. They aren't making them any more, of course. They aren't making the Monarch either. The current Expedition boats made by Kruger and Sawyer are awesome, but they are made for a different niche.