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Submitted: 07-25-2013 by Big_D
I have been using an Esquif Cargo for several years. I purchased it for family use - there are four of us. The Cargo has four seats. It seemed fortuitous. In some searching, it's the only squareback I found that doesn't have a huge hump going down the center of the hull. The hull on the Cargo is smooth, slightly rounded, and has modest rocker. The bow is huge. I chose to add oar locks for rowing it when solo because of the size. I find rowing a large canoe far simpler than solo paddling.
It works well under power. I use a 2.5hp Mercury four stroke motor. It's very convenient for motoring upstream and floating back down to fish. It eliminates the need for a shuttle.
As far as initial stability, it has that by the container full (cargo ... container...). I stand to cast and sight fish frequently and am very comfortable doing so. As far as control in squirrelly water, it's easily controlled by oars and doesn't seem to mind squirelly water even when motoring up through it.
You will not win any races in this boat. It is slow, which you'd have to expect from a 17' four seat squareback canoe. So I'm sure that doesn't come as a surprise to anyone.
It's heavy, but lighter than other large squarebacks I've had.
The surprising thing is how well it steers and drifts. This is a terrific fishing canoe for those who fish medium to large rivers (my usual rivers are the Shenandoah and the Potomac). It's easy to set up for simple chutes and ledges. It rides through nicely, even when weighted (I have to use ballast in the front when it's me alone with the engine in the back), and has a surprisingly shallow draft. I easily slide over ledges that have given me fits in other canoes.
Also, when I am guiding someone sitting in the front, it's easy for me to control our drift to give him/her good targets and can come as close to surfing this boat in surprisingly small currents. All it takes is some finesse on the oars - no power - to hold position to give someone fishing in the front really good angles on targets.
I love the boat. It's a real river boat, not for whitewater but thrives in current. It's a real fishing boat, with a weight capacity that's unreasonably large. It's durable. Compared to other canoes its size, it is maneuverable and easy to steer. Under power, I couldn't ask for much more. It takes power against current very well.
The only drawbacks is weight (I use a trailer to avoid having to lift it).
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