Submitted: 03-26-2002 by Steve in Kentucky
I purchased a Nova 16 about four years ago. I've had mixed experiences with it, both great and not-so-great. I'll go with the not-so-great first: I got R84 on the recommendation of Mohawk. This was not so much to save the 6 lbs, although that is a nice feature @ 59#, but at the time it was about $65 cheaper to get R84. R84 scrapes up rather badly here in Kentucky. Mohawk made out like it was whitewater that damages it. I have gotten some major scratches through the outer skin to the foam in local creeks and class I rivers, and took a nail sized chunk of skin off lightly skimming over a rock in the cove of a lake. The lighter skin allows dents from tree branches or rocks to show more also. The recommend JB Weld. I've found that a piece of electrical tape works great and after a bit of time in the sun, the tape sort of glues down to the hull and you can't even scrape it off.
Paddling it, I sometimes find it a bit tippy. Not because it actually is; the stability is pretty good. I'm a bit top heavy and I find this boat easy to capsize in that it leans pretty far on the primary and by the time I get to the secondary, I've lost my balance and am falling over the side. I think losing some weight might solve a lot of this problem. I got the seats with the rod spacers that fit over the bolts. This causes the seats to wiggle just a little bit, but this is sometimes enough to cause me to lose my balance is I'm leaning a bit off center. Mohawk has since gone back to the metal L brackets they used to use, which work great.
Last year I got busy and didn't really 303 my hull like I should have. It seems the hull lightened a bit more than I expected it to. That is a characteristic of R84 skins if you don't continually 303 them. Royalex is a bit toughter to UV rays.
Paddling the boat gets high marks for the most part. It is very responsive and easy to turn. I had a buddy who went over a small homemade dam on a river in what was a healthy class II. The boat performed wonderful and didn't even hint at having a problem.
I've found that the bow seat is too close to the front of the boat. It's narrow and my 43 y/o knees aren't comfortable bunched up that close together. The result: I usually stern paddle and let my friends take the bow seat.
Paddling it solo has given me mixed reviews also. It is so light that it is easy for the bow to plane up if you don't throw a water bag or gear up front, even with the boat paddled backwards. I've found that the hull, as it is so light, tends to oilcan a bit without any gear to hold it down. This is a bit annoying. I can't say it has affected handling. Even though it has noteworthy tumblehome (Mohawk calls this "tucked in sides" to the novice), I am not that comfortable in solo paddling it. I tried to take it on a windy lake solo and without a load, and it weatherveined rather badly on me. However, I'm spoiled to my touring kayak a bit... I think some decent weight in the boat would solve this problem. The waves just picked up that light bow and slammed me back into shore.
A previous review noted it has no tiedown points. That's not true. Mohawk has excellent caps on the bow and stern. The front hole is for drainage, and the inside hole works well to tie a rope through. I use some prussik cord from rappelling that holds 1000# and is about the size of a pencil. Mohawk's gunwales are easy to maintain, and the finish on the yoke and seats is top quality and looks like oil, although it's actually polyurethane.
If I were choosing a canoe again, I might look at their 15' models for solo paddling. Overall, I've been exceptionally pleased with the Nova 16, small problems noted. It is light, attractive, and on a small lake or twisty creek, it paddles great. A buddy is on his second Blazer 16, the livery fiberglass Mohawk. It paddles a bit better than the Nova as it has a sharper bow and by being heavier, sits better in the water, particularly the bow plane.
The Mohawk folks can't be beat! They are helpful, friendly, and easy to talk to. I'd highly recommend a Mohawk to somebody. I'm looking forward to paddling more in mine, with some gear and a buddy who knows how to paddle. Canoe & Kayak did a great review of the Nova 16 which is on Mohawk's web page.
Email me if you want to discuss this any more.