Submitted: 07-21-1999 by Marty Schlosser
The Kipawa is my latest boat, purchased this spring for my tandem tripping needs. Dry, light-weight & maneuverable, I think it'll become an ideal craft for me... but I'll let you know once I finish my first trip (3 - 9 August 1999) into the Lady Evelyn River area north of Temagami, Ontario, Canada.
Construction quality: Pretty darned good; the kevlar and epoxy layup looks very well done and the trimwork (anodized gunwales, plastic "decks", thwarts & seats were all solidly and neatly applied. The removable kneeling thwart (laminated cherry) could have had better quality wood in it - too many small knots for my liking, and the hardware which makes it removable seems to squeak from time to time, but aside from that I've no complaints. The seats (laminated cherry wood, compound- shaped framing with nylon webbing. Sliding bow seat) are the most comfortable and durable on any of the 7 canoes I've owned to date. The folks at Swift advertises this as a 49 lb canoe, but mine weighed in at 54 lbs.
To date I've used it on at least 20 day/evening sole paddles and 4 tandem ones, and find it quite good in the class 2 rapids and flat water I've tried in the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada area where we live. I've only tried it with a healthy load once (the day I trialed it prior to laying down my hard-earned cash!) and was quite impressed with its stability and general responsiveness. Again, though, I'll be able to provide a come complete report upon returning from my first trip in her.
If you wish additional info on my Kipawa, please feel free to contact me at the address above. Good paddling!
With a 7-day trip in the Kipawa now behind me, I'm happy to report that the boat handled as well as I had expected she would. Crossing Lady Evelyn's eastern section during some of the highest waves I've yet to encounter on a canoe trip - with the exception of a 10-day trip I undertook along New Brunswick's Northumberland Straits back in 1982 - were confidently undertaken. (Mind you, my bowman may take omberance with that statement, as he got quite wet from the water that shipped over the bow from time to time when the odd out-of-sequence or especially nasty wave hit us!)
Additionally, I had the opportunity to do some class 2 rapids along the Mattawa this summer, which the Kipawa handled without the slightest hesitation.
I've never babied any of my boats, and the Kipawa held up quite well to the rigours of the 7-day trip into an area known for having jagged rocks. Upon returning from the trip I washed the hull down and waxed her; there were some pretty good scratches, but none seemed to have penetrated the gelcoat. I am consider putting on a kevlar bang-strip on the ends following next season, but for the time being, she's fine, as is.
The Kipawa is an excellent, all-around tandem tripper. I'm planning a 4-day solo trip into Algonquin Prov. Park for next spring, and will report on how well she handles under that configuration.