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Submitted: 10-05-2004 by JM
Just finished my first season with my new Haida canoe, and I'm very impressed. I purchased the canoe in the new Blue Steel material, which is a Carbon Fiber/Kevlar/Spectra composite. I highly recommend spending the extra bucks for this material. The canoe weights in at only 50 pounds (I added the optional skid plates which add about 5 pounds), and the resulting lightness, rigidity and strength, not to mention beauty, are well worth it.
As one of the few canoe designs (from any manufacturer) with a flat bottom, this is easily the most stable canoe I've ever tried, so it's perfect for a family with a 22 month old! The straight keel and 17' length also contribute to the stability. I was surprised, however, at the maneuverability - not as easy to turn as shorter canoes with a more pronounced rocker, but quite good nevertheless. I'm sure I wouldn't have trouble in any kind of water. Due to the lightness of the canoe, the wind definitely affects the tracking when it's lightly loaded, but I found it very manageable, even in the stiff breezes on the inland lake that I spent time on.
The asymmetrical design and rigidity of the material make for a very fast canoe. I had test-paddled both the Tripper and Prospector before trying the Haida, and was surprised when the Haida beat both designs in stability and speed (it's maneuverability that suffers with this design, but as I said, it's a very fair trade for me).
I purchased my canoe with the optional wood (ash) trim. Against the blue/black hull material, this makes for the most beautiful canoe you'll set eyes on (not especially important, I know, but a nice bonus). The wood trim does require additional maintenance (periodic oiling), but it's not a big deal unless you use the canoe every day. The yoke, as advertised, truly is comfortable without any padding. Due to a recent shoulder injury, though, I also purchased the yoke pad, but found it unnecessary except for longer portages.
Finally, the people at Nova Craft were wonderful to work with. I bought the canoe directly from them - they custom built the canoe on pretty short notice, and allowed me a chance to try the final product out before committing to the purchase. I even received email photos of the canoe in production the week before I went to pick it up. These are people that are dedicated to producing an excellent product for a fair price, and they work hard to bring you back for future business. I highly recommend them, and the Haida.
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