Submitted: 09-12-2005 by Eric W.
When I bought this boat, I wanted something cheap, tough, and well rounded to different activities.
The canoe proved well behaved and manageable on a Class I and II day trip with kids. Stable, well tracking, and comfortable, etc. Even a little "oil canning" of the bottom didn't make it seem slow. The flexible plastic construction that gives the craft its durability is to blame, but the effect cannot be escaped without going for more expensive materials.
I then spent two days on a Class I through V river. There I initiated it with plenty of scratches, gouges. We flipped it, bashed it into rocks, drug it through brush and over rocky ledges for hours. Through out, the hull held up quite well. The controllability of the boat in whitewater was fine, and we kept it upright in large waves even without the secondary stability of a rounder bottom.
Although a comfort advantage on flat water, I knew the shortfalls of a low gunwale in rougher water. When nosing down into foam off of shelves, we would take on water and would have to stop and bail or dump.
This brings me to the other major problem with the craft, which I also saw before purchasing it: the large inner lip of the gunwale. The 3" lip makes flipping a swamped Ojibway out of the water almost impossible without superhuman strength, and with only one provided 1/2" drain hole, it takes a ridiculously impractical amount of time to let all the water out. Before even getting on the water, I used a 1/2" spade bit to drill an additional hole in both the prow and stern, and every 18" down each side. Even with the added drain holes, the lipped gunwale was almost dangerous to deal with in moving water. I will go back and add at least another 1/2" hole every 6" down the sides, and a couple more in the ends of the boat. I noticed no weakening, flexing, or stress on the gunwale after the water time, and although a good period of time would be needed to fully examine this, I expect no ill effects on the strength of the gunwale.
All in all, the Ojibway is a fun, cheap, tough, great all-around canoe. It's not for purists (fast on flat water, good for white water), but it's great for kids and general recreation.
I really like the earth tone color I bought it in.
With a few drain holes and float bags, it can be good for a thrill on up to Class III water. I may even make a skirt for it, just for a giggle. I got a few comments from others on the river that day, fully outfitted in their expensive kayaks and banana shaped canoes, but we all had a blast.
*I must say that I'm young, skinny, and strong, so the rear seat doesn't hurt my backside, the boat doesn't seem that heavy to me, and less skilled canoeists might have turned it over more than we did... Know your abilities before you take any boat into moving water.
Buy this boat if you're on a budget, and enjoy.