I went to retreive my Mad River Monarch at Scott Smith's shop, where he builds the Superior Expedition. Scott had done some repairs on my boat. I am a big fan of the decked expedition canoes. Verlen Kruger designed the Loon and had Sawyer build it for him. He made some changes, and called the new boat the Monarch and had Mad River build it. He then started building the Sea Wind himself, under the Kruger canoe label. I have each. Simply put, the evolution of these three boats is to a larger, more stable, more voluminous, drier, and better quality boat. The Superior Expedition is a boat of a similar design with changes and improvements built in according to how Scott Smith saw fit. Scott had Verlen's blessing to build the canoe.
I found the canoe to be OUTSTANDING quality. Just beautiful. Very well finished. Built extremely tough. Nice, smooth rudder. The boat has a good glide and turn of speed. It has an amazing load carrying capacity. I cannot comment on the attributes of the canoe that would make it great for a sail rig, as I'm not into that kind of thing. But if I was to take off with a full month's worth of provisions for an excursion down the Yukon River, I could then kill and quarter a bull Moose, put it in the canoe, and still have room to spare.
This boat fills a different niche than the Sea Wind--of a slightly larger boat. I'm impressed. If I need one, I would have no second thoughts of buying one. See my equally glowing reviews of the Sea Wind and its predecessors. All great canoes. I want them all.I test paddled a Superior Expedition canoe 2-10-09 in Portland, MI on the Grand River one day after the ice went out.
A little background is needed. The Expedition is a high volume tripping boat following the concept of the Kruger Sea Wind. Itís a canoe you can bet your life on in the most extreme and adventurist trips. The builder, Scott Smith, worked for Verlen Kruger for 7 years and has built over 100 Kruger boats with Verlen. Scott put together all the strengths of the Sea Wind design and improved all the weaknesses in a larger package.
We did an upstream and back paddle on the Grand River which was high and flowing at a rate of 3 to 5 mph. At first sight my first impression of the Expedition was, "Itís huge." After a few strokes my next impression was, "How could a boat this big be this fast?" Then I thought, "I canít believe how nimble this thing is." I couldnít believe how responsive the boat was for such a large volume boat. It just took off like a racing hull up stream hopping from eddy to eddy with ease. In the fast water I had no problem scooting up the shoreline at will.
The other surprise was the stability. Since the hull shape, I believe, is modeled after a racing hull, I expected it to be tippy. An inexperienced paddler might think so, but to me it felt rock solid and the secondary stability was superb. I was even able to lean steer the Expedition in a difficult eddy hop. I even stood up in the boat along the shore while Scott changed the seat height for me. I bet I could even stand and Pole this canoe!
This canoe has a rudder system that is designed to handle a shallow stream unlike anything Iíve ever used before. This rudder bounced over rocks and logs as we eddy hopped up the shoreline effortlessly. It has a design that is intended to keep sand from hanging up the rudder so easily, thatís pretty cool.
I canít stress enough how cavernous (Mega Capacity) the hull is. I have read where some people have to take as long as 2 hours to load a Sea Wind every day to get all their supplies in the boat. I would guess those same supplies could be loaded in this boat in about 5 or 10 minutes with room for half again as much. Scott told me his intention for the larger size was to easily load a deer kill in the boat after a hunt and believe me, Iím sure he has no problem doing so.
The rigging on the boat came with everything you can dream of and then some. Thereís a storage rack beside the seat to keep the clutter off the floor, dry and handy to reach. Thereís a bungee on the front and back deck for a spare paddle. Itís got mounts to catamaran to another Expedition to handle the heaviest wave conditions or for sailing. The seat has a quick change feature to adjust to 2", 4" or 6" in seconds. Itís even got a yoke built into it and for those of us who know solo boats, this is almost unheard of.
In talking with the owner of Superior Canoe Company, I was impressed with his business philosophy. He didnít seem to be interested in just selling boats as much as he was in building a boat that you were so happy with youíd come to him for all your canoe needs. Scott also builds Sawyer Canoes. He showed us a few Sawyer Canoes he had built and I believe the workmanship is second to none.
In my opinion the Superior Expedition, designed and built by Scott Smith, is a Home Run! If you ask me, if youíre looking for a high volume boat that can do it all and does it well, I would consider an "Expedition" by Scott Smith of Superior Sawyer Company in Portland, MI. I think it just may be a boat that may last you a lifetime.