This is the second spring whitewater season for my Royalex Swift Dumoine. I also own a rather battered, nearly 20 year old Old Town Tripper that I have used in whitewater for years. I paddle up to class III, mostly day trips, but usually several overnight trips each year as well. Last spring our big trip was the Bonaventure in Quebec. I paddle both boats tandem and solo, although I have to admit that the Tripper is getting to be more of a challenge paddled solo on longer trips as I get older.
What prompts me to write was a trip down the Eel in southern New Brunswick after work one evening a few weeks ago. I would rate that river as a challenging class II that day due to the high, cold water and the almost continuous nature of long stretches of rapids with large waves. The water was as high as I have seen on that river. I was paddling my Dumoine, tandam, and my Tripper was also with us paddled by a skilled crew. It was interesting to compare the performance of the two boats.
Verdict - The Dumoine was more manouverable and required less bailing. This was even though the crew of the Dumoine weighed about 140 lbs more than the crew of the Tripper. The Tripper is just a bit over 17 feet, the Dumoine is about a foot shorter. The Dumoine is asymmetrical in several respects: More rocker in the bow than stern, Higher bow than stern,The widest point is closer to the stern than the bow.
Several other interesting aspects of the Dumoine: The hull has significant flare, making it shed waves well. The hull is much rounder in cross section than the Tripper. In contrast, the Tripper has quite an abrupt transition from vertical side to flat bottom. The effect of this appears to be much improved behavior in the Dumoine entering and exiting eddies compared with a certain shakiness in the Tripper when agressively entering strong eddies.
The Tripper oilcans quite a lot. The Dumoine has a very rigid hull for a plastic boat. This is due to its more rounded bottom and because it is reinforced in critical areas with an extra layer of ABS. In fairness, the Dumoine is also a lot newer. In contrast the Tripper is a classically conventional design – not surprising since it has been produced for well over 20 years.
For paddling solo whitewater, the Dumoine is a very pleasant boat to paddle. Its manouverable, very capable in big waves. Although clearly smaller than the Tripper, paddled tandem, the Dumoine successfully carried way too much stuff down the Bonaventure in the Gaspe of Quebec for 5 days last spring.
Both canoes work well on flat water. The lower bow on the Dumoine makes it easier to handle on lakes in wind. I'm very pleased with the Dumoine. It is well made and nicely finished. My only negative comment would be that I did shorten the seat spacers to raise the seats and kneeling thwart when setting up the boat for myself and my big feet.I purchased my Dumoine two years ago as a used rental. I had rented many different canoes over the years for whitewater trips and had enjoyed paddling in the Dumoine. I am very satisfied with the canoe throughout many trips since purchasing.
It has handled up to class 4 whitewater, as well as large waves and heavy winds. I primarily use it as a 5 day tripper on rivers but do some longer flatwater trips as well and throughly enjoy this boat.
With great primary and secondary stability as well as good tracking abilities it is a great all around canoe. I cannot think of any improvements that would make this great canoe any better.I too have a Dumoine and love it. I have just had some dealings with the Canadian company to get some parts to repair mine after an exciting day on the Arkansas River near Salida. They were very helpful and courteous. I have nothing but good things to say about Swift.
I think your complaints about your spacers reflect the attitude of a very litigious American society. It is too easy to blame the company if you kill yourself canoeing (or doing anything else). The Dumoine is paddled by thousands who like the spacers the way they are. If you are doing something extreme and need to alter things then just do it. Don't threaten companies with lawsuits if they don't make it your way. When you buy the gear you pick it the way it is. Any alterations you make become your problem. Let me pose a question. What if your spacer alteration affects the lateral integrity of the canoe and it collapses from side to side now that you have raised one of the stiffening elements by 2 1/4". In your ensueing lawsuit is it your fault or theirs? What if some kid paddling on a lake in your altered canoe upsets as a result of the higher C of G and drowns? Whose fault is that? Yours for lending him the canoe? The company for the untested modification that they tacitly approved by providing you the parts? I suggest that you forget the lawsuit stuff and take responsibility for your own actions. We must adopt a more responsible approach to these kind of activities as individuals or companies like Swift, Chouinard, Perception and Wild Country will stop making the tools we need to enjoy the sport. Already the threat of lawsuits has raised the prices of much of this equipment to unreasonable levels.I replaced my Old Town Tripper (which I sadly had to part with some months ago) with a new high tech boat from the Canadian manufacturer Swift Canoe & Kayak. I bought the boat from their US reps., Quality Composites in Janesville, WI. (http://www.qualitycomposites.com/). These guys from Janesville are first rate. Extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Not retailers... boat builders. I felt very comfortable with them... much more than I did with Swift corporate in Canada... but more on that later.
The boat is a John Winters design... asymmetrical Royalex with a high bow and low stern. The purpose is to handle whitewater waves while tracking well on flatwater. It is also asymmetrically rockered... 4.25" bow, 2.5" stern... again... whitewater maneuverability coupled with good flatwater tracking... a seemingly inconsistent pair. Does it work?
After some creeking to get used to the boat... narrow channels and fast water w/ tight turns and lots of strainers, we took the boat down 90 miles of the Namekagon/St. Croix riverway. We loaded the boat with tons of expedition gear... we felt stupid for taking so much! Nevertheless we had lots of freeboard and the boat was surprisingly quick. She handled very responsively in the 3 mph current. We met a couple of lightly loaded 17 and a half footers along the way and had no trouble keeping up with them.
During the first three days of the trip we had to fight wind. Big winds. On day 2 we had tunneling winds over 40 mph with sustained winds of 25-30 mph. The river kicked up waves higher than the haystacks we encountered on the rapids near the Kettle River. Some of the waves were actually breakers curling over top with a crashing sound. We quartered into them and rode over them with no problem.
I used an angled power stroke to correct for the slight weathervaning in the high winds. The boat responded perfectly. The highly flared bow shed rough water and we didn't take on a drop. That low stern kept us in a straight line with minimal correction. I was really surprised.
The rapids on this riverway are not very threatening. Mostly easy stuff... a couple of ledges (we hung up on one)... but a lot of water moving pretty fast through Wisconsin rocks... so if you screw up bad things can happen. To test her we ran the right side of the St. Croix where the Kettle River joins it. This is a very quick section with fairly long sections of Class 1-2 water
The Dumoine was a delight to paddle in fast water. I could immediately tell that this boat would handle a lot rougher water than I was testing her on. She turned very fast and shed rocks with ease. That rocker really allows her to turn well. I took the Dumoine out unloaded to where the Snake River joins the St. Croix. The junction is a jet with some very very fast water flowing into the St. Croix at a 90 degree angle. It was a good place to test the canoe's ability to peel out of an eddy with a pronounced eddy line. A cross-draw and a little lean and the Dumoine shot across the eddy line and peeled out into the Snake's jet-like current. Perfect.
The Dumoine has many little features you will love... curved seats, big thick grab bars... excellent gunwales... well crafted hull. Ours had a nice kneeling thwart... and there came my one complaint... not about the boat... but about the company.
I e-mailed Swift to request a smaller spacer on the kneeling thwart because it was too low for my feet constituting an entrapment hazard. I wanted to get some spacers that were about 3/4" long instead of 3 1/2" long. They quoted me a price of about $20 US. I said OK even though I thought that was pretty steep for two little pieces of wood. Later I got a curt phone call on my answering machine saying that they would not fill my order and for me to cut my own existing spacers. I had earlier told them that I didn't have tools, the skill, nor the desire to cut my own spacers. They dropped me like a hot potato with a phone message over a safety issue on factory installed equipment. This is inexcusable. Mr. Bill Swift ought to fire some folks and get his company into the 20th century.
In today's world, you NEVER ignore a customer-initiated safety request that is genuine and demonstrable. That is the formula for killing a customer and getting a company killing lawsuit from the dead paddler's family.
The Dumoine is a superior boat made by a company with a confused sense of service to the customer. They talk a good service game but didn't produce for me.
*** UPDATE 8/99 ***
Inspired by a comment I received from a paddling.net reader/reviewer, I sent an e-mail to the Swift company President asking him to read the Dumoine review. I was very quickly contacted by a representative from Swift. He expressed Swift's concern about the problem I encountered. He apologized and reiterated Swift's commitment to superior service and quality. I felt he was sincere and genuinely convinced that service is important to Swift.
He arranged to have the spacers cut for me and sent along a Swift T-shirt to boot. I wanted to pay for them but he insisted that Swift absorb the cost. The spacers were well cut and included hardware as well... a nice but unexpected touch.
I noted that the spacers had a compound angle cut on the bottom and a bevel on the top. If I had cut them myself, I would have missed the subtle top bevel. It pays to let the manufacturer do this kind of work. They know their product much better than a novice does.
Anyway, Swift did give me satisfaction thanks to a little boost from paddling.net and its readers!
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