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River work however...excellent as a solo boat, just so responsive and clean. This may have been the best in the category Old Town has made. Tandem with the factory seats can be tricky especially with inexperienced bow paddlers. Personally, if re-fitted as a solo boat this one is hard to beat. Too bad Old Town gave up too soon on this one!
30+ years experience with a variety of boats.
The Long of it: .....
At the Old Town 2002 Spring Facroy Sale I purchased what may have been the last Cascade. Old Town staff spoke very highly of the boat and it met my shopping criteria of a light (49-59 lbs) moving water boat that could be soloed or taken as a tandem boat (max cargo 975 lbs). I liked the lines as they reminded me of a midget Prospector with the full bow, nice tumble hume, and pronounced rocker - plus it was red.
Tandem - Moving water: The boat performed so well that Susan & I did our first moving water trip together on the St Croix River (class I & II) in the Cascade and we are still going strong! In fact we've been back to the SCR for 3-day/2-night trips on four more occasions.
The boat responded to our novice-level draw strokes and could be back paddled even by the beginner. The SCR requires a lot of side slipping or a "rental".
The full hull was great driving through standing waves and punched through holes. Lots of floatation and good water sheading design.
Tandem Lake Water: - Indeed the boat offers lots of profile to the wind and the rocker affects the tracking so you gotta have your strokes down. But what canoe doesn't? Certainly not my choice for a windy lake crossing - unless the wind was at my back.
Solo Moving Water- I soloed the SCR twice in the Cascade and found that the boat sliped sideways and back ferried even better as a solo boat. I had the Cascade surfing on standing waves "a la" Thrill of the Paddle by Mason/Schreiver with very little effort and no prior experience.
Solo Flat Water: The Cascade has few equals in the pivot department when heeled over. Our Bob Special comes close when you get the keel clear of the water.
Guy Trips: The Cascade was like one of the boys - you should see it put stuff away. The hull desigh is so good that even loaded with lawn chairs, steakes, coleman stoves, fishing gear and coolers the Cascade remains manuverable.
The Cons: I have left too much Royalex on rocks, and wish the material were a little heavier and less abrasive. The biggest drawback is that it is discontinued and you have to look hard to find a new one these days.
The Pros: This boat does everything I have asked of it, and more. It has never made me swim and had been a lot of fun paddling solo, as well as tandem with my fiancee who is not a paddler.
While it does blow around in the wind, so does just about every boat I have ever paddled including my 16' Buffalo, Old Town Penobscot, Old Town Discovery Scout, Old Town Appalachain, and Mohawk XL-12 and XL-13.
I use an 8' kayak paddle and find that I have instant and easy ability to control direction with rudder strokes as well as sweep strokes when the boat does begin to blow around in the wind.
All things considered, it is my favorite boat to paddle - well suited to multi-day downriver trips on Class II - III rivers and absolutely a blast on those drops and turns. I love my Cascade!
THE CONS- It is a little tippy sitting on the factory seats in WW due to high center of gravity. Not recommended for beginner tandem unless you want to learn fast ! Solo, it does not glide very well and is not a joy to paddle on long stretches of still water when you want to make time. Stiff winds are unmanageable. You will go where ever the wind blows you.
THE PROS- There's no doubt that there's much better boats for flat water, but after practicing my J-stroke, and in a calm wind, I can keep my paddle on the same side of the boat for as long as I want and stay on course. In WW, compared to a friend's Old Town Discovery Scout, the Cascade turns on a dime, is quick to accelerate, and quick to slow. This allows me to catch certain eddies and cut across swift water that I can not do in the Scout. I can sit in swift water on a wave facing upstream. I have side-surfed on a small wave at the bottom of a rapid, but I don't recommend it. It was very tricky.
I have installed a homemade foam pedestal and knee pads with Velcro so I can adjust the trim. It is much more stable in this configuration for WW. I have installed Mohawk 48" end float bags and tie-down kits. I weigh 205 lbs. Using the pedestal and properly trimmed, both ends of the boat clear the water. This makes it very easy to spin. When capsized, with the air bags, and moderate load, the boat rides high on the water.
I consider myself a novice and have only had this canoe 4 trips (upper Little Missouri in Arkansas) on what I consider class II water. (this is based on what I was told was class IV water on a rafting trip on the Arkansas river in Colorado). This river has a lot of rocks, tight turns, and fair standing waves(for the class). It also has a few tough rapids with low, stout, tree branch overhangs where the river bends. Being a narrow, swift river, this makes it fairly technical to navigate in a canoe. I do get knocked around a little on this river from the waves and have come close to being thrown out of the boat. Before tackling anything rougher, I will install a factory pedestal and knee strap, probably from Mohawk. I have kept from swimming on 3 of the 4 trips so far. with a little more practice, I will be ready to tackle class III.
With all this in mind, right now, if I think this boat won't handle it, I don't want to run it. But who knows ..... ? Since I am a novice and don't have much to compare it to, I give it an 8.
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