After more than a year of research, I purchased my Hemlock Eagle (my first canoe) in May, 2006. My wife and I usually tandem paddle Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, California, and Upper Newport Bay on occasion. Also, using the optional kneeling thwart and kneeling pad I enjoy paddling solo - Canadian Style.
The Eagle performs well both tandem and solo on flat water. I have no problem paddling tandem or solo in the afternoon onshore winds (8 to12 mph); Alamitos Bay is not a large body of water, therefore wind waves are not a factor. The only experience I have with moving water is with the tides. Tacking against strong wind and the tides work well for me in the Eagle.
I appreciate the positioning of the bow and stern seats. In either seat, you are close to the gunwales; I find the Eagle easier to paddle than certain canoes with wider paddling stations.
Most of my friends in Southern California have never experienced the canoe. (Most folks in this area paddle sit-on-top or ocean kayaks.) All have felt at ease and comfortable in the bow seat. Any fear they may have had is quickly dispelled after a few minutes of paddling the Eagle. I highly recommend this canoe for novice and experienced paddlers.
P.S. I found a great video of Canadian Style paddling on youtube.com. If you Google “Canadian Style Paddling” you should be able to find it.This is an astounding craft. Hemlock Canoes are the next generation of Curtis Canoes, built by the well known upstate New York canoe maker and craftsman, Dave Curtis. The Eagle is a 16 1/2 foot prospector type hull, but with all the sweet design embelishments that make Curtis' boats stand out. Ours is the fiberglass version and goes about 65 lbs with the ash gunnels and thwarts. We have been paddling for years and have 7 carefully chosen boats in the family, this being the latest addition. She is a highly capable tandem that has great speed, and is also highly manueverable. Even with a load, it does not feel sluggish. Experienced paddlers will love this boat.
As a solo, she also shines. It has 36" of beam, but with tumblehome she is only 32" across the center yoke which allows me to settle into a very comfortable and stable Canadian style paddling. Dave has reduced the freeboard a bit to give her better handling in the wind, but did not sacrifice the dryness. For those familar with Curtis Canoes, the Eagle is essentially a longer version of his popular 13 1/2 ft. Ladybug, with all the performance and beautiful lines.
It also appears to be a very durable boat. We obtained ours from Hemlock, used, after it had spent two seasons in an outfitters fleet. It had been maintained after each season by Hemlock, but even considering its first two years, the boat shows no more indicators of wear and stress than some of our 8 year old boats.
We highly recommend this canoe. We realize that they may be hard to find because Dave only sells them from his shop, but it definitly worth the search.