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  SAWYER CANOE COMPANY, visit trip report
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-05-05 3:42 PM (EST)
   Category: Canoes 

-- Last Updated: May-05-05 4:08 PM EST --

A visit trip report to the SAWYER CANOE COMPANY.

A happy ending to a long trip to do some gruelling family business. After business was behind me I headed to Carl and John's Paddlin in Madison, WI to pick up a couple of new canoes. Got to talk to Carl about what is happening in canoeing and the past as well. A lesson in how to turn a short one hour stop into almost three hours. Great stop! Then it was on to St Paul, MN to pick up an old Sawyer Loon which brings us our subject. I drove to Ohio next to spend some time with the new owners of Sawyer Canoe. Yes, the rumors are true the Sawyer Canoe Company has been sold, hauled our of storage, and is up and running! No, the rumor about a guy in his garage is NOT true.

Spent a great morning and lunch with Bruce and Irma. They are true seasoned professionals with what seems to be the right drive and backgrounds in management, manufacturing, engineering, and procurement to make this enterprise go! Also met the owner of the professional composite forming company that is currently laying up the Sawyer hulls. He is very knowledgeable, professional, very personable, and is also a paddler.

We spent the morning sharing canoe information, discussing the Loon, Sawyer, and other high quality boats. I shared all the pertinent info I had gathered from various sources and helping to build boats in a commercial canoe shop for several years. They shared the current Sawyer lay up and process. Got so involved in just talking that almost left without seeing the production facility and THE PRODUCT, but thank goodness remembered at the last minute. The tour of the facility and inspection of the boats in various stages of build really sealed my impression of the rebirth of Sawyer! First class! Go Sawyer! Go for it!

I was deeply impressed with everything I heard and saw!!! Does it show a little? ;^) Being the natural sceptic and fault finder, and being somewhat knowledgeable in the area this is not that easy to do. There was extra speciality cloth in all the right high stress areas. Many kinds and weights of cloth were used that give the strength needed but keep weight to a minimum. More speciality cloth varieties than I believe I have seen in any other hull and/or deck lay up. The reinforced area in the central bottom of the hull is not foam that can move, tear, and abrade, but a vertical standing core of material that fills with resin making a true, solid, and dependable reinforced area where it is needed. The gel coat I saw looked flawless. Although already looking good, additional steps are being taken to make the interior finish look even better. I now understand why the "prototype" Loon we have been test paddling in our "Decked Canoes" evaluation did not oil can or exhibit some of the other bad characters I and some of the other testers expected. (Another make of the test boats, which looked and felt very similar in lay up ,did oil can.)

The new owners of Sawyer Canoes are definitely professionals and some of the nicest people I have met!

All those involved seem to want to DO IT RIGHT and in light of the many major changes in the canoe industry the timing seems to be right too!

I feel there are great things in the future for the Sawyer Canoe Company.

Happy Paddl'n!



 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Boat Loader


YakCatcher Rod Holder

Pull-Up Strap Handle Kit

2-Boat Free-Standing

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Messages in this Topic


  What - No free samples?
  Posted by: JackL on May-05-05 4:18 PM (EST)
  But I did get to look and touch! :^)
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-05-05 10:16 PM (EST)
And I have been paddling a loaned free sample in the Decked Canoe tests.

When I paddled the new Loon for about the third or forth time and got past the little fixes and improvements needed (which btw Sawyer is working on) I suddenly got that feeling "I'm home" feeling I was in a Kruger design. The same kind of feeling I get in most David Yost designs as well.

The hulls sure looked great and were very well made. Now I have a big problem! Which is the Sawyer I want to add to my fleet first? Always like Sawyer looks, but as they were no longer made I was not looking at them with a buyers intensity. Now I need to study Sawyer canoes closer.

Happy Paddl'n!


  Thank Mick
  Posted by: osprey on May-05-05 4:38 PM (EST)
Thanks much for sharing your observations, Mick.

It is good to hear such positive expectations for the new Sawyer.

What are the changes you refer to in the canoe industry that you think will help these folks make it?
  Not ignoring your question osprey.
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-06-05 11:05 AM (EST)
I have only a few hours and must leave for the weekend. Killing the backed up rats from my last trip as fast as I can. May not finish reply until next week, but do intent to get back to it. If I do not please yell at me!

ould not have even started this thread, but I promised myself and some others I would get'er done before leaving again.

Happy Paddl'n!


  It'll sure keep
  Posted by: osprey on May-06-05 12:21 PM (EST)
Safe travels.
  In the mean time osprey, what do you
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-06-05 10:57 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-07-05 7:38 AM EST --

think is happening at manufacturers like Souris River, Bell, Clipper ... ?

What about the newer little specialty start ups like Placid BoatWorks,...?

Restart of potentually big companies like Sawyer, ... ?

Your local watersports shop(s)?

What else?


  Back on Me?
  Posted by: osprey on May-07-05 12:46 AM (EST)
Man if I had a clue about trends in the industry. I wouldn't ask so many dumb questions. :-)

We don't have a paddle local paddle shop. A few big box sporting goods stores carry a few fairly low end boats.

A Cabela's is going in up near Austin and that makes me concerned about the paddle shops up that way. But maybe they deal with a different clientel mostly anyway.

Something good must be happening, though, or why would these start ups be interested?
  what is the line up
  Posted by: baldpaddler on May-05-05 6:30 PM (EST)
of old boats they are going to re-release? any new offerings in solos'?
  Sawyer production line up - see below
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-05-05 8:42 PM (EST)
  Thanx for reminder! Did mean to mention
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-05-05 8:23 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-06-05 6:58 AM EST --

model status.

I would not expect any new models out in the beginning. As I understand it Sawyer canoes were so well designed that they are still used in amateur competitions. I know the old models are still sought by paddlers everywhere. Updates and new models during the start up would most likely be a waste of time and money. I would expect that once up and running Sawyer would probably have David Yost take a look at what model or models might benefit from an upgrade. I believe we hit upon that note in our discussions during the visit.

As to Sawyer models now in production: Loon (solo), Summer Song (solo), Autumn Mist (solo), and Cruiser (very popular tandem) as far as I know. Read below for details.

They are at the very start of production. They have taken the time to get things right from the start of actual production. I do know there are two "prototype" Loons at Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville, PA. These were early builds and Sawyer has been very quick to respond to minor problems pointed out by BMO and paddlers alike. There is at least one more Loon currently in build, maybe two. I saw an almost completed Summer Song and another in the mold I believe. An Autumn Mist is to be built soon and is to be test paddled for a write up in Paddler Magazine I believe. Now be patient as it can be some time between paddle and write up until the article actually appears. Hey all you Sawyer Cruiser fans! A mold was being prepared to build a Cruiser very soon.
Model production beyond this I do not know. I am sure that inquiries and feel back from paddlers will determine what gets built next.

I know there has been one inquiry for one of the old speciality extra long racing hulls that did not appear in the catalogs.

Sawyer Canoe is to be at the Inlet, NY Paddlefest week end after next, 13-14 (?) May. Go see the great folks of Sawyer, see a couple of boats, get more of your questions answered, and input what you really think and want to see.

Sorry you had to ask baldpaddler and very glad you did remind me!

Happy Paddl'n!



  I was mistaken. It was in the catalog!
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-06-05 8:25 AM (EST)
"I know there has been one inquiry for one of the old speciality extra long racing hulls that did not appear in the catalogs."

I just found it in an old Sawyer catalog, a 24' Saber! Looks like it is breaking the sound barrier while just sitting there!

  My neighbors have a Sawyer Oscoda
  Posted by: pamskee on May-05-05 10:43 PM (EST)
and a Cruiser. They really boogie. I enjoyed paddling them both. We have several guys in our club who paddle Sawyers. Two are Autum Mists, one is a Summer Song.
  I Just Added
  Posted by: old_user on May-05-05 11:11 PM (EST)
Some "New" Sawyer items to "My Albums" as well as one containing the 1979 Mad River Catalogue.

For those who would like to check them out you will find them here..............

  I stopped at Carl & John's
  Posted by: yanoer on May-05-05 11:23 PM (EST)
last summer. It is real easy to spend alot of time talking to those guys. They're real nice and know alot.

Thanks for this great information. I bought and sold a Sawyer 190 last summer (it was too tippy for my wife). I look forward to test paddling some of the new production.
  oil canning
  Posted by: old_user on May-06-05 10:46 AM (EST)
which boat oil canned?
  Believe it or not the beautifully built
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-06-05 11:00 AM (EST)
esquizetly built Sea-1. It was minor oil canning and we were in rough conditions. Would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes and another paddler said they saw it too. As I said it was very minor and I would not be overly concerned about it. Certainly a lot less that any Royalex.

Happy Paddl'n!


  Hope it works
  Posted by: old_user on May-09-05 1:29 PM (EST)
I've come across some old models of Sawyer and there have been some interesting, no-compromise designs. I also spoke with the owner a little while back and he was shooting to get some good prototypes available for shows. I'll be interested in seeing what the production models, once he gets the line cranked up. (Interesting that they're just on the verge of production and couldn't be told where I could even see one, and yet two infommercials - I mean "reviews" - on different models pop up today. I doubt if it's coming form Sawyer, because the owner sounded astute.)
  Loon "infomercial"
  Posted by: c2g on May-09-05 1:46 PM (EST)
If you check my earlier posts, you will see that the Loon some of us paddled was a pre-production boat. And yes, it's from the folks who currently own and operate Sawyer. In addition, since they are planning to start by offering some of the old Sawyer designs, it is to be expected that there are folks here who have paddled them.
  Who needs to check?
  Posted by: old_user on May-09-05 3:32 PM (EST)
You missed that the review alludes to ownership ("mine"), not a try-out of a pre-production model. If someone is grinding out reviews of multiple models he "has" when the manufacturer isn't even into distribution, and those reviews are short on information and long on, (and I quote) "wow, wow, wow," and that doesn't raise an eyebrow with you, you might want to avoid attempting to impose advice on other posters.
  Just what reviews are you referring to?
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-09-05 4:11 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-09-05 4:28 PM EST --

I just read both reviews on this site. Neither one says "wow, wow, wow,". One says "mine" and that is obviously a reference to an older Loon he owns. I myself own an older Loon. In my writings about the paddle tests of decked canoes we did refer to "mine" when talking about the Sea Wind. We did use my Sea Wind in these tests. The only "wow, wow, wow," turned up in repeated "edit searches" is yours. Please let us know what review you are talking about.

Happy Paddl'n!



  It's in the Summersong reviews (eom)
  Posted by: old_user on May-09-05 4:46 PM (EST)
  Thanks bellcapt. I can see where Paladin
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-09-05 5:19 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-09-05 5:23 PM EST --

might think these recent reviews could be staged. I know most all of the paddlers that have written recent info on the Sawyer canoes. I can pretty well assure you that this is not a conspiracy to promote the new Sawyer Canoe Company. It just happens that when the magazine contracted for an article on decked canoes there were new Sawyer preproduction Loon available nearby. wildwater is an enthusiastic canoeist who does own a lot of boats. He was not connected with the decked canoe tests. He is obviously enthusiastic about his Sawyer canoe and with the increased interest with the restart of production is talking about it and the Sawyers canoes he owns just like the rest of us. I am very enthusiastic myself! I also would not be any part of a staged review, underhanded promotion scam to promote any product in this manner. The type of promotion only hurts the product and the company in the long run. I have talked with many people that have met the new owners. I recently had the chance to meet them myself. They are great people, honest and open. They have way too much experience in the business world and too much invested to play childish games. Sawyer is too good of a product and the owners are far above stooping to such low antics.

Hope this has eased your mind. I do think what you are seeing is a lot of enthusiasm the older Sawyer canoes paddlers already own and for the return of the whole line of great canoes!

Hope this has helped.

Happy Paddl'n!



  Didn't see him questioning the canoes
  Posted by: old_user on May-09-05 5:45 PM (EST)
just those reviews, which I also viewed with a grain of salt. I confess to feeling a real nostalgia tug, because when I started paddling, I thought Sawyer had some designs that were way out in front. Of course, I thought the same about my pushrod, carburated Vette then, and the current version would kick its butt. But this field is becoming oligopolistic, so I wish all the independents well.
  Wow, wow, wow SUMMERSONG
  Posted by: wildwater on May-09-05 6:31 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-09-05 6:32 PM EST --

That's MY review of MY Summersong. I also own an Autumn Mist, Oscoda Loon, and sold my Cruiser (wife doesn't paddle too much - buddy's head is too big to balance him).

I was not promoting the Summersong. It is just that I've been looking for the hottest flatwater canoe out there which can be paddled kneeling or sitting...

I found it. A Summersong in Kevlar in great condition. I love it as much as I love my Bell Wildfire and Grasse River XL...

I'm a canoe/kayak dealer. I get to paddle a lot of boats. Where I am (Coldwater, MI), the locals don't buy a lot of high-dollar canoes/kayaks, so I get "stuck" with demoing them to my friends.

Come on...the Summersong is 27 1/2" wide and 15'6" long. It is a Yost design. It is FAST and stable. How can I not "wow" at its performance...

The only salting of that I've ever done was trying to pour salt into political zealots...

  Any thoughts on the Oscoda 13 Solo?
  Posted by: yanoer on May-10-05 2:28 AM (EST)
I test paddled an old model for about 10 minutes on Sugar Creek in Indiana Sunday and I liked it. It belonged to another paddler (Elaine) who looked like she was around 70 years old. She'd owned the boat for several years. When I expressed interest in the boat, she offered to let me test paddle it and I accepted gleefully. Her paddling companions were surprised that I was interested in her boat that they teased her about all the time. I was confused because I thought that the Oscoda 13 was well respected and liked.

I used her feathered kayak paddle and it took a while to get used to it (I usually use an unfeathered kayak paddle for all my paddling), but I liked the experience. It felt twitchy (similar to the Sawyer 190 that I sold last fall), yet secure at the same time. I liked the seat and think it would be a great river boat with the addition of foot braces. It seemed pretty quick. When I started to get into the boat, a couple of the people asked if they should get their cameras - if I was planning to "go turtle" for them. Apparently "going turtle" wasn't uncommon for other people who'd test paddled Eilene's Oscoda 13. This is a model that I'd strongly consider buying if I found a used one. It felt fun on that fast moving water.

Anybody else have thoughts on this model?
  What is this Oscoda???
  Posted by: wildwater on May-10-05 6:24 AM (EST)
Don't post a review of it - no one will believe you actually own it...

Is this a decked 13' canoe or is it open???

  Too late wildwater, already 4 reviews
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-10-05 7:14 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-10-05 7:46 AM EST --

of the Oscoda 13' solo posted! ;^)

For those of you that do not know, Oscoda was the livery and lower price point line for Sawyer Canoes.

I had a couple of Oscoda 16s. They were decent canoes. I have an Oscoda Loon


BTW: I heard that there are between 6 and 10 Oscoda canoes available, but I do not know which models.

  might be mistaken
  Posted by: c2g on May-10-05 7:47 AM (EST)
But I think the poster is talking about the 13' Sawyer Oscoda, as opposed to the Oscoda-branded boats that were produced by Sawyer.
  Oscoda model Sawyer not found in 1985
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-10-05 9:41 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-10-05 9:43 AM EST --

Sawyer catalog or in the catalogs and ads on ogilvyspecial1's site

The 13' Sawyer solo listed is the StarLight at 13'4". Then AutumnMist at 14'10" and SummerSong at 15'4". Then it goes into the Specialty Solos: the ShockWave and D.Y. Special, both at 16'8". And the Loon at 17', which is actually 17'2"

I do believe that all the Oscoda line of canoes by the Sawyer Canoe Company were spray ups, glass mat, chopper gun, etc lay ups. Sawyer canoes on the other hand were always hand laid up cloth. So it should be very easy to tell which brand it actually is just by looking.

Happy Paddl'n!



  I don't think it was chopper gun.
  Posted by: yanoer on May-10-05 10:48 AM (EST)
I didn't look at the lay up very closely, but my first canoe was a 12' American Fiberlite chopper gun lay up and I would have noticed immediately if this was chopper gun.

The appearance and handling reminded me of a solo version Sawyer 190 that I sold last year. Relatively wide and twitchy. The seat was a comfortable feeling large white "tractor" seat. The boat turned easier than my Mad River Slipper. It had the original red paint. I didn't check the serial # for the year of manufacture. I've only seen one of these advertised in the last three or four years and it was at the Appomattox outfitters in Virginia a couple years ago. The guy I talked to there and a couple other guys that worked there owned the boats and liked them quite a bit.

I have read the four reviews, but they're pretty old and I was wondering if anyone more experienced than me had any more recent experience and thoughts on the boat.

Thanks for all your feedback.

  Sawyer's Oscoda Line up for 1985
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-12-05 11:21 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-12-05 11:23 AM EST --

Here is Sawyer's Oscoda Line up for 1985

Solo 13
Sport 16 (I had two of these)
Family 17
Touring 16
Royalex Raider 16-6

Huntsman 13TS
Huntsman 13
Huntsman 16
Huntsman 18TS
Huntsman 18

The Loon was in the Sawyer line in 1985, but could not find it in the Oscoda line.

My 1987 Loon has an Oscoda name on it and seems to the GoldenGlass layup or possibly a straight fiberglass layup. Hard to tell as the outside is gel coated and the inside is painted so can not see the color of the cloth. The inside weave is course, more like what I am used to being called Kevlar or fiberglass roving at the Kruger shop. The kind of heavy weave we pulled woven strands from to get what we called "rope". We used this rope to strengthen areas like the bow, stern, seat mount attachment to the hull, seat supports to the seat, cat pole tubes to the deck, and so fourth. I plan to weigh Loon when it is available again to better determine which layup and therefor line it might be. I would not be surprised of when they needed an Oscoda Loon they would just slap "Oscoda" on what had been laid up as a Sawyer Loon. It would be a treasure found if was a Sawyer instead of an Oscoda! We'll see what is indicated.

More later ...

Happy Paddl'n!



  Ok, ok ... I'm impatient. Could not wait
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-12-05 12:40 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-12-05 12:52 PM EST --

I went out in the rain and pulled the Loon off the shuttle van.

Grabbed my camp gear and light boat scale. Weighted each end. Wow 23# + 23-1/2# = 46-1/2# Ya-Hoo! ... Wham-Bam ... thinking, something's not right ... sure feels heavier than that! Then I remembered ... Do not use any scale within 10% of either end of the rated weight. (For explosives work we used to reject any reading that fell within 20% of either end of the scale's rating.) Checked the scale rating. Darn! Rated for 21# and a few ounces. Probably went past the end margin and against the stop.

Grabbed the big scale and did it again, then three times more. Average of 31# stern + 32# bow = 63# total. Subtract out the metal rudder and rest of rudder system, carry yoke, seat, seat supports, painters, and rope handles gets it down into GoldenGlass weight range. Sawyer stated their average weights were with hull trimed out with anodized gunwales and thwarts so must other items not weighed. A good guess then is my Loon is likely a GoldenGlass layup. It could be either a Sawyer or a Oscoda. Will have to go with Oscoda for now as that is what the decal says.

Cutting it down to a 14' to 15' hull is still a good possibility! It would be a Rob Roy on steroids!!!

Happy Paddl'n!



  Don't Do It
  Posted by: wildwater on May-13-05 7:19 AM (EST)
Why cut down the Oscoda Loon. Why not go purchase an Old Town Loon, instead. It'd be about the same weight and would perform about the same...


My Oscoda Loon weighs about 55 or so pounds. I'm sure it's goldenglass. 1988. Nice canoe...

  I know sad Glenn, but have no choice!
  Posted by: mcwood4 on May-13-05 9:29 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-13-05 9:39 PM EST --

Tried to fit the Oscoda Loon into it's new home under the deck. Darn, it just so happens it is two feet too long. You understand, connivances and all ;^) Hummm ... Let me see ... Maybe I can cut 2' off the stern instead of sectioning 2' out of the middle. ;^) Just kidding! Take it easy. I'm really just kidding about having to cut it to store it that is.

BUT on the other hand. I'm not kidding about shortening it 2' plus or minus ... Hummmm ... Stern shortening would maintain maximum buoyancy in the stern, an area where the Loon has always had a big problem anyway. And I probably would not have to reposition the seat as the out of balance condition would be corrected! As Dick, a local Naval ship designer pointed out: how would I keep the fair and continuos lines if I cut the center out. Steve's Loon that was lengthened 2' did look strange in the middle as they kept the same max width. So now, back to cutting off the stern: There are several ways I could finish the new stern off that would keep it slippery and give it a unique shape: "Y" shaped, knife edge ended (much harder), A stern the lifts gradually out of the water like a sail boat. Make a rudder shaped like stern and therefor continue the lines and "lengthen the effective length (WOW A few stiff double Irish Creams in the evening do seen to help one think ;^). It would be non retractable, but left in the neutral position it would just add length to the hull length and not effect steering or tracking any different than a normal hull. Not enough rudder area in the articulating hull? Inclose a retractable skeg inside the articulating portion ... Hummmm ... Think I will have to actively pursue this one! What other shapes, configurations, ? Maybe post a question here on the net searching for other best solutions, a contest of sorts? How to improve this hull? Or How to complicate it beyond belief? Hee, hee, hee ... Pour me another double!

Ok, nuf fun for the nite. Need to get the kid off to bed. Nighty-nite all.




  Posted by: Beyond on May-14-05 6:09 PM (EST)
Please tell me you ARE kidding?
  sawyer canoe
  Posted by: old_user on Jun-24-07 10:39 PM (EST)
can anyone give me info on a 1977 model #SAW122590777.
SELLER wants 500. It is in great shape with only a small dingin the stern.


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