291 forum posts
Need Canoe Info - Profile?
291 forum posts
Apple canoes were built in New England somewhere until the '80s. I've never seen one, but OK designs by all accounts. However, if it is kevlar and it is that old, bear in mind that kevlar does not age well. Also, if it is all kevlar, walk away immediately. Early all kevlar canoes were a disaster. The material is too flexible and has no impact resistance. Kevlar should be combined with other materials...s glass, e glass, spectra, etc.
The other canoe is probably a Merrimack or Navarro. The latter was started by a relative of the family that started the former. They are pretty boats, intended for flat water or light moving water. In my opinion, they suffer from material choice. They are neither a wood and canvas canoe, nor an all plastic boat. It won't be under 50 pounds. The seats look original, the decks look odd. Perhaps they and the gunnels have been replaced. The center thwart is suspect. If a kneeling thwart, it should be further aft. If a stiffening thwart, it should be attached to the gunnels.
How much are they? I can help with choices, but will need to know your parameters. There are a lot of canoes out there, and they are all different.
I just spoke with a friend who had some contact with Apple Canoes a number of years ago. They mostly built race boats(C-1s, C-2s, OC-1s, etc). The owners were apparently involved with some sort of government training program. If you got someone who was experienced to build your boat, it was OK. If you got someone just starting, there would be voids, poorly wetted vinylester resin, etc. Just because it says "kevlar" don't jump on it, literally and figuratively.
291 forum posts
Thanks for the help. Your info was right in line with what I was getting from the Wood Canoe Heritage Assoc. Forum & Adirondack;Paddling Forum I had also posted in. Your depth of expertise never fails to impress.
Every time I start the search again, I wind up getting frustrated and swearing I'm going to either just splurge on the $3K for a new one or set some time aside and build my own. First I'm too damn picky and second, not even sure what I want myself. I love the old wood boats but have need for a sixteen footer or better, to fit the family & gear, that is light enough to portage through the Adirondaks. I wouldn't mind Kevlar or Kevlar composite for the light weight but so many of them are trimmed in plastic, it just makes me gag. And still want to keep the price relatively low, around $1200. or so, not to pay ridiculous money for someone else used boat.
Doesn't help that I could build a cedar strip, wood canvas or Kevlar composite myself for about $800 or so. IF I had the time/space. I also live in the middle of a good canoe black hole here in NJ & a six hour drive just to go look at a boat is prohibitive.
So, the search goes on. Thanks again for the help.
Jersey, you are most welcome. To begin, you need to define your parameters. There are so many designs that have emerged over the years, and each one is different. I currently have eight canoes and each one is night and day different from the next.
You want light weight. Getting a boat that is under 50 pounds for a boat that is 16 feet or better, with the capacity to hold the family and gear, is without exception, an impossibility. If you can accept two people and some gear, with the weight in the 50 to 60 pound range, you have more options. Dave Curtis at Hemlock Canoes makes very nice boats and he sometimes knows of used ones. Don't be too concerned if someone else had it first and there are a few scratches. You would get that anyway with the first outing in a new boat. I have a Hemlock Eagle and it is a good design and an excellent finish. It is easy to portage and I think Dave claims 57 pounds. WIth outfitting, it might tip the scales above 60, but it is not noticeable. He trims in ash.
Building a boat is certainly an option depending on design, but you will need to find that design, which, from the sound of your commentary, you have not done. A composite boat would need a mold, and w/c, a form. The former has to be perfect and it does take a fair amount of experience to build a composite boat that is light and strong. And $800 is too low for materials, in my opinion, for building a good boat. Doubtless, it can be done, but the results won't be satisfying. Not for someone doing it for the first time as Apple found out. W/c is possible, but there is a lot to know there as well. I am finishing a Howe Trapper for a customer that is a sweet boat at 15 feet. Very light and I expect it to come in under 50 pounds. They are quite rare though.
Another w/c to consider is the Chestnut Bobs Special. It was originally the 50 Pound Lightweight.
$3000 will get you into a number of composite boats brand new, with wood trim. It will also get you into a w/c boat. BTW, most composite builders do not use the plastic gunnels on their kevlar lay ups as they are heavy. Many use aluminum. Ash is just as heavy. You could also get a boat without gunnels and put your own on. Using spruce would trim several pounds.
$1200 for a used kevlar boat? If it is in good shape and a good build, that is a decent price. You could paddle it for a few years and probably sell it for the same amount. I paid $700 for a used Outrage X ww solo and had to put new airbags in it. It is twenty years old now and pretty beat up, but still paddles well.
All kevlar boats were an abomination and I have not seen one in decades. Kevlar has strengths and weaknesses and to gain the right characteristics for a canoe, should be combined with other materials...e glass, spectra, carbon, etc.
A final note. In NJ you are near some very good canoe country. You just need to look. And remember, if it is a good boat, paying a decent price is to be expected.
291 forum posts
Thanks again for the info/insight. Funny you should mention the Hemlock Eagle, it's one I have had my eye on and yah, would really prefer used, at least price wise. Also been eying the Bell/Colden Flashfires, drooling is more like it, at least until I see the price, but thinking I may be going from a Chevy to a Ferrari a little too prematurely with them.
What do you think about the Great Canadian fiberglass boats? Seen a few lately at pretty reasonable prices. I like the way the hull design looks but the weight is probably a little high. The prices are pretty reasonable, which makes me wonder why.
Seen a Sawyer Kevlar composite also. Has horrible aluminum/plastic seat, aluminum portage yoke and gunnels, but I could tear all that out and replace it with Ash.
I wish I had more experience with a number of boats/designs so I knew more what I want. Primarily, I'm all flat water but wouldn't mind venturing into really modest moving water/rapids. I've had to restrict trips with portages due to the 95lb tub I'm hauling now, but really want to get as reasonably light as I can. Lately when tripping, my son is in his Kayak but all the gear is in the canoe and when we reach a destination, the boat is unloaded and my son is in the canoe when we are out exploring. I really want something a bit faster/easier to paddle than the poly tub I'm in now, but I imagine just about anything would be.
I wouldn't mind getting close to or under the 50lb line, some of the portages in the Adirondacks can be considerable, but it's very firmly in the back of my mind that I may wind up with a 60lber for now. Just a good excuse to buy/make another at some point. :) I have seen several 38 - 45 lb. Kevlar or composite boats listed in the 16 foot range lately, cruising through Craigslist. I guess the way they achieve that weight on that length boat is less than desirable?
As a Master Woodworker with considerable "cross platform" expertise in metalwork, machining, fiberglass work over a couple dozen years, I'm in a unique place to build my own. Granted, it will be my first boat, but I've been studying the techniques for several years now, several books, dozens of Youtube videos & website blogs, it all looks very easy, given my level of experience. Yes, the design is still something to be reckoned with. The main reason I haven't done it yet is that I have so little experience with different boats/designs. I do have a book with the plans for several different styles and was thinking on doing a Prospector in wood strip/fiberglass as a first go around. The time and space factor is just really prohibitive right now. Looking at putting an addition on the house this fall along with running my company 16 hours a day. Which puts me back on Craigslist... I really need to get out in the woods, my head is spinning again.
The Charlie WIlson designed Fire series are nice boats. And they are within the weight range you wanted(under 50 lbs). However, they don't have enough volume "to fit the family and gear" as you mentioned, which is why I said that it would be an impossibility to get a 16 or longer high volume tandem in the under 50 pound range. There are lots of solos and some small tandems that get in that weight range, but when you say you need enough capacity to hold the kids and the wife and gear, safely, there isn't anything out there.
As far as portages, as I detailed on my Trailspace articles, portaging is much more technique, than strength. You will need a well fitting yoke and I would also recommend using a tump. When you say that some of the portages in the Adirondacks are considerable, how long? I consider five miles long. Two to three miles is a couple of hours.
Regarding Prospector canoes. They are popular, and almost every builder has a "Prospector" in their line. But that is more marketing than anything else, as some Prospectors are so far from the original that anyone would be hard pressed to see any resemblance with a true Prospector. The true Prospector that Chestnut developed, was a high volume boat that had a high degree of rocker. Bill Mason popularized the 16 foot version and so many people say they want a "real" Prospector. However, what many people don't realize, is that the boat Bill paddled in his films solo, was often a Chestnut PAL. As well, most people are not putting several hundred pounds of gear in a boat, and then they are usually paddling lakes. They may have poor technique. Put them in a Chestnut Prospector on a lake, and they are likely to ask,"what did Mason see in this boat?" What does this mean for you? Nearly all manufacturers of so-called Prospectors modify their designs to incorporate less rocker, narrower beam and less depth, making a boat that works better for most people.
Great Canadian canoes? I can't see they come up much in discussions on canoes. Their plank and rib boats with GRP skin are not a good material choice.
Sawyer built some good boats, many were Gene Jensen designs...fast downriver racers. They have not been made in many years. But the plastic seats were and are the norm for hit and switch racers. They are often quite skinny, so a conventional seats or kneeling isn't going to work well in them.
I have to say, that given the science and art in boat construction, it is one thing to read about building a boat, but quite another to actually do it. It can certainly be done, but there are so many variables. Resin choices, foam core or solid lay up, material choices, where to put reinforcement, how much flex is allowable, versus durability. These are all choices that builders like Charlie Wilson, Ted Bell, Jim Henry, Dave Curtis and others have worked at and refined over the years. Your first boat will be more of a learning process. By number 10, you may be starting to get the idea. So, better to leave the building to some else.
Craigslist weights on canoes, and even manufacturers weights, might be an average. In any event, take quoted weight with a grain of salt. Again, there are solo boats in the weight category you are looking for, but a tandem tripper capable of wife, kids and gear in under fifty pounds isn't realistic. Even sixty pounds is light. My Hemlock Eagle is certainly that and probably more, in the Expedition weight.
In conclusion, to narrow your choices, you need to refine your parameters even more. Why? So far, I know you want a 16+ boat that is under 50 pounds, is capable of being paddled solo, has wood trim, can carry the family and gear, isn't expensive and is capable of both lakes and rivers to perhaps Class 2. You will need to make some compromises. First the wood trim. As a wood worker, you know that ash is heavy. If you want light weight, put spruce gunnels on. Capable of Class 2 and lakes. OK, at least a couple of inches of rocker. Capacity, ought to at least be 900 pounds with six inches of free board. Length should be about 15'8" to 16'8". Shallow arch bottom. Material should be composite, kevlar with some other material including e glass or s glass, either vinylester or epoxy, hand laid, preferably vacuum bagged.NO KEEL. Now paddling style. Do you hit and switch or kneel? This will help to know.
Finally, take a few days and go to a paddling demo day. A lot of shops have them. Spend some time paddling boats to find what you want. Every boat is different. I led a club trip last week end and one of the spouses mentioned that her husband, a new member, had four boats and she thought that was too many. I replied that I probably wasn't the person to ask and that I considered four canoes not nearly enough. I have eight in my garage right now and another on order. It would be like asking a fisherman how many lures is enough?
1,681 forum posts
Please continue this discussion. Thanks to Erich and Jersey.
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Topic: Need Canoe Info - Profile?
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