Another "what boat did I buy" question

-- Last Updated: Sep-05-09 1:09 PM EST --

Serial number hard to read... stamped on rear starboard hull under gunwale. MADEX...ending in 687. Obviously Mad River. Current catalog has promo photo of grizzled handsome guy (not me) carrying identical canoe in trim and color carrying canoe with yoke down dock w/ dog. Olive, stained slotted ash gunwales, cane seats. Looks like an Explorer, fiberglass, 16'4" from tip to tip - but extremely light, I'm guessing less than 60 pounds. Very thin hull which was flexing slightly on drive home. Good shape. Needs maintenance, for which I've found good advice here. Former owner says he bought it second-hand in '97 thereabouts.

Mad River
16’ 4" LOA is right for a composite Explorer. But I believe the boat you mention shown in the catalog is a Royalex “Duck Hunter” Explorer.

Slotted inwales were available as an option on MRC wood-trimmed canoes. I don’t remember olive being a stock color on gel-coated compostite Explorers, however. They did offer camouflage and may have offered olive as a custom color.

I suspect your boat was made in June of 1987. The fiberglass Explorer weighed 70 lbs. The all Kevlar Explorer weighed 54 lbs. The foam-cored Kevlar (called Kevlar/Airex hybrid by MRC) weighed 50 lbs.

1987 MRC fiberglass Explorer…
actually built n the fall of '86 for model year ‘87. The color is an Indian Brown gel coat(the equivelent of Olive Drab in royalex).

Happy paddlin’


But if it feels that light, is it
fiberglass? Knowing the portly dimensions of the Explorer, I don’t think a pure FG version could feel “light.”

Should be easy to determine by examining any scratches on the boat, and there are always some. Or, scrape away a bit of interior paint and look for the characteristic Kevlar color.

Thanks, y’all. Mystery deepens…
Length is exactly 16’4", width across yoke from the outsides, not center-to-center, is 36.5. The description was light and vague. At the pickup, for a dizzy moment I’d thought I’d found the legendary Malecite, but it was obvious soon after I sprayed off the clay and grime that it wasn’t likely. That EX part of the serial number settled it as an Explorer. The pebbled surface of the interior-side cloth looks like FG or at least to this neophyte. But it’s true, the thing is too damn light for that. I’ll have to weigh it tomorrow.

My first attempt at finding a boat brought home another fiberglass boat, an Old Town Katahdin 12. That boat’s 4 feet shorter, 4.5" wider, and noticeably much more heavy.I found quickly it’s a real grunt to get it from place to place. Walking 20 yards from the car to the water, I was feeling very compressed and the gravel was palpable through the Chacos.

Ah, well, no matter what, this ends my canoe searching obsession for now. Reading Mad River’s archived materials, I see the Explorer series was described as having from minimal to moderate rocker.

Kevlar, Royalex, or Fiberglass

– Last Updated: Sep-09-09 2:11 PM EST –

I think you can be pretty sure it's not Royalex. If you have any doubt, look at the wood trim. On royalex boats you can generally see the hull material between the outwales and the inwales. On composite boats, there is a rabbet cut on the outwale or inwale so that the wood covers the sharp edge of the top of the hull.

The Kevlar/Airex boats are easy to spot. You can see the foam core in the hull bottom.

You will feel the weave of the cloth on the hull interior on both fiberglass and Kevlar boats. MRC sometimes gelcoated or painted the inside bottom of the hull for UV protection. Any exposed Kevlar takes on a deep honey color over time. Also, I believe MRC was still putting large "Kevlar 49" decals on their Kevlar boats at the time that one was made, although it might have been removed.

Sounds like you picked up an awesome boat. I’d love to find an old kevlar Mad River somewhere.