Black Gold Layup for Rocky Whitewater???

Anyone use a black gold layup boat in rocky whitewater rivers? Just curious how it holds up to the abuse…class II / II+


Pretty Well
We made several four blanket WildFires and one CrossFire that will probably be there at the end of time. I’ve also used both Flash and Wild in the more common three blanket lamination, including a run on the Nanny including Nantahala Falls. Mo damage other than scratches. This spring, I thumped down the class 2 Grasse River in very boney condition in a B/G Flash with nothing more than a couple scratches.

Matt, even a pure E-glass layup, if
planned and laid up properly, will stand up to class 2 whitewater. The deal is, the layup can’t be too oriented toward light weight rather than durability.

If CE says that Blackgold has enough “stuff” to use on rocky class 2, you can be confident it will be OK.

Hi Bowler
CEW and I have had this discussion before. He is correct as usual, but with several assumptions. First it can be done but the runs must be near perfect. In other words these hulls on a Class II-III river require advanced skills to make it through without damage. Also, the Fire Series hulls tend to ship a lot of water unless the paddler has exceptional skills. A sprayskirt would be recommended. Second, you have to run light. If you have a heavy load in a composite hull and screw up in a fast Class III drop and dive full speed into a large granite boulder, chances are some damage will result. I’ve taken some hits on the entry line in particular, in a Dagger Genesis that would probably damage my Wildfire composite.

I’d say this, CEW is correct, but with the caveat that some damage could result unless the paddler possesses advanced skills.

I had a BG Northstar and have also put a lot of miles on a BG Merlin II and both have taken a bunch of respectable rock hits without flinching.

The rocks I’ve hit are all pretty rounded. If your rocks have rebar sticking out of them…then your results may vary.

It all depends on where you are
If you are on a typical US river with perhaps a days walk to out… no problem.

If you are loaded with two weeks of gear on an Arctic river…no way. Unless of course for those of you that are repair wizards. That would not be me.

At least that is my philosophy: plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Glass canoes were used for years for whitewater river runs, so why not Black Gold.

He said class II/II+, not class III.
Most of the Nantahala is class II+. I would not care to run that much class II+ in a Wildfire, though I think I could do it in a Starfire.

Asking about the ability of the Blackgold layup to do a lot of continuous whitewater, even just class II+, would mean laying up a boat design in Blackgold that makes class II+ easy to run.

I have a Millbrook whitewater boat in a similar layup and weight that does just fine on the Nantahala and similar rivers. It is acquiring some surface compression breaks in the outer S-glass, but they seem to be of little consequence. They don’t leak and the hull does not seem to flex around them. If I had the same boat with the outer layers replaced by carbon rather than S-glass, I’m sure it would still be strong enough. Not as strong in the long run as Royalex, but much lighter, and easier to repair.

We had a bunch of Royalex boats
punched neatly by “rebar” left in SE rivers during the Civil War. I guess my composite boats could have been similarly holed, but for some reason it hasn’t happened.

Composites have always run WW
Ever since Kevlar was made available in WW boats, the best WW canoeists I knew – both C1 and OC1 – paddled glass/Kevlar canoes in all classes of WW. Composites mold and hold hydrodynamic hull shapes better, are much lighter than alternative materials, and hence can be accelerated faster and maneuvered more precisely in WW.

The best WW paddlers aren’t going to touch those rocks in the river; they have the skills to avoid them. Hence, many paddlers conclude they would rather have the light weight and precision of a composite hull than the added durability of Royalex. (Some paddlers reach that conclusion even before they have the requisite skills … with predictable results … and memories.)

Now, if you’re talking about running bony rivers, I wouldn’t intentionally submit any composite canoe to that abuse. Sometimes it happens unintentionally, however, such as when you are paddling an unfamiliar river that shallows out in rapids that you can’t see from access points.

I have no idea as to how an outer layer of carbon would hold up to constant abrasion and impacts vs. an outer layer of S-glass. I suspect glass is better, since I think that is what WW specialty shops such as Millbrook still use.

I wouldn’t run my BG canoe in class 3 at all or in class 2 with any regularity. However, the composite chemistry of the hull would not be the key consideration for my not doing so. I wouldn’t do it because the hull shape-depth is sub-optimal for such WW and so is the outfitting I have in it. I would use one of my deeper S-glass/Kevlar hulls with proper outfitting.