Does anyone here have experience with these boats?
I’ve inherited a solo Blackhawk (either a nighthawk or a shadow, have to measure it). I’ve noticed the few reviews but wondered if anyone here owned or owns one, and what they think about it?
Does anyone here have experience with these boats?
I have just a "little" experience with them......
They are absolutely terrible; barges, garbage scows, beaters, just terrible......worse than a 20 year old Coleman that was found wrapped around a stainer.
You should email me immediately. I am an old man, half blind, ignorant, barely able to lift a paddle, and have no common sense. You could easily take advantage of me, and get rid of it. That way you won't have to worry about the hassle of identifying it, and being embarassed by paddling such a boat in public.....
Just kiddin'; I own 5 Blackhawks, and one of them is a Nighthawk.
Please email me, and I'll give you my email address. If you send me a few photos; I'll give you all the help I can with identification.
Heck! I might even try to buy it from you.
Below is a list of most of the shorter length Blackhawks.
Since you thought it "might" be a Nighthawk, or a Shadow, I thought it was probably a shorter length model. Therefore, I stayed well below 15 feet in length. Even though I put them on the list; I think you can probably dismiss the Proem-85 at 11' 7" , and some of the longer Shadows as being mistaken for a Nighthawk. The 14'2" Zephyr probably is easily dismissed too.
Shadow 11' 9"
Nighthawk II 12'2"
You may find all the different lengths of varied models confusing; I did, and still do. I'm not sure whether the different lengths are a result of changes in length of the canoes by Blackhawk Canoe Company, or whether some person measured the same model of canoe & came up with a different measurement. A very good example is the different measurements of the 13 foot Shadows & Nighthawks. It may be possible that some measured canoe length, as opposed to waterline length? I still don't know the difference between a Nighhawk & a Fishhawk?
I have made attempts to gain more information from the original owner of Blackhawk Canoes, and failed. Some information has been provided to me by persons who worked for Blackhawk, or owned varied models of Blackhawks.
Most of the information I have has been gleaned from old Paddler, and Canoe & Kayak magazine Buyer's Guides. I also have copies of portions of original Blackhawk brochures.
I have found information hard to obtain, and wouldn't bet my bottom dollar on any of it. The number of responses your question has obtained thus far is typical regarding any questions concerning Blackhawks.
I believe the information from the old Blackhawk brochures I have is the most accurate.
See, I told you it would be a big hassle......
Better to just get rid of it......
Buy youself a Coleman, or a QCC; no lack of information on those......
"I'm here for ya"!
I had a Nighthawk a few years ago.
Very pretty boat, lighweight, great craftsmenship. It was the wrong boat for me so I sold it.
My wife has a Blackhawk Zephyr, which is a great boat no matter what Bob says! Very nimble, fast, low profile, so does well in wind and on twisty moving water. At 14’2" it felt a bit small for me and could be a challenge getting in and out, but once in it was poetry to paddle. When we bought the Zephyr, we test paddled another Blackhawk (Ariel I believe), but that was less manueverable and more straight tracking. I think it was over 15 feet in length.
I can’t disagree…
I can't disagree with Kirk's assessment of the Zephyr, or the Ariel.
I own one of each.
The Ariel is over 15 feet in length; it is 15'1".
To further illustrate my contention regarding the varied lengths of some of the Blackhawk models:
A copy of a Blackhawk brochure that I have lists the Blackhawk Zephyr at 14'2".
In the 1988 Canoe buyer's guide it is listed at 14'2".
In the 1989 Canoe buyer's guide it is listed at
In the l990 Canoe buyer's guide it is back at 14'2" again?
yep - junk
I agree with Bob 100%. Blackhawks are junk and you need to dump it fast.
Measure it with a tape measure and if it’s over 14 feet I’d be happy to get into a bidding war with the Bobster.
Does it have any mahogany? What color is it? Have you paddled it?
I’ve owned 5…15’8" combi, 14’9" combi, 14 Shadow, Zephyr, and Ariel.
Bob - my Zephyr was 14’2.5" in Michigan in the Spring but shrank to 14’2" in the winter and grew to 14’3" in the summer so the Buyer’s Guide specs seem logical to me…just a matter of the weather on the day Phil took out the tape measure.
I sank my Zephyr in whitewater (boat did as well as it could but I was stupid to try it) and am lucky it didn’t squish me but it did take on water three times before finally just sinking out of sight beneath me and leaving me with no boat. It got three hoels from rock bumps but was surprisingly easy to repair and will still probably last longer (and go faster) than just about any other boat.
Blackhawks are known to be a bit tender (“tippy”) but if you kneel and relax and get used to it, they are very stable and well-behaved and you get a lot of peformance (effortless paddling and speed) and enjoyment out of them.
So - name your price. Bob will pay it, because he’s apparently quite smart. Bob - did you buy any of my boats? I want them all back.
Also agree with WWW…
Quite a few of the shorter Blackhawks do "seem" to be lacking in initial stability; especially in the hands of someone who is a beginner, or those who spend most of their time in a canoe with a lot of (boring) initial stability.
Want to get wet?
Try stepping into the bilge of a Nighthawk with your leading foot 4 or 5 inches off center. It ain't no Old Town Pathfinder, that you can stand up & walk around in, stepping over thwarts & doing 360 degree turns. Have had some fun poling a Pathfinder.
The Nighthawk firms up nicely, and for me, it's secondary stability is excellent. Takes a bit of getting used too. I don't know the intented usage of the Nighthawk, but I suspect it would be a decent boat for freestyle paddling in the hands a skilled freestyler. Great little boat just to "play" around with on a lake or a river. The more you paddle it, the more fun it is, in my opinion. Not necessarily for a wee person either; I'm a 200 pounder & 6'4" tall.
One thing I have found out about some of the longer Blackhawks is that they are very easy to get up to speed. Once your have attained some speed, it is easy to maintain. On the other hand; at some point it is a waste of your energy to flog them, thinking you are going to get another 1/2 mph. When you hit a certain speed, to attempt to get more is a waste of time & energy. They made some good "cruisers".
WWW: What Blackhawks did you have, that you sold, that I might have? If I do have one of them, you are SOL till I'm RIP. My most recent find was a Starship out of Wisconsin.
I never met the person that I got my Shadow SS Special from; a friend picked it up for me. That wasn't yours was it? Now that's a real "junker". :^)
I Almost Choked…
…laughing at you, Bob! They sure made some pretty boats! WW
thanks bob - and the rest!
I thought it was a nice piece of work but it's nice to know for sure; Blackhawk has apparently been out of the biz for awhile. Looks like ash gunwhales and seat (w/wicker insert); fiberglass hull. I bet this weighs half of what my Greenlander does!
I'll probably be keeping the boat due to the sentimental value - plus it was a hoot first time out. Agree with the initial stability; I seem to have a good sense of balance but a friend of mine tipped just after getting in. To me it feels like a sports car.
Bob, thanks again. I sent you some photos over email but I still have to measure the boat. I gave up last nite after using a 1' ruler - all I had handy - and standing on a barstool (you can see in the photos how high it hangs from the ceiling!). So I'll send you dimensions shortly and get you as many shots as you like.
Phil Sigglekow (sp?) of Blackhawk was with QCC for a number of years, but I understand he has left. Any news of him lately? He sold me my Qcc-500, and I spoke with him several times over the years. Came across as a knowlegeable individual and a rally nice guy.
Just back from river trip.
Checking pnet while your photos download; at least I hope thats what’s downloading. Looking forward to seeing photos; always happy to see another Blackhawk I haven’t seen. Was a bit worried that I might have “pulled your leg” too much, playing around,(garbage scow, etc.) & I might not get any photos…
Will get back to you after viewing photos you sent, and getting river gear cleaned up & stored.
Appreciate your effort,
telling a nighthawk from a shadow
the easisest way to tell the difference is by looking at the stern. The shadow series (as well as the combi’s) had a beautiful recurved stem, the nighthawks did not. The adventure series (zephyr, ariel, etc) also had a recurved stem, but was much more dramatic.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that if the gunwales end a few inches from the back of the canoe it is a shadow. If the gunwales end at the end of the back it is a nighthawk.
I might have some pictures for examples at home, I will have to check.
More global view of BHC
Phil Sigglekow had a very successful paddlesports shop in Janeville WI and was allied with the Curtis Canoe Shop in Hemlock NY as Canoe Specialists.
Curtis started building Yost designs ~ 1980 and Phil, a couple years later, began manufacture of the Pat Moore designed Proem and Covenant. They were beautiful hulls featuring mahogany rails with hidden fasteners and an innovative sliding pedestal.
A few years later, Pat started building the Reverie series of solos in Staughten WI, and Phil turned to Minnesota's Bob Brown, who designed Old Town's CJ Solo and Mad River's Slipper, to design the NightHawk and Kitty Hawk. Both had fixed pedestals and were neat entry level composite hulls, some with pine trim, which didn't work out. While both hulls were straight sided and rockerless, they were reasonably light and rugged and performed pretty well at a reasonable price. As long as the paddler hasn't super sized himself a NightHawk was a fine little boat, especially in FishHawk mode with the pedestal replaced with a cane seat.
When Bob designed the Solo Plus for Wenonah, Phil started designing for himself. His first was the Zephyr, followed by StarShip. These were top end hulls with molded, bonded in floatation and an innovative high/low track side pods that accepted several seat choices. AS the deluxe features made the hulls pricey, Phil developed the Shadow series as his entry level line. In the end there were four shadows, 11'7", 13, 14, and a combi 15. Trim was maple as it was locally available. Strangely, Par Moore who was 15 miles away used red oak for the same reason.
The deluxe line grew to include Ariel, its own Combi at 15'8" and a fast touring tandem, Phantom
Phil was strongly influenced by Pat Moore. All his hulls were fishform with long strongly veed sterns. As such they tracked well
Phil came from General Motors and was a master tooler. He tooled tanks, pods, decks and hulls about as fast as they could be conceived. That may have been the flaw in the business plan: too many models that changed too often. It was hard for dealers to choose among nine niche hulls with all those different options and harder yet for the paddling public to from
Nice, very innovative hulls from a nice guy who made major contributions to solo canoeing,
this is why I like this site
Just getting back from a weekend vacation to read this. Great historical background everyone, thanks!
Do you happen to know what Phil is into now, post QCC?
What happened to the molds?
I wonder just out of curiosity if you know what happened to the molds for most the Blackhawk boats. I’m not sure that they offer anything over more modern designs, but the idea of a Starship in a modern layup is intriguing.
A concern in St Charles, [that has a nice ring to it], bought BlackHawk’s tooling from the investment group.
They found it a little harder than anticipated to kick start a lamination crew. They also found it difficult to sell into a market where one of it’s most popular players, Phil, had been dissed. They called Bell asking about where to buy long ash.
The molds were in a warehouse on the West side of St Chas in the mid-late 90s. Doubtfull someone would pay to store them for a decade.
The designs were becoming dated a decade ago. The Fish Form, or Cod Head, concept never worked. Once the paddler learns not to trail the blade aft of the body, the long, veed sterns adversely affect the rest of what we do in a boat. They had minimal tumblehome and so didn’t fit smaller paddlers well - hard to stack that top hand above a shaft hand held wide by hull form. But, after all that, they were still good boats with very innovative features.
The real issue is that the market has changed . in the late 80s and early 90s, the solo canoe was the paddlecraft folks wanted to paddle. They learned it is the hardest game on the water, with a long, steep, learning curve to achieve good performance with a single blade paddle. Americans were starting to embrace ten or twenty avocations, and one consuming one didn’t fit well. Long apprenticeships are rare today.
Along came the touring kayak, with more speed and a short, flat, leaning curve. Anyone who can remember that left, right, left pattern will arrive at their destination.
BlackHawk and Curtis Canoe are gone, Mad River has discontinued all its solo touring hulls. Only Bell, Wenonah and a handful of smaller, niche, producers serve our little band of fanatics.
Sad, but so it goes.
Aye, sad indeed
Thanks for the info, this has been an incredible thread. Absolutely fascinating information.
Phil is back at QCC.
I talked to him today.
He said that it is ok for people to call him there to discuss Blackhawk canoes. I suggest that we be considerate and not occupy too much of his time talking about Blackhawk canoes rather than QCC kayaks.