Blackhawk Covenant

-- Last Updated: Jan-04-13 12:54 PM EST --

I became curious about the Blackhawk Covenant 115 since Dave Curtis put one up for sale in his used boats section.

There seems to be an utter lack of information on the 'net about this boat. I have googled it, searched p-net, etc. and I cannot get any information about it. Not that I want to buy it, I just think it is kind of mysterious that there is nothing on this beautiful boat out there.

So, are there any Blackhawk connoisseurs here who can shed some light on this boat, how it handles, what was its intended purpose, etc.? And what the heck does the "115" stand for? It's 14'9" ft. long, so we know it's not the LOA. Capacity? That would be kind of low for a boat that size, I guess.

thebob noticed
bumping…,maybe he will be by here.

All the way to the bottom

LOL! that thread
thebob started in April of '09 just keeps producing! Thanks, I hope he or maybe Charlie Wilson or anyone else can give us some info.

I owned a BlackHawk Covenant for a few years. It was a stretched version of the Proem, below intended waterline increasing from 85 quarts or liters to 115.

It was a Pat Moore design that featured a longitudinally adjustable pedestal mounted on tracks laminated into the bottom. Both the tracks and camming devices that locked movement proved fragile.

The hulls had three piece mahogany rails without visible fasteners that proved problematical when repairs were necessary.

The hull was narrow and Fish form, with characteristic long, slender aft section. Hard chines, it was considered “light”, as in tippy, by many.

I also owned a Curtis Vagabond at the same time, today ~ available as Hemlock Kestral, Pb RapidFire. Vag was faster, more stable and turned better, but Covenant was a work of art.

Both Proem and Covenant disappeared forever when Pat designed and started producing the Reverie series. Phil mothballed the older Moore molds and started in on a Hawk series by Bob Brown, while developing his own hulls.

Thanks, Charlie

– Last Updated: Jan-04-13 6:01 PM EST –

It is surprising to hear this boat is harder to turn than a Kestrel! My paddling buddy has a Kestrel and it is just as hard to turn as my Blackhawk Starship. I was hoping maybe the Covenant was a highly maneuverable boat.

I have watched the videos on the Placid website and the Rapid Fire seems to turn pretty quickly. So if the Vagabond/Kestrel/Rapidfire are basically the same boat, why is the Kestrel so hard to turn?

Thanks for the info.

Blackhawk Covenant

– Last Updated: Jan-04-13 7:21 PM EST –

I made an inquiry about the Covenant, and the possibility of any "wiggle rooom" on the price.
Was told there was NO wiggle room.
Boat price, coupled with the price of shipping from New York to Missouri was cost prohibitive to me.
I lost interest;evidently some others haven't, or perhaps they're just curious.

I thought it would be a somewhat unique canoe to own; a little bit of a challenge to paddle, and would surely create some good "photo ops"....... if I could con some paddling friends into test paddling it.

I think the last year the Covenant was made was 1991, but that is a guess, based on the last listing I could find of it, in Canoe magazine's 1991 Buyer's guide.
In 1988 it's price was listed at $999.00 in fiberglass, and $1,479.00 in kevlar.
Pretty damn pricey for a solo canoe in 1988!!!

I think I'll probably be happier paddling my Shadow SS Special, Zephyr, or Ariel, than I would a Covenant. No doubt in my mind that any of the 3 will be a lot more user friendly, and more versatile than the Covenant too.
And neither of the 3 have the gunwale, and pedestal issues described.

Still, I'll bet it would be a fun canoe to "play with" if you have money to burn.
It does not appear to be a very practical solo canoe to me, but that was actually part of it's interest to me.
I like to paddle "different" canoes; canoes that a lot of other people don't, can't, or won't.

Since it has no flotation chambers; I'm sure you would need some small air bags if you were going to try anything even remotely close to class 3, or if you were going to be hauling a decent load of gear for a multi overnight trip.
Personally, I wouldn't use it for anything but a day floating boat, or for an overnight with a very light load of gear.

Would love to read new owner's review........if/when it sells.


Covenant specs:
Length: 11' 9"
Weight in kevlar: 35 lbs
Weight in fiberglass: 39 lbs
Widths: 25 1/2 at gunwales
24 1/2 at waterline
Depths: 17 3/4" 11" 16 1/2"

Hemlock has “adjusted” the original Yost designed Curtis Vag and Nomad to decrease rocker a little, and made with an eye towards lightness in weight, they may oil-can/self-hog a little if the paddler is sitting rather than kneeling.

Vagabond/Kestral/RapidFire are designed for compact paddlers, the latter less so because the seat is very low for pack canoe/ double blade use. All three are 27.5 in max width. The average solo canoe is ~30" wide.

But Paddler position and stick skills are the key here. Vagabond/ Kestral with a compact kneeling paddler heeled to the rail should turn 180dg in their own length. RapidFire has a little more bow rocker, but basically the same song. If anyone under 180 lbs is unable to turn any variation of the DY designed Curtis Vagabond they need a paddling lesson, not a new boat.


I believe the pedestal seat has enough flotation in its sealed comparment, doesn’t it? The same friend of mine who owns the Kestrel has a Moore pedestal in another boat and it has a cool five or six-inch screw down hatch on the front. The entire seat is a storage compartment. I would imagine there is enough volume in there to be equivalent to a couple of small end tanks, but I don’t know.

paddling skills and turning

– Last Updated: Jan-04-13 8:46 PM EST –

My friend is an experienced canoeist since the 1970s and is a rather small man. I don't think he weighs more than 160 lbs. max. I, on the other hand, am a relative noob and I weigh 230 lbs., a considerably bigger guy than my mentor. I tested his Kestrel without any cargo and it handled my weight fine. But, just like my Starship, it needs some good heeling to the outside for effective turning. And my much lighter and more experienced friend feels the same way.

While it is hard for me to judge another canoeist, given my lack of experience, I don't have any doubts about my friend's skills. He knows how to turn a canoe.

BTW, years ago he did own a Proem and a Covenant and many other canoes. Currently he goes back and forth between the Kestrel and a little cedar strip and 'glass canoe designed and built by a local fellow, and which I simply do not dare paddle because it is so tender. He describes its tippiness as somewhere between the Proem and the Covenant.

Outside heeling
a carved turn will always have a faster responding radical turn.

Paddler size does affect a boat behavior.You will get whippier turns with less hull sunk in the water. Heavyweights just aren’t going to get as much snap out of a little boat as their lighter brethren in the same boat.

The Kestrel, as the Peregrine, is pretty straight keeled, and requires the faith to heel it to the rail no matter your weight to navigate twisty creeks (Its way worse with a full tripping load of 300 lbs!). Dave has a unique rocker measurement that does not coincide with my chalk line.( I have a Peregrine). I am still looking for that elusive rocker. Nevertheless I do like my Peregrine.

Pedestal as flotation…
You are probably right.

The pedestal, if it is in fact waterproof, would indeed provide flotation. Certainly enough buoyancy to keep a 35 to 39 lb. canoe afloat. Don’t know about the canoe, and a load of gear?

Also there is the question of whether or not a pedestal, not permanently mounted, would remain attached in the bilge of the canoe. One of the Moore pedestals I own is made to be attached in the bilge of the canoe with Velcro; not permanently attached.

Then again, if it were me, as stated previously; I wouldn’t be using a Covenant as a heavy duty gear hauler in the first place. I’d use it as a day tripper.


Pedestal as flotation…

– Last Updated: Jan-04-13 9:56 PM EST –


Tell you what I'll do; being the scholar & gentleman that I am.

I'll buy that canoe; if you'll drive up to New York from Texas & bring it back to me in Missouri.
We'll test paddle that thing "till the cows come home"; then do a 2 paddler review of the canoe, our trials, tribulations,and any "out of boat experiences", or "fish counts" that might occur.
We'd become self acknowledged "grand poobahs & high muck a mucks" when it comes to the Covenant.
Do demos, charge fees, become rich, buy more canoes.........



No need for international travel

– Last Updated: Jan-04-13 11:03 PM EST –

just bring it to Florida Canoe Symposium. Charlie and I will be in Yulee along with some three dozen accomplished solo paddlers so happy to advise you and an alligator free pond for you to do your own test.

Plus an opportunity to brush up or improve your skills

Florida Canoe Symposium

We will be there March 15-18. Hope that you are there along with your Covenant.

sounds like a covenant…er…deal…

– Last Updated: Jan-05-13 12:11 AM EST –

We could co-write a book about it that would shoot straight up to number one on the New York Times best seller list. The masses are simply clamoring for a book about an obscure canoe that you ride like a horse on a saddle. We could live like kings off the royalties, I tell ya!

Just imagine the story. Bob and Canuka find adventure down the Current River in their shiny new Covenant... Heck, let's make a movie.

I wish I could be there
But it’s not in the cards. One of these days I’ll make it to one of those symposiums.

Suggested movie title: Bob & Canuka’s Excellent Adventure



I recall Pat Moore joining a previous
thread and warning me not to characterize his canoes as fishform. His reasons were good, but then certain of his canoes are fishform at a glance, even if that isn’t the truth about what they do below the waterline.

Millbrook Kaz’s recent slalom canoes certainly are fishform, and with a relatively straight, lower rocker stern, they are not easy to turn by skidding the stern. The paddler is kneeling “cab forward” and manages the direction of the boat by essentially pulling it around at the bow. This is easy to do because much of the bow is out of the water.

My Millbrook, similar to the Defiant (Fat Boy), is not as radical as the Ignitor/Spark, and the stern will skid a bit on an outside lean. I tried moving the pedestal forward to unload the stern, but that didn’t work. Moving it back felt much better.

My Mad River Synergy is swedeform and behaves like it. So one day I turned things around and paddled it in reverse. I could definitely feel the difference. As a fishform, its stern wanted to trail straight behind, and while the bow felt less “definite”, it was quite easy to pull the bow this way and that with adjusted forward strokes. In its original swedeform orientation, the Synergy’s bow must be released by the paddler leaning back, if a slalom move requires adjustment at the front end.

Canoes with sharp ends in the water still turn somewhat like whitewater canoes, but skidding, spinning, and carving don’t happen as easily.

Fish form or not

– Last Updated: Jan-06-13 9:58 PM EST –

I had to update what's written below. I make a note of it here instead of simply changing it, because for a couple of days this post had the word "rearward" mistakenly used instead of "forward".


There are a few Blackhawks owned and paddled by the people I paddle with the most, and though I've looked very closely at where the widest waterline width seems to be, it has never appeared to be forward of center, and with one's knees stuck out into the edges of the hull, it wouldn't be hard to notice if the boat was getting wider ahead of that point, unless we are talking small fractions of an inch. I think the upper-hull profile of these boats makes overall shape a little deceptive looking. This reminds me that someday I want to do an actual measurement of this.

fish or Swede
…Or Swedish codfish I still love my Starship! I was out enjoying it yesterday. :slight_smile:

Covenant info

– Last Updated: Jan-06-13 10:39 PM EST –

I owned a Covenant just like the one Dave has for sale on his site. I bought it from Dave in 1983 when he was allied with Phil as Canoe Specialists. Those were great days for the solo canoe. I used my Covenant for a few months to trip in the ADKs, then traded it to Dave towards my first Proem. I found my Covenant to be fast whether under trip load or not, and I remember it being surprisingly seaworthy one extremely windy, white capped day on Raquette. It did track straight and was turn resistant, but as Patrick designed this as a travelling boat, and not a playboat, I don't know how much I'd fault it for that. Some would consider it an asset.

I have to take issue with statements made about the pedestal and the trim. I've owned several of Pat's boats with this seat configuration and there's nothing fragile about the rails it rides on, or the seat itself which provides satisfactory floatation for the boat. The key weakness this arrangment has is in the cams that tighten against the rails and keeps the seat in a selected position.

The cams: 7/8" X 1 1/4" were made of epoxy resin and are quite serviceable as long as the cam knobs aren't over-tightend by hand. They tend to break when "horsed" down to tightly. I broke a few of these until I learned to just easily hand tighten. I'm presently looking into having some machined in aluminum which will add almost no weight and aleviate the problem completely. It's well worth the comfort and usability afforded by Pat's pedestal.

The laminated rails which are integrated on Pat's canoes are aesthetically beautiful and quite durable. Of eight Moore designed canoes I've owned with these rails, I've never had one problem - never any separation. They've been easy to maintain, solid and much classier looking (IMHO) than those attached with screw heads visible or the tacky looking integrated composite rails offered on some canoes.

Finally I recall Pat telling me that he's never designed a solo canoe that is fish-form at, or below the water line. They are all Swede-form. It's easy to mistake his canoes for Fish-form, though when looking at the gunwales. They are wider forward of center so that a severe amount of flare can be present in the bow - one of the main reasons the canoe was so dry that day on Raquette.