blackhawk starship

Can anyone tell me anything about the blackhawk starship canoe. How does it compare to a bell magic, is it a great tripping canoe, does it get blown around a lot in a wind?Thanks for the input.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 11:53 AM EST –

Starship was an early Phil Sigglekow design. It is, was, a good big volume tripper similar to The Early Curtis Solo tripper and the Old Town CJ Solo. Kind of a dated hull r.e. performance.

The semi V hull gave it unique handling characteristics: prefers to turn with an outside heel; sideslips nicely but not aggressively. [Hulls with less rocker are easier to sideslip w/o torque but V hulls, running deeper in the soup, so don't move as far. That said, it tracked well.

Phil's/ BlackHawk's trim was uniquely creative: remote molded, bonded, float tanks, sometimes neat, dual track sidepods to allow vertical and longitudinal seat adjustment and bonded on, composite, decks.

It's hard to tell FG from Kev hulls because Phil gelcoated the inners. Anyway, decent hull for a large to XL paddler.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 12:23 AM EST –

I will not address the Bell Magic; I've have had little seat time in that canoe.
I think it unlikely that you will find many people who "do" have a "lot" of seat time in both a Magic & a Starship.
As a matter of fact, I seriously doubt there are many paddlers who have even been in both models(other than a short test paddle).

Some Starship specs/general info. :

Length 15' 10"
Bow height 17 "
Depth at center 13"
Stern height 13"
Waterline width 26"
Molded rail width 27"
Widest hull width 28"
Hull shape: Assyetrical V bottom, cambered keel line, flared bow and stern, low windage stern.
Weight/Sport gold layup 41 lb.
Weight/Sport silver layup 46 lb.

Paraphrasing from Blackhawk literature:
The Starship is a high volume solo canoe.
The key to the Starships versatility in maneuverability & tracking ability is the cambered keel line. In both theory/practice, it enables the Starship to track well when loaded in a trim position.However, just a slight lean & good turning braces allow it to pivot easily.

The V hull shape contributes to a secure feeling in heavy water in addition to providing excellent tracking.

The Starship incorporates a low windage stern profile.
The stem treatment provides additional stiffening & strengthening to the upper structure. Like the stern deck, the bow deck is manufactured into the hull, providing strength.

Hopefully, PJC will see this thread & put in his 2 cents worth. He has more seat time in a Starship than anyone I know, and is a damn good paddler to boot.

P.S. If the Starship you're looking at is in excellent condition, and the price is low; send me the current owner/s phone number, address & email address.
What you "really" want/need is a brand new, very high dollar, candy colored, metal flaked, 30 pound, water rocket.

The Starship is an old barge.
I love paddling old barges.

Thanks very much to both of you, the input is very helpful. Bob I’ve been following your earlier posts and I have noticed your affinity for old barges. So if I don’t buy this barge I will ceratinly pass it on. Thanks Again!


– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 12:16 PM EST –

The Starship can easily handle a 200 lb. paddler, and more than enough gear for a lengthy trip with ease. Hardly a change in the amount of freeboard.

It will get up to a decent cruising speed without the paddler expending a lot of energy, and once at cruising speed, that speed is easily maintained by a proficient paddler.

Effects of the wind will be less noticeable when paddling with a load that is correctly trimmed, and even less noticeable with the addition of a Cooke Custom Cover, which luckily came with mine.

I was pleasantly surprised that the wind did not affect it more than it did. I also found it to be more manueverable than I thought it would be; considering it's length.

That is not to say that it is not affected by wind at all(it is nearly 16 feet long after all); nor am I saying it will spin on a quarter & give you change. It's not a Bell Flashfire.
It's a tripping boat, not a freestyler. But, correct strokes, timely correction strokes, and good route selection by the paddler will go a long way in smoothing out the Starship's performance.

You can easily spend twice the money that most used Starships cost on a new boat. You will probably not end up with a new boat that will perform twice as well as the Starship. It's an old design no doubt, but in my opinion it was a good design.

On most Blackhawks the fit & finish is very good.
I particularly love the styling of the Starship, Ariel, and Zephyr.

Which is not to say they aren't old barges.
Keep me in mind when you see a Blackhawk for sale & decide it's not for you.

Old barge lover,


I’d love to try one
Great description Bob.

My paddling buddy worked at a canoe shop that sold Blackhawks and he was not that excited about Starship but maybe it’s because he’s very lightweight and the Starship (like many Blackhawks) likes to have a load in it’s tummy?

I’ve never paddled one but I would love to; I think it’s one of the best-looking solo canoes ever made. Great name too!


Bob, do you mean …
Bob, do you mean the canoeing version of “There She Goes … Vroom Vroom … The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” of Tom Wolfe fame?

new (to me) Starship
Hi all. I’m new to this site, and new to serious paddling. I just bought a Blackhawk Starship (I think) and was hoping to get some advice, if I might.

After a bit of head scratching I was able to find the boat’s HIN, but I’m a little confused by it. Can a boat be a 1990 model but manufactured in 8/91? I assume so, since that’s what the HIN seems to indicate…

I’m pretty sure the boat is a Starship, since the length and width of the hull seem match the stats I’ve seen for that model. (I need to re-measure it precisely, since I guess several of the different Blackhawk models were around that length. The seller told me it’s a Kevlar hull, but I don’t know, looks like fiberglass to me (although for all I know Kevlar looks like fiberglass). The seller also said it weighs 35 lbs., but I think he was off by about 10 lbs. Just weighed it–51 lbs. on my bathroom scale. I weighed it with the canted cane seat in it. I’m guessing that weight makes it a FG boat, per thebob’s post of a couple years ago ( Oh, well. I paid $550 for it; I’m hoping that’s still a good deal. It seems to be in fairly good shape. There are two ancient patches on it but the seller swears he’s never seen leakage (he was the third owner). I’ve had it out twice now and I agree with him.

Questions: There are scratches in the hull and I’m content to leave them there, but is it possible to–is it recommended that one ought to–treat the hull with anything, either to protect it, to clean it, to make it faster, to rub out scratches? My stepdad suggested waxing it, but I read somewhere that, while wax won’t hurt the hull, it would actually slow the boat down.

Does one repaint hulls? I don’t want to fix what ain’t broken. (The hull is a light minty green, by the way.)

The gunwales seem to be solid enough but in need of some care. I guess they’re ash? I initially thought I’d refinish them, but I have read that some people favor oiling them. Is that right? Linseed oil? Mixed with turpentine, I guess? Is there a book or a website that would have advice on these things?

Also, should I remove the gunwales to clean and oil or refinish them, or will doing so adversely affect the hull–will it lose its shape, in other words? If I should leave them on, should I just lightly sand them, taking care not to scratch the hull, and then oil 'em?

Thanks so much for any advice!



Blackhawk Starship

– Last Updated: Apr-23-12 5:31 PM EST –

Hi, Ken,

I'm in the same boat (in every sense of the word, no pun intended.) I bought a used Starship and it happens to be green as well, only dark olive green. The hull is full of scratches too, but the wood is all in good shape. The original owner took some seriously long river expeditions on it, including one up the Rio Grande from the gulf of Mexico to Del Rio (more than 400 mi.).

Anyhow, just a couple of days ago I sanded all the wood lightly with 220 grit and reoiled with Watco teak oil and it looks great. I only removed the thwarts to work on them. The gunwales and handles stayed on and it was fine. I did find the screws that hold the gunwales together had loosened up a bit over time (the wood shrank with age, I guess), so I just tightened them and that was that.

The gel coat on the outside of the hull is a different story. I don't know when I will start on that, but I'm sure it will involve wet sanding scratches with very fine sandpaper and polishing compound with an electric polisher.

I love the boat. The only thing I wish I had is the canted cane seat. This one came with a tractor seat, which was too small, and I hated it. So I have a home-rigged web seat built on the original sliding platform. If anyone out there had an accident and destroyed their Starship but the canted cane seat somehow survived, I want it! :-)