Bluehole sunburst II outfitting

Just acquired a sunburst II - replaced rotten thwarts, glued up separated saddle and paddled some moving water and flat water. Feels great, carves nicely, holds a line if I keep my tongue at just the right angle and push my left toe into the brace with the right pressure…
Mostly looking to do downriver camping rather than whitewater playing but still want to work on solo whitewater skills and play where I get to.
Recent posts from some of you about boats like this being used this way - keep float bags and cages but have several anchors to accommodate loads…

Thoughts about:

  • handling with seat instead of saddle?

  • Changing length of thwarts to make a bit more narrow?

  • even more drastic - cutting down shear line to make shallower?

Anyone else with this boat? Curious to know what thwart dimensions are for sure - pretty sure I got it right but rot on 2 of 3 thwarts obliterated bolt holes so used hull and symmetry as my guide. how have you used it, enjoyed it given the changes to hull designs over the years?
Having a great time switching back and forth between Kevlar Northstar Northwind Solo and this boat.

The Blue Hole Sunburst II makes and excellent river tripping boat in my opinion. The boat is heavy but very tough. There was also a Blue Hole Sunburst I which had a little less depth. The mold was modified for the Sunburst II because many whitewater paddlers felt the Sunburst I was too wet.

Most Blue Hole Sunbursts had heavy aluminum gunwales and tubular aluminum thwarts with crimped ends but some wood - gunwaled and wood - trimmed Sunbursts were made. Is your canoe one of those?

If you install a seat and position it such that it places your center of gravity at the same fore and aft location and height as the saddle, the boat should handle the same. Just make sure that you position a seat high enough for easy foot clearance to avoid entrapment and you will probably want to cant the seat for kneeling. If you have an aluminum gunwaled boat mounting seats and thwarts can be tricky. Blue Hole designed their own aluminum gunwales with inwales that were deliberately made very thin to allow water in the hull to be easily emptied. The inwales are not substantial enough to hand seats or thwarts from in the usual manner. Installing wooden thwarts and seats requires some type on aluminum hanger or brackets riveted or bolted to the gunwale skirts.

The Sunburst was one of the very earliest purpose-designed Royalex solo whitewater canoes along with the Whitesell Piranha and the Mad River ME. Whitewater play boats became progressively shorter over the years for increased maneuverability but that rendered them largely unsatisfactory for tripping with any kind of load.

You might be able to pull in the boat a little but I wouldn’t try to narrow it more than 1 1/2 - 2 inches max. It has been said that pulling in the gunwales on a canoe will reduce rocker a bit but the Roylex used in those boats was thick and stiff and the aluminum gunwales are stiff as well. You would likely need pipe wrenches if you want to pull it in.

I have bag cages in most of the canoes I use for river tripping. I use them to secure gear but I often will also put short tandem end bags about 3’ in length in the stems. You don’t want gear that far out anyway.

I have a Sunburst II sitting in the back yard behind a garage. I will measure thwart lengths and positions for you when it stops raining.

Brilliant - no wood or aluminum gunnels, vinyl instead with enough meat for hanging seat, more flex too so will likely make seat brackets like Northstar’s. Easy enough to swap out thwarts of different lengths before installing seat to assess impact of changes, less rocker, less maneuverable but then might not have to keep my tongue in that particular spot as often…
I am actually surprised that the boat is not as heavy as I thought it was going to be.
UV has made vinyl a little less forgiving I think though, more scratches showing from my use than from original owner…not just from the way I handle a boat either…not much hope in restoring elasticity to vinyl I suppose, just paint for cosmetics and g-flex epoxy for structure when necessary? The beauty of buying a used boat for a reasonable price - options easier to consider.
Cages on this boat were jerry rigged, anchors for d-rings have failed and bags were dust so a clean slate. Thinking full bags but anchors set to adjust space available.
Curious to know dimensions - wishing we had rain here, far too dry

Here are a few photos of my Sunburst II. It is a 1988 vintage made by the original Blue Hole Canoe Company in Sunbright, Tennessee. If the logo on your boat looks different from the one on this one, yours might have been made by John Williamson at the reincarnated Blue Hole Canoe Company of Gordonsville, Virginia.

The listed beam amidships for this hull was 32". I would say that the beam amidships at the molded hull on my boat is just slightly less by about 1/8" or so. I bought this boat used and I have had different outfitting in it but I am pretty sure that it had the molded PE Perception saddle shown in the photos in it when I bought it. That might be important as to thwart measurements since the Perception saddle requires thwarts to be positioned very specifically for it. The thwart placement in a canoe outfitted differently might be quite different. I am pretty sure the beam of this canoe has not deliberately been altered from stock.

For what it is worth, the bow thwart in this canoe is centered 73 1/4" from the tip of the front stem and the inner hull width at that spot is 30 1/8". The stern thwart is centered 69 1/4" from the tip of the rear stem and is 29 1/2" in width.

Best would be if you tell me the locations at which you want to install thwarts referenced to the distance from the tip of the nearest stem and I can measure the inner hull width at those locations.

Sounds like I got the dimensions right. Hull interior is 30" at centre. Both long thwarts are 61 1/2" from ends with bolt hole centres at 27" shorter thwarts are 36" from ends and bolt centres are 19 1/2".
Serial numbers indicate construction in October of '87, same sticker too.

Saw references to removable saddles in myccr posts. That might be an option too, choose the seat for the activity and less concerned about what I thought was a more definitive action in working to remove the existing saddle. Could likely repurpose with straps and anchors in the hull. [Northwater] sells a version that looks good.

Thank you for the help. I am looking forward to switching out thwarts and seeing what happens.