DY Special and kevlar longevity

I found this while searching the archives for info on the DY Special:

(Snip) Posted by: old_user on Dec-01-07 9:52 PM (EST)

Several weeks ago I was hunting from my Sawyer DY special when I hit and went to retrieve a Canada goose. I reached to get hold of it by the wing but it wasn’t dead and it gave me a real flogging. In the process the goose hit my light carbon paddle and threw it about 20 feet from the canoe.

I had no spare paddle and I was not able to hand paddle to my carbon paddle. I was about 100 yards from shore so I unloaded my 870 Remington pump shotgun and used it as an improvised paddle. It worked but I now carry a spare with me.(snip)

So after reading this post I don’t know which I want more now, the 870 or the DY Special!!! But since I already have a Winchester 1200 I’ll stick to boats. What do you all think about the DY Special? Do you agree with old user that it is a great all around fast solo canoe? I am asking because I’ve seen several listed for sale close to my budget of $500.

For the most part I’ll be paddling the upper and lower Potomac River and some of the other rivers off the Chesapeake Bay. Just me and the dog, lunch and perhaps a fishing pole. Big open river with fast current, class 1 & 2 rapids, and maybe a 2 foot tide. There are a bunch of social kayak groups around here, and I like the idea of a fast solo canoe so I can paddle at their pace and distance without wearing myself out.

Also, I read in a Cliff Jacobson book that kevlar hulls only have about a 27 year average life span? Is this so? If true, these DY Specials are just about done. I was on a litter pick up/log jam clearing paddle one time, and there was a guy who had bought a second hand cheap kayak. His boat began to break up slowly during the day. He literally swam the last couple hundred yards. We left the remains of his boat on the trash pile for the parks service to pick up!



The thing I like about Cliff is that
when he’s right, you can see why he’s right. And when he’s wrong, it’s so obvious he doesn’t know what he is talking about that one can dismiss what he says.

I have a 1982 Kevlar and vinylester Noah Magma kayak. It is just as strong now as when I paid Vladimir of Noah $100 for it, as a broken-in demonstrator.

Glass boats tend to get cracks and multiple splits. Kevlar boats get beaten until the laminate goes soft, but that laminate may still refuse to split or tear.

The best affordable layup, as determined back in the 80s, is SS/KK, which means two layers of S-glass outside and two layers of Kevlar inside. Carbon can be substituted for S-glass for lightness.

Now, I’m sure Cliff meant >something< specific when he came up with the age estimate. Probably he had seen some lightweight Kevlar solo tripping boats that got beat to floppiness after many years on rocky lakes and rough portages. Heavy glass boats don’t get used for such travel, or he’d realise they get smashed by the same regimen.

One thing, Cliff knows how to rig a tarp.

Life of kevlar and DY special comments
I have 2 DY specials - one Goldenglass and one light weight Kevlar. The Kevlar DY was made in 1983 and it is perfect. My glass DY is in my son’s garage but it was made about the same year. I also have a Sawyer Cruiser Kevlar that was made in 1979. All 3 boats are in excellent structural shape. I don’t abuse them and they are stored inside. However, I really do paddle them a lot. I don’t know the useful length of Kevlar but mine are still almost like new.

I will also comment on the DY Special since you are considering one. They don’t have a lot of interior room but they are fast and a real effortless boat to paddle. I don’t care to fish out of mine as well as my Wenonah Prism since it has much more room to move my legs around but it is faster than the Prism.

If the seat is up high in the DY it can feel quite insecure. The DY’s originally came with a pedestal seat that was about gunnel height. It made the boat quite squirrely. My Kevlar DY has a 3 position seat for height that is a slider. I paddled my DY Kevlar in the middle position and it is very stable. I changed the original pedestal seat to a lower slider and you would not know it is the same boat.

Tuesday I paddled the Kevlar DY for the first time this year after 6 trips in the Prism. I put 3 carpet pads on the tractor seat for padding when I started. It was very twitchy so I removed one and it was much better. A mile into my trip through wetlands watching birds I reduced the padding to one layer and I could not believe how much more stable the canoe was. I had a mile back to the truck and I could not believe how effortlessly the trip was. The height of the seat in a DY makes all the difference in how stable it seems.

The DY Special is a great cruising and workout boat. I have run up to strong class 1 rapids with no problems but relative flat water is where it really shines. Some people complain about it being difficult to turn but I can maneuver mine well. It is not as good for carrying camping gear as my Prism.

Last year I paddled over 500 miles, mostly solo, and most of the miles were in my DY Kevlar special.

Hope this helps you make a good choice for the DY you are considering.

I would like to see the data set
behind that 27 year old benchmark. If Cliff was talking about boats in the early 90’s his data would be from 70’s boats…where layups may have been more inexact… thinking of the CJ Cruiser among others.

Toward bottom of page.


and note he too thinks the Yellowstone Solo and WildFire are the same boat. One thing for sure Cliff’s arguments are good to think about. Some are spot on and others IMO in orbit.

My kevlar boats have been stored inside. Three of them are arguing about silver anniversary presents. None are ceiling decorations.

Hunting from a Canoe
For duck hunting from a canoe I prefer a ~wide kneeling boat; torso rotation is from the knees so it’s easier to swing the shotgun. A little more rocker helps maneuver when ensconcing body and boat in weeds/reeds.

For running with kayakers, the DY is a jewel. I always preferred DY’s later Shock Wave and there are fine stock class racers available from GRE-Newman and Savage River.

And CJ is misguided suggesting a 27 year Kevlar longevity limit. His data is anecdotal, not scientific and does not address variability in resin degradation characteristics.

He thinks RX Wildfire & Yellowstone Solo
are the same, not composite Wildfire & Yellowstone Solo.

He’s correct.

dy is special
An 84 levlar DY weighs about 39 lbs. Great shape not deterioration in the kevlar

I replaced the stock seat with a custom wenonah slider set real low. This is my most stable boat.

Use it in the winter with confidence, carry my big nikon as I do a lot of wildlife photography.

Ran this boat in 2005 in the kenduskeag stream canoe race in Maine … quickwater to class 3, 16.5 miles. Actually came in 1st that year. Thought I was grossly undergunned as my DY sat next to a deep hulled whiterwater X and a Penobscot but ran it dry.

That boat can turn on a dime in whitewater if you really, really, really want it to.

You get the feeling that you are flying in this hull and can get into a good rhythm for a long spell.

I’d stay away from tidewater and big windy lakes because of the low stern but on mixed water smaller rivers it is a great boat.

Get the seat height just right and it will feel as stable as a lawn chair. i’m a load and this boat doesn’t mind. A smaller paddler would take this boat to bed it’s so good.


DY Special
I have an 82 in glass. I too put in a Wenonah slider. It is my go to boat for workout paddles, even more the the J200, day trips, and solo camping. Of course I am itching to try out a Savage Blackwater.

Thanks for the feedback.
I appreciate all the good comments. Now if I could just get a few full weeks of work–this sequester is really hurting–I would pursue one of these boats.