Faster Poke Boat?

-- Last Updated: May-16-05 6:17 PM EST --

I bought a used Poke Boat late last summer and have had it on lakes a few times and three river trips this spring. I like the combination of large cockpit, light weight (28lbs), straight tracking and easy turning. It tracks straight when I stop paddling for bird watching, getting a drink or rummaging through gear etc., but still responds well to sweeps and rudders to turn well. The speed is adequate when paddling alone or with other paddlers that are in no hurry. The problem arises on river trips when the other paddlers are in longer, narrower and faster boats. I have to work harder than the other paddlers.

What I think I'd like is a faster version of the Poke Boat that is light weight, has large cockpit and handles similarly, but is faster. Are there any boats out there that come close to meeting this criteria? Phoenix (Poke Boat) doesn't make a boat to these specs. I have the Phoenix Vagabond and the Phoenix Isere also and both are faster than the classic Poke Boat, but they turn when you stop paddling and are therefore frustrating when bird watching.

I'm 5'6" and weigh about 150lbs.

The rivers & streams here in central IL are often pretty shallow and rock bottomed, so the boat would benefit from a shallow draft.

Specs available at

i have drop skegs
my 2 phoenix ww boats have drop skegs which make them track.

Does the skeg work only when moving…
or also when also almost stopped? Can these skegs be used in shallow streams where the boat hull is dragging bottom? Are they something I should be able to install with commonly available materials? Where would I get one or two? How much are they? Phoenix said they won’t retrofit their boats with rudders. They only install them before they join the deck to the hull during manufacture.

Thanks for your help dannyb9.

the skegs are self made
they are not hard to make if you are handy with tools. i made mine from aluminum signs, rulers, stuff i had on hand. one is mounted in a slot in the stern of my ‘cascade’, i cut the slot with a hand saw and did an ‘end pour’ with expanding foam aerosol caulking. its the more ‘elegant’ solution. my ‘appalachian’ has brackets made from an aluminum ruler that hold the skeg behind the boat. they both work very well, the boats will coast down till still without spinning out. also very useful when paddling big water and you want to track on. good for surfing too. in shallow water they just bounce along the bottom and likewise shed debris like reeds, leaves, etc. hey if you get tired of that isere let me know, i really like my phoenix boats. i also have a ‘brown pelican’ sea yak. you and i are the only people i know with three phoenix boats : )

Thanks for the info dannyb9
I haven’t done much metal working since high school shop class and don’t have many metal working tools. I don’t even have an inside work area. I even have to store my boats outside at my Dad’s house. I’m terrified of damaging the boats and not being able to repair them. I did patch a hole on the bow stem of a Sawyer 190 fiberglass canoe last year and that turned out pretty well, but it didn’t look pretty and I just happened to have clear weather when I had the time to do the repair. I will be looking into skeg or rudder options for the Isere though. Tracking is all they are lacking. They are both good and versatile boats, just don’t track well after you stopped paddling.

I think that the Poke Boat handles great on small to medium sized streams, ponds & lakes, but a little more speed would be appreciated. I like the open cockpit and use the spray skirt sold by Phoenix. Man it really hurt when the boat was dragging over the rocky bottomed Middle Fork river (east central IL) last Sunday. The water level was much lower than I liked and it really scratched up the bottom. My Poke Boat is a 1988 model and already had alot of river rash before I bought it last year. I’ll be looking into restoring the finish in the near future, since the weave of the fabric can be seen and felt in several places on the bottom now. Oh, well, it’s better to wear a boat out than to have it dry rot. All the other boats on the river that day were plastic. I also have a Perception Keowee 1 and Keowee 2 and may use one of them for future shallow water trips. The Keowee 1 is a blast on rivers (slower than the Poke Boat) and I don’t care if drags over or bangs into rocks. I haven’t paddled either Keowee for over three years because I’ve been acquiring and learning new (to me) boats.

I’m not sure why so few people post about the Phoenix boats. What’s not to like about the light weight? The Vagabond is 16’6" and weighs 46lbs. It’s true that they’re not the prettiest boats on the water.

The Isere is a 1982 model and still looks great. Not many scratches on it. I got it a year and a half ago from a guy in AR who had gotten it from relatives in FL. I haven’t tried any rolls in it yet even though it’s supposed to be a great boat for learning rolls. All I have is a nylon skirt for it and I wish I’d used it and my flotation a couple weeks ago when the Isere got tipped by a partially submerged branch of a downed tree that I was pivoting around and cut my turn a little close. The water was only about two or three feet deep, but I wasn’t able to drain the water from the boat without the help of my paddling partner. That boat is really heavy when full of water and I don’t own a bilge pump (yet). The skirt probably would have most, if not all of the water out and if the skirt popped, the flotation would have greatly limited the amount of water in the boat. Oh, well. Live and learn.

I’m glad to know that there are others that appreciate the Phoenix boats.

Are decked canoes or rec yaks
my best options?

Is the Bell Rob Roy the smallest decked canoe? If not, what is?

Of the large cockpit kayaks, which may track/turn similarly to the the Poke Boat, but be a little faster?

I’d really like to keep the weight under 50lbs unless it can be carried with the weight on the shoulders using a yoke or similar device. I can carry the 28lb Poke boat over my head for a few hundred feet without it resting on my shoulders, but I can’t do that with a 50lb yak.

poke boat
We bought two Hurricane XL boats for using on the Manistee River and Au Sable. Love em!! They are 36 lbs and surprisingly good tracking on the open water sections of the river. Plenty of cockpit room for me at 200 lbs and my wife is only 5 ft and she finds the Santee XL to be fun to paddle without feeling like a beamy barge like her old Sundance. We’ve also got their longer boats for Lake Michigan and the plastic has held up great for us. Pretty good prices from the dealer in Kalamazoo who we were told was their largest dealer in the midwest. Alfred E Bike

Thanks lowbrace
for the info on the Hurricane XL boats. I’ll check into them. I’m not familiar with those boats.


Wow. Hurricanes look nice.
The Santee Sport OC closely resembles a lower volume, sleeker (faster) version of the Poke Boat and at 37lbs, it’s light enough. The Santee Sport OC looks like it wouldn’t hold as much gear as the Poke Boat, but I like the looks of it. I’m going to try to find a dealer close enough to test paddle this model and maybe a couple other Hurricane models. The Santee XL and Tampico XL also look like viable options for me if I decide to go with the smaller cockpit boats.

Now to find a dealer and price list. The Hurricane web site doesn’t list prices.

Bell Rob Roy
it’s the smallest decked canoe i know of. the only other decked canoes being manufactured on a regular basis are the Kruger Sea Wind, the Clipper Sea-1 and, now, the Sawyer Loon.

Thanks chad19
That’s what I suspected.