Help: Advise on canoe purchase

It sounds like you have the skills (or can quickly acquire them) to keep a straight line on lakes, even with some wind. If so, having a canoe with modest rocker might be a worthwhile trade-off for better maneuverability on your river runs. Northstar’s B-16 or B-17, depending on desired capacity, could be worth a look. They offer three lay-up options so you can choose your preferred balance between weight versus durability.

Thanks so much for that idea. I’ve been admiring the Nova Craft Prospector (2.5" rocker), and I’ll look more closely at the Northstar.

Yes. That’s the boat I’ve been admiring. I saw one this week that was new and had cracks inside and out from transport, so I passed on it. I’m still debating between 16’ and 17’, and awaiting a call back from Nova Craft on structural integrity with those cracks. I’m including pictures here some cracks, so if anyone can lend wisdom on that, I’d love it. Not excited about having to patch fiberglass on a brand new boat…

The clear gelcoat version looks cool. Looks like she was abused during transport. I would consider it at a steep discount …

The Northstar B16 in IXP looks interesting.

I like the idea of Resin instead of gelcoat.

Resin-coated is basically a different way of saying skin-coated. Skin-coated boats do save weight by eliminating the polyester gel-coat layer.

But if you plan on using the canoe on shallow streams, a skin-coat will not provide the same degree of protection to the structural layers that gel-coat will. Gel-coat will certainly get scratched up and may in time wear through to the fabric. But skin-coat will wear through much more quickly.

Skin-coated boats are great for lighter weight hulls intended for flat water use or paddling on easy and reasonably deep streams but I still prefer a gel-coated boat if the intended use includes paddling on shallow, rocky, or gravel-bottomed streams.

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Here is a video from Northstar:

I agree, gelcoat does give more protection, but Northstar’s IXP looks to be pretty durable.

I havd no experience with these new layups. Heck, my main canoe is a 47 year old Tripper.

I do not have any personal experience with Innegra as a structural material. But good impact resistance does not necessarily equate with good abrasion resistance.

Northstar claims that Innegra fabric has excellent resistance to abrasion and I do not have any information that would cast doubt on that claim. But I do know from personal experience that sharp rocks can abrade and cut the fibers of aramid, fiberglass, and carbon fiber fabrics.

I consider gel-coat to be a sacrificial layer in preventing abrasion damage to the structural fabrics of a composite canoe. Before a sharp rock can slice through the fibers of the outer layer of structural fabric of a canoe it must first knife through the polyester gel-coat layer.

A thin layer of resin that covers the outer structural layers of a skin-coated composite canoe cannot provide as much of a defensive barrier against sharp rocks as a layer of polyester gel-coat can.

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This is an excellent video.


Having paddled an open canoe down the Grand Canyon (both solo and tandem) several times and done probably 30 self supported canoe trips on the San Juan River, I can say with certainty that kayaking the Grand and canoeing a tandem boat (especially if loaded) on the San Juan are two completely different beasts. Reading water is essential but won’t cut it if you don’t know how to canoe correctly. If you get raft support so can paddle with just airbags in your canoe, then you probably won’t have many problems. But with a loaded tripper…? On the actual Lower San Juan (Mexican Hat to Clay Hills), help is a very very long way away and is not recommended for beginner canoeists. Maybe paddle the upper section (Sand Island or Montezuma Creek to Mexican Hat) a few times first. Learning the correct, efficient way to move a canoe (especially if loaded) is necessary. Going with an outfitter would be a good option for both upper and lower sections, and getting good tripping canoe instruction would be even better. Renting a canoe is a good way to see what you think about the different materials and types of boats.
And 12,000 cfs?? It’s at 1200 right now (a lovely flow). 5000 cfs is a sleigh ride. 12,000 is not for beginning canoeists in a loaded boat. Again, it all depends on if you have raft support and a guide.

Hi there. Thanks so much for the advise on the San Juan. You’re the person I’d love to talk with! Would you be willing to give me a call at your convenience, or let me know a good time to call you (and your number)? A five or ten minute conversation sure might be useful here! Thanks, Craig

Craig Rubens

303-823-6614 home land line

303-880-0388 cell when in town