In defense of Sportspal canoes

Lord help me, I never expected to be writing that statement!

Coffee II’s thread (Kayak or canoe) dredged up memories from long ago, and far away. Well, PA in the '70’s to be more exact.

Memory #1: My buddy Al had a Sportspal 12 footer. Everyone else was paddling Grumman 15 & 17 footers. Al liked to solo, and danged if he wasn’t successful with his birchbark-colored, foam-lined, cut-and-welded Sportspal. Of course, after a couple of seasons of class II PA creeks an rivers the hull looked like a Bud can that had been kicked down a road for several miles by a logger wearing a pair of caulked (corked) boots. But for some reason, it did not leak. Chalk one up for Sportspal.

Memory #2: At Wilderness Voyageurs Outfitters, we sold Grummans, Blue Holes, Mad Rivers, Sawyers, and later on Wenonas. Customers would come in and ask for a 12 foot canoe. Why? So it wouldnt overhang their car! So I would launch into a discussion about canoe design, and how a wide/flat/short hull was not pleasing to paddle. Customer gets glazed look in eyes, leaves and drives to Ohio to buy a Sportspal. WVO takes on Sportspal Canoes. Another customer walks in, asks for a 12 foot canoe, sale is rung up and a satisfied customer departs. Chalk another one up for Sportspal!

Whew. Glad I’m over with that. Never again.


feeling a bit dirty

Good for you Jim
Nothing to feel bad about. Everybody knows it’s the paddler not the boat.


was it the paddler or was it the boat

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 12:54 PM EST –

So he was bashing into rocks paddling class II PA water in a 12 foot canoe?

(sorry couldn't resist)

Hey I resemble that remark
I paint the rocks regularly on all classes of water.

It’s my geological attraction!


Sportspal / Radison very popular
Around here. Why? They are great gun platforms for two or more, excellent fishing platforms and hold an 80 guart cooler with three guys, they come in camo colors, are quiet and unsinkable because of the foam interior, built in sponsons, come with a transon for up to a 3 hp outboard and are very lightwight.

But with a 38" beam, ore locks and a keel they are more of a flatwater boat than a canoe.

They are very good for their intended purpose.

The Chevette of the canoe world
I’ve fished from one of those wood-grained wonders, and have a healthy repect for their utility.

2 summers back I was at “Bocci Greens” on Little Tupper Lake, headin’ back to the put in to fetch some late arivals, when I see this geezer commin up the lake, solo in a small Radison. The guy had a smile bigger than mine. Is Aluminum more fun that R-84? Maybe he was smilin’ more than me 'cause he had the tail wind. I dunno.

We geezers
like to grin for no reason other than it makes others wonder what we’re up to.


I paddled the entire Tahquamenon R.
(tandem) in a friend’s Sportspal. It was great when it was time to portage, but my god, it was SLOW! Fully loaded (3 days of gear for 2 people) it felt like we were pulling a drogue behind us. We kept transferring cargo to the other canoe that was with us just so we could keep up.

But a great all-purpose, fishing, and general goofing around boat.

Let me ask you this?
Was your three days of gear over 40# per person? If Northman and I were to go in a 3 day tour, our gear would involve- Maybe:

2 rucksacks

2 sleeping bags

2 mess kits

1 tent (?)

2 ponchos

1 shovel

1 machete

1 first aid kit

12 trioxane tablets

4 canteens

4 hydration bladders

8 MRE’s &/or dehydrated food

I am all geared up for a 3 day winter trip & just (actually this minute 4:52pm Friday the 6th of JAN 2006) weighed my pack… 34 lbs, including food & water…

I know Northmans is roughly the same… I doubt that 70 lbs of gear between two would have the effect that your gear had…

But, this is a thread to enlighten others on the capabilities of the boat…

Paddle easy,


N.T. is on the money about the uses for
Sportspals and Raddisons. Great for hunting and fishing especially with a motor.

Several years ago (1981) we were taking a youth group to Algonquin for a week. When loading the 17’ Grummans on the trailer the teenage boys complained about the weight. When we loaded the lone Sportspal that one of the adults insisted on taking, the arguing about who would get to paddle/portage the light “canoe” started. I thought the issue was resolved with a schedule of taking turns.

The next day, 2 “lucky” boys started out in the Sportspal. At the 1st portage, they generously gave up the balance of their morning turn. Not surprisingly, the occupants of the Sportspal changed at every portage until everyone but my wife and I had spent time in it, and that took less than 2 days on the water. That evening around the fire, the kids told us that we had to take a turn in the bathtub. I agreed to paddle it to the 1st portage of the next day and the kids seemed happy with that.

The next morning we loaded the canoes and paddled the 100 yards or so the the 1st portage of the day. Haven’t been in a Sportspal since then.

Seems like it would be a decent
load hauling boat. Top speed usually isn’t an issue with our paddle trips. Enjoying the scenery and having fun w/ friends is much more important. After running a 17’ canoe down some areas, I think a shorter canoe should work fine. If we were hitting lots of flat water it would be diffrent. Usually we are in a consant flow area of river with occasional dam flooding.

Sportspal slalom and downriver will be
in the next Olympics.