Need Info on Blachhawk Zephyr

What is the paddler weight range for the Zephyr? How can you identify Blackhawk different layups? And other info on the Zephyr would be appreciated!

There’s info in the archives.
I’m 160 lbs and that’s fine for the Zephyr.

All of the other info is in the archives or will probably come through the the specs sometime soon.

The Zephyr, and I have the factory spec sheet before me, has a listed paddler weight range of from 140-200#.

Best, most certain, way to tell the lay ups is by weight. The Zephyr in “sport gold” lay up should be about 33#, “sport silver” 40#, ICS (their adjustable seat model) Gold 37#, ICS Silver is 43#.

Hope this helps.

Generally agree…

– Last Updated: Apr-01-11 10:45 AM EST –

I generally agree with the specs on the Zephyr provided by PJC. I say generally agree because the more you search, the more specs you'll find, and they are not all the same.

I have in front of me a 1992 spec sheet that is original Blackhawk material. It states that the paddler weight range(plus gear of 70 pounds)is 125 to 190 pounds.

Zephyr weight: Silver sport 38 lbs.
Silver ICS 44 lbs.
Gold sport 33 lbs.
Gold ICS 37 lbs.

ICS is an abbreviation for Integrated Component System
The ICS was developed to provide choice of 3 seating/paddling arrangements...........cane seat, bucket seat, or pedestal. The foundation of the system are side pods in the interior of the canoe that
allow seats to adjust both fore and aft and to be raised and lowered.

P.S. The Zephyr is a garbage scow. You should sell me yours for half what you paid for it, or if you know where one is, in primo condition, you should send me all the particulars.
Save yourself the shame, hurt feelings, & embarassment of paddling a scow. I don't want you to get a low self image.

Thanks. Mine must be Silver ICS.
It weighs right at 44 lbs.

very altruistic

– Last Updated: Apr-01-11 2:09 PM EST –

Having selflessly acquired every undesirable canoe in the state of Missouri, Bob is now branching out to the remaining "lower 48".

My specks are from 88
but looks like only a little differance. I bet there’s that much variation between individual canoes no matter what the year.

If Bob offers to give you half what you paid for it, I’ll see his 50% and raise him 15%. Undesirable boats like that MUST be kept hidden away so they don’t debeautify our waterways.

Seriously, give it a test paddle. They’re nimble. It’ll feel tippy at first, but there’s plenty of secondary stability. Don’t “horse” it around too much. It responds well to finesse.


– Last Updated: Apr-01-11 1:27 PM EST –

The specs I posted were from a 1992 "mini" Blackhawk brochure/catalog.

Pete, I am aghast & appalled. Such negative feedback from you is "hurtful" at best. I was just trying to be a "good doobie", and possibly assist a fellow paddler make a well reasoned decision. My motives have "always" been as pure as the snow in Gary, Indiana.

As for that Yanoer guy..........he's about as trustworthy as an Illinois politician. If I'd had a flat on my truck, an accident, or gotten lost on the way to the pickup point for the Bell Wildfire..........he'd have swooped in like a vulture on raccoon roadkill.

That PJC guy.........he'd pay 15% more than I would for a canoe......... to "beautify the waterways".
What a line of moldy Wisconsin cheese!
Sly devil trying to pass himself off as "green" to poach a boat.


Going to look at it tomorrow!
The Zephyr couldn’t be any tippier than the canoe I paddle today. It is a Lotus BJX! The BJX may be tippy but what a glide!

You’ll enjoy the Zephyr more.
More nimble than the Curtis Vagabond that I bought from you. I previously owned a Lotus BJX and found it too difficult to turn for my preference.

Proper trim is helpful in the Zephyr, so if it has the sliding seat, move it around if you’re not getting the handling that you prefer.

The Zephyr gunwales are 28" from outside edge to outside edge, so that’s a little wider than the Vagabond. I don’t remember the BJX gunwale width.

It will handle differently than any of the other solo canoes that I’m aware of you having owned.

Go for it before thebob gets it. Those garbage scows always increase in value after he gets them.

I’m getting my chest waders ouf for this
It’s getting deep.

Not a Zephyr!
I was really disappointed that it wasn’t a Zephyr! The lady was told by a friend that it was. It is a Blackhawk that was 14’5" x 31" at the outside of the gunwales. THe hull # ended in 91. It was red with a light grey at the waterline. Can anyone help to identify the model? It had mahogany rails but was the heavy layup.

Shadow 14/ 14.5

– Last Updated: Apr-10-11 12:47 PM EST –

There was a Shadow series, 12, 13, 14 and combi 15, but the numeration was approximate. Can't access my PC remote HD with the new Apple yet, so I can't say if it was called 14 or 14.5, but it was 14.5 ft long. From hard copy of Blackhawk catalog Zephyr was 14'2" X 27.25" max, 26,75" rails, 25" wl. The widths are molded beam, not interior or exterior rail dimensions.

I cannot imagine preferring Zephyr to Curtis Vagabond/ Hemlock Kestrel. While similar hulls The latter both turn tighter heeled to the rail, track better a little better and are a little faster and lighter in weight. Lightest Zephyr 33#, Vag 30#, Kestrel, 29#, Colden Vag 25#.

Despite innovative design work, Zephyr had an annoying tendency to dump water on one's calf over the aft rail when heeled to the amidships rail.

Blackhawk Shadow Series

– Last Updated: Apr-02-11 10:16 PM EST –

From Blackhawk Canoes brochure (1992):

Shadow 11' 7"
Waterline length 11.5
Gunwale width 25"
Hull width 25"

Shadow 13
Waterline length 12' 11"
Gunwale width 27 inches
Hull width 27.37 inches

Shadow 14'6"
Waterline length 15'5"
Gunwale width 29.25 inches
Hull width 30 inches

Shadow SS Special 15' 8"
Waterline length 15'5"
Gunwale width 30.25 inches
Hull width 31 inches

Blackhawk Combi (the smaller of 2 sizes)
Waterline length 14'6"
Gunwale width 32.5 inches
Hull width 32.5 inches

I believe what he saw was a Shadow 14.6 model.


Inferred preference was for Zephyr over
Lotus BJX. The Curtis Vagabond was invoked merely to give the O.P. a reference to other boat’s he’s owned.

I haven’t heeled any boat to the rail, so I’m always referring to maneuverability and responsiveness at less than maximum heel. Often when sitting.

On heeling, I agree
I really enjoy little creeks with challenging deadfall obstacles, often with swirly currents that don’t want me putting the boat where I want it, yet I have been getting by quite nicely in those places without a large amount of heel. Throw in the fact that faster rivers or lakes don’t allow that degree of heel in the first place (how often is big lake calm enough for that at times other than dusk, dawn, and night?), and heeling to the rail seems like a neat trick to know but not one that’s necessary for most situations. I love to watch what the free-stylers do, but I can’t imagine them using those techniques while simultaneously ducking below branches or side-slipping against a current, dealing with waves, or even with a well loaded boat. In short, I think it’s neat skill but hardly a necessary way to judge a boat’s performance. Just my opinion of course, with no ill-will aimed at anyone.

come to a creeking FS

– Last Updated: Apr-04-11 8:45 AM EST –

class..yes you can heel while limboing under a branch. Or at least try.

Some streams are small and twisty and tree branches hang low (Juniper Run in Ocala is the most recent one I have run). More than one corner had a 120 degree bend with a tree branch at chest height in the middle..

Heeling the boat can be done with you just about flat on the bottom of the boat.

Best practiced where there are no consequences other than getting wet.

One of the chief benefits of FS is its applicability for stream work. Now that would be just moving or tidal water..not serious ww.

At any rate more user applicable for most over paddling to music.

FS becomes even more applicable when your boat is loaded with a week of gear. Most boats get sunk in a little and the promised stem clearance per specs just isn't there. Ergo they need FS techniques to turn and navigate twisty rivers. For sure my Nomad and all its cousins are quite straight ahead boats and require heel to turn without a lot of paddler work, especially with 75 lbs of gear for one or two weeks.

heeling in a Shadow
My Blackhawk Shadow 13 was the best boat I ever had for the twisty little rivers of the Pine Barrens. I am still kicking myself for getting rid of it.

I heeled it (and other solo canoes) routinely in modest current, including in the Pine Barrens, especially while side-slipping or doing axle turns. I would often put the Shadow to the rail during a turn, since it heeled that far basically on its own (low sides, no tumblehome). In a boat with shouldered tumblehome, it’s true, I heel to the rail only on flat water.

Another example: Coming back down the Oswegatchie last summer, I decided to skip my last night in camp (and the necessary early rise the next morning) and come out of the woods that evening. So I needed to make good time to get to the takeout before dark. I decided to see how fast my (kneeling) RapidFire could get down the river, including getting through the turns fast. I made sure my gear wouldn’t slip around, then started heeling to the outside of the turns. I could almost put the outside rail to the water before getting nervous. I never had a close call; the worst thing that happened was I taught some Boy Scouts to keep clear of my side of the river. Lots of fun.

I also heel the RapidFire on the Hudson, near the edge of the river, when I’m working against the current. It helps to maintain a good line.

All of the above was with a light (weekend) tripping load, in current not above 2.5 mph. With a heavier load, or in bigger water, or in real wilderness, I would take fewer risks.


Zephyr - hot boat!
My experience is that the Zephyr is an awesome boat with the only possible downside being that it is low volume…if your load is over 200 pounds it’s getting dicey in a Zephyr.

I’ve had a lot of the boats discussed…a Shadow 14, Vagabond, Kestrel…and I still get to spend time in a friend’s Shadow 13.

They are all sweet boats for sure. For me the Zephyr (and Shadow 13 and 14) turns better than Vagabond or Kestrel (Zephyr has so much rocker it looks like a banana on the dock) and in terms of speed Shadow 14 is slowest (it hits a wall and it’s done), Vagabond is next (it also hits a wall - like all of Dave’s solos), Kestrel is quite a bit faster than Vagabond (but eventually htis a wall) and Zephyr and Kestrel are similar for top speed…both very hot for versatile sport canoes. In my experience the Zephyr (and Shadow 13) can be driven way past their hull speeds…unlike any other solos I’ve paddled (they get noisy and throw big noisy bow waves with each stroke…but they keep going faster). The Zephyr is less stable than the Curtis boats for sure.

I found that both Kestrel and Vagabond can be overloaded…both could take me and my dog…maybe 275 pounds, where the Zephyr was fully loaded with just me.

If you fit the Zephyr and have enough experience to handle such a narrow and hot boat…it’s a great boat…for most types of paddling (not whitewater!).

Hull Speed and Faster

– Last Updated: Apr-09-11 2:04 PM EST –

Have you checked that speed with a GPS? I used to get fooled into thinking that certain boats would continue to go faster and faster with increased effort, but not anymore - not since checking that against the GPS. In those cases, GPS readings have shown that big changes in perceived speed, based on the feel of the boat, have turned out to be exceedingly tiny speed increases, where even an extra 1/10th of a mph gives the impression of being substantial. I've paddled a Zephyr (a good friend has one) and consider it a sweet boat at normal speeds, but when it comes to going faster and faster, it seems to "hit the wall" (hull speed) just like other canoes I've paddled. Also, Charlie Wilson says that Blackhawk designs are actually not conducive to achieving unusually fast speeds, and even though I frequently do not agree with his sometimes rather black-and-white statements regarding which boats are good designs and which are bad, I DO trust his statements regarding specific hull attributes, in this case, which hull shapes are especially fast and which are not. I think it's worth noting that hulls that handle very sweetly and have a quick, lively feel are most often not the boats with the fastest speed (are racing boats a "joy" to paddle like the Zephyr? I get the impression that the answer would be "no"). My bottom line here is that speed is extremely subjective and misleading until you actually measure it.