New canoe from Savage River

I’ve heard a rumor that Savage River is coming out with a new solo canoe, designed by Marc Ornstein. There isn’t anything on their website. Has anyone heard anything about it?

I understand through Marc that the first hull was being molded this week. You might want to contact Marc or Savage to discuss specs. It is based on Marc’s wood “Illusion”, symmetrical hull and rocker. Can not recall the overall length and beam.

That rumor is true.

If you are on Facebook you can look at Marc Ornstein’s FB page or that of “Dogpaddle Canoe and Woodworks” where Marc has posted quite a few photos of the plug construction process.

Marc will probably be along to provide more info, but hopefully he won’t mind me passing along a few specifics he posted on FB.

The Illusion is basically a symmetrical solo hull that Marc has been using for freestyle canoe competition for a few years so expect it to be a nimble hull that is friendly and predictable to heel.

Dimensions: length overall: 13’7"

maximum beam 29"

maximum beam at gunwales 25 1/5"

beam at 3" waterline 25 3/8"

beam at 4" waterline 26 1/2"

approximate rocker (taken at beginning of

stem recurve) 1 3/8"

Yep for the smaller paddler
Been watching progress from his actual prototype that he has paddled for years through the plug process and the number 1 Savage River boat.

I think Marc has said on Facebook that one will be at the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were lots of new solos? I am aware of Ted Bells new Phoenix and the new Clipper Caribou S solo canoe. Those are for larger paddlers

I think that solo canoeing each year becomes more exciting… for a while not much new was happening.

Sounds pretty sweet to me.

Maybe time for a re-read
by interested parties of “the solo mystique” article by Mike Galt…?

I held Marc’s paddle once.


I found it here:

There certainly are some beautiful composite solo boats being built. With the demise of royalex, I guess the question is will people be more willing to put down a couple of grand to buy one, or will they eventually be forced to put down a couple of grand to buy one. I paddle as much as anyone, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Hopefully my Yellowstone Solo will last a long time.

What I found lacking in past years
were solos for smaller paddlers . Those who would feel lost in a Yellowstone Solo.

The market is swinging to upsize paddlers and the petiter ones are getting lost.

Gone are the days of the Ladybug and the Mayfly and the Button and the Solitaire.

The Illusion should help fill that void. Its going to be a friendly boat that is a good tripper for the small lightweight packing paddler. Not too much rocker, but plenty if you want to heel it.

That Was a Trip…

– Last Updated: Feb-10-16 10:43 AM EST –

...down memory lane! I think I read that in "Canoe" magazine back in the day? Pat Moore and Mike Galt, that was when I was one of those guys with two in the tandem canoe and the big cooler (LOL)! I'll never forget the first time I saw TRUE SOLO CANOES; early '80's on the Black River in MO. There was a couple paddling side by side in a couple Mohawks. Never thought my wife and I would one day be that couple TOGETHER but paddling SOLO as the Mohawk add would go? Thanks, for the mem-or-eees, da da ta da dah dah dah, ta TA ta dah day dah.......

Size ranges

– Last Updated: Feb-11-16 2:19 PM EST –

KM is right, we are swinging towards larger boats as McDuck's SuperSize Me campaign reaches a weigh station. [Bad Pun]

Largest symmetrical solos for riverene use are the Clipper Caribou S at 15.2'X31.4 and NorthStar's Phoenix at 14.5 X30. Colden's WildFire 14X30 is next down in size. All three have more rocker than Savage's Illusion. The Illusion is deminsionally close to the Old LadyBug, 13.75X29. [Colden has a the LadyBug Mold.] Next down in size is Colden's FlashFire at 13'X28.5". After that it gets sketchy. The Curtis MayFly mold resides in Colden NY at 12.4'X26.5" but the skegged stern and severely arched hull render it inferior to Placid's SpitFire rigged with a high seat. If smaller folk wanted to buy top end boats I imagine someone would strip and mold a few but there seems to be little demand.

I noticed a comment about $2K solo canoes above. That is decade old pricing. While the Clipper comes in about there with aluminum rails, and NorthStar about the same with alu and a glas/Kev laminate, the best solo hulls, infused, with carbon and synthetic rails and components or wood rails and thwarts and under 30lbs are near $3K now and that is true of Colden, Savage and Swift. So it goes, top shelf stuff costs more in canoes, margaritas and everything else.

It will be a nice spring for moving water solo boaters with three new designs from three builders new to the genre and two new designers. Welcome to all, good for the sport!

Just a bit to add
beyond that which has already been said.

The modest, symmetrical rocker, allows the Illusion to track nicely when paddled level. The “bubble” sides lift the stems significantly when heeled, freeing it to spin on a dime. The heel is smooth and predictable, all the way to the gunwales, for those who choose to go that far.


Sounds good to me.

The Lady Bug is a fine canoe.

Flare, Shoulder and Bubble

– Last Updated: Feb-11-16 9:29 AM EST –

The most predictably heeled boat is a constant flare. The downside is that the rails are wide, limiting reach across the rail and that heel angle, maximum heel with the rail at water level is limited. Consider the Dandy, among others.

Bubble sided tumblehome started in modern boats with Bob Demoret of Wabash Valley but are most commonly remembered in several Yost Sawyer solos. The narrow rails allow smaller paddlers to present a vertical paddleshaft and they also allow an increased heel angle because the rails are inset. The heel is predictable, increasing pressure yields increased heel until the maximum beam is at waterlevel. Thereafter the heel becomes lighter as less width is presented to the water, the paddler needing progressively less pressure to further increase heel. Think Illusion or LadyBug or Autumn Mist.

Shoulders take the point where we are presenting more beam to the water almost as high as a flared boat, so the greater heel angles require predictably increased pressure until the shoulder reached water level. Once that shoulder is pushed underwater the boat becomes a little touchy. Combining shoulders with tumblehome also increases potential heel angle compared to bubble sides, both in excess of flared hulls.

Unfortunately, shouldered hulls require two piece molds rather than slip molds, the two piece units costing more to build and use. Heel angle doesn't make that much difference because most of us just we want to lift the stems to encourage a skidded turn, but boy the skid increases geometrically as the stems lift.

Sneak Preview

– Last Updated: Feb-11-16 6:11 PM EST –

Hull #1 is out of the mold and looks great. With luck the seat and thwart, from Paul Conk, will arrive in the next day or two and the hull will be trimmed out, next week. As it stands right now, the hull weighs 19.1 lb.

Photos are on the Dogpaddle Canoe Works Facebook page.

Congrats Marc!
Must be a great feeling. Anxious to see it when we cross paths this summer!

I’m a fairly short drive from Savage River Canoes. I wonder if they have a store, showroom, or if they’d allow a shop tour?

I’m sure that I read that in Wilderness Camping back in the day. A friend and I went in together in a Wenonah Jensen 18 right about that time thanks to reading too much Harry Roberts. that was a great boat. Learning how to run it on Michigan rivers was a great education on boat handling.