Pack canoes and weathercocking

I’ve been happily paddling sea kayaks for the past thirty-eight years but now in my 80s, even a forty pound kayak is more than I want to handle out of the water. With that in mind as well as increasing difficulty getting in and out of a kayak’s cockpit, I’ve become interested in acquiring a pack canoe. To that end, I’ve been able to borrow a friend’s Hornbeck New Tricks 13. The Hornbeck paddles very nicely in quiet waters and is very stable even with an extra two inches added to the seat to make paddling with a 220cm a bit more efficient (The 220 is my longest paddle and I’d prefer not to go longer than that, if possible). Of course, the boat is very light and easily managed out of the water and relatively easy to enter and exit. So far, so good. But yesterday, the wind picked up to around 15mph giving me the opportunity to see how well the Hornbeck would handle less than placid conditions. As expected, it was tough going into the wind and, save a few splashes here and there, no problems. But when I turned back with the wind now on the stern quarter, I found that the canoe had a severe tendency to weathercock, maybe worse than anything I’ve encountered in the thirteen kayaks that I’ve paddled over the years.
My otherwise delightful little Epic GPX required the addition of a small, permanent skeg to cancel its tendency to weathercock as well as did the Arctic Hawk that I once owned and my Feathercraft Kurrent needed its strap-on skeg now and then. I suppose that I could add a permanent, stick-on skeg to a pack canoe but I’d much rather not have to do that.

The pack canoes that I’ve been considering are the Placid Spitfire and the Swift Cruiser 12.8. I could easily include the lovely Placid Oseetah but, alas, garage storage is barely adequate for a 14 foot boat. I will be driving up to Boston later in the fall to attend a memorial service for a friend from army days and might be able to detour to Collinsville Canoe and Kayak in Connecticut on my way back to New Jersey but it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to visit Placid Boat Works (and, by the way, Collinsville charges fifty bucks for a twenty minute in the water test drive, refundable if you buy the boat).

Again, what I’m looking for in a pack canoe is something that is lively, quick rather than just fast and exhibits minimal tendency to weathercock without needing 25 pounds of ballast placed aft. And, if it’s any help, I’m 5’10” and weigh 140 and prefer a moderately elevated paddling position.

I would value feedback from anyone who has informed opinions about any of the boats mentioned including the Oseetah as well as other pack canoes. A rather long post but thankyou for reading it.

Virtually every canoe I have ever paddled that is well weight trimmed will tend to weather cock (weathervane) bow into the wind in most any breeze. I’ve paddled my 10.5’ carbon hybrid Hornbeck on big water in high wind and waves through the Adirondacks. I found that keeping all gear weight as much centered as possible makes it a lot easier to maneuver in such conditions. Other than just a very few times in windy conditions, most of the use of my Hornbeck has been on smaller remote lakes and ponds that don’t tend to have much wind. I also have a custom spray cover for it, which keeps paddle drip and wind spray out.

I do also paddle a Placidboat Rapidfire quite extensively. I very much dislike using a double blade paddle in any boat, so I have a higher seat installed than the normally highest available molded drop in seat in the RF. This, along with a couple of seat pads allows me to be much better positioned to use a single blade canoe paddle and all advanced single side strokes. The RF also weather cocks into the wind, but unless it is a strong gale, it is controllable and i can paddle in a straight line path as much as intended. I never use extra ballast of any kind, other than my usual tripping gear keeping the boat well trimmed.

Note that I spoke with Joe Moore at Placidboats the day before yesterday at the 90 mile Adirondack canoe race and he had the same response for me as he had a year ago. If you want to order a new boat now, expect it in about a year. I’m looking to get a new PB Shadow.


I have a Hornbeck New Trick 12 specifically for fishing ponds and lakes. It’s a relatively small, open boat that is not intended for big waters and/or big conditions. It is “perfectly fine” for my intended use. Having said that, I have been out in rain and winds up to the 15 MPH range. I really didn’t notice much in the way of weathercocking (turning into the wind). It could be because usually I have a milk crate with 10-15 lbs of fishing gear just behind me in the boat. When the weight is more towards the stern, this tends to mitigate weathercocking. The more weight involved, the more likely the boat will begin to “leecock” (turning towards downwind). Either way, I didn’t find “cocking” to be an issue for me with the Hornbeck in the conditions that I take the boat out in.

I should mention that I initially paddled the hornbeck with my 210 cm paddle. Hornbeck himself suggested I go up to a 230-240 cm. I resisted that for year because I am used to to a higher angle, faster cadence stroke. But, I got really tired of the constant dripping on my lap. So, I switched to a 230 cm specifically for the Hornbeck. I still get drippings but less so. But, more important, I find the longer paddle makes easier work of corrective strokes needed to mitigate cocking issues in more windy conditions.

The bottom line is that the Hornbeck is not a replacement for longer seakayak. It has a niche of its own. When used within those parameters, it’s a “perfectly fine” boat that I am glad to have in my collection.


1 Like

Moving the center of gravity back worked for me too. I suspect its because doing so tilts the bow up so it catches more wind relative to the stern . That gives it more sail area so the wind will shove it downwind an oppose the weather cocking. Plus lowering the stern adds a bit more water friction to the rear.

The real reason, if you think about it, is simpler. When paddling underway, the sharp bow acts like a knife in a soft homogeneous substance. Once it gets going, it tends to stick to the line it is carving and resists turning. The stern, on the other hand, is slipping unguided through disturbed water and is free to side slip with veery little side wind pressure. In addition, with forward motion when partially quartering into the wind, on the downwind stern side of the boat a partial vacuum is created and it draws the stern in that direction. Adding ballast to the stern causes the canoe stem to drop into less disturbed water and acts more as a keel, at the expense of good fore/aft slipstream trim and increasing drag from more wetted surface.

Since you’ve used a folder, have you considered getting another? Pakboat has 3 of their demo Quest 150s on sale for $1550 (correction from earlier error on price) – with free shipping this month. New list price is $1795.

The Quest uses the same basic frame design as Feathercrafts except the ribs are anodized aluminum rather than plastic and the Quest can be paddled with the deck (31 pounds) or without as an open boat (26 pounds) like a pack canoe. So it would mitigate both the weight issue and the entry flexibility issue. Lower profile than a pack canoe too.

I’ve been happy with my beta version Quest (the shorter 135 that they discontinued). Performance compares favorably to that of my FC Wisper with LESS tendency to weathercock (Wisper always needs the rubber skeg).

Like all Pakboats, it is also a lot easier to assemble than any of my FCs have been because the hull is open, no “pretzel yoga” required to situate the frame inside the closed bow and stern sections or the effort required to leverage the longeron connectors into place. They use a clever hinged expansion lever in the bow end to achieve skin tension. Also have locking mechanisms where the ribs attach to the gunwales so no annoying displacement as with FC (the larger ribs in my Wisper began popping off in recent years so I end up having to put 4" cable ties or bobble bungees around the joints to secure them.)

Photo of my Quest 135 before the seat and adjustable foot pegs were installed. This model was before they made the deck an optional item on the current 150 models so with them the stern apparatus is contained within wraparound skin flaps, like in the bow here.

I edited to correct my error in the price within minutes in my original post and this one.

Willowleaf, I like the feel of an SOF folding kayak as it moves through the water. Unlike most monocoque hulls that pound into the waves, the folder seems to caress them. That was the best thing about my Feathercraft Kurrent. The deal breaker was that I could never assemble the boat in less than 40 minutes and that time was too often spent scrabbling about on the ground. With a couple of aftermarket hips and curious strollers passing by, asking me what I was doing, I said “no mas” and replaced the Kurrent with the very last Feathercraft Aironaut that Doug Simpson would sell (he kept two for himself) before he closed shop. The Aironaut is more Kayak-like than most other inflatables and it paddles very nicely as long as you avoid windy conditions where, like all inflatables, it turns into a hard to manage beast. In the mangrove channels along Florida’s Gulf Coast where I paddle in winter, it’s a lovely paddling experience. And it weighs a scant 20 pounds and takes less than ten easy minutes to inflate and toss into the water. Can’t do that with a folder.

(Returning to the original topic) After having now paddled the Hornbeck New Tricks 13 a few times in near-calm conditions as well as in 15+mph winds, I’ve decided that if I do purchase a pack canoe it will probably be the Swift Cruiser 12.8. It’s pronounced Swede-form hull recalls sea kayaks I’ve owned and enjoyed and the recurved stern, if for no other reason, is something I find aesthetically pleasing. The boat has enough tumblehome midships to allow efficient use of a 220cm paddle and I could easily add an inch or two to the seat for the elevated paddling posture that I prefer. Both the New Tricks and Placid Spitfire seem to have similar below the waterline shapes and I’m guessing that I’d need to install a similar skeg like the one I stuck onto my Epic GPX (It’s quite simple to do and the material cost just a few bucks at Walmart). The 11sq in skeg on my GPX has been in place for several years and tunes out most of the weathercocking without affecting the maneuverability of the boat. If the Cruiser 12.8 weathercocks more than I find acceptable, I’ll simply cut out another skeg, apply a bead of Goop and using that mathematically precise placement formula known simply as WAG (Wild Ass Guess) and stick it on. Problem solved😊.

1 Like

Do what you gotta do to stay on the water! Good luck with WAG (love that concept!). LOL.


Why would anyone buy a CANOE and purposely disfigure a perfectly good and well designed well performing CANOE by attaching something meant for kayaks? Buy a canoe; paddle a canoe for heaven’s sake.


Only somewhat related…The recent adk 90 miler C1 stock class was Completely DOMINATED by a very fast Terry Kent paddling a Swift Cruiser 16. It’s a great hull design… what’s most notable is that he crushed it without the add on rudder and he used a single bladed paddle. The solo rec guys couldn’t even hang in the wash with their double blades. I joked with him that the rear rudder mount must actually be his exhaust

Easier to get in and out - he says it in his post.

I guess storage is an issue, but seems to me if you are going to paddle with a double blade, and want something that responds more like your old sea kayaks, you’d do better with a longer boat like the Oseetah or Rapidfire.

If it doesn’t fit in your garage, do what you gotta do.

I have a Rapidfire canoe. I paddle it with a single blade canoe padde exclusivly, never use a double blade. I have no control probems with making it go absolutely straight, heeling in turns, or fine manuevering to meet my needs. It is my tripping canoe and I also train in it when my race partners and I are unalbe to paddle together in larger canoes. The only modification I have made is I got rid of the drop-iin floor mounted seats and have a much higher rail mounted seat installed.

Rapidfire is a beautiful boat - no doubt about it. Works great for you. If he doesn’t have a place to store it it might not work for him.

If it was me I’d take the Rapidfire over the shorter boats, but I am actually more of a Bell Wildfire/Northstar Phoenix kind of paddler. :wink:

The little canoes are the easiest to handle in and on the water. They still have room for a dog and a 2 burner Coleman stove.

A friend of mine built a wood and canvas OT Pack that is the standard 12 feet.

The skeg that I mentioned is quite small, just 10 inches long and a scant two inches wide, but still enough to prevent most of the weathercocking tendency without affecting maneuverability. The fellow whose Hornbeck New Tricks I borrowed suggested that I stick one on his canoe just to see what happens. Will do as soon as I get down to Walmart for some fresh Goop.


The PB Oseetah is a very lovely boat but about a foot too long for garage storage unless I cut an opening in the far wall into the laundry room. I approached my wife with this practical solution and her response was assertively negative.

1 Like

Time for a bigger garage! :wink:

Just think of the advantage to the wife, You could just throw your wet muddy paddling/camping gear right into the laundry without tracking iti through the house first. You might want to mention that from a distance. :fearful: