This summer I discovered how amazing the experiential art of canoeing is. I bought a beautiful used Old Town Penobscot 16 which I have loved paddling tandem (as well as solo), but soon found out that I would break my back if I was going to keep having to put that sized boat on and off my car whenever I wanted to use it solo.
Hence, I devoted hours of research into finding the perfect solo boat for me, a completely naive and total novice devoted to this new found passion of mine.
Last week I purchased a gorgeous new solo canoe and fell in love with it the moment I tried it out on the lake behind the store. It is a carbon/kevlar composite weighing just under 30 lbs and feels like it fits me perfectly.
However, I noticed over the course of the week that there are various visible “imperfections” all over the inside of the hull. For example, in the bow, at the very end where the kevlar “cloth?” is folded together, there are ends of the cloth fibers sticking out all molded together in dried glue fragments as well as several big gobs of dried glue around one seam area in the inside of the corner of the bow. In addition, there are several little wrinkles and bumps sticking up out of the bottom and inner walls of the hull, as well as areas of a thin dried clear gluey substance that was applied thicker in some areas that you see easily when the light catches it. Is this normal? Does each boat portray the idiosyncrasies of the builders’ character at the moment and it’s considered part of the art? Or does this indicate that something may have been done in a rush? I am aware that these boats are not made by machines and that there is a lot of genuine fine craft and handwork that goes in to each one, and maybe these “imperfections” are considered part of the boat’s “character”… I hope I am not coming across as sounding fussy or hyper critical in any way. It’s just that this was a very expensive boat and I figured that at such a price the craftsmanship would have been a bit more aesthetically astute and less sloppy. I’d love others’ opinions. I have purposely not written the name of the manufacturer so as not to insult this company or anyone affiliated with the making of the boat in case this is an entirely normal part of canoe making…I’m happy to let it go, but thought I’d ask some of you who’ve had more experience. Many thanks!
If the imperfections are visible and accessible, they should have been fixed at the factory, or shop where the boat was built. If you bought it through a dealer, you should probably talk to the dealer about it. If you ordered the boat directly from the builder, see if they have any solution that is mutually agreeable. Otherwise just fix it yourself. If you don’t already have some experience with working on composites, you might as well learn; sooner, or later you will probably need to anyway. There are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube.
I have owned maybe 10 used canoes and lots of other boats in my life. I expected all of them to have some small imperfections. I have ordered one new canoe in my life a long time ago, that I think was a Wenonah Spirit II. It came by truck from MN to WY. The hull was really wavy from the pop rivets that held the seats in place. I sent it back and got a refund, and have never bought another new boat of any kind.
Enjoy that new canoe. I wouldn’t worry too much about small flaws, especially if it’s on the interior of the hull. Unless the flaws are really noticeable it probably wouldn’t be considered a “factory” second. As long as they don’t affect performance or durability it shouldn’t be a problem. It would be useful if you could post close-up photos of the imperfections you mentioned.
I’ve purchased four new Kevlar canoes and they each had imperfections of one sort or another. One of those had some really obvious flaws on the sidewalls of the hull and was sold as a second for a very good price. I just ignore the aesthetics of the boat and focus on the beauty of its performance.
Although there’s probably no such thing as a perfectly-constructed canoe, some manufacturers do much better than others in terms of attention to detail and consistency. I have a carbon/Kevlar canoe that has small wrinkles in the interior and although that’s a little disappointing at least it is normal due to their manufacturing process. I’d like to see pictures of your boat’s defects. Based only on your description it sounds like you should express your concerns to your dealer or the manufacturer. Boats with significant cosmetic defects that still function perfectly ar often sold as “blems” (blemished) at a discount. Given the price of carbon/Kevlar boats you have every right to be a bit fussy.
I’ve owned quite a few canoes over the years and have returned one due to manufacturing defects. I’ve also had friends return boats or experience disappointment due to defects. Mostly from one manufacturer.
The prudent thing to do would be take pictures of the imperfections, email them to manufacturer with descriptions, and see what they say. They will probably respond as other posters have… ‘minor imperfections are normal’. Keep the reply in case anything happens down the road as insurance if anything goes wrong.
Dick Summers has the right idea. Document them and see what the manufacturer says. It could be a COVID thing, but it might just be that they were trying to keep the weight down and aramid doesn’t really like that.
If you keep it, a carbide scraper can smooth out that overlay spot, if it bothers you.
Thank you all for your recommedations and advice. Much appreciated. I think I will take some photos and send an email to the manufacturer, but also lighten up at the same time and enjoy the boat…as it rides very nicely!
Just FYI as magooch mentioned if you bought from a dealer you should approach the dealer first since the dealers buy boats from the manufacturer and they are the ones that are responsible to satisfy the customers. Or send pics to both dealer and manufacturer at the same time.