SAWYER CANOE COMPANY, visit trip report

-- Last Updated: May-05-05 4:08 PM EST --

A visit trip report to the SAWYER CANOE COMPANY.

A happy ending to a long trip to do some gruelling family business. After business was behind me I headed to Carl and John's Paddlin in Madison, WI to pick up a couple of new canoes. Got to talk to Carl about what is happening in canoeing and the past as well. A lesson in how to turn a short one hour stop into almost three hours. Great stop! Then it was on to St Paul, MN to pick up an old Sawyer Loon which brings us our subject. I drove to Ohio next to spend some time with the new owners of Sawyer Canoe. Yes, the rumors are true the Sawyer Canoe Company has been sold, hauled our of storage, and is up and running! No, the rumor about a guy in his garage is NOT true.

Spent a great morning and lunch with Bruce and Irma. They are true seasoned professionals with what seems to be the right drive and backgrounds in management, manufacturing, engineering, and procurement to make this enterprise go! Also met the owner of the professional composite forming company that is currently laying up the Sawyer hulls. He is very knowledgeable, professional, very personable, and is also a paddler.

We spent the morning sharing canoe information, discussing the Loon, Sawyer, and other high quality boats. I shared all the pertinent info I had gathered from various sources and helping to build boats in a commercial canoe shop for several years. They shared the current Sawyer lay up and process. Got so involved in just talking that almost left without seeing the production facility and THE PRODUCT, but thank goodness remembered at the last minute. The tour of the facility and inspection of the boats in various stages of build really sealed my impression of the rebirth of Sawyer! First class! Go Sawyer! Go for it!

I was deeply impressed with everything I heard and saw!!! Does it show a little? ;^) Being the natural sceptic and fault finder, and being somewhat knowledgeable in the area this is not that easy to do. There was extra speciality cloth in all the right high stress areas. Many kinds and weights of cloth were used that give the strength needed but keep weight to a minimum. More speciality cloth varieties than I believe I have seen in any other hull and/or deck lay up. The reinforced area in the central bottom of the hull is not foam that can move, tear, and abrade, but a vertical standing core of material that fills with resin making a true, solid, and dependable reinforced area where it is needed. The gel coat I saw looked flawless. Although already looking good, additional steps are being taken to make the interior finish look even better. I now understand why the "prototype" Loon we have been test paddling in our "Decked Canoes" evaluation did not oil can or exhibit some of the other bad characters I and some of the other testers expected. (Another make of the test boats, which looked and felt very similar in lay up ,did oil can.)

The new owners of Sawyer Canoes are definitely professionals and some of the nicest people I have met!

All those involved seem to want to DO IT RIGHT and in light of the many major changes in the canoe industry the timing seems to be right too!

I feel there are great things in the future for the Sawyer Canoe Company.

Happy Paddl'n!



What - No free samples?


Thank Mick
Thanks much for sharing your observations, Mick.

It is good to hear such positive expectations for the new Sawyer.

What are the changes you refer to in the canoe industry that you think will help these folks make it?

what is the line up
of old boats they are going to re-release? any new offerings in solos’?

Thanx for reminder! Did mean to mention

– Last Updated: May-06-05 6:58 AM EST –

model status.

I would not expect any new models out in the beginning. As I understand it Sawyer canoes were so well designed that they are still used in amateur competitions. I know the old models are still sought by paddlers everywhere. Updates and new models during the start up would most likely be a waste of time and money. I would expect that once up and running Sawyer would probably have David Yost take a look at what model or models might benefit from an upgrade. I believe we hit upon that note in our discussions during the visit.

As to Sawyer models now in production: Loon (solo), Summer Song (solo), Autumn Mist (solo), and Cruiser (very popular tandem) as far as I know. Read below for details.

They are at the very start of production. They have taken the time to get things right from the start of actual production. I do know there are two "prototype" Loons at Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville, PA. These were early builds and Sawyer has been very quick to respond to minor problems pointed out by BMO and paddlers alike. There is at least one more Loon currently in build, maybe two. I saw an almost completed Summer Song and another in the mold I believe. An Autumn Mist is to be built soon and is to be test paddled for a write up in Paddler Magazine I believe. Now be patient as it can be some time between paddle and write up until the article actually appears. Hey all you Sawyer Cruiser fans! A mold was being prepared to build a Cruiser very soon.
Model production beyond this I do not know. I am sure that inquiries and feel back from paddlers will determine what gets built next.

I know there has been one inquiry for one of the old speciality extra long racing hulls that did not appear in the catalogs.

Sawyer Canoe is to be at the Inlet, NY Paddlefest week end after next, 13-14 (?) May. Go see the great folks of Sawyer, see a couple of boats, get more of your questions answered, and input what you really think and want to see.

Sorry you had to ask baldpaddler and very glad you did remind me!

Happy Paddl'n!



Sawyer production line up - see below

But I did get to look and touch! :^)
And I have been paddling a loaned free sample in the Decked Canoe tests.

When I paddled the new Loon for about the third or forth time and got past the little fixes and improvements needed (which btw Sawyer is working on) I suddenly got that feeling “I’m home” feeling I was in a Kruger design. The same kind of feeling I get in most David Yost designs as well.

The hulls sure looked great and were very well made. Now I have a big problem! Which is the Sawyer I want to add to my fleet first? Always like Sawyer looks, but as they were no longer made I was not looking at them with a buyers intensity. Now I need to study Sawyer canoes closer.

Happy Paddl’n!



My neighbors have a Sawyer Oscoda
and a Cruiser. They really boogie. I enjoyed paddling them both. We have several guys in our club who paddle Sawyers. Two are Autum Mists, one is a Summer Song.

I Just Added
Some “New” Sawyer items to “My Albums” as well as one containing the 1979 Mad River Catalogue.

For those who would like to check them out you will find them here…


I stopped at Carl & John’s
last summer. It is real easy to spend alot of time talking to those guys. They’re real nice and know alot.

Thanks for this great information. I bought and sold a Sawyer 190 last summer (it was too tippy for my wife). I look forward to test paddling some of the new production.

I was mistaken. It was in the catalog!
“I know there has been one inquiry for one of the old speciality extra long racing hulls that did not appear in the catalogs.”

I just found it in an old Sawyer catalog, a 24’ Saber! Looks like it is breaking the sound barrier while just sitting there!


oil canning
which boat oil canned?

Believe it or not the beautifully built
esquizetly built Sea-1. It was minor oil canning and we were in rough conditions. Would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes and another paddler said they saw it too. As I said it was very minor and I would not be overly concerned about it. Certainly a lot less that any Royalex.

Happy Paddl’n!



Not ignoring your question osprey.
I have only a few hours and must leave for the weekend. Killing the backed up rats from my last trip as fast as I can. May not finish reply until next week, but do intent to get back to it. If I do not please yell at me!

ould not have even started this thread, but I promised myself and some others I would get’er done before leaving again.

Happy Paddl’n!



It’ll sure keep
Safe travels.

In the mean time osprey, what do you

– Last Updated: May-07-05 7:38 AM EST –

think is happening at manufacturers like Souris River, Bell, Clipper ... ?

What about the newer little specialty start ups like Placid BoatWorks,...?

Restart of potentually big companies like Sawyer, ... ?

Your local watersports shop(s)?

What else?


Back on Me?
Man if I had a clue about trends in the industry. I wouldn’t ask so many dumb questions. :slight_smile:

We don’t have a paddle local paddle shop. A few big box sporting goods stores carry a few fairly low end boats.

A Cabela’s is going in up near Austin and that makes me concerned about the paddle shops up that way. But maybe they deal with a different clientel mostly anyway.

Something good must be happening, though, or why would these start ups be interested?

Hope it works
I’ve come across some old models of Sawyer and there have been some interesting, no-compromise designs. I also spoke with the owner a little while back and he was shooting to get some good prototypes available for shows. I’ll be interested in seeing what the production models, once he gets the line cranked up. (Interesting that they’re just on the verge of production and couldn’t be told where I could even see one, and yet two infommercials - I mean “reviews” - on different models pop up today. I doubt if it’s coming form Sawyer, because the owner sounded astute.)

Loon "infomercial"
If you check my earlier posts, you will see that the Loon some of us paddled was a pre-production boat. And yes, it’s from the folks who currently own and operate Sawyer. In addition, since they are planning to start by offering some of the old Sawyer designs, it is to be expected that there are folks here who have paddled them.

Who needs to check?
You missed that the review alludes to ownership (“mine”), not a try-out of a pre-production model. If someone is grinding out reviews of multiple models he “has” when the manufacturer isn’t even into distribution, and those reviews are short on information and long on, (and I quote) “wow, wow, wow,” and that doesn’t raise an eyebrow with you, you might want to avoid attempting to impose advice on other posters.