Sawyer, Placid, Bell, Souris, ... and me

-- Last Updated: Jun-06-05 1:15 PM EST --

Sawyer, Placid, Bell, Souris, Kruger, ... and Mcwood4 ...

Ok, ok. I assumed that there were some rumors. I certainly have not been quiet about my enthusiasm and support for the new Sawyer company. Or even the time I have spent with the owners.

It seems I need to clarify my status as I have recently been told the rumor mill is in fact in full motion.

MY STATUS: I DO NOT work for or have any financial interests in the Sawyer Canoe Company.

Heck, I have not even received a free boat for my time and expenses. And I really wanted that slightly blemed Summer Song I paddled at the Blue Mountain Outfitter's paddle day too! Bruce would not let it go anywhere without taking it back to the factory; totally replacing the gunwales and fixing the few cosmetic blems too. Darn! You all know what a bargain hunter I am. And I was this close! ;^) Seriously though ... I DO LIKE SAWYER canoes and the company very much.

A few of the reasons for the seemingly sudden (which is not really sudden at all as you will see) switch to Sawyer for me follows:
1) I spent two years trying to get parts and support for my Souris River canoes. Got the runaround of importer saying contact the manufacturer, the manufacturer saying contact the importer, and finally neither answering messages or e-mails. I thought for a long time it was just me, but some of you here said the same happened to you. How did I solve this? Put Bell parts on the boats and have written Souris River off. I went from recommending them, to being neutral, to saying they are still very good canoes, but beware ...
2) Another manufacturer I have praised far longer than either of the above has put off my request for pricing on modifications, upgrades, and even parts. The company has refused to modernize or take repeated, and repeated requests from potential customers seriously. The last conversation I had with them got a little ugly as they seem to have become excessively paranoid. I certainly do not need that. I have bent over back words here. I have even sold a half dozen paddlers on these very expensive boats in the past three years. Where do I stand here? I still recommend Kruger expedition canoes, but do find myself saying "This boat is not really for you." more these days.
3) Bell seems to be going away from high performance hull, down grading their boats for the mass market. (Also ref decisions on Placid BoatWorks picking up my favorite Bell solo designs.) Bell also seems to be embracing the "box" stores. Bell dealers that are paddle shops are starting to drop Bell. What to do here? It is hard when you like the hulls so much and the manufacturer simply abandons you!!! I have secured the Bell hulls I like and am moving on to canoe companies that are looking to the future of paddling and not their fattening bottom line. Can you say retirement time for Ted?! My "Bell solos' now come from PLACID BOATWORKS who owns all the "Fire" molds!
4) Swift? Well we have all talked that one to death. Forgot them, bad service and their nasty owner a long time ago.

I do like Sawyer canoes, really like the new owners, and would very much like the new company start up to be very successful. They needed some help with a few things I was able to help with so I have been an unpaid helper.

FUTURE STATUS: There is a chance I MAY work for Sawyer. If my situation changes I will let you all know, right here, on this board, right away, as been my intent all along.

I will be out of touch due to family business. Be glad to discuss any of this after 15 June '05 if you wish.

Hope this clears the air a bit.

Happy Paddl'n!



Hope it comes together for them
… and you.

Is Summer Song one or two words?
You used two words, but I’ve seen mostly one word in other places. It’s not on my boat anywhere. Either way, it is a very nice boat and I certainly understand your lusting for one and I expect this to be a very popular hull. It’s really a joy to paddle with or without rudder and using single or double paddles. It’s a real treat to learn and explore it.

I look forward to your future posts.

the decline of bell
i’ve slowly heard rumors that bell was becoming more of a bottom line company. i really hate to think that’s true. if they do sell-out, though, someone will fill the niche. there’s just too many people out there wanting a hot-rod, seaworthy solo to do anything from medium whitewater to blasting along the flats, although those would be two different canoes. bell has a great line of hull designs. i’m one of their biggest fans, but i starting getting suspiscious when those “backwater” boats started coming out. it’s such a shame. even if i don’t like many of their boats, wenonah seems have stayed fairly true to their roots. good for them.

SummerSong / Summer Song
Have seen it both ways. Looked in my '85 catalog. It is “Summersong” there. I prefer “SummerSong”. Do not know why I typed “Summer Song”.

No matter, “A Rose By Any Other Name.” SummerSong sure paddles sweet! :^)


A recent experience with Souris
I am a newbie to canoeing. Did a fair amount of research on the net before ordering a souris canoe. I am sorry to hear about your problems with the company - my personal experience has been very positive.

I ordered a green duralite. Several weeks went by and I was contacted with the retailer that the canoe had been manufactured…but there was a problem. There was a blemish. I had already paid in full for the canoe. I had expected them to offer a rebate for the blemished canoe…but was blown away when they offered me a le tigre kevlar at the same price and offered to ship the next day.

Being fair, I have not required any parts as it is a new canoe, but am very very happy with the quality and design of the canoe. Just my two cents worth.

Well, nuts
And here I was hoping to use your employee discount to get a new Sawyer LOL

Bright side!
You can use my almost employee discount on any “used” boat Sawyer has. ;^)

Happy Paddl’n!



Thanks! and . . .
I have a few denials of my own.

First, the rumors that I actually exist are false, or at least I hope they are everytime I look at myself in the mirror.

Second, the rumor that the ape I’m descended from was the ugliest one in the litter is not true, and his family never misses a chance to let me know how disappointed they are in me.

Rumors that I was once J. Lo’s secret lover are completely false. It wasn’t a secret at all, it was just such a low-key relationship that no one knew about it, including J. Lo.

I am not running for president, but if I am elected, Wenonah will be the official canoe of the White House. Mick, you are welcome to stop by and paddle on any time you’d like. I’ll even have the Secret Service put a rudder on one for you :slight_smile:

Hope you enjoy your trip!

What color are Sawyer pom-poms?
And how will that old beat-up fedora of yours look with a cheerleader’s outfit? ;^)

As regards de numbers:

  1. I still think a Souris River canoe in their “milk jug” lay-up is a hoot to paddle, cracks me up to see the waterline from inside the boat. Can’t say they ever appealed to me except as a novelty though. 2. Kruger canoes have zero appeal for me personally – big ol’ heavy decked tubs with rudders - yawn. 3. What I’ve always heard is that Charlie Wilson owns only the rights to produce the Starfire – not the Wildfire or Flashfire. Correct me if I’m wrong please. 4. Swift’s owner a nasty guy? Tell me it isn’t so…

Want to paddle! Paddle more!
Just get some of this busy work done and then I have got to make time to paddle before another season of almost no paddling goes by!

MAybe we can have a bond fire on teh beach and roast a We-NO-nah. Ah-ha-ha … ;^)

Happy Paddl’n!



Got it direct from Charlie himself!
Double check me on this. A conversation with Charlie is always good to have. Find his fon number on his site.

Said when he gets the last two molds in hand David Yost is to have a go at making then even better! Could you use a Flash or a Wild that paddle even better than now?!

Happy Paddl’n!




Kruger Canoes
Hey Mick, Manitou Cruiser here, owner, builder and paddler of Kruger Canoes.

Your “request for pricing on modifications, upgrades and even parts” is a little misleading don’t you think. It is hard for any craftsman to put a price on any modification on any boat that he can not see. If I could look at any of these canoes and see how much work needs to be done than I would be able to give you a price. For the most part any of these old models are not worth putting any money into at all. By the time we put in extra layers, upgrade the rudder system, upgrade the seat hanger system install Catamaran sleeves and fix the failing rims you would have been better off just buying a new Sea Wind. There are a few reasons Mad River and Saywer had to stop building these designs. The first reason is that they were not built up to Verlen’s standards and they failed to hold up in the long run. Verlen did not care that his canoes were a bit heavier, they held up to the abuse he gave them and every Kruger customer gets their moneys worth, never having to replace their canoe because of weak, flimsy hulls. The second biggest reason is money. The big companies have to make their cut, give a cut to a salesman and pay their labor costs plus pay for overhead. As a small company Kruger Canoes cuts out the salesman, the owner of the company builds the canoes for free and then overhead can be paid for, keeping the company alive.

I think anyone that has as much time and energy put into something as special as taking over Verlen Kruger’s gift to the world would act a little “paranoid” when someone like yourself calls up and starts asking a bunch of questions about things you have no business even knowing. The new Saywer company did not get Verlen’s permission to built his Loon Design, just because a person buys an old mold it does not give them the right to build the canoe for sale. Verlen was asked many times if his Loon model was for sale and every time he would just laugh and ask why? He would go on to tell them the history of the Monarch and then the Sea Wind. If Verlen was happy with the Loon he would not have went on to creating what we are now building.

Anyway, thanks for all this BLOG on Kruger Canoes, see you on the water.


Charlie and Bell
Charlie has always owned the rights to all three boats in the Fire series (Flashfire, Wildfire and Starfire). Charlie had dreams of using them to start his own company a decade ago. But he hooked up with Ted and Bell built the boats for a little over 10 years. Charlie always had the right to take these boats and worked out an agreement with Ted when he left Bell several years ago. But once he left Ted knew he couldn’t afford to lose the sales of the WildFire, and so the Yellowstone Solo was commissioned. Bell now has a composite mold for the Yellowstone Solo with finer ends. It should be a pretty good composite solo for most people.

As to Bell they now have the rights to build one of the Best Dagger WW boats, one of the best MRC WW boats.

Compared with the old Sawyers (Summersong, Autumn Mist and Starlight), the new Bell canoes (Magic and Merlin) are much better canoes.


PK, that really hurts!
You said “Compared with the old Sawyers (Summersong, Autumn Mist and Starlight), the new Bell canoes (Magic and Merlin) are much better canoes.”

I just bought a Sawyer Summersong last week and really like it. I haven’t paddled the Bell canoes, so I’ll have to take your word for it. Have you paddled the Sawyer canoes you listed?

another Bell fan
Two of my several canoes are Bells. Personally I wouldn’t buy an Angler; it’s not my style of paddling. The touring boats I care about like my Northwind are still available. I can’t fault Bell for trying to expand their line to make a canoe that might appeal to my uncle.

I don’t hear you ragging on wenonah for making a “Fisherman”. The real sell-out’s are the likes of Mad River and Dagger that quit making canoes altogether or have gone poly. The good boats are still coming out of privately owned companies in Minnesota.

Sawyer v. Bells

Don’t remember your handle, but you bought the goldenglass Sawyer Summersong over in Illinois. You asked a good question. I’ll paraphrase:

“Have you Bell owners paddled a Summersong?”

I am a Bell owner. I paddle a Merlin II and a Wildfire. NEITHER of these hulls is as beautiful for FLAT flatwater as the Summersong, PERIOD.

Now, I still haven’t been able to get any Magic owner to compare the Magic w/ the Summersong.

Mick, what did you think? You’ve paddled the Magic, yes? I know you loved your short paddle in the Summersong. Comparison, please, somebody, and include your height and weight…


PS: The Kruger is the best all around canoe/kayak, PERIOD. The Bells, Sawyers, etc. are probably more lively and fun, though. For expeditions, the Seawind can’t be beaten…

Bells and Sawyers

Yes, I’ve paddled all three. I have good friends that have owned all three, and I still have a friend that owns a Starlight, Cruiser and a Legend. Sawyers were great boats, especially for their time. But DY learned a thing or two between 1982 when he designed the Summersong and 1995 when he designed the Magic. For example, the Magic is both faster and turns better than the Summersong despite being 8 inches longer!!

But then again, does it really matter whether the Magic is a better boat? Paddle the boat you love and don’t worry about whether there are better boats. I don’t paddle a Magic… but I respect it for being the great boat that it is. We don’t all drive Ferrari Enzos do we?


yah, but hes busier than a one armed
paperhanger. Seems Placid Boatworks is doing well (news via grapevine) and are selling boats not yet built so great is the demand. In this age of box stores and local paddle shops going out of business, that is great news.

Thanks for the info
Regarding the “Fire” boats (several posts up). I did not realize Charlie Wilson owned the rights to produce all the Fire boats. Also didn’t realize he would be taking over production of these boats from Bell, as has been inferred. I learn something everyday – thank you Mick and Paul.