solo canoes

Hi Ya-

I’m looking for a solo canoe. I am attracted to Hemlock canoes, the Kestrel and Peregrine. I am 5’10", about 150 pounds, and will probably need to pack for a maximum of one week or so, but will spend much more time day tripping and overnighting. On the face of it, this would suggest the Kestrel, but I would like to here from people who have actual experience in the boats. Also, Mr. Curtis has a very nice looking Bluegill for sale; anybody have any experience with that model? Thanks!

The Peregrine I think
I’m 5’ 9" and the Kestrel feels a bit narrow in the chines for kneeling, whereas the Peregrine feels very comfy and fits me just fine. Dave Curtis is slightly taller and bulkier than I am and he paddles the Peregrine. Either would carry your weight with gear and keep up a good speed, but you’d have more room and a little better speed and flotation in the Peregrine. Both are fine canoes. Dave is a man of his word and a top notch builder, just a little gruff around the edges, but you get used to it:)

Thanks canoedancing. Having lived in Vermont for most of the past thirty five years, I’m pretty used to gruff individuals. Typical Vermont male bonding experience:“Hoi. How you been doing”“Awright, how you ben doin’”. End of bonding. This suits me fine. Do you own a Peregrine? If not what do you paddle. The kneeling thing has got to be right for me, as that is the way I prefer to paddle. There is also a Bell Merlin II in upstate NY that I am also considering, a little heavier in a white gold layup. Any thoughts?

The Falcons

– Last Updated: Feb-03-07 1:48 PM EST –

I agree, at your size you could go either way. The two people I know that paddle Kestrels are real lightweights, 130lbs or so. I'm 5-8 160lbs and chose the Peregrine. I enjoy the company of my K-9 friend and will camp with about 60lbs of gear.

As to being a little gruff, more than once I have found myself apologizing to Dave Curtis for taking his time. He has always endeavored to answer my questions, often offering suggestions or alternatives to solve my queries. Gruff, maybe if you bother him after the hardener has been added to the resin or want to talk about kayaks. Conviction and confident better describe Mr. Curtis.

road trip!
Mr. Curtis’s canoes don’t come cheaply, and they are probably worth every penny. Given your location, and the amount of money you are planning to spend, it would probably be worth a road trip to paddle both of them and talk directly with Dave. He has in past summers brought an assortment of his canoes to Mendon Ponds Park (~10 minutes south of Rochester) on Thursday evenings for folks to paddle; alternatively, make an appointment at his shop in Hemlock (~30 minutes south) and you can probably test paddle each on Canadice Lake. I don’t think Dave is taciturn enough to compete with the typical Vermont farmer; I have found him to be quite patient and willing to discuss and share his knowledge of canoes and paddling.

I’ve paddled both Falcon boats at Mendon Ponds, but my solo experience is so limited that I don’t think it helpful to describe. (My wife owns one of Dave’s Nessmuk pack canoes.)

Thank you all
for your thoughtful replies. You have been very helpful. I agree that a road trip to see Dave Curtis is in order. In the meantime, if anybody has a solo canoe for sale within a few hours of Southern Vt., I would be interested. Thanks again!

Used to have the Peregrine
Paddled it one season and loved it. Great lake canoe. Fast and light and tracks hard. I paddle 85% rivers and 15% lakes. If it were the other way around I’d have stayed with the Peregrine.

I prefer my Swift Osprey because it turns neatly and is a tade roomier and more comfortable for me, and I’ve just ordered a Swift Shearwater for longer trips with more gear.

Have you checked out for a Bell Merlin II? They have a lot of them marked down pretty good during the winter. They’ll be having their 3 day demo event in early May where you’ll get a chance to paddle all the Bell Solos and the Wenonah Solos. They’ll also have the Placid Rapidfire there. Then you can drive on down to Dave Curtis’ place and try out the Peregrine and the Kestrel.

BTW, I lived in Charlotte, Vermont for 5 years in the early 90’s. I moved south for my health 'cause I was freezing to death. Just kidding! It’s a lovely state and the skiing is always good. I’ll be back up there next year to do the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (which is one of the reasons I ordered the Swift Shearwater). have you done any of the NFCT yet?

Falcon Series
The Kestrel would be fine given your weight. I’m 225 lbs so the Peregrine was the only logical choice for tripping. Easily carries me and a week’s worth of gear plus 50 lbs of water on desert river trips. Both boats are amazingly seaworthy even when exceeding the recommended loads. Standard setup favors kneeling but you can have the seat mounted lower if you prefer sitting. You can’t go wrong with a Hemlock canoe.

Yes, Canoedancing
it is a lovely state. I haven’t paddled any of the NFCT yet, though I just noticed that they want interns for six weeks this summer to work on the trail. They are offering a living stipend too. Thanks for you comments on the Curtis boats. I have gotten in touch with Mountain Man Outdoors. They seem like a good outfit and they do have some good deals on Merlin IIs. The helpful fellow there said that April 15th is a good bet for ice out, and I could come over and try out anything they had. I’m actually headed through there in June on my way to the Georgian Bay, but I want a boat before then.

google the 6 hour canoe