Wood vs. Carbon gunwale and thwarths

I was wondering if anyone could provide input on the choice between wood and carbon rails and thwarths. The canoe will be a carbon/kevlar composite tandem for flatwater and river use. I am interested in hearing from anyone with experience on the durability of the carbon for both the on water and off-water (roof rack, loading, the occasional slide getting onto the roof rack, the occasional short drop, banging during portage, etc.)uses. I am not a racer so the little weight difference isn’t particularly critical and the costs are equal. Thanks in advance.

Why even consider carbon if the weight

– Last Updated: Aug-28-06 8:46 AM EST –

is not important? Only carbon thwarts and gunwales I have seen are on racing hulls. That in itself should convey lods of info. Carbon is expensive, brittle, and will cost a lot more to repair later on.

What make and model is the canoe to be?



carbon gunnels
Carbon gunnels will have less up keep than wood gunnels. If you are talking about a Savage River canoe the best and strongest gunnels would be wood covered with carbon. very strong and no up keep.

It is a choice I have to make as to material and the carbon is a no extra cost option, so I thought I might get information, if any was available, before making it. My general impression is the same as yours as to the carbon being potentially fragile in a potentially high contact area. But someone here my have it on a race boat and have some contrary or confirming opinion. The canoe is a Blackhawk by Savage River Works.

Now I understand why considering carbon!

– Last Updated: Aug-28-06 11:09 AM EST –

Thought might be such ... Diller makes some great looking canoes, especially with the carbon gunwales and thwarts. Fantastic paddling canoes as well!!!

In your shoes I would most likely go for the total look by going carbon.

First for looks and
Second you will have a light built canoe that you are not going to abuse anyway.

I loved Diller's personal Savage I got to paddle at his house! It was just not for me at the time. Maybe some day, ... maybe soon.

Go for it!



I paddled a Diller
JD Cruise with the Carbon gunwales. If you are not going to torque the hull by doing self recoverys in the middle of a big lake they will be fine. The canunut and I practiced dumping and getting back in the canoe as part of our tuesday routine when we were training up for the 70 miler. The gunwales ended up coming loose.( easy to repair and not a smirch on Diller. when the canunut went to the Candian nationals many people were surprised that he could and would self recover) We probobly had over a hundred self recoveries befor e we started seeingStress.

Hey Bruce
If you come down to the Carolinas next month we are having a nice 40 miler on a beautiful river…The Lumber!

the carbon
The carbon gunwales on a carbon Savage River boat look great. Once you see a boat outfitted with them, wood will always look out of place. They really are a nice touch.

Self rescue
Thanks for the information, but, given that I am not so diligient a practicer, if I find myself getting twenty percent of the way to 100 self rescues, I’ll be looking to trade the boat for one of those new carbon/kevlar rocking chairs. I take it though that the rails and all help up well without significant chipping or any serious issues? Given this is a recreational boat, the aesthetics are important as well as the function.

Everything held
up well, what popped off in training was epoxied back on. Seeing as how the blackhawk is a Stock boat it should be stronger. I have paddled the blackhawk and know it is a whole lot more stable then the Comp cruiser.

If I was in the position to get a new boat I would definitely go for a John Diller built 3x27 . If you read my review on the Diller boats you will get the idea.

Thank you all for the experience and input. It was exactly what I had been hoping for. Looks like an order for carbon. If you have any other thoughts/suggections for the set up, I’d appreciate hearing them. At this point going with extra kevlar in the lay up as well as skid pads built into the hull; foot braces; and need to talk with John about if the bailers are needed in a rec boat.

I think you’ve got it.
Was going to come back with the extra layer of kevlar as I did in my carbon RapidFire, but you beat me to that.

For serious paddler footbraces are a must. Built in skid pads are so much nicer that add ons later.

If you are to be paddling in weather or just winds much I’d suggest a spray deck.

Sounds like you have it all together.




Just curious
I’d be interested to know why you went with the SR Blackhawk over the Susquehanna. I can see advantages in both designs and would find it hard to choose between them. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Blackhawk v. Susquehanna
Yes, each has advantages and they actually seem to fit a very similar usage profile. After talking with John, who seems to prefer the Susquehanna (I think because it is the newer design), the tradeoffs seemed to me to be: Susquehanna - faster, slightly more room/capacity; Blackhawk - slightly more stable, 6" shorter. I still need to talk with John Diller regarding if the Blackhawk’s very acute entry lines is going to make it wetter. But at this point, the marginal stability increase is the key factor in my decision. He just had both boats on an Isle Royale crossing and that was his feedback on the stability. They are both such relatively fast hull forms that the speed differences were not a big deal to me.