I've often used canoe as well as kayak paddles with no problems or quirky awkwardness. Portage is comfortable, well fitting and padded yoke with the seat flipped. The kevlar hull feels a little light compared to the high priced Kruger boats, but mine has gone over countless log jams, sand bars, and oyster reefs. Lost and recovered after riding out hurricane Ike in Galveston and twenty years of brutal sun and salt air, she's a little faded but still looks good and has decades of service left.
Although discontinued by Mad River last century the Monarch is highly sought after, so if you find one BUY IT you will not be disappointed!
This boat has a couple evident weaknesses compared to the Kruger Sea Wind. 1) the rudder is weak. the cable attachments are too close together and so you lack the torque to turn the dang thing at higher speeds. A simple modification that spreads the cable attachment points, increasing the lever's length, will greatly improve this. The other problem with the rudder is that instead of the cables attaching to a flat aluminum plate, they attach on the end of a complexly bent 1/4" stainless steel rods. Strength and flex are both issues. To solve both issues cheaply, I think I'm replacing the 1/4" stainless rod with a 3/8" rod with a wider cable attachment spacing.
Second, the decks at the front and rear of the cockpit are weak and flexy. This is especially noticeable when you cartop the boat. These areas need to be beefed up to stop the flex and avoid damaging the boat after repeated and continuous cartop trips. I may bring my boat to an expert to get it beefed up.
Now, on to the bright side!
This boat was previously owned by WildernessWeb/Ozark Paddler, and then by McWood the author of the previous post...and he taught me the ways of the Monarch vs the Sea Wind. So I wrested this canoe back from Mick and got it back to Missouri. Yesterday, I took an excursion down the Whitewater River in SE Missouri. It is a flat, muddy, woody stream, not like it sounds. So as I watch my car drive out of sight, I start my trip downstream not knowing what I may face in the next 32 miles downstream to the Diversion Channel boat ramp at Cape Girardeau. Can you say "large woody debris"? Oh yeah, I dragged the canoe over, under, around, and through no less than a dozen or so logjams, and bumped and grinded over many other woody obstacles. About halfway down the trip, I hit backwater of the Mississippi river and encountered no more obstacles. The trip was a mile longer than I calculated...My GPS told me that during my "Missouri Whitewater River Safari", I managed a 4 mph moving average, was stopped about 1/2 hour (negotiating logjams) and averaged like 3.7 over the whole trip. This was very impressive. I LOVE how you can just set the rudder a tiny bit and paddle paddle paddle with a single bent shaft on the same side of the canoe, no hit and switch. When you tire and want to switch, hit the rudder just a tad and go at it. It makes for a very comfortable, efficient run.
Did I say the boat is INCREDIBLY stable? I mean, I climbed inside and out of the canoe a dozen times in some pretty precarious situations and never took on water. It never once spooked me as far as stability. No wonder Verlen traveled 100,000 miles in the Loon/Monarch/Sea Wind series of boats and never upset one.
I'm doing the Gritty Fitty race next weekend, and the MO340 in this boat next month. This is an awesome boat, it will be impossible for me to even think of ever parting with it...it will only happen if I trade up to its successor, the Kruger Sea Wind.
So..back to my adventure yesterday. This was probably the toughest run this Kevlar boat has ever endured. I'm sure at the end of the day, the canoe was sitting happily on the roof of the car, smiling just like a good ole' hound dog after a great hunt!
If you are in the market for an expedition canoe and find an old Monarch...Buy IT! A couple hundred bucks of improvements and you will have a boat you'd never want to let go of.
I bought it to paddle with my then six month old daughter in July 2004. It is great with her in front - the low sides let her easily see over, and the partial cockpit keeps her more centered in the boat. The boat is extremely forgiving on stability, and I feel very confident with her in there, even now as she is 15 months and 25 lbs. We paddle mainly on the Chattahoochee near Roswell GA, for up to 4 hours at a stretch - a nap is often part of the trip, and we frequently go through the modest shoals/rapids of the metro Hooch.
For versatility, the boat is incredible. Besides flatwater, I've also paddled it on modest whitewater, up to what American Whitewater calls low III (e.g., Talking Rock Creek in GA). With the rudder up, maneuverability is good in rapids, and with it down you can make time on flatwater. The boat also surfs quite well on 1-2' waves (particularly fun with the rudder and no hands)
The fittings in this boat are not as nice as a Kruger - the seat and the rudder are cruder, but they work. The hull is solid and nicely finished.
The boat is not fast, but it moves well. As you push the speed up, the stern squats notably and you max out rapidly in the 5 mph range. I suspect the Kruger Seawind with its fuller stern would be a little quicker. The same hull shape that limits its top speed makes it incredibly efficient - the boat seemingly glides forever at modest speeds.