John Kaz at Millbrook was easy to work with and outfitted my boat with a standard foam pedestal and double thigh strap. He cross threaded the bow and stern for floatation. I opted not to do any footpegs and have been experimenting with ankle blocks for comfort. When I look at the Shacho, I see craftsmanship and an elegant handmade boat. There was great attention to detail to do everything to keep it light. All the glued-in strap loops are done with fabric. There is pretty much not a single piece of metal on this boat except for the screws on the gunwhales and thwarts.
As far as handling goes, this boat feels like it is meant to maneuver rather than go fast. Doesn't seem like a lot of primary stability. I was out on an easy river with two kayakers in play boats and a stand up paddle boarder and they seem to keep better speed than I was (a lot different from the 16 foot canoe I previously owned). This boat does get spinned around easy in wind because of its lightness and rocker. It is above my skill level at this point, but I'm hoping in the next couple of years I can do it justices and take it down some more aggressive water. It is really a piece of art at a great price!
On the water, the Shacho is fast - one stroke acceleration at it's finest. Initial stability is good, one feels right at home. The hip pads that come with John's standard outfit connect you to the boat, almost as if they had glued you in.... Eddy turns, wave turns, surfing, all within the first 1/2 hour on a class 3 river- never felt that confident from the start in a new boat. The narrow cockpit together with the pronounced tumblehome make off side strokes a breeze. Tiny eddies catches the boat almost on its own, surf waves also- big ones and smaller ones. For the tiny waves, one has to use his strokes, though. After all, we do this to exercise?!
The Shacho is asymmetric and mine is trimmed a bit bow light. Meaning, I need to lean into the strokes to peel out fast. But again, acceleration is great. The soft chines don't engage as much as the more modern ww solo boats but this is what I like! I feel more in control this way. Final stability is very good as well- can lean the canoe to the gunnels and right it up again without feeling the need for a roll.
Bottom line: if you are a white water open boat addict and like a fun boat that is not breaking your back (or your Bank), have a look at Millbrook's!