I was looking for a forgiving solo boat with volume in the ends. I needed capacity for the food for 36 days, ax, saw, tent, fly, bag and me. Headwinds suggested lowish ends. The sharp rock of the Coates made Royalex the best choice, but age (56) over-ruled and I went with Royalte.
I bought my boat after testing several thoughtful Swift types with my load weight aboard at a Demo Day at the Rideau Canoe Club from Mr. Swift, and drove it home to Massachusetts for fine tuning...... My purchase was a bit of a risk, because the Raven had either too much or too little rocker for me. But my background in one/off strip canoe building and design (including Rob Perkin's Loon) permitted me to go ahead and buy. So here's where Raven became 'Bernadette'.
I removed the excellent synthetic webbed Swift seat and cross thwarts and rigged four thule straps around sections of the hull at regular intervals. Then I tightened up the straps, cinching the midship gunwale beam in from the designed specs at 32" one inch at a time. I weighted her, got in and test paddled for the performance I required.
After two hours, I was at 29" mid ship gunwale beam. The performance, tracking, turning, location of buoyancy was perfect for me. So I carefully sawed down the thwarts and seat, varnished the ends and reinstalled them, noting how they held the Raven in a new form - tough and sweet.
The Raven and I spent 33 days crossing heights of land in upper watersheds leading to some weeks on the intimate Coates and massive Great Whale Rivers to Hudsons Bay.
My conclusion: The materials and lines of the Raven were excellent for everything I faced except in the hydraulics of the Great Whale Gorge where my memories of the old Eastman '71 trip were rekindled by a swim. Note to canoe designers; This gorge was where the Crooked Canoe in Adney and Chapelle was fine tuned.
My criticism: The 'vee' bottom has no place in my river canoe. The 'vee' caught on many sharp rocks, rubbed throught the gel coat exposing sensitive plastic to sunlight, and slows the boats turning in a jam.......Sorry the mistaken "shallow vee" malarky ever achieved credibility to sell otherwise extraordinary contributions to N.American canoeing.
When I arrived at Great Whale River, Mathew Mukash (former Cree Nation Grand Chief and brilliant designer of Odeyak) took me to the dozen old building beds for the 'Crooked Canoes' pictured in Adney and Chappell's Classic book. Wow!
The Raven was for me a 10! materials, durability, function. But please loose that 'vee' and My vote is Super 10!
You can easily put in a propack and small pack and still trim it so the gear is not jammed in the ends. If I was ordering one I ask for aluminum trim to save weight. Or look for a used Royalite.
This a better canoe than the SuperNova (not as fast). The Mad river Guide(aka solo Freedom) is nice but lacks the volume for extended trips.
On a solo canoe trip, with a pack fore and aft, it really shows it's tracking abilities. on rivers and streams that twist and turn it is very maneuverable. I do wish that it had a sliding seat to better distribute weight, but when tripping, pack placement does the trick. The kneeling pads are great.
I suggest the use of 303 Protectant on the hull for UV protection and to keep the boat looking great.