Sundowner 17

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Sundowner 17 Description

The Sundowner 17 is a canoe brought to you by Wenonah Canoe, Inc.. Read Sundowner 17 reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other canoe recommendations below or explore all canoes to find the perfect one for you!

Wenonah Canoe, Inc.
Sundowner 17 Reviews

Read reviews for the Sundowner 17 by Wenonah Canoe, Inc. as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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I raise a 45 square foot,…

Submitted by: pat_downing on 5/28/2020
I raise a 45 square foot, boom & spar, lateen sail on this craft, using homemade lee boards and tiller. It has proven seaworthy in the Voyagers Wilderness. It has also, upon being carried out to Isle Royale on the Voyager II, sailed on Lake Superior. Having sailed several other canoes, this one is by far the best!

Great canoe, I have only…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/7/2016
Great canoe, I have only taken it on a couple trips, but it tracks great and pretty lightweight. I bought it used from Craigslist for $650. I would recommend this for someone looking for a good touring canoe.

Material: Royalex I love a fast canoe, and the Sundowner is a fast…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/13/2014
Material: Royalex
I love a fast canoe, and the Sundowner is a fast and efficient canoe. Probably the fastest Royalex hull I've paddled. While I love my Penobscot, when I'm looking for speed from a Royalex canoe, this is the one I turn to. We've taken it out onto large expanses of flat water, as well as down river, and it's a great choice for both.

I’ve also paddled it solo with good success. It heals to the gunwales for easier paddling. It has nice final stability, though like most fast boats it’s primary stability isn't it's best feature. But even unloaded, the final stability kicks in hard and resists tipping. This is a great tandem canoe that is well suited for a simple day trip or a long camping expedition, and will carry a lot of gear.

Use it to go fast, go far, and go with a lot of stuff in any kind of water.


On a long river trek, this…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/10/2014
On a long river trek, this boat is at the front of the pack. So, it is sort of a racer. Loaded for several days camping in the Adirondacks, we felt comfortable in wind and white caps on Long Lake in long rain storm with the upsweep bow that cleaved the waves yet kept on track. So it is a good tripper. The best all round tandem boat I've ever owned.

I owned my kevlar Sundowner…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/12/2014
I owned my kevlar Sundowner for something like 15 years. Its a great canoe. I'm not sure why some folks are disappointed with the Sundowner's stability. Maybe a bit of INITIAL stability is traded for an efficient hull shape, but nothing worth talking about. Loaded, this canoe is rock solid. No oil canning and of course tracks well. I did add some padding to the tractor seats, but they are solid and hold up to my weight just fine. I've had my wife in the bow, 2 small(ish) children sitting side by side midships and me (6'3", 275lbs) in the stern along with a weekend's worth of camping gear with adequate freeboard. Even with an inexperienced bow oar, we had no problems navigating narrow east Texas creeks.

My favorite boat ever. This…

Submitted by: NACcharlie on 8/1/2013
My favorite boat ever. This kevlar beauty is simply outfitted, incredibly light, and surprisingly durable. I've raced this boat in a few long distance races and she's treated me right. Over the years I have heard some complaints about the seat mounts, but I appreciate the simplicity of the construction which decreases weight. Great portage boat. It makes a mile portage fly (remembering carrying my old Grumman along those same tracks makes me smile). I love my Sundowner and it is probably the one boat (no including that old Grumman I've had since childhood) that I'll never sell, swap, or get rid of.
Thanks, We-no-nah.

Bought this canoe (Royalex)…

Submitted by: paddler234691 on 8/2/2012
Bought this canoe (Royalex) from a outfitter. Needed some bow and stern area patching which I did. Bought with the intent of using it in the BWCA. Took it out to test the water before our trip. Seemed very unstable. Initial stability was not the best and didn't really feel any secondary. This was mind you, with just myself and my son, no gear. I decided to see just how easy it was to tip it and leaned over till we went in. Did not feel any secondary stability kick in, but rather just rolled over and in.

We then decided to mimic a load and put 2 large Chevy 3/4 Ton tires with rims in. One on either side of the center thwart. Made all the difference in the world. The tires added right around 80-100 pounds of weight. Still not as stable as my old Alumacraft Explorer, but a night and day difference from loaded to unloaded.

Took it to the Boundary Waters with no problems what so ever. Even had my sons friend in the canoe and the primary bowman. Did not come close to tipping once. Handled the big waves with ease. Extremely fast in the water, tracked better than average. Even though this canoe was marketed at a racer, (don't know about that one), I personally think it is much better suited for a good pack boat.

Have since taken it out without a load, just people for fishing, and what it really comes down to is getting used to it.


Having had more canoes than…

Submitted by: paddler232515 on 3/21/2010
Having had more canoes than Carter has liver-pills, I decided we should get a canoe that is efficient. Knowing the trade-offs inherent with canoe design, being a choice of pro/cons relative to the laws of physics and hydrodynamics of water vs hull design, we knew we were sacrificing stability some and maneuverability by going with a rockerless design. The boat proved to be too much of a specialty design for our canoe-camping uses. Whereas it was fine with my son and I, it wasn't with my son and his beginner friend. This turned out to be accentuated by them capsizing on Long Pond with a characteristic Adirondack storm brewing in the west. They finally made it back to camp 4 hours later to find a worried father. We were disappointed in oil-canning. (If a boat oil-cans, it's shape changes. With that change comes changes in handling.) Now we have a Bell Northwind in Royalex, being recommended to us from my buddy, Mike, at Oak Orchard Canoe in Rochester. (that guy is a blessing.) Now we feel we have the perfect canoe for our uses,...taking more into account other users' abilities, which I failed to do in purchasing the Sundowner.

I am by no means an…

Submitted by: paddler232523 on 4/8/2008
I am by no means an experienced or even advanced intermediate paddler. I am a solid two or three times per year river rental fleet "rear power and tiller man”, and this is my first good quality boat. My other canoe is a Ram-X 17', so for both reasons please take this review for what it’s worth. Also, I am going to try and refrain from using the jargon found in many reviews, partly because I would like this to be useful for other novices trying to choose what to buy, but mainly so I don’t come across as more knowledgeable than I am.

I picked up a once-used burgundy royalex 17' Sundowner with ash gunnels and caned seats from e-bay for about half the cost of a new one. It is gorgeous. I was fortunate to be able to rely on advice of a colleague who IS a good paddler; his royalex Sundowner is the only tandem (two person!) boat he owns. Still, I have to admit I was a little concerned about dumping my wife on our first outing, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that I had to go to Wenonah’s racing webpage to find it.

The first trip last fall was with one of my 12 year old sons. Neither of them can sit still. The best description I can come up with is that the boat felt “wobbly” - it didn’t threaten to dump us, but did, hmmm, respond quickly to us moving around. I was not really comfortable. HOWEVER, after about the third trip out, I completely got used to that, found a good solid position to kneel (the deal also came with two Bell kneeling pads), and started developing a somewhat functional j-stroke. That’s when I began appreciating how easily we could paddle even upstream, with not too much effort.

After about 7 outings I am now very comfortable in it, and am extremely happy with it. I even tried some solo Canadian stuff that I saw on Youtube (sitting in the middle but on one side, so the canoe almost tips over) - it was pretty ugly. I couldn’t make it do anything I was trying to - but I didn’t dump. For normal solo paddling I am able to move it along decently.

Here is the kicker: We spent spring break in Florida and paddled the Myakka river (there are a number of reviews on this website). In short, the place is lousy with gators. It’s a little like bison in Yellowstone or boobs in a Las Vegas show - after the first 8 or 9, you get used to them; they become no big deal. On the second leg of the trip, my wife, my daughter, and her friend loaded up in the Sundowner and I took the aluminum rental with my two sons. My wife has about as much experience as me, and my daughter and her friend almost none. We came around a bend where I knew a big gator hung out, so we kept to the opposite bank. He was in the water, maybe 20 feet from us as we floated by. We didn’t, however, see the other gator that was on - yes - the bank we were hugging, until he started madly darting through the brush trying to get away. He was about 2 feet from the Sundowner as it went by. The girls started screaming, and both of them shifted quickly in the boat away from shore, but toward Mr. toothy. This would have been a really inconvenient place to tip over. My wife kept cool, and shifted herself toward the little gator, even sitting on the gunnel (edge) to counter-act the teenagers. This is called grace under pressure. The boat did not go over. Afterward, my wife said that she actually felt quite a bit more stable in the Sundowner than she had in the wide 16' Grumman.

So, for anyone who is concerned about initial, final, etc. stability of this boat, I will describe it as “enough when you need it”.


Overall I am very pleased…

Submitted by: paddler231459 on 2/16/2006
Overall I am very pleased with this canoe. I come from a whitewater kayak background and have gotten into adventure racing. It seems that this is a popular boat with the Adventure Racing set due to its light weight and speed. My team of 3 males has a total body weight of over 600lbs and the canoe performs well in rough windy conditions. Some one used the term tractor trailer and that comes to my mind as well. It is flexy, and to my novice paddler teammate, it initially seems tippy, but once he settled down, he was much more comfortable in the boat. I would recommend this boat highly for what I like to do.

I bought the Kevlar version…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/11/2006
I bought the Kevlar version of this boat in an end of year sale in the Boundary Waters. I needed a tandem that I could carry myself easily. LOL-5'2". I went 16 days to the Boundary Waters with a partner who wasn't as much into paddling as I was so I often paddled it solo, sitting on the center thwart. I was faster in solo then most of the tandem paddlers. It hauled all out gear with room to spare.

I regularly take out non-paddlers and have never had an accidental dump. It is my second Wenonah and I will soon have to buy a third. I love their boats because they are light and VERY easy to paddle fast.

I paddle it on rivers, mostly class 1, big lakes - sometimes in big waves, and in the Bays of the Gulf of Mexico. I have the tractor seats and they allow me to paddle the longest without back strain of any seat I've been in.


I would like to update on my…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/10/2006
I would like to update on my other review. Since my last review we have sold the canoe. I like Wenonah, and most of their canoes, but this canoe is terrable. I don't even recomend it as a tripping canoe like I had mentioned before. I already mentioned it's lack of speed, so I will skip over that. The stability was a major issue with us. We canoe alot, and canoe everything from rec to cruisers. We are used to the stability of alot of canoes. This canoe feels stable both intitial and secondary untill you hit something under the water. I have neve seen a canoe like this. There are very rocky rivers where we live, and this canoe flipped nearly everytime we even bumped a rock in moving water. We were very dissapointed in this canoe, and think you can find a much better Royalex for the same money.

I've owned and paddled…

Submitted by: paddler231288 on 11/11/2005
I've owned and paddled numerous canoes and this was one of the worst. The canoe is considerably slower than it should be and the initial stability is poor loaded or unloaded. The bow is so narrow there is hardly any room. you can certainly find a better boat out there for your money.

I like my Sundowner for both…

Submitted by: wwwalker on 5/22/2005
I like my Sundowner for both WW racing and all kinds of touring. I am over 200 lbs and I paddle it single and double. My timing shows it a minute per hour faster than the 17 ft Penobscot in flatwater. The bow stays down in shallow water and it does not slow down much, which is unusual for an ABS boat. It is a little floppy, but I like the light weight. I agree that it is NOT a match for a composite boat, however, but you can wax it a pull it like a sled over ice or boulders and not fret about it!

I use this canoe different…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/4/2005
I use this canoe different than many of the other reviews for the Sundowner. Wenonah sells this canoe under their racing section of their web page. I bought it for rec-racing, and this is no rec racing canoe. We own a lot of canoes and have been paddling/racing for years.

Overall we are disappointed in this canoe from a racing standpoint. Wenonah claims it is the fastest Royalex hull made. I don't think they told the boys at Old Town they were having a contest. In Class II or under waters where there are lots of rocks or shallow water we use the Sundowner and have been passed by quite a few Old Town Penobscots. The Sundowner has a lot of flex to its hull. Good for hitting things, but bad for speed. Wenonah should take this canoe out of the specialty racing catalog and put it back in the regular catalog as a general river tripping canoe. The Sundowner is a well designed canoe, that handles well, and fun to paddle. But if you are looking for paddling ease, and won't encounter shallow rivers a fiberglass or Kevlar canoe will perform much better.

Unless you want a Royalex Wenonah I think there are better options. If you are just getting into rec class racing don't be misjudged by Wenonah's write up on this canoe. It is not nearly as fast as they say, and you will probably be disappointed as any good designed fiberglass will be faster than you. If you want a rec class canoe the "Jensen" is the way to go. That is an awesome canoe.


Bought the boat in Feb 04. It…

Submitted by: paddler230963 on 2/21/2005
Bought the boat in Feb 04. It is Royalex 17'. This is the only Sundowner they make now I think. When we picked the boat up the guy at the shop questioned why we had bought such an instable boat. We have since paddled it mostly on Class II water with a 3 and 4 year old (12 full days of paddling). The very first time in the boat was the closest they came to sending us on a fish count. Secondary Stability will save you as long as you don’t bail out before you get there :) We have liked the boat a lot. It is fast. One drawback is that it is narrow and so packs with hip belts don’t fit in well. It is tight with children and gear for overnighters. A wider boat may give you more room in that regard. I read a lot of reviews that describe it as unstable. It is lively, but my kids bounce all over the place and we have not tipped yet....although we tell them to sit on their butts in the "bumpy water". Although I was initially concerned it would be too unstable for our family, we have enjoyed the boat and it is fast enough to get us to the next campsite quickly when the kiddos start throwing a fit.

I have had my 17' ultra-light…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/20/2004
I have had my 17' ultra-light Sundowner for about 3 years. I really like the look and strength of the canoe. What I was disappointed in was the stability of the canoe. It handles well when tripping and under load but when empty it really is pretty tippy. I want a canoe good for tripping and also fishing once we reach our destination, and I just don't feel I can relax in this canoe.

Bought a used 17' Royalex…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/30/2004
Bought a used 17' Royalex Sundowner about six months ago. Family of 5. Kids age 4, 6, 7. Have taken it out about 20 times. On various lakes, rivers, and Oregon Coast. Also some Class 2 on the Sandy River and Clackamas River. Paddles fast and glides well. Takes a beating. Light enough to portage solo. Have not experienced any stability issues. Handles rapids great. Has not flipped yet, despite some tests. Our 45 pound poodle jumped out when a duck flew by, and I pulled her in with no problem. Our 7 year old also jumped out. No problem. Some initial instability when empty, but that's it. Wife and I had 5 kids in it on Lake Lackamas, and a friend in a kayak could barely keep up with us. Having a good Thule rack system makes it easy to load and go in 5 minutes. The best canoe is the one you use, and we use this one a lot.

Previously paddled an OT…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/1/2003
Previously paddled an OT Tripper. I found the Tufweave Sundowner 17 to be generally good. Fit and finish not up to Mad River standards but acceptable. Soloed well with an added center seat, good tracking. There is a major weakness in the design in my view. While it is very stable with a load, unloaded the secondary stability was extremely poor and difficult to judge. This led to the boat getting a lot less use as much of my paddling is casual day trips with my less experienced wife in the bow. After a couple of swims, she simply stopped joining me until I got a new more stable boat. My verdict, very good touring boat, but not well suited to taking out less experienced paddlers with a light load.

I bought my 17' Sundowner…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/4/2002
I bought my 17' Sundowner about 3 years ago. It's the regular Kevlar version with plastic tractor seats. So far I've used it for several extended trips in the Adirondacks ranging from four days to two weeks, day paddling on Long Island and I've sailed it a few times with a home made rig I've also added eight tie downs to the floor, which we've found very helpful when tripping. I weighed it when we first got it and while I don't remember what the number was, it was actually several pounds LESS then the advertised weight. The two other boats I considered were the Wenonah Spirit and Minnesota.

I've found Wenonah's fit and finish to be a notch or two below Mad River's, but they cost less and I've found them to paddle as well if not better then a comparable Mad River boat. I love the aluminum gunwales and plastic tractor seats. Zero maintenance and they are very, very durable. When used for day trips unloaded it has too much freeboard and tends to get knocked around by waves, but put a load in and it turns into a tractor-trailer. You can go through anything and it becomes incredibly stable. So stable I'm able to stand freely and walk from stem to stem, on TOP of my gear. Once up and running it trucks along pretty well I'm able to keep up with almost anyone over a distance. It’s not the quickest turner when loaded. So it's not my first choice for tight river work but it did well on the canal from Middle to Lower Saranac. This canoe loves to be used. The freeboard that is such an asset for hauling loads and seaworthiness is a liability when sailing. She reaches and runs very well but when sailing to windward the extra freeboard makes coming about a little too exciting for my taste. As with any canoe she’s best paddled if you want to sail get a sunfish or a proper sailing dinghy.

All and all we are very happy with the Sundowner in Kevlar I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to canoe camp on lakes or big fast rivers. I don't see the reason to get one in Roylex this boat is for camping on lakes not white water If that’s what you want look at the Spirit.


I recently purchased a new…

Submitted by: batas on 6/12/2002
I recently purchased a new 17' Royalex Sundowner from a seller on this website. Unlike the other people reviewing this model I found it fast and very stable (keep in mind the other canoes I have used extensively are 17' Aluminum Grummans) I noticed a couple of imperfections in the royalex but overall quality is OK. I found the lack of a decent place to fasten a painter to be rather ridiculus. I ended up drilling some holes just below the end caps on the gunnels and using some threaded pvc fittings to run a loop of line through for fastening a painter to. I would not pay the retail price for this canoe, but if you find a deal like I was able to, then it should be ok.

Bought a Royalex Sundowner 17…

Submitted by: paddler229312 on 6/29/2001
Bought a Royalex Sundowner 17 used in North Carolina (NOC). Fitted with three cane seats. Have really enjoyed the boat. Very stable when loaded, I've used it with three people on board and snorkeling equipment and scuba equipment in Florida watching manatees, great! The center cane seat is for me paddling solo, the nice high volume keeps me running the class three rapids high and dry. Only problem is on windy days, when the high gunwales give me a little too much sale. Would buy another in a heartbeat.

The first canoe I bought was…

Submitted by: baldpaddler on 6/5/2001
The first canoe I bought was an eighteen foot Sundowner In tuff weave. I used it in races on the local lake. I won the races on the local lake in my class. I took the sundowner up to the Aderondacks in new York for a two week trip with the scouts. We hit big waves on Saranac lake. The scouts who were in the cedar strip canoes and the ones in the royalex boats had a real tough time. I was in the sundowner with my 12yearold and felt comfortable. We didn't have the strength to help any one but we were not in any trouble in that boat. The gel coat showed a lot of wear but we could hop out of the boat and pull it over logs and jump back in with little scratching. The only really negative thing about the boat was the wieght. It was about 68#. When I was up in new york it really didn't have a good portage system and hurt alot to carry. I sold the sundowner, to get a lighter boat, but wouldn't heasitate to get a lighter model of the sundowner. Great glide, stability, and handling for a novice crew .

17' Ultralite Sundowner…

Submitted by: paddler229272 on 6/4/2001
17' Ultralite Sundowner purchased seven years ago? Weight and volume are perfect for the two of us on week long excursions in the Adirondacks and stability is fine even in rough water. What really dissapoints me is how slow the hull design is which shouldn't be a surprise given how relatively flat it is. Fortunately speed is not that important, but efficency still is. There were numerous imperfections in the skin coat that shouldn't have passed an inspection. Good thing we're not as picky as some. I'd choose an 18' Jensen next time.

After using numerous and…

Submitted by: HYBES on 4/17/2001
After using numerous and owning several different canoes I was really disappointed in the stability of the Sundowner 17(kevlar) in all types of water.

I bought a new 17' Sundowner…

Submitted by: paddler229126 on 2/27/2001
I bought a new 17' Sundowner kevlar cross-rib Sundowner and used it a lot last year. I found it has much more primary stability and a little more secondary stability than my prior canoe which was a Discovery 164. I have used it in the BWCA and found that it can handle loads very well. It tracks straight, glides well and seems fast. It feels solid as a rock with and without a load. I have had it in big chop and it is stable, but it tends to pound when into the wind when payload is light. The kevlar cross-rib design weighs 53 pounds. The cross-rib has a gel coat, and with other structural differences, weighs 13 pounds more compared to the ultra-light kevlar version. However, it is stiffer, tougher and costs $450 less.

At first, I was reluctant to get the bucket seats (front seat slides) because I prefer the look of a traditional cane seat. After a season of use, I am glad I have the buckets, because they are much more comfortable, and add a little back support. I also appreciate the sliding front seat because my wife is much lighter and I need her far forward for proper trim if I don't have gear to balance the load. I picked the 17 foot size because it seemed to be the best compromise between load capacity and weight. The only negative is the canoe doesn't turn with ease, but that is probably the price one must pay for an efficient, tripping canoe designed to go fast and far!


I was not impressed with the…

Submitted by: paddler229060 on 1/14/2001
I was not impressed with the quality or speed of this canoe. The royalex version I purchased sacraficed quality for light weight. Overall this canoe is not bad, but the initial stability and speed are not what I expected.

Two paddling neighbors have…

Submitted by: paddler228309 on 9/29/1999
Two paddling neighbors have had the Royalex Sundowners for several years as well as a number of other boats including Kevlar Wenonah cruisers, Dagger Royalex canoes, and even an old Prospecter. So, when I joined up with them to be part of a relay team (NECRA) at the General Clinton Race from Oneonta to Binghamton this past May – an aluminum canoe 35-mile race done in 100 degree weather in “suckwater”- I knew of their fine appreciation of this craft. The race take out is at the General Clinton Fairgrounds and where there are a number of canoe vendors. I spotted a good deal on a new Sundowner with black anodized aluminum adjustable tractor seating. With great encouragement from my colleagues I purchased it and we loaded it up on my friend’s truck for the 2-hour ride home. I was shaking with excitement as I finally joined my Sundowner brethren, knowing I could now sell my Old Town Discovery 169 – not a bad boat, at all, just too tubby for me. The main intent is to use it for White Water racing and playing. I’ve rigged it with Kevlar skid plates, and a foam spray band around the bow gunnels. I want to make the stern seat adjustable to make it more of a “mixer” because my two daughters are only about 75 lbs. each and it’s virtually impossible to have the boat trim. I rank this boat a “9” as it meets my current need for a WW racing/playing canoe. If money were no issue I’d love to have the yellow Kevlar version, as it looks real sleek though it’s at least 1-2 times more expensive. I can’t ever see myself selling the Sundowner. However, in the coming years I see myself adding both a solo cruiser and solo playboat as paddling solo in the Sundowner would require some serious re-rigging which I’m not prepared to do.

I purchased a Sundowner used…

Submitted by: paddler228297 on 9/22/1999
I purchased a Sundowner used in kevlar, pvc core, gel coat. Very light, and very fast for a tripper. I've used the boat in rough water and never had a problem. I liked the boat so much, I bought a second one to lend to friends for trips into the BWCA and in Canada. The only problem I've come across is that my friends aren't as experienced as myself, and they feel the boat could be more stable. At 42 pounds, the boat is an absolute joy to portage. For fun, I've raced this boat several times on one of our Minnesota rivers. Three out of four years we won the race - travelling 13 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes ( give or take 10 minutes, and yes - with the current).

The Royalex Sundowner 17 was…

Submitted by: paddler228026 on 3/20/1999
The Royalex Sundowner 17 was recomended to my wife and I by a We-no-nah sales rep at a local canoe show. It is our first "serious" canoe. Our previous was an 18 or 19 foot Michicraft aluminum canoe. The sundowner does everything the rep. said it would. We have used our sundowner for evething from multiday canoe camping trips on lakes in Canada and rivers MI's Upper Penninsula to hour long river "races" (nothing official). The Sundowner is very stable when heavily loaded for camping (400lbs total) and very fast and nimble when loaded with nothing but my wife and I (290lbs total). The only time primary stability was compromised was when we loaded four people in the canoe for an evening trip for a total of about 630lbs the secondary stability kept us dry. We've played on the Lake Michigan shore in three foot waves with total confidence in the stability of the craft although the canoe did flex torsionally in those extreme conditions. overall I have been very pleased with the speed, stability, and workmanship of our Royalex Sundowner 17 and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.