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Name: paddledancer

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I know this will raise a few hackles but...I found this gem in the Boston area Want Advertiser for $300. It had been left out in the weather in the shade and the gunnels had rotted to the point they were no longer of any use. I took it home, took it apart and refinished the seats and thwarts. I then found a pair of OT Penobscot vinyl gunnels and end caps and installed them. I DID try to find replacement wooden gunnels but the shipping expense was too much. I also tried at a local hardwood dealer to find a nice straight grained ash board but no one had anything long enough.

So...I now have a Mad River-Old Town 16' canoe that I really enjoy paddling. Oh...I also use a double blade kayak paddle when paddling lakes or any other open water. Obviously I'm no purist..just like to get out and have fun. It handles well in class II water paddling solo. Anything above that I wouldn't attempt alone, it's a little too long to turn in faster water.

I also did the Allagash in a 186. We found it to be surprisingly stable while doing Chase rapids empty...so much so that I actually found myself standing for a better look several times. The previous writer is correct in that it isn't as fast as a Tripper XL but it's a foot and half shorter than that boat. Longer boats are naturally faster. Carrying capacity is more than needed for a week long trip (sans the beer). Some people complain that the Penobscot doesn't turn well but if it's leaned as it should be and given the correct strokes it turns easily. I've paddled it on open water in mild wind and found it to be responsive enough to keep out of trouble. I'm not sure I'd try it alone on a really windy day though. I'm very happy with this boat as far as tracking and handling with two people in heavy wind.

I bought my XL160 in July, 2003 from the factory store in Old Town, Maine as a "third" (no warranty) and it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made. The following month a group of 7 paddled the Allagash in northern Maine. Two of us took kayaks...me in the XL and a friend in a Loon 138. On the lakes we were like sports cars compared to the 20 ft. canoes but once we hit the river we both got wet several times. No harm done but neither of these boats are made for fast water. At 6'3" and 280 pounds I've had no problems getting in and out of the XL. It's very stable and tracks well even in windy conditions. I haven't seen a need for a rudder as the boat is so easy to turn with a little lean. if a skeg were available I would consider one as I tend to push with my legs as I paddle so I want the foot braces to be rock solid. The only problem I can think of is the way the spray skirt fits. The cockpit is really too large for a skirt to hold well so I don't bother using it and pump out when I can in heavy waves. I see Old Town has upgraded the seat so I may have to look into replacing the molded rock I sit on now (even with foam pads). I mentioned earlier that I bought the kayak with no warranty. While on the Allagash one of the foot braces broke and had to be wired together for the rest of the trip. On the way home I stopped in at the factory store to buy a new one..mentioned to the clerk what had happened and was given a replacement at no charge.