Most Recent Reviews
Hemlock Nessmuk v. Hornbeck Lost Pond: Nessmuk is 2-3" narrower than Lost Pond... most noticable while sitting in the boat. Nessmuk has less initial stability than Hornbeck, but is probably somewhat more efficient. Both boats are quick and easy-paddling. Both track surprisingly well for such a short boat. It's easy to reach hull speed limit with both boats.... start getting a lot of gurgling and bow waves without much additional increase in speed. We test paddled the Nessmuk on flat water with little wind, but have found the Lost Pond to be surprisingly seaworthy and easy to handle in rougher water and higher winds; we expect the same from the Nessmuk. Seating in Lost Pond is comfortable 3" sculpted foam with padded backrest on thwart. In comparison, Nessmuk is more spartan... simple 1" foam pad on bottom, perhaps providing more options for seating. General workmanship on Nessmuk appears superior (Lost Pond is good).... wood trim is less "blocky" and has a finer, more tapered appearance. Lost Pond has a skin coat which shows all fabric edges, layers, and overlaps; the Nessmuk uses a pigmented gel coat which conceals these, but the fabric that shows seems more uniform. Dave Curtis has a reputation for well-built canoes of high craftsmanship -- certainly visible here. No painter loops on Nessmuk; Lost Pond has these. Nessmuk is more expensive ($100). Nessmuk has floatation tanks built into bow and stern; Lost Pond relies on large foam seat to provide floatation.
I discussed my test paddle with Dave Curtis afterwards, and think he generally agreed with my impressions.
I like my Lost Pond, but we liked the performance and craftsmanship of the Nessmuk enough to buy one for my wife.
I purchased a Lost Pond 10.5' in Kevlar/carbon fiber. Part of the fun of purchasing a Hornbeck boat is talking with Peter. I prefer the appearance of the Kevlar-carbon to Kevlar only. The skin-coat finish (no pigment) means you can see all cloth edges and variations in weave -- I consider these character marks. Ash gunwales with walnut decks, spruce thwarts, foam seat. Nice workmanship overall. Peter's assistant Simon Gardner is the actual builder of my canoe - thanks, Simon! Carbon-kevlar build is claimed to be 1 lb. lighter, but I haven't confirmed that..... probably more important for this paddler to lose weight than the canoe.
I am using a 260 cm Grey Owl Tempest paddle that I purchased with the canoe. This initially seems quite long, but as you are seated in the bottom of the canoe with a ~28" beam, this makes a lot of sense. In addition, the longer paddle promotes a flatter stroke, which helps keep too much dripping into the boat. However, some water WILL drip into the boat -- wear rain pants when the water is cold.
For such a short canoe, the tracking is remarkably good... it only yaws slightly (5 degrees??) with each stroke. Still turns fairly easily with sweep strokes. I'm still experimenting with leaning the boat to turn more quickly. Little or no tendency for weathercocking with wind due to low height and short length -- resulting balance allows me to paddle into, with, across, or at an angle to wind and waves and hold my course. Angling into chop (say 6-8") may cause some spray to enter the boat over the center of the upwind gunwale.... I haven't tried paddling in waves much larger than 1 ft., although others have (see Christine Jerome's book "An Adirondack Passage"). The canoe is not designed for high speeds, but does cruise efficiently and easily at more relaxed paces.
Good stability once you are seated; the trick to getting in is to sit down over the side and then swing your legs in... easily mastered. Seat is comfortable, but I find keeping my legs straight out in front uncomfortable, and prefer to keep them flexed. A foot brace or some sort of padding under the knees would help make this more comfortable.
The light weight is always a pleasant surprise when cartopping or carrying. I have had several other curious paddlers stop to look at the boat, so it's a nice way to meet and talk with others.
Why not a "10"? I don't think there is a perfect canoe, and I don't have enough experience yet to be sure about a 9. Nonethess, I'm very pleased with the Lost Pond and Peter Hornbeck, and highly recommend both!