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Name: ezwater

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Caution, readers: The MR Synergy 14 and 12 are KAYAKs, not canoes. The first two reviews below pertain to the 15' whitewater tandem canoe that appeared about 1997 but is no longer made. If you like ww and find a 15' Synergy ww canoe, buy it.

I don't see how anyone could possibly have GOOD trips on Chattooga 4, the Ocoee, or other class 3 or 4 rivers in a Mad River Courier. I say that as an owner of a Mad River Compatriot, predecessor to the Courier, and of a Mad River Guide, the successor. I have no idea what standards for swamping, bailing, eddy turns, etc., previous reviewers are using, but the Courier and the Guide are totally unsuitable for Five Falls and the Ocoee.

The Chippewa is just under 17 feet long, 34.5 inches wide, and weighs about 48 pounds in "Nylon/Kevlar" with aluminum gunwales. It has no rocker through the midsection, but marked rise at both ends. In cross section it has a flattish shallow arch with a relatively sharp transition to high slab sides; it is 16 inches deep at the center. The foam core bottom has about the right degree of stiffness. There is no gelcoat, just a pigmented epoxy layer on the outside. The quality of the vacuum-bagged, heat-cured epoxy layup is outstanding.

The rear seat comes unusually far back, and the boat was very far from trimming properly with our weight combination (220 and 145 pounds). I thought of installing a sliding seat, but because we anticipated using the boat in river waves, I instead moved the rear seat forward almost a foot. The boat then was in good trim, paddled faster, and did not plunge as deeply into waves with the paddlers farther from the ends.

Paddled tandem, it is a little faster than an Old Town Tripper, a little slower than a Wenonah Spirit II. It pulls up to speed easily and tracks well, but is certainly not a boat for bent paddles and sit-and-switch. There is, of course, no keel on the boat, and even loaded with about 400 pounds of paddlers and gear, it will blow sideways with annoying readiness when hit from the side by a strong wind. This tendency to side-slip becomes a strong asset on rivers. The Chippewa will not spin like a Tripper, but it is easy to turn in class 1-2 river maneuvers. We have found the boat to perform well on lakes and even better when threading swampy creeks where its course is very easy to adjust. It has fairly firm initial stability, transitioning quickly to good final stability.

I have paddled our Chippewa solo on flatwater and easy whitewater, using either a Nashwaak Solostrap or a foam pedestal seat shoved under the center thwart. The flattish shallow arch is not ideal for leaning the boat for solo paddling, but it can be done. Of course the boat blows around easily with only one person aboard. It does not spin easily enough for serious whitewater work, but it is easy to keep the edges from grabbing, and the flattish hull behaves well in routine ferrying, whether angled conservatively or at an acute angle to the current. I have not tried using our Chippewa for poling, but it promises to be a very good poling boat, better than our Tripper was by virtue of its much lighter weight.

The Chippewa is an excellent all-purpose tandem for people who aren't in a hurry, sometimes carry a lot of gear, and who must have a modicum of maneuverability. It is about equally suitable for lakes and for rivers. The hull is very durable in spite of its lightness. If one is concerned about distorting loads, the boat should be ordered with ash gunwales at the cost of about five pounds over aluminum.

Bluewater is now a semi-independent part of Scott/Mid-Canada Fiberglass. If you go to the Bluewater website, you will not see the Chippewa, although it is consistently listed as available in the Canoe and Kayak annual Buyers Guide. The Chippewa differs from other modern Bluewater canoes (Scout, Freedom, Freedom Tripper) in that it is not a product of resident designer Steve Killing, who tends to favor shallow V rather than shallow arch designs. The Chippwa looks a bit as if it was designed by a committee, but its all-around performance suggests it was a smart committee indeed.

My red CMG infinity is sometimes reluctant to come on. Abrading the interior bottom of the aluminum case has helped. Apparently at such a low voltage, a bit of aluminum oxidation may inhibit light onset. CMG has gone on from this design, but I plan to pick up another while I can.

Tried an ABS Rendezvous on a lake, in moderate wind. Before going further, let me state that I am primarily a whitewater paddler. I have a MR Guide, a MR Synergy, which I often solo, a Millbrook Wide Ride C-1, and a Dagger Zealot slalom C-1. I am not an expert, just an experienced intermediate.

From my perspective, the Rendezvous seemed quite fast and easy-tracking on the lake. On the other hand, it did not turn NEARLY well enough for technical whitewater use. I weigh 215, and by leaning way back on the seat, I could get the bow light enough to force it to one side or the other, but then the stern was digging in seriously. It was not possible to sink the stern enough to loft the bow and get it to pivot.

While this boat could cruise well in wavy class 2 rapids, and could crash through some class 3 rapids like the Nantahala's Lesser Wesser, it is NOT a maneuverable whitewater boat. My Mad River Guide puts it to shame. I can actually run easy slalom gates in the MR Guide, while the Rendezvous would be hopeless on any slalom course I have seen. To put the case even more clearly, I would rather run whitewater in my 16' 10" Bluewater Chippewa, nominally a tandem boat, but much easier to maneuver. Glad some of you are happy with the Rendezvous in whitewater, but in the interest of protecting consumers, I have to say, this is a real decent, fast river boat, but not for cruising whitewater.