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Unfortunately mine was shipped by a freight trucking company (echo logistics – central transport international) and very badly treated, arriving seven days after first shipped, (only a 15 hr drive according to MapQuest) and was damaged in the stern besides a broken rear thwart. Since I had a trip planned for the upcoming weekend, I received the canoe and spent the next day repairing it. Western Canoe was very helpful in supplying materials for the repair.
My trip was planned around my nephew's wedding I was attending up at Clearlake, CA. We had a cottage rented right on the lake, so I loaded both canoes (an Esquif Avalon and the Clipper Freedom) and a couple of bikes to round out the trip. The weight of the Kevlar Freedom was very much appreciated (36# as compared to the Esquif at over 60#).
After a quick trip to Oakland airport to pick up the folks and a stop by the brother's for lunch we made for the lake, arriving there a little after 4 in the afternoon. Couldn't wait to unload the canoe and go for a paddle – I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first, I mean the Freedom canoe is one of those odd looking shaped canoes with the bow and stern sharply pointed and the middle portion wide with the greatly flaired tumble hone to the gunnels'. I also had a new bent shaft paddle from Bending Branches (new boat and new paddle). Again the lightness of the canoe aided the carry to the put in.
The Freedom has an adjustable seat and footrest assembly - the seat was in the middle position (up and down) and could slide forward and back as well as the footrest (fwd & Back) and neither very well adjusted in the water. So I set out in a neutral position and enjoyed the sensation of paddling my first solo canoe. Wow! Very impressed, felt comfortable right away, goes pretty straight but boy takes a lot to turn, tried a couple of those off camber turns (leaning the wrong way in a turn) and quickly learned the way to brace! It gets right on over in a hurry and is easy to hold – I didn't even notice if any water came in over the gunnels.
I paddled it for five days straight in mostly flat water, light ripples, and some wind. I noticed the flat bottom in swells lifts and rolls if not straight to the swell angle, surfs swell and the wind really was never a problem. I rigged an adjustable rope to keep the seat being pushed backwards by the leg action, and am still fooling around with the positioning of the seat and foot brace.
After a couple of days out of the canoe I returned to it last night at my local favorite lake. It was breezy, warm and just hopped right in and paddled! A friend joined me on his SUP And was surprised at how I could easily out distance him (however I defiantly took this to my advantage to learn my reentry skills in open water and cool off).
I'm very proud of this canoe and hope to enjoy it for a long time!
Peter Rudnick August/September 2010
Photos available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudnipe/sets/72157624871478752/