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Name: pknoerr

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I own a Pakcanoe 140, and Laura needed a canoe for a Spring Break trip in Utah on the Class II-III San Juan River. The 140 was too big for her desires, so I set about trying to find an alternative. I suggested trying to paddle a Puffin as a canoe. I found a used one, and modified the seat system to better replicate a canoe seat, and added structural foam between the frame members and the skin. We checked both the Puffin and the 140 as baggage with no additional charges. The boats, paddles, and packs with 7 days of gear fit into a Dodge Neon for the trip from SLC to the river.

We assembled the boats, and Laura loaded a full pack in the stern, and 5 gallons of drinking water in the bow, and we headed off with our tripping friends for 8 days of paddling and hiking. Laura was able to run most of the rapids including Ross fully loaded in the Puffin II. Some water flushed into the cockpit on some of the bigger standing waves, but overall the Puffin performed much better than we expected.

It's light, can be transported as baggage, fits in a rental and can carry 7 days of gear on a Class II-III western river. That pretty much says it all.

The Zephyr is a neat alternative to the Bell Wildfire at 14'2". It was made as the smallest member of a family which also includes the Ariel (15'1") and the Starship (15'11" I believe). The boats were originally constructed as touring or light tripping canoes. But the Zephyr found a home among many folks interested in Freestyle.

Blackhawks were built until about 1994 by Phil Sigglekow in Janesville, WI. The Zephyr is one of the most interesting (and beautiful) hull shapes any canoe has been constructed in. It's radically asymmetrical above the waterline and slightly fishform at the water. The stern is low and recurved to gain the maximum waterline length with the least windage.

The Zephyr is a wonderfully responsive canoe for an experienced paddler that loves to be heeled over to the rail. It makes a fun boat to play with freestyle during the evenings after a day traveling.

Blackhawks are available in fiberglass (Silver layup) and kevlar/fiberglass (Gold layups) with mahogany and ash trim. A nifty option is the SST adjustable cane seat that both slides and allows height adjustments.

Hunt for a used one at your local canoe shop.... It's worth the paddle.

This is a boat that is best enjoyed by a relatively advanced paddler with a good J-stroke. The inherent charateristics that make the Guide one of the best (if not the best) river canoe through class II, makes it track poor relative to a true flatwater boat...rocker and a relatively short keeline. However, the boat responds very well to a vertical stroke, with cross strokes used to pull the boat back on course. The Guide bow surfs like a charm, catches eddies like a dream and has plenty of speed for most attainment moves. Side surfing, the Guide is relatively grabby due to it's hardish chines and length. In addition due to the length, it is difficult to spin on small waves and stay on the wave. The Guide also has the capacity to trip in it, however, like most canoes is quite affected by trim.

The Guide is far from slow, but is propelled at it's greatest speed with a short stroke ending before reaching the hip. An advanced paddler can get up to about 5 strokes on one side before needing a correction following this method.

Overall, if you are looking for a great river canoe and light whitewater canoe or a solo river tripping canoe. This one really is without peer.