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.
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.
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.