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Name: cedarcanoe

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If this board was only used for cruseing on open water I might be much more satisfied with it. In that environment it could be coddled, which is what this fragile thin-skinned board requires. Pros The board, being long, is relatively fast and can keep up with the kayaks and canoes that some campers are utilizing. Cons This board is FRAGILE. The slightest bump fractures the thin skin requiring multiple patches to be applied in the two seasons of use. I would not purchase this board again for our purposes. In a mixed boat environment it is too easy for a kayak or canoe (in the hands of campers...who are beginning paddlers) to make contact with the paddle board. Almost any contact will damage this board. Usage I am the Aquatic Director for a summer camp in the Finger Lakes region of NY. I purchased this board for the waterfront lifeguard crew to use while monitoring activities involving various paddle craft (canoes, kayaks, and SUPs). Waterfront lifeguards are trained to use paddle boards as rescue platforms. This board at 14' has the capacity to hold any of our lifeguards, with enough reserve capacity to add a struggling camper too.

I built a cedar strip Kiwawa in 1998. I still love that canoe. Either it has gotten heavier, or I've gotten weaker in the ensuing years. (I know the answer to that...). So that my wife and I can continue to take trips that involve portages, we purchased a Kevlar Fusion with carbon-kevlar gunnels. The weight is wonderful. The boat paddles very much like its cedar-strip older fleet mate. I bought another Swift with confidence.

My one minor quibble is the way the ends of the yoke are mitered to fit with the carbon-kevlar gunnels and seat hangers. I can see that these tapered ends are going to be a weak spot that fails prematurely... hopefully not in the middle of a wilderness trip. This is a structural design flaw in an otherwise beautiful canoe.

A fast high-capacity cruising board. Confidence inspiring even in lake surf. Pros At 14' it is a fast high capacity board. It inspires confidence paddling in the wind-driven waves that are a semi-permanent feature of Seneca Lake. Cons The skin is a bit fragile for our rocky beach, so landings have to be done with care and "off shore". Usage Bought it for our lifeguards to use at the waterfront of a summer camp on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of NY. The long board has enough capacity for any of our staff plus any camper we need to pull on board for assistance.

I'm now beginning my third paddling season with my Cherry Nashwaak. It has become my favorite paddle, by a wide margin. The only time I pick up a different paddle is when the water gets too shallow and I don't want to grind the end of this beautiful paddle on the bottom. It is remarkably light which when combined with its perfect balance makes it a joy for long days of paddling. In the water it is smooth and stable. Underwater recoveries have no buzz or gurgle. On edge it slides through the water like the proverbial "hot knife through butter".
It has a little less surface area than some of my other paddles. This lowers the effort per stroke, but requires a slightly higher stroke rate to maintain the same hull speed. This trade-off actually feels less fatiguing over the course of a long day of paddling. I gave similar high praise to a Ray Kettlewell Modified Otter-tail. The two paddles are very similar in their quality of workmanship and paddling dynamics. I have to give the slight edge to the Nashwaak Cruiser purely on the fact that it is perceptibly lighter weight (for the same paddle length).

This paddle is without doubt my very favorite for paddling my solo canoe. If you prefer to paddle in the "classic style", rather than the "hit and switch" style, then you owe it to yourself to seek out one of these pieces of working art. Yes, they are just as beautiful as they are functional!

The Kettlewell Modified Ottertail slides silky and smoothly through the water. It is exquisite for leisurely solo paddles, adroit underwater recoveries, or silently approaching unsuspecting wildlife.

Ray beautifully hand carves these paddles from a single piece of straight grained cherry wood. The edges are thin and uniformly tapered. The shaft is slightly oval. The overall feel of the shaft and grip is smooth and uniform, although it felt slightly small to my large hands. However, this smaller diameter is an acceptable compromise, as a fatter shaft would be heavier and too stiff, diminishing the lively feel of this paddle in the water.

Why not a 9 or 10? The finish on the handle was slightly blemished where it sat in the drying rack. A light sanding with fine paper smoothed off these spots, but left cloudy areas.

This paddle is an excellent value. I've tried hand carved paddles at twice the cost that had half the feel in the water. When pushed hard through the water the paddle exhibited no flutter, although it did have a very faint buzz on some rapid underwater slices.

On the first few outings with this paddle, I also took along two other paddles (including a light carbon fibre paddle and a custom paddle that I carved). On the most recent outting I never picked up the other two paddles during the 6 mile afternoon. That is when I knew that Ray Kettlewell had created a real gem for me. We talked by phone about my paddling style and goals. He listened carefully and asked thougthful questions before he recommended this design, and carved this paddle. Thanks Ray, well done!

My Shearwater is the Expedition Kevlar layup, with cherry trim all around, sliding seat, and kneeling pads. I paddled 9 different solo boats before I bought a Shearwater. I also read many reviews here and in print. Why the Shearwater? It does many things well: it has the glide and efficiency of a long cruiser, with the turning agility of a much shorter boat. The initial stability is much less tender than it's sibling design--the Osprey. Yet it doesn't trade away secondary stability to achieve it's calm initial demeanor. It can be leaned well over without losing poise. In most canoes I paddled it was immediately obvious what the compromises were: the Curtis Tripper tracks very straight and glides well, but is tough to turn; the Bell Wildfire turns on a dime, but is harder to keep on course and has much less glide. When paddling a Shearwater the compromises are not intrusive. There is no constant reminder of something it can't do well, which I did experience noticably in some other canoes. John Winter's masterful blend in the Shearwater makes it a pleasure to paddle under a variety of conditions. The one obvious compromise is only apparent out of the water...being 16'+ the Shearwater tips the scales at 45+ lbs.. It is at the heavier end of solo boat options. But I'll gladly shoulder the extra few pounds to the water's edge, for the pleasure it serves up in abundance when paddled. In my ranking criteria only the Bell Magic came in higher. Finding a meticulously maintained used Shearwater for 40% of new cost made the Shearwater a hands down winner! Many thanks to patient dealers, generous friends, and the reviews of other paddling.com readers. I'm loving it!

I built a cedar strip Kipawa in 1998. I've taken three week long trips with it since. It is a wonderful tripping design. Initial stability is a little tender when the canoe is empty. It settles down very nicely when loaded for tripping. It tracks well. Turning is aided greatly by bow paddler input. The differential rocker, with more bow rocker, responds well to bow strokes (posts, draws, and rudders). It is a little broad to paddle solo in a sit 'n switch style. It paddles well from the kneeling thwart when leaned in a Canadian cruising solo style. My next boat will be a pure solo day tripper. Too often when I want to paddle my partners don't.