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Name: plaidpaddler

Most Recent Reviews

The 18' Sundowner is a fast, well rounded canoe. I have three now, in both Kevlar and Fiberglass. The hull layups are Cross-Rib in Kevlar, Cross-rib in fiberglass(1980) and Core-stiffened in fiberglass. They all paddle pretty much the same, the small differences in weight and construction have little effect on the performance.

The Sundowner is fast enough to keep pace with any tandem on a trip. It will not beat the Jensen 18 or Minnesota II in a race with even paddlers. It will easily pull away from any royalex hull or plastic canoe. On a trip this means lots less effort when traveling together with plastic hulls or composites from many manufacturers. The glide is the noticeable feature of this hull. Miss a stroke to grab a snack and it keeps going.

It is very seaworthy, takes waves from any direction without losing its composure. No need to turn bow into the wave unless its huge and breaking.
The turning is good, not WW quality, but closer to the Spirit than the Jensen.
Just a well rounded hull.

Have now owned and paddled the Minnesota IV for over a year and have raced it for over 240 miles. It is fast, very fast! With a mixed crew of middle aged, recreational paddlers aboard, the GPS shows a cruising speed of 5.5 to 6.0 mph and a peak sprint speed of 7.0mph. With an all male racer crew aboard, the GPS showed 7.5mph cruise speed and 8.5 sprint speed on the smooth and windless Erie Canal. Tracking is as expected from a 23' long canoe; you can stay on one side for 20 or better strokes, switching only when the crew protests. It is not very sensitive to wakes and waves, but depending on load can be influenced by wind. In a 10-15mph quartering wind, the stern paddler needed to stay on the lee side to keep the canoe on course, the stroke count went to 50on the lee and 5 on the windward side. Turning sharply requires a good bow draw or rudder, an outside lean and everyone back of the bow position paddling on the outside and sweeping hard. Seaworthiness was suprisingly good, I do not consider this a deep canoe and it handles large boat wakes and swells very well. We paddled it on big open Adirondack Lakes in conditions with just the beginning of whitecaps and never took water. In foot to 18" waves taken at up to a 45 degree angle it was dry. We paddled nothing worse so I do not know at what point the canoe becomes wet, but we were dry when a tandem Malecite was taking on water and a Bell Mystic was bailing and bracing.

Portaging was also surprisingly easy. Aside from the extreme length requiring some careful manuevering on wooded portage trails, it carries well. The yoke was mounted at just the right balance point, the canoe carries with the bow just light enough to stay up out of the sightline and easy enough to pull down with one hand for descending trails. At 62# on the scale, it was no worse on my shoulders than a 15' Dagger Reflection in Royalex and its 8' longer with two more seats!

For going fast with a group of 4, this is THE boat. For family camping this is THE boat. For tandem tripping with everything including the kitchen sink, this is THE fast way to go.

For tight Pine Barrens creeks, for rapids without easy chutes, this is not the boat.

Finally got to paddle this hull with my go fast bow partner Vitamin Ray. We did it as a back to back with a 17'Jensen since we were considering the Escape as a rough water alternative for recreational class racing. The Escape shows its depth in the stern with the gunwales at knee level for this 5'9" paddler, had to be careful to lift the paddle higher on the switches than in the Jensen. Speed seemed as good as the Jensen for the half hour we paddled hard, we need to time several laps on the same course with both boats for a quantitative comparison. The boat does cruise with very little paddle input, keeping it at speed seemed effortless. Initial stability was very lively, but the boat firms up quickly as the lean is increased. Seems especially sensitive getting in and out, probably a function of the slender ends and the lightweight layup we paddled. Seaworthiness was very good, we crossed some big ski-boat turning wakes and tested the handling both front and rear quartering to the wakes; the hull was rock steady angled forward into the wakes, and took the rear quartering waves with little deflection from course and no wallowing. Bow depth kept us dry thru wakes that would have put water into the Jensen.

Turning was a big surprise, we expected the Escape to turn slower than the shorter Jensen, but it comes about quickly in response to the bow paddlers draws and rudders. Its rounded bottom contour does like well timed strokes from both paddlers, a missed stroke with the other paddler sweeping is really felt as is a missed 'hut'. This hull does not challenge the Spirit II for stability, with well matched strokes it is stable and responds like a sports car, but it does demand the paddlers attention to keeping strokes in sync.

A fast seaworthy hull for paddlers not needing the capacity of the Minnesota II, but wanting the big water capability.

My Kevlar flex-core mocassin is the third solo canoe on the family rack, following a center-rib glass Wenonah Solitude and Old Town Pack. I like to solo on my knees and wanted a canoe i could feel comfortable in fishing on the Finger Lakes of Upstate N.Y. Auditioned this boat over a LaborDay weekend vs. a Bell Merlin and Wenonah Rondevous. The Merlin wins the speed points and glide points, but the Mocassin just fit me like a glove after the first hour on Canandaigua Lake. With glued in knee cups to hold the old bones in place, the Mocassin and i took on the 90mile Adirondack Classic the next weekend and both survived a day on Long Lake that blew over dozens of USCA cruisers and racing kayaks. Managed to do a kayak over canoe emptying of a downriver kayak that dumped in front of me and help get the kayaker back into his boat. Took on bigger waves than i thought the boat would ever stay upright in, and only took in water over the gunwales at the cockpit. The Mocassin does not turn as well as the shorter Bell Solos, but strikes a good balance between the freestyle oriented short solos and the marathon oriented longer sit and switch solos. Would take a Merlin or Magic or Prism on a long flatwater trip, but for getting out on any type of fishable water this boat has served me well for 7 years now. I paddle mostly with a carbon fiber bent shaft paddle, but have used an otter tale, willow blade, other traditional wooden paddles to play around in tight streams or for just fun on the local pond. It responds well to many different paddling styles, from single sided northwoods to marathon kneel and switch.