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Name: Hairy

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I first spoke with Michael at Ranger about a month ago in the midst of some frustration in getting parts ordered and delivered to refurbish my ancient but still much-loved Wi-no-nah Adirondack. After talking with Michael and doing a lot of research over the next week, I put my order in for an Otter. Michael was great to work with despite being tremendously busy. The standard options are pretty simple - green or maroon - and I added the third/solo seat, which is positioned about halfway between the stern seat and the yoke. I picked up the canoe yesterday and Michael gave me a tour of the shop, as well as some great pointers to help me get the Adirondack back into service as well. I also picked up two FoxWorx Standard paddles from him. Today we put it through its paces with a three-hour jaunt on Squam lake. My wife and I paddled it out with our 70lb labrador in the center (so with our gear probably right at 380-ish lbs), while the three kids pushed our Old Town "DeathStar" through the water after us. On the way home, our adult daughters paddled it with my wife resting as a passenger in the solo seat (probably close to the same weight) while our teenage son and I drug the DeathStar with the dog. In-between, I took it out and did some moderate solo paddling. Bottom line - it's a dream. The canoe is as described on the website. The craftsmanship is solid. Compared to the Adirondack, which again I love, it feels a bit more stable. It seems to track a bit easier (my daughter said it was very noticeable) yet doesn't feel much more difficult to maneuver, and perhaps even a bit easier when solo because of the width. Even with the weight we had in it, it was fast and efficient. Paddle easily, and you'll sustain a nice pace for a long trip (we have a four-day in a couple weeks we'll be using it on). Push it, and it cruises nicely. It has a low profile in the water, which was nice with the breeze that kicked up in the middle of the lake and especially when I was solo, yet not so low to worry about moderate wakes or waves swamping it. I haven't checked a scale, but it feels right at the advertised 51-52lbs and very balanced on the yoke. No creaking or looseness in the woodwork when hoisting to my shoulders. Though this isn't the canoe I'm going to grab for whitewater, Michael includes bow and stern rope loops threaded through the hull that look to be sturdy enough for moderate river rescues. The endcaps are hand-formed and trimmed epoxied Kevlar which, though not as pretty as a wooden cap, look to be more durable and will be better protection during loading and portages. I will update as we get more time in this boat, but in the meantime we are very satisfied.