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Nessmuk

by Hemlock Canoe Works

Nessmuk is an historic replica of a canoe commissioned by the author George Washington Sears for his Adirondack cruise in the summer of 1880 and built by the Rushton Boat Works of Canton N.Y. Sears wrote about this and subsequent trips in Forest and Stream magazine under the pen name 'Nessmuk'.

"She is ten and a half feet long. twenty six inch beam, with eight inches rise at center; and, propelled by a light double paddle, with a one-fool power in the middle, gets over the water like a scared loon."

One of the most celebrated canoes in American canoeing annals, Sears' Adirondack letters inForrest and Stream in 1883 boosted her into fame.

Our Nessmuk is faithful to the original "Wee Lassie" which now resides in the Adirondack Museum. This type of craft has come to be generically known as the Adirondack Pack canoe, and is the best way to obtain the smallest, lightest solo recreation paddle craft. Incredibly handy to paddle and transport, Nessmuk will suprise you with her quickness and seaworthiness.

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Reviews

Over the years, I've owned many different canoes, and many of these…

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Over the years, I've owned many different canoes, and many of these were Dave Curtis boats (Ladybug was my first lightweight and manageable solo canoe). But I have never owned multiples of a single model. I bought my first Hemlock Nessmuk about 5 years ago. When we bought a house in Florida, I took my Nessmuk there because it is the perfect canoe for the spring-fed streams that I so love to paddle. I didn't want to transport it back and forth for use in Pennsylvania in the summer season, so I keep that one in Florida and this year bought a new one to keep in Pennsylvania. It easily handles the moving waters and occasional minor rapids of French Creek and other streams, and the slower waters of lakes and swamps. I do a lot of birding and photography by canoe and love the stability of the Nessmuk as well as the quick turning responsiveness. At 12-16 lbs. and 10 1/2 ft., it is easy to handle the Nessmuk from car to shore, even with arthritis; and the sit-down design saves my knees because I don't have to kneel. The workmanship and materials put into Hemlock canoes are top-notch and consistently reliable. For the smaller paddler and/or senior this versatile canoe can't be beat.

This is my third summer with my Nessmuk, and I couldn't be…

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This is my third summer with my Nessmuk, and I couldn't be more pleased with the way the boat handles. It had its toughest test to date when I paddled on the Niagara River on 7/28/2013 from Lewiston to Youngstown (about two hours). Winds were about 14 mph and the chop was about two feet--occasionally more, by my best estimate--with a few little whitecaps. The boat felt stable the whole time; I've learned to trust it and was tickled *bright* pink when it proved trustworthy last Sunday.

I'll add that, the first summer I had it and took it to the Adirondacks, I didn't have footrests in it; Dave Curtiss asked me to try it without it. I did; I asked him to put footrests in for the next year. That's given me a lot more power (I'm 5'3", 61, F, 138 lbs) and I was glad for every bit of power when we went out into Lake Ontario and then had to paddle upstream against the current at the mouth of the river to the launch in Youngstown. (We wanted to see the old fort built by the French in the 1600s from the lake.)

I don't like the seat. Even with a folding canvas canoe seat (sorry, don't remember manufacturer), my tush gets much wetter than those of people paddling Hornbecks. And, yes, the scratches show on the Nessmuk, which doesn't bother me, but if that bothers you,consider getting a white one (mine is dark green).
Love this boat!

This little pack canoe is really fun and easy to put on…

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This little pack canoe is really fun and easy to put on and off the van. I can easily carry and put in on any shoreline of small ponds and creeks as well as the larger lakes. Being so small I thought I would ship water in bigger waves, but because of the excellent design it just goes over the tops of the waves. I always use a Crazy Creek chair in it for a comfortable back rest. Because it is so light, I tend to use it much more than my kayak. Kudos to the Hemlock team!

I bought a kevlar/carbon fiber Nessmuk (14 pounds!) for my wife last…

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I bought a kevlar/carbon fiber Nessmuk (14 pounds!) for my wife last summer. She loves it! Easy paddling on flat water - tracks well, and manageable in light winds. It is so light that launching & portaging are no longer a chore, even for our aging boomer bodies. Finish and woodwork are gorgeous -- what a beautiful little canoe! There is no backrest, and the thwart gets uncomfortable on longer trips, so added a backband from Placid Boatworks.

This review is preliminary and based on a very short paddle.…

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This review is preliminary and based on a very short paddle. I have a Hornbeck Lost Pond canoe that my wife paddled and enjoyed very much. So much so that we decided to get one for her. But, Hornbeck Boats is 6 hours away. Dave Curtis (Hemlock Canoe works) is about 30 minutes south of us, and his Nessmuk looked very similar. We test paddled a Nessmuk on Canadice Lake.... flat water.

Hemlock Nessmuk v. Hornbeck Lost Pond: Nessmuk is 2-3" narrower than Lost Pond... most noticable while sitting in the boat. Nessmuk has less initial stability than Hornbeck, but is probably somewhat more efficient. Both boats are quick and easy-paddling. Both track surprisingly well for such a short boat. It's easy to reach hull speed limit with both boats.... start getting a lot of gurgling and bow waves without much additional increase in speed. We test paddled the Nessmuk on flat water with little wind, but have found the Lost Pond to be surprisingly seaworthy and easy to handle in rougher water and higher winds; we expect the same from the Nessmuk. Seating in Lost Pond is comfortable 3" sculpted foam with padded backrest on thwart. In comparison, Nessmuk is more spartan... simple 1" foam pad on bottom, perhaps providing more options for seating. General workmanship on Nessmuk appears superior (Lost Pond is good).... wood trim is less "blocky" and has a finer, more tapered appearance. Lost Pond has a skin coat which shows all fabric edges, layers, and overlaps; the Nessmuk uses a pigmented gel coat which conceals these, but the fabric that shows seems more uniform. Dave Curtis has a reputation for well-built canoes of high craftsmanship -- certainly visible here. No painter loops on Nessmuk; Lost Pond has these. Nessmuk is more expensive ($100). Nessmuk has floatation tanks built into bow and stern; Lost Pond relies on large foam seat to provide floatation.

I discussed my test paddle with Dave Curtis afterwards, and think he generally agreed with my impressions.

I like my Lost Pond, but we liked the performance and craftsmanship of the Nessmuk enough to buy one for my wife.