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I have only had the boat for a week but have already done three rivers and a lake. Unfortunately the dog has only had one ride. I am 6'2" and 190 pounds and the boat fits me fine. My kevlar boat weighs only 18 pounds and is a dream to carry, load, and paddle. I can turn it on a dime and give you eight cent change. I can also keep up with a mid size kayak or a river cruiser but can easily go places they can't.
This boat isn't perfect for everything - that is why it is my third boat. However is is fun, versatile, and so light I am the envy of all my friends.
And it's a dandy -- faster than my kayak and even faster than the canoe, tracks well and is very stable. Mine is a kevlar/carbon fiber combination with cherry and ash trim that has garnered a lot of admiring comments -- especially when people learn that it weighs a mere 15 pounds. Has to be one of the best purchases I've ever made. It's even handled pretty good sized waves when the wind came up on my favorite lake.
If you're looking for a lightweight boat that handles well and looks great buy one of these.
I paddled the canoe around the local harbor on two occasions for an hour and a half each time. As anticipated, the boat is pretty unstable when entering, but while paddling it is very stable. I have paddled a kayak so paddling was intuitive. I expected the boat to yaw with each stroke, but was pleasantly surprised at how well it tracked. Due to the short length and my fat butt (at 190 pounds), the boat was not the fastest I have paddled, but again I was pleasantly surprised...it was faster than I expected it would be.
After getting used to the canoe, I took on the Pacific ocean on my third go. I had a 10 knot on shore crosswind and an angled 2 to three foot swell at 6 seconds with a 6 inch or so wind chop. Again, the boat did better than expected. It tracked very well despite the angled swell and winds. it stayed on course even in quartering seas. The boat flexes some in waves and chop and the cheek compresses inward as it custs through a wave. This is to be expected in a boat this light. I would suspect with more chop I would be taking some water over the side, but it was dry and stable in the 6 inch chop I was out in.
The best part was pulling up to the kayak launch dock where I put in. With two sea kayakers just pulling in an struggling to get their boats out; I just hopped out of the canoe, reached down with one hand and pulled the boat out of the water and shouldered it in one move. They were impressed. I was loaded up and rolling while they were just getting their wheels out of their cars and heading back to the dock.
I purchased a Lost Pond 10.5' in Kevlar/carbon fiber. Part of the fun of purchasing a Hornbeck boat is talking with Peter. I prefer the appearance of the Kevlar-carbon to Kevlar only. The skin-coat finish (no pigment) means you can see all cloth edges and variations in weave -- I consider these character marks. Ash gunwales with walnut decks, spruce thwarts, foam seat. Nice workmanship overall. Peter's assistant Simon Gardner is the actual builder of my canoe - thanks, Simon! Carbon-kevlar build is claimed to be 1 lb. lighter, but I haven't confirmed that..... probably more important for this paddler to lose weight than the canoe.
I am using a 260 cm Grey Owl Tempest paddle that I purchased with the canoe. This initially seems quite long, but as you are seated in the bottom of the canoe with a ~28" beam, this makes a lot of sense. In addition, the longer paddle promotes a flatter stroke, which helps keep too much dripping into the boat. However, some water WILL drip into the boat -- wear rain pants when the water is cold.
For such a short canoe, the tracking is remarkably good... it only yaws slightly (5 degrees??) with each stroke. Still turns fairly easily with sweep strokes. I'm still experimenting with leaning the boat to turn more quickly. Little or no tendency for weathercocking with wind due to low height and short length -- resulting balance allows me to paddle into, with, across, or at an angle to wind and waves and hold my course. Angling into chop (say 6-8") may cause some spray to enter the boat over the center of the upwind gunwale.... I haven't tried paddling in waves much larger than 1 ft., although others have (see Christine Jerome's book "An Adirondack Passage"). The canoe is not designed for high speeds, but does cruise efficiently and easily at more relaxed paces.
Good stability once you are seated; the trick to getting in is to sit down over the side and then swing your legs in... easily mastered. Seat is comfortable, but I find keeping my legs straight out in front uncomfortable, and prefer to keep them flexed. A foot brace or some sort of padding under the knees would help make this more comfortable.
The light weight is always a pleasant surprise when cartopping or carrying. I have had several other curious paddlers stop to look at the boat, so it's a nice way to meet and talk with others.
Why not a "10"? I don't think there is a perfect canoe, and I don't have enough experience yet to be sure about a 9. Nonethess, I'm very pleased with the Lost Pond and Peter Hornbeck, and highly recommend both!
A beginner would not like the primary stability (or lack thereof) but it is fine as you are sitting on the floor of the kayak. I used a OT Blacklight paddle and it worked very well. Not a fancy paddle, but light, inexpensive, and very functional. When I finally turned and went with the wind, the fun factor dropped. There was never a problem; I just like facing into waves.
In the protected water, the canoe showed surprising speed for its length. I think the fine entry has much to do with that. I have paddled some blunt bowed kayaks recently such as the Dagger Blackwater and this was more rewarding, though I cannot say for sure that it was faster. The 17 pounds is incredibly nice going on and off the car. The kevlar work is very nice. I cannot complain about any of its performance characteristics, as they are as much as one could hope for in this size of canoe.
The only complaint, and thus the score of 9, is the seat. It was fine for almost an hour, but that isn't long enough. I'll take a gel seat with me next time.
I'll report back after I have tried it on a river. I plan to adapt some extra flotation before I do.
It is best suited to small lakes and ponds because its straight and narrow stems tend to cut instead of shed waves.
All in all a very seaworthy craft, and ideal for pond-hopping in the backcountry. It is however, quite expensive.
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