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Yes, it was cold and noisy and it grabbed onto any rock it contacted, but the combination of rocker, deep keel and narrow beam made it perform well on all types of water. It hardly got out the last 25 years but the house got fixed, the kids left, and the wife finally let me free to do my thing and taking this UV-resistant beauty off the back yard rack and scouting for campsites along the river was like dating an old flame.
At 75 lbs it's getting tougher to car-top but when run stern-first and balanced it's easy to line up on the center riffles during low water even while paddling solo. It was amazing how all the old feelings came back. I'm looking for an 18 footer for expeditions but I'm keeping the one I have.
Grumman made a whitewater model that had a shoe keel (shallow draft)for quick turns and 2 extra ribs for strength. My first was a used standard keel in 1967 and I learned my strokes on the small steams of NC and SC. A few of us formed the Carolina Canoe Club in 1969 and most of our 15 members used Grumman.
I lost that first canoe attempting to run the Savage River in Maryland. We had done the Yough in PA the day before and and the Savage had never been run in open boats. Four paddlers from the DC area ran at 600 cfs. Four more of us tried it at 800 cfs. It wasn't a smart choice...we lost all the boats. Mine was found later somewhere on the Potomac but by that time I had purchased a new Whitewater model.
We paddled pure. No flotation. And many of our trips were first descents. Over the 20 years I paddled we ran streams up to Class 5. No flotation meant we had to limit our big river runs to low to avg water levels because waves over 3 feet would always put water in the boat as we went thru the crest so a few crashing waves could swamp a paddler if he/she couldn't find an eddy.
The one problem that eventually wore out the Grumman was repeated rock hits on the stern. Vertical drops meant a dive into often foaming water with the bow. As the bow exploded back up into the air, the stern the drove into the water behind me. Rocks would often be below the surface and that pounding eventually would weaken the strong angle iron located just behind the kneeling paddler. Sharp waves also could cause the stern to find submerged rocks.
Drops over 5 vertical feet were difficult because the bow dove so deep that one would take on too much water. Still I ran many that were higher and one that was 11' without turning over or swamping.
We looked for streams with drops exceeding 25' per mile and paddled some with more than 100' of drop (Chatooga, Wilson Ck Gorge etc). Some other great streams...Obed, Nolichucky, Nantahalla, New R in NC and Va and the New in TN. But the most fun for me were the small technical streams that required quick turns, eddy turns and ferrying to work my way thru long rapids.
I had to sell the 2nd canoe after it wore down but it still made a good, not great, lake canoe. My 3rd survived the hundreds of streams and rivers and sits dented and abused but sadly unused in my backyard. It still has some whitewater left in it but I'm afraid that I don't have any desire left in me.
But, yes. The Grumman is a fantastic whitewater boat requiring strength and skill. Unfortunately, the new ABS canoes are filled with air bags and thigh straps so there are probably no true whitewater canoers out there any more. If you can "roll" a canoe in whitewater then it's just not right to call it canoeing.
I would recommend this boat as a beater you can keep around and not worry about. What I don't like is how it gets hung up on rocks, it is like slamming on the brakes!
They are great flat water boats. They are both stable, they track beautifully, and are forgiving for beginners in that they are more stable than most canoes I have been in. The only downside to these boats is that they don't handle whitewater well. I've done some class 1 runs in the 15 and the 17 but I wouldn’t go higher especially in the 17. It wants to track straight and on whitewater, turning quickly can be required or you will wrap it around a rock, tree or similar. For these runs you will want something different.
There is a notable difference in the 15 and 17. The 15 turns better. This can be a benefit if you are on small streams with lots of turns. The 17 "likes" to track straight and is great on lakes and larger streams or rivers. Both handle waves well and I have had friends try (without success) to swamp us with wakes from power boats in both the 15 and 17.
Both the 15 and the 17 have been outfitted with a homemade mount to take an electric trolling motor off the side behind the rear seat. This configuration works well and the boat remains stable. You cannot go wrong with this canoe and it will last forever. Neither of our boats have ever required any maintenance, ever. Not sure there is much more to say than 3 generations of use from a used boat and all agree it is perfect. I am looking for another 15 or 17 footer so I can take friends out with me, the trouble is they are hard to find. I can understand why…
To this day it is in excellent shape - no dents of any consequence - has been painted then sanded back to its original hue. Has tasted the waters of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida. Most of these years it has been stored outdoors in the off season, and nothing seems to bother it. If the rating scale were higher, I'd give it a better rating.
It was probably in late 1969 or spring of 1970 that Dad called me- a rare thing indeed back then. He said a guy had a 15 foot Grumman canoe & wanted $80 for it- should he put it in the company bulletin board sheet or did I want it today? We went in the old blue & white '58 Ford pickup and I bought it that evening.
Our 13 & 15 foot canoes were as different as night & day. The 13 footer had an almost perfectly round bottom & would easily dump a careless paddler- it was *great* for perfecting those upper body/lower body differences I first learned of at Scout Camp a few years before! The 15 footer had- & still has- an almost flat bottom & by the time I got it I was unswampable in it, as friends in fishing or ski boats would make a round or 3 around it, trying their best to turn us over.
The 13 footer went some years ago, but my Grumman 15 still remains. I don't know exactly when it was made- the tag was chiseled off the deck when I bought it. I believe that was because Texas boating laws then required anything over 14 feet to be registered- but that's just a guess.
It has its scratches & scars, but the hull has never been holed & there are still no leaks at all. She's straight & ready to go- heck, my brother & his kids took it out just last weekend. Many times over the years, if someone does yard work, roofing, etc, they'll ask the same question, & my answer is always the same-"No, not for sale."
I've owned my Grumman 15 for over 40 years now. It has required *No* maintenance of any kind. Just turn it upside down, & it's good for a day or for 20 years. Direct sunshine? All right. The ice storm of 2000/2001 here in NE Texas? OK. What does it need? Nothing. When I'm ready to go, so is my Grumman. It was true shortly after I bought it when we floated & fished down the White River in Arkansas- Dad in the 13 footer, me & my brother in the 15- and it's been true ever since, for over 40 years now.
You say Tin Tank? I say Plastic Fantastic. Outdated? Time-tested. Flaws? Yes, aluminum is noisy. It's probably cost me more than a few fish over the years. Yes, on a hot sunny day- and we have *Lots* of 'em in Texas- it can do a fair imitation of a reflector oven. It's no lightweight- on some days it seems to have gained almost as much weight as I have in the past 42 years! If you should wrap an aluminum canoe around the river rocks, it sure ain't gonna pop back into shape by itself.
And yet- for all that- I still give it a 10. Why? Ruggedness. I doubt any plastic, Royalex or even Fiberglass could have survived without wearing through the hull from being beached & launched on the rough iron ore gravel-so common here- for so many years. You can even shoot fireworks from it! That might be dicey in anything but aluminum. The fact that it needs *No* care at all- just turn it upside down, at most you'll need to sweep some spiders out of it- really endears it to me. Far too many things require work from me- but never my Grumman 15. Oil canning? What's that? ;^) Sentimental reasons? Sure, why not? It's never let me down & is still ready to go after 40+ years- and often reminds me of better times too.
If you want the fastest, or the most snob appeal, or the lightest, or the best solo, or a hard-core whitewater boat, or the quietest for fishing- OK, you should probably get something else. But if you want a flatwater canoe for the long haul- something you can pass on to your children & grandchildren, something you'll never have to work on- get a Grumman Standard canoe.
My only regret about my 15 footer- for almost 40 years, I've thought the only thing wrong with it is that it's not a *17* foot Grumman canoe!
In 1957 I bought a damaged 15' Grumman for $35, in which a father and son had not survived a whitewater accident. My future father-in-law owned a bar and had it repaired by a guy who welded aluminum beer kegs! I paddled it in the Hudson River Whitewater Derby in 1960 and on many camping trips with my family until I sold it in 1965 for $100 and brought an 18' standard also a 65 sq ft Gunter rigged Grumman sail rig.
In 1973 with 4 kids I did add a Mad River Malecite which I could paddle solo or tandem. I continue to paddle the 18' Grumman on local rivers, Cape Cod lakes and bays and canoe camping trips on northern Maine. rivers. At one point when it was stored in the yard and not tied down a 75 mph wind gust blew it into a white pine and flattened the sides and gunnels at the center thwart. with some lumber and a car jack I was able to get it back in reasonable shape. A note to Grumman explaining the damage and they graciously provided replacement gunnel sections, alum patches, rivets and instructions to repair the damage. A rep at the factory even phoned me at work to apologize for a delay when my note had been misplaced. What great customer relations!
This is the boat my wife and I learned to paddle in over 25 years ago. (We're still married, by the way.) It was our only boat for several years, and the only one I could imagine wanting at the time. Other boats have come and gone from our life since then; others have come and stayed. The Grumman now has to compete with half a dozen other canoes and kayaks for time on the water, so it doesn't get out as much as it would like to. Every time I do get it on the water, I am impressed once again with the quality of its design and construction. Despite all the years we've had it, I'm still not tired of it. It's not for sale.
Although the 17' version is not a racing boat, people in shorter boats (Grumman or otherwise) think we're racing with them even when we're just sliding along trying not to leave them behind. It is an efficient cruiser. How fast it will go seems to be primarily dependent on the person in the other end. It's definitely slower when loaded to the gunwales with camping gear. Duh. If speed is all you're after, get a long skinny sea kayak.
The handling is very forgiving in a wide range of conditions, and it is as stable as a canoe can be. I can definitely recommend this as a canoe to learn in. The Grumman excels for flat and moving water up to class I. Out west here, what we call class II usually has a gradient of about 20' per mile, standing waves up to 2', and lots of snags and rocks that need to be dodged on short notice. With all due respect to other reviewers' opinions, the Grumman is not happy in these situations.
I made a simple rig to easily load/unload from van top unassisted. Rig also serves as dolly. My experience is limited the Nippersink Creek in McHenry County, Illinois. Having never paddled anything else... I can't criticize the handling, and find it to be just fine! I expect to have this Grumman until I pass it on to my daughter some day...
I have used these canoes on whitewater rivers up to a class III, and yes they handle just fine compared to any other canoe that I have used, and no they are not noisy as some have stated, but they are rugged. I was taking a composite canoe down the rain flooded Brandywine river just north of the Delaware state line in Pennsylvania when I hit a rock in the rapids, it busted the stem out of the composite canoe causing a flood of water to rush in, I had to abandon my trip that day. However, I have run this river many times in the mighty Grumman without putting a hole in it. More over, I have used these canoes all over our great nation; this includes the Atlantic ocean, Chesapeake bay, MD, Delaware River NY and PA, DE, Christiana River, DE, Chester River, MD; Choptank, MD, Tuckahoe, River, MD. In the state of Missouri, I used a 17 ft. Grumman to run some of the toughest rivers in the show-me state, and the Grumman all ways performed well, and I never had to leave a river because of damage, I cannot say that about the composite canoes.
I now own a 13 ft. Grumman and it handles very well and only weights in at 50 pounds. So Grumman does make a light canoe that is very portable, and will handle two large adults, they also have a 12 footer solo that weights less than forty pounds.
Would I buy a new one today? Probably not, with all the light weight, high performance materials now available. But she was a Cadilac in her day. No regrets, but would like to get a kayak for solo trips.
I have overloaded the Grumman shamefully on duck hunts and dragged it into spots not fit for man or beast. A nice coat of Dead Grass Green, a layer of khaki duct tape along the gunwales to prevent gun scratches is all I’ve done to mine. I cannot say enough positive about Grumman canoes and the abuse they can take. A true American made gem.
The second Grumman I own I found for sale in a local paper. I went and looked at it and immediately recognized it as a sailing canoe. It has all the mounts and holes neccessary for the sailing rig... I just don't have one. Price on this canoe... $200.00.
I won't part with either of them as the kids get good use out of them. I am in search of someone who has the sailing rig and can make me some measurements so I might build a rig. I know it should be simple, I would just like to get it as close to original as possible...
The lanteen rig is fun but sailing performance is admittedly not good. The outboard motor mount with a 2hp engine is a great help getting gear to a camp site. Then pull it off for some fun paddling.
Mine is a handy down from my parents who bought it in 1973. A few minor dings from years of hard use but otherwise in perfect shape. These boats will last. You can't beat them.
While sorting through the many canoes, I wasn't concerned with price but rather selecting the most appropriate canoe for our uses. I kept coming back to the aluminum canoe based on its durability, design and overall outstanding performance characteristics. I visited many rental sites to find they either use aluminum or use plastic and if using plastic, they're thinking of going back to aluminum. I do know that those rental shops that use aluminum, have had their inventory for many, many years.
To make a long story short, I called the Marathon Boat company and talked to one of the managers. We talked canoes for a long time! I was very impressed with his knowledge and willingness to discuss his product and other customers’ products as well. Last week I drove 5 hours into the state of West Virginia to the only Grumman dealer in the state located in Ripley, WV. They had about five Grumman models to choose from, gave me a great price and I walked away with a sweet G1540C Lightweight 15'. It weighs in at about 59 pounds where my 15 year old son and I can easily manage it on and off my F-150 Ford with a topper/shell.
Today, we took it on its maiden voyage. What a beauty! It tracked well yet was easy to turn and we were also able to kick up some decent speed. It was quite stable with a nice blend of initial and secondary stability. Tomorrow morning we're getting up and taking it out on our favorite lake for some early morning bass fishing and some lake touring.
Based on its performance today, I would rate this canoe an 8/9 of 10. I take a point off for no portage thwart. I think this accessory should be standard issue and not an optional purchase.
I have carried this canoe five miles into remote ponds. I can solo paddle this boat. I fish from this boat. I drink beer with George from this boat. My dog loves to ride in this boat. I met my wife in this boat. We have done-it in this boat! Most importantly I have introduced young 14 year olds to the sport of paddling in this boat
The most impressive feature of aluminum canoes is the lack of maintenance required. Unlike plastics and fiberglass, outdoor storage is no problem, as the metal will not age or become brittle as a result of exposure to ultraviolet rays. I grew up seeing the riveted seams on metal canoes, so to me, the lines of rivet heads along the gunwhales and keel are traditional features which look attractive. The rivets are doubled in number below the waterline, to spread stresses and minimize the possibility of leaks, and this canoe has never leaked. Mine has the "lake" keel, so wouldn't handle well in white water, although Grumman used to offer the option of the "shoe" keel, which allowed better maneuverability. The lake keel extends down perhaps 1/2" for most of the length of the bottom, with a shallow taper to prevent it snagging weeds, etc. It does seem to help tracking in a crosswind, at the expense of slowing maneuverability somewhat.
Seats are comfortable enough, although I often kneel, especially if facing a headwind. Aluminum canoes used to rule the water, and are the primary force for the current popularity of the sport. The Grumman is a classic design, in the same sense as a Ford Mustang, or Harley Davidson.
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