I am in the process of choosing an ultra-light canoe and becoming a little frustrated by the whole thing. There seems to be a lot of b.s. out there, especially from those trying to sell me a boat.
I’ve narrowed my choices to the Bluewater Tripper and the Quetico 17′. A few dealers have been telling the Souris River oilcans badly and that it is a problem that will worsen with age. The others have told me the Freedom Tripper is too small for the occasional 3rd paddler (in my case all 3 people are a little over 51/2 ft. tall with a total weight of about 400 pounds). The Bluewater people said they could easily move the front seat up 3 1/2 inches and the rear thwart back with no problems to give me added space. I’ve have also been told that with the narrow beam and hull shape the Freedom Tripper lacks stability, forget fishing they say.
I intend to paddle both in the spring”¦ Ahhh, who to believe?
If you have any opinion, I would appreciate hearing it. I must say I was happy to see you recommend both.
Confused in Canada a.k.a. Joseph
Dear Confused in Canada,
Buying a canoe can be tremendously difficult and it doesn’t help when competitive dealers get involved telling you all the bad points about a specific canoe model — these bad points may or may not even be true. I once knew a sales person who didn’t know anything about canoes, but when standing around a bunch of canoes, trying to sell them, he became a hardened wilderness tripper. Having managed sales people for many years and seeing many different types of salespeople, I usually try to take those that I’m talking to with a grain of salt. That is until they prove to me that I can trust them. I find it pretty easy to sort out the b.s. when you ask them about items that you know about to see what they say, and if someone is given me it, I take my business elsewhere.
As far as the specific claims relayed in your letter: I have no idea about oil canning in the Quetico. The user reviews on Paddling.net don’t list any problems with oil canning, and I know several BWCA outfitters use them. They’re popular, so I’d have to believe that if they oil canned like crazy, they wouldn’t sell in the numbers that they do and that the user reviews would list the problem, and the BWCA outfitters wouldn’t buy them over other better canoes. I don’t remember any bad oil canning, but it has been awhile since I’ve paddled one – I do remember that I really liked the way it paddled. You’re going to paddle it in the spring, so check it out then. Then if you were feed b.s. take your business elsewhere. I paddle a Freedom 17 cedar strip, which is the same as the Tripper. I don’t find it unstable, but you may feel differently. In fact, I couldn’t ever ask for a better design for flat water and mild river tripping. I love it. It’s a tight boat, and you may find it tough to fit three people in it. I’ve paddled it with three people and three packs and found it less than desirable. If you are going to be tripping with three people in one canoe, maybe the Explorer would be a better fit. Paddle that one also.
Your best bet is to wait until spring, paddle them, and don’t sweat it over winter. Instead, research some cool places to take your new canoe when you get it.
P.S. Just last fall, Ilena and I fly fished just fine out of my Freedom 17.