Canadian Canoe Routes

Nova Craft's Bob Special 15
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Author:  Guest [ September 7th, 2001, 4:25 pm ]
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I am facinated with the Bob's Special by Nova Craft Canoe (actually I first saw it as a design offered by Bear Mountain Boat). Does anyone have experience with this canoe? I am interested in general comments but also how it handles as a solo. I'd like to use it as a tandem with my kids (9 & 11 years old) or let the two of them paddle it together. I'd like to also use it as a solo for me, possibly on a canoe camping trip.
Thoughts? Experiences?

Author:  2dogtripper [ September 7th, 2001, 7:36 pm ]
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I've never paddled a Bob's Special but it strikes me as being too fat and flat bottomed. Something along the lines of the Huron Cruiser should a lot faster and more manouverable.

Author:  Tommy [ September 7th, 2001, 9:01 pm ]
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I have paddled both Novacraft's Bob's and a cedarstrip version (admittedly only test paddles and not tripping).

It is actually a stable design because of the flattish bottom - something you may want to consider with the children.

The Bob's width provides good carrying capacity for short duration tripping. Moreso than the Huron. Though when tripping solo this is not an issue.

The Bob's is not as quick as the Huron but I don't think it is a pig either. Perhaps owners can give you a better opinion than I can.

The Huron Cruiser, which I built this summer, is quicker but also has quite a tippy feel because of the rounded bottom. For the same reason, however, the secondary stability is impressive. Though secondary stability isn't really an issue unless you are regularly paddling rough or white water. The initial tippy feel may actually be detrimental for children or beginner paddlers since they often grab the gunnels when the canoe tilts, thus increasing the chance of going over.

Before building the Huron I was considering Novacraft's ultralight Bob's Special. I made the right decision for me with the Huron but not sure it would be right for the kids.

Make a list of all the features/characteristics you want, and then prioritise them in order to narrow the field. Then test paddle the various designs. Maybe even bring the kids and consider what they think.

Good luck!


Author:  Georgi [ September 7th, 2001, 9:17 pm ]
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I like the Bob Special but I do not own one....I have rented many when tripping both in Fiberglass and Royalex oh yes and Kevlar/Spectra.

I can put my wife and son (5) and myself in it for day tripping ( small pack with lunch and treats) and we are quite stable with it.

When solo'ing I find I like when I heel the canoe over something like the Algonquin 15 by Swift. I just paddle in the bow like its the stern. I must admit the Swift has a cruising speed over the Bob Special but I still fancy the Nova Craft and wish I could be greedy enough to have them both!

In Tandem, I have kept good pace with other hull designs and two guys, a pile of gear for the long weekend does well.

I do prefer the bigger Prospector to the Bob on river travel, might just be my comfort level talking, but I wouldn't tandem a Bob down a Class I or II river loaded, I have the Prospector's ( 16 and 17) and like the added comfort of only a little water entering the boat.....Never dumped yet!, but then again , I'm typically the portaging fool too!

I took the Kevlar /Spectra for a trip , Lake paddling, and enjoyed it to the fullest. It was weird seeing right through the boat though!

I hope some of this helps, but if your looking, try it out, get the packs loaded take the kids and test paddle it to see if its what you want. Nova Craft also has test paddle nights in the area and they let you try anything , just let them know your interest and they'll most likely make sure they bring a boat of your choice.

Being a member of a canoe club also allows you the opportunity to try other boats.

I haven't got the nerve to try a K-1 yet, but I did help someone back into it! :smile:

Author:  maddogbob [ September 8th, 2001, 5:28 am ]
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I have rented a Nova "Bob" in Royalex 4 times during the past two years. We use it for short, 3 - 4 nights trips. If I were to buy a canoe I would definitely go with something longer, between 16 & 17 feet. The "Bob", in terms of handling is in the middle - not a "pig" but I do prefer something more nimble. In terms of speed, I would again put it in the middle - I've paddled a lot worse, but I've paddled better. The only reason I like the "Bob" is because of the weight savings on portages. I use a 16' cedar strip for day trips often (belongs to a relative) and it handles much better and is faster than the 15' "Bob". I believe that it is a Prospector design. It also has a lot more carrying capacity and if you're planning to camp with your two kids, you should certainly take this into consideration. I think that Tommy's advice is pretty good. I would rent one before buying, because it really is a personal thing. I don't do enough soloing to give you valid input.

Good luck in your search!


Author:  lightJay [ September 11th, 2001, 9:30 am ]
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I am not aware of how the Novacraft Bob's and the Ted Moore's Canoecraft design differ, if at all. However, I built a slightly modified version (much lighter construction and lower stems for less windage) of the Canoecraft Bob's design two years ago and have paddled it extensively both tandem and solo.

Typically it would carry 350lbs for a tandem weekend and 190lbs solo (people and gear). I have found it to be both stable, as expected, and seaworthy in whitecaps to three feet. Due to the fullness of the hull it tends to ride over oncoming waves (with a hard landing!) and does not take on much water despite the low freeboard (stems are 18 inches, 12 1/2 inches at the centre. The boat is very stable in large following waves. With a 36 inch max beam, it is certainly not the most efficient boat I have paddled but I had no trouble recently leading a group of solo paddlers in prospectors and Langford Nahannis. With all humility :wink:, your cruising speed is more a function of your fitness, technique and personal tripping style. And at 37lbs it sure it is easy to carry. The only drawback in how I built it is that it is a little too delicate for hard tripping. As a design, I like the boat a lot. Jay

Author:  Guest [ September 11th, 2001, 11:27 am ]
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Jay !

A small side note.......

We've been looking for you!

Its nice to see your return post.

The Maximalist! :wink:

Author:  MarkV [ September 11th, 2001, 12:32 pm ]
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Good to see you again, Jay. You should be able to lighten things up around here :wink:

Author:  Guest [ September 13th, 2001, 7:36 am ]
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click on "what to take"
click on "first canoes"

there's a review of it.


Author:  Jon L [ September 15th, 2001, 1:11 pm ]
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I have looked at but not paddled the Bob's Special, so my comments are general only:
1) I don't think flat-bottomed canoes are the best choice for most uses
2) 15' is VERY small for anything but a solo canoe. When in doubt, I would alway err on the side of more, not less canoe.

Author:  RichardW [ September 18th, 2001, 10:10 pm ]
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My brother-in-law has had a fiberglass Bob's for wqhat must be 19 years now. We've used it a lot on short trips (3-5 days). Its heavier and carries less than my Kippawa but its alright to paddle and dry and stable.
We have only used it tandem so I don't know about solo.
FYI. He uses it a lot with an electric trolling motor (hes into fishing) and it works well that way.

Author:  Guest [ September 23rd, 2001, 7:39 am ]
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On 2001-09-11 10:30, lightJay wrote:

Typically it would carry 350lbs for a tandem weekend and 190lbs solo (people and gear). Jay
[For sometime I had the illusion that Jay was a far superior tripper than I, it was this misconception that had kept me away from this forum. Know I find that once the paddler's weight gets thrown into the equation (190 lbs. Solo: 190 - 17lbs. pack = 173 lbs. paddler) means that my failed attempts to reduce my tripping weight is only a result of my body mass being 10 lbs. greater than Jay's and not necessarily a result of my love for Baileys in my coffee and pancakes for breakfast.

I know find myself pondering which school to attend the 'Light Weight Jay' school of tripping or 'Vaughn Blckmore's', "Cressman you want cake the food barrel goes in your canoe" school.

BTW with a light load tandem the Bob is a fine canoe.

Tim Cressman]

Author:  lightJay [ September 24th, 2001, 12:50 pm ]
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Ah Tim, there you are. I was wondering if the new, less accessible format had been keeping you and some of the old hard core OCR types away. Richard, the site looks great, and probably the format keeps people on the original poster's topic better, but with the inability to focus immediately on virtually all recent posts, there is far less friendly banter. There is far less UNfriendly banter too so maybe that is a good thing.

Anyway, sorry to hear that I have been inTIMidating you, pun intentended. Didn't mean to make the light weight thing a contest. Just want to make tripping easier for people, blah, blah, blah.

If it makes you feel better, my 170lbs (you forgot to deduct the weight of my paddle and PFD) is about 25 more than when I was a too-skinny, obsessed triathlete just a few years ago. Since the designed load for the seats in my cedarstrip Bob's Special was about 150lbs, the addition of my extra, um..., upper body paddling muscle resulted in a cracked bow seat when paddling solo recently (a little too much flexion due to the width of the span, stern seat is solid). This past weekend marked the first paddle after having removed, repaired and reinforced the bowseat. With a little extra epoxy on the bottom of the boat as well, it now weighs about 38lbs. Having learned from this one, the next boat will be smaller (a 15' solo) about 6lbs lighter AND much tougher.

But if you will allow me to be serious for a second, I've got to tell you folks that the ease of portaging (and tripping all day) depends more on your personal fitness level than what you are carrying. Having carried heavy loads when really fit and lighter loads when not very fit at all, I would rather be fit. Anyone who wants to continue to enjoy extended wilderness canoe tripping well into their retirement years should do whatever they can to get some regular aerobic exercise and do a little moderate weight training. It makes a huge difference. You can take your cake and enjoy carrying it too.

And thanks for the chuckle, Tim. We can all use some of that these days. Jay

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: lightJay on 2001-09-24 13:53 ]</font>

Author:  Guest [ September 24th, 2001, 1:11 pm ]
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I totally agree with Jay's fitness comment relating to enjoyment of a trip (if you want to cover some decent distance & tough terrain). I am relatively fit but last winter had road the bicycle train hard and faithfully and felt like I could do a dance on the tough portages. Unfortunately lack of spare time has kept me off the mountain bike so I will likely suffer this coming trip.

I know Al Rolle has been a preponderant of this as well and he's an older guy and still tripping with some heavier gear and still enjoying himself as far as I can tell. I have officially become a mid-weight tripper trying to be efficient enough to travel without killing myself but bringing just enough to be comfortable and safe.

Of coarse we would be foolish to say that someone who is not fit will not enjoy himself or herself - they will simply work harder and perhaps paddle less distance and eat more Jiffy-Pop.


Author:  lightJay [ September 25th, 2001, 11:20 am ]
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Having reread the original poster's request, here are a couple of thoughts on paddling the Bob's solo. This is what works for me and I realize that other folks have different experience. It is important to try a variety of techniques to find what works best for your body and tripping style. I confess that I have not tried to master techniques that have seemed less suitable for what I like to do in a canoe. There are many posters on this forum who can give you much better advice on their preferred techniques. What follows is what I do and why. Maybe it applies to you too, maybe not.

First, let me tell you that I am a solo sitter. I kneel only in very strong winds (to change the centre of flotation and trim the canoe as well as to lower my centre of gravity, improving stability in big waves). Personally, I find classic solo technique(kneeling with rear end on heels just aft of centre, canoe heeled over) to be beautiful to watch and undoubtedly it gives a high degree of control and requires a great deal of skill to do well, but it is very uncomfortable for me and, I believe, relatively inefficient for tripping over longer distances. When generating straight ahead power, I believe that the classic position fatiques lower body muscles that are not involved in paddling and prevents some torso and hip muscles from being recruited for the effort, concentrating the workload on the arms and shoulders. Of course, a kneeling thwart or kneeling against a seat gets you up off the bottom and into a stronger, more leveraged position. I think that sitting is better still.

I find American Touring Technique, (also known as "sit and switch", taking maybe three to six forward strokes while seated and then switching sides) to be highly efficient, avoiding much of the need for correction strokes, usually with a bent shaft paddle. However, the technique just seems too busy to me, I end up feeling like I'm racing myself instead of staying relaxed and looking at the shoreline. As a reformed endurance sport junkie, the last thing I want to get into is marathon canoe racing. I go to the wilderness for peace.

I like to paddle at a moderate pace all day, So I compromise my technique between control and power, and focus on efficiency and comfort. Paddling solo in a tandem like the Bob's or a prospector, I sit reversed in the bowseat with my pack behind the stern seat for trim. I use a wooden bent shaft paddle and heel the boat slightly. In this position, the boat responds very well to a light J stroke and I generally stay on my dominant side all day unless a strong wind is coming fom that direction. In swirling gusty conditions I can leap off the seat into a kneel behind the centre yoke for effective corrections. It ain't pretty but it works. I have paddled the Bob's solo in conditions that leave many tandems windbound. The Bob's is good in the wind due to its low stems (funny that the original Chestnut ad says the low stems are good for portaging throught the brush) and I reduced them another inch or so as well. The wind catching the extra five or six inches of shear that a prospector has would send you spinning down the lake. Of course, you wouldn't want 600lbs in a Bob's either. As observant readers will know, I travel light, tandem or solo.

Depending on the seat positions in a tandem canoe, the load I am carrying that can be shifted to set the trim and the direction of the wind, I may sit in the stern seat too. This is an inherently more efficient position for relatively straight ahead paddling because the paddle blade travels closer to the centre line of the canoe, requiring less effort for correction. Novices are told that this is a very bad thing to do, guaranteeing a dump Well, it isn't, if your boat is trimmed right and you have basic stroke skills.

I find that the Bob's as well as prospector designs and most similar symmetrical canoes lend themselves to my style of paddling. Being relatively shallow and flatbottomed the Bob's may not your first choice for classic solo technique. Small prospectors are favoured by some classicists for double duty as solo and tandem boats. Many freestylers like the small, narrow true solos becuse they are so easy to turn and have great final stability on heel although they were designed for solo tripping.

Similarly, if go-fast, "sit and switch" is your thing then the Bob's, or something like it, is just not the boat for you. You will be happier getting a second boat with a long relatively straight keel line of the type designed exclusively for solo paddling.

So try out any boat you are interested in to see if it suits your style, if you already have developed one. If you haven't, try different techniqes to see what works for you. And if you don't have any techniques, find a canoe club or an instructor who can expose you to the range of paddling styles.

And if I have offended anyone with my admittedly very personal views, it was purely intentional although not personal. Tradition is important in paddling but I think we need to teach what works in variety of paddling situations. And maybe that requires the waters to be stirred up a little. Happy paddling Jay

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