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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 12:58 am 
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Thinking seriously of purchasing the Nova Craft Pal 16 foot canoe in Kevlar Spectra. My question:

How would you rate it's durability and strength? It would be used as a flatwater canoe.

I appreciate any and all input but it would be really great to hear from people who own a Nova Craft Kevlar Spectra canoe (any model - I realize the Pal is new this year).

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 2:32 am 
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Looked at the specs and it sounds bullet proof.:clap:

Infused boats are usually very light (35-40# for a 16' canoe). The fact that the PAL weighs 49# indicates that it contains lots of cloth. Lots of cloth = greater strength and durability. My Kevlar canoe only weighs 39# and I wish it weighed more. It's a great design, but I would like a more durable boat.

Get it with the wood gunwales if at all possible. They make for a much quieter paddling boat, are easier on the shaft hand and won't crease in an impact (a real nuisance to fix). Plus, they're WAY prettier. :wink:

Now go get yourself a dang canoe! :D

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 5:44 am 
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Can you make it to Test Paddle Day ?

Call ahead and get out there and test it . The need to know your interest in the PAL so they can load up one and then you can compare the PAL, to a Tripper or even to a Bob Special which might be of interest to you . Heck even a Haida ?! , oops, that boat is aysymmetrical so maybe not......

Anyway , the reason for my thought is that when I talked to them on the PAL, it sounded that you need to try it before you buy it since it may not suit all paddlers style of canoeing.

Yes, I think they are durable in that layup, but that doesn't mean abusing it or Ramming Speed to shore either.

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 7:27 am 
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Georgi wrote:
Can you make it to Test Paddle Day ?

Call ahead and get out there and test it . The need to know your interest in the PAL so they can load up one and then you can compare the PAL, to a Tripper or even to a Bob Special which might be of interest to you . Heck even a Haida ?! , oops, that boat is aysymmetrical so maybe not......

Anyway , the reason for my thought is that when I talked to them on the PAL, it sounded that you need to try it before you buy it since it may not suit all paddlers style of canoeing.

Yes, I think they are durable in that layup, but that doesn't mean abusing it or Ramming Speed to shore either.


Hi Georgi

I called about Test Paddle day - they do not have a Kev spec in Pal. But I have paddled the Pal Royalex lite version for several hours..so it's the same canoe but 9 lbs lighter. I have also paddled a few other designs to get perspective.

So, now, I am confident on the design meeting my needs so that is not an issue for me - the question was really is the canoe in Kev Spec a good choice in terms of durablility.

I was checking product reviews on the net and could not find much and was hoping people here had some experience.

Yes, agreed no ramming or abuse - really just want to know it will take "normal wear and tear" attributed to flat water canoeing.

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 8:20 am 
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General comments.

If it helps Spectra is one of the toughest fibres modern technology has discovered to date, but it loses a LOT of its strength when bent or heated (even slightly), so no dark coloured hulls left in the sun... Spectra is specially processed polyethylene, where the molecules have maximum alignment. Heating makes it back into regular polyethylene.

That said for it to be effective in the hull it has to be used in sufficient quantity and in the right places. For example:

Kevlar is strongest in tension (actually quite weak in compression) so its best put on the INside of the hull layup. I suspect Spectra is similar in this based on what I know of the bare fibre properties. Think of it as "ultraKevlar", stronger, tougher and more susceptible to the things that Kevlar is.

Neither are anywhere near as stiff as carbon, so it will take more material to achieve the same stiffness as a similar hull with carbon fibre.

Good layups use the right fibres in the right places and in the right quantities. Substitutions are possible but lead to less effective use. The mixed cloth weaves are usually less effective than separate layers of different materials because they don't let you apply the optimum.

Nova's website is not terribly informative about their layups and how much of what is used. If its mostly hype and not really substance then they add a few strands here or there of Spectra or carbon and make a big deal out if it. Not saying that Nova does, but its not unknown in manufacturing.

If I was considering these boats I'd have lots of questions about layups, fibre choices, hull colours and similar issues.

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 8:59 am 
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Lady Di wrote:

I have paddled the Pal Royalex lite version for several hours..so it's the same canoe but 9 lbs lighter.

I was checking product reviews on the net and could not find much and was hoping people here had some experience.

Yes, agreed no ramming or abuse - really just want to know it will take "normal wear and tear" attributed to flat water canoeing.


Don't let anyone convince you that a Royalex canoe and a composite canoe are identical. Particularly if they are using the same mold for both boats, in which case it is impossible. Canoes come out of the mold very differently depending on what went in and how it went in. This was pointed out to me in clear terms by a pioneer in the industry with whom I spoke at the Paddlefest last week (wish you coulda been there, lots of smart and experienced folks to help you out).

The differences may only be subtle, more or less rocker, slight change in bottom shape, always blunter entry lines on the plastic boat. These differences may or may not be noticed by you, or they may be big enough to make you unhappy with the boat.

Usually, only good things happen to the composite canoe. The finer entry lines in the composite boat make paddling easier and the boat slightly faster with the same effort. Composite boats usually have stiffer bottoms, and therefore oilcan (flex) much less or not at all. That means they can have slightly flatter bottoms and feel less tender (tippy) than their plastic ugly siblings.

In some cases, a manufacturer makes an entirely different boat. Bell's Wildfire in Royalex was so different from the original that they eventually renamed the boat "Yellowstone Solo", and their current Northwind in Royalex is 2" narrower at the gunwale and a full 12" shorter :o than their composite offering with the same name. In this last case, the Royalex boat feels much stabler than the cloth boat (and is a decidedly less elegant paddler).

As far as the product reviews for the infusion boats, good luck. Infusion technology was first brought over from the aerospace industry a few years ago, so you won't get any accurate reports about its longevity. Placid Boatworks was, I believe, the first to use the method, but their boats are Kevlar/graphite composites (like the Blue Steel Novacrafts but without the added Spectra fiber). They are designed to be tough as nails, to be used in whitewater, not just flatwater. I'd expect the Novacraft boat to be just as tough since they offer that layup in their whitewater and expedition boats as well.

The biggest enemy to longevity in a Kevlar canoe is the sun. U.V. light degrades Kevlar and severely weakens it. Novacraft seems to have partly solved the problem by using a spiffy looking two-toned colored gel coat (that white bottom will hide scratches real nice). You can help out by keeping it out of the sun when in storage, or if you're like me and insist on storing it on the roof rack for instant accessibility, make or buy a canoe cover. And use a U.V. inhibitor like this:

http://www.properautocare.com/303-16.html

So make the plunge. Get that canoe and take it out and paddle it hard. Put some scratches on the bottom. Bump a few rocks. It'll take it. :)

Name it "Speculation". :wink:

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 9:20 am 
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Battenkiller wrote:
Don't let anyone convince you that a Royalex canoe and a composite canoe are identical. Particularly if they are using the same mold for both boats, in which case it is impossible. Canoes come out of the mold very differently depending on what went in and how it went in.


It was my Royalite Pal that LadyDi was paddling - we had a conversation about differences in performance between composite and royalex canoes. That said, I've spent some time in both the royalite and composite versions of the NovaCraft Pal. In as much as they can be compared, NovaCraft has done a good job in retaining the paddling characteristics of the original hull in both construction processes - and they do use a different mould for each. Regardless if how similar a manufacturer could get hulls using both processes, there are inherent differences in the materials that alter performance in the water.

The observations about stated weight of the NovaCraft canoes are correct - they don't scrimp on material to shave off a few pounds at the expensive of durability. They make canoes intended to last.

I don't know if NovaCraft was first to build infusion canoes in North America but I'm pretty sure they've been doing it longest in Canada. I've seen their process in action and it sure looked to me as though they've got the kinks worked out.


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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 9:35 am 
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Thanks Rolf. That clears up some misunderstanding maybe about the how's and what's.

I've been on the phone to Nova Craft just now - they have been extremely open and helpful about their process, their technology etc. The dealer in Muskoka is very very knowledgeable and has impressed me.

I am now just getting a confirmation on what weight a Kev/Spec would come in at with the stern seat removed and the bow seat moved slightly forward.

They are suggesting moving the bow seat maybe 2 inches forward and installing a small thwart where the stern seat would be. That would be ideal for me and k-9s. (I don't want a centered seat cuz of dogs).

I could get a slightly lighter boat and have it customized to suit my needs.

So, it looks good!

And yes, now the infamous naming process. :lol:

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 9:46 am 
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Di,

George Drought, who published all those guidebooks and films on canoeing northern rivers, paddles a Novacraft Prospector, and his comments on Blue Steel are here:

Quote:
06-04-2004
For many years Nova Craft Canoe has supported us in film making projects in the Canadian Arctic. Always with 17' Royalex Prospector canoes. They are a truly versatile canoe and large enough to support us for a complete six week trip. This year we are going with a new 17'Prospector from Nova Craft called "Blue Steel" wich promises to be the best long distance river tripping canoe that we have ever paddled. It weighs in at 58 lbs and the initial tests done on Lake Water paddling only, have proved to be a real treat. No! It is not Kevlar! Rather it is a completely new layup of a core material of Spectre Cloth. Then for stiffening it is sandwiched between a blended Carbon Fibre and Kevlar Cloth. It gives the canoe a unique blue/black to black appearance depending on the light. Because of its narrow entry lines, it was much faster than a royalex canoe and because of its rigidity it is incredibly responsive in the water. This year we will have two of them on the Dubawnt River in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. A six week 1000 km trip without food replenishment to Baker Lake. It will be an excellent test for these new canoes, and I will report again when we return at the end of August.
Rating: 10 of 10

10-14-2004
I reported on Nova Crafts 17' Blue Steel Prospector Canoe back in June. Since then my wife Barbara and some friends paddled two of them for 45 days and 1000 km down the Dubawnt River and Thelon River to Baker Lake in Nunavut. We ran rapids, paddled big lakes, dragged over ice and every landing the heavily loaded canoes were dragged over rocks, gravel and sand. The scratching looks horrific but in no way is the integrity of the canoes compromised. Their handling qualities were superb both in rapids and storm tossed lakes. They are singularly the best tripping canoe that Barbara and I have ever paddled. Blue Steel made with Nova Craft’s Infusion Process is definitely the way to go. They are both light and incredibly strong. They are aptly named.
Rating: 10 of 10


http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showRev ... ?prod=1240


Drought's website, with trips and photos... unfortunately the page with the Blue Steel report no longer exists. His email is there and more info might be available that way.

http://www.wildernessbound.com/

Good luck!

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 9:48 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
Di,

George Drought, who published all those guidebooks and films on canoeing northern rivers, paddles a Novacraft Prospector, and his comments on the Blue Steel performance are here:

!


Yes, well...thanks but where have you beeen! :lol: I want to purchase the Kev Spectra!....so...

Have you got any other reviews?

Thanks
Di

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 10:11 am 
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Oops, sorry, I hadn't read NC's info recently and I thought Blue Steel and kevlar-spectra were one and the same.

:oops:

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 10:18 am 
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Lady Di wrote:
I've been on the phone to Nova Craft just now - they have been extremely open and helpful about their process, their technology etc. The dealer in Muskoka is very very knowledgeable and has impressed me.

I am now just getting a confirmation on what weight a Kev/Spec would come in at with the stern seat removed and the bow seat moved slightly forward.

They are suggesting moving the bow seat maybe 2 inches forward and installing a small thwart where the stern seat would be. That would be ideal for me and k-9s. (I don't want a centered seat cuz of dogs):


I've always found the people at NovaCraft extremely helpful too. I spent some time with the Muskoka dealer at the outdoor adventure show when they asked me to demo paddle the Pal on the indoor pool. My assessment would be in line with your observations.

As for your questions about weight and seat placement, you're probably on the right track. Based on my experience building, the trim on a canoe can almost double the weight of the raw hull so anything you do to remove components will dramatically affect the final weight. As for exactly where you want your seat - if it were me, I'd start with a position a bit more towards center and find a way to temporarily secure the seat to the gunnels with clamps and do some test paddling. In order to move the seat ahead, the supports need to increase in length - which isn't possible once they're cut. You can always cut off some support length to move it away from center, but you don't want to be drilling holes for mounting until you're sure exactly where you want the seat.

One other option you might want to consider is having the stern seat installed but use wing nuts on the bottom. That way you can have it in or out if you ever need to use the canoe tandem.


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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 10:24 am 
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Rolf Kraiker wrote:
[

As for your questions about weight and seat placement, you're probably on the right track. Based on my experience building, the trim on a canoe can almost double the weight of the raw hull so anything you do to remove components will dramatically affect the final weight. As for exactly where you want your seat - if it were me, I'd start with a position a bit more towards center and find a way to temporarily secure the seat to the gunnels with clamps and do some test paddling. In order to move the seat ahead, the supports need to increase in length - which isn't possible once they're cut. You can always cut off some support length to move it away from center, but you don't want to be drilling holes for mounting until you're sure exactly where you want the seat.

One other option you might want to consider is having the stern seat installed but use wing nuts on the bottom. That way you can have it in or out if you ever need to use the canoe tandem.


Those sound like great ideas. I will phone him back and ask. One thing he has said is that Ash will not add more than 1 lb over weight. They are prepared to write that into my purchase of sale (I am very detailed!) - because as I expressed to them - I am paying for a light canoe and will not accept delivery of something that is not in spec. It is their problem to figure that out and he agrees.

So, this is wonderful input - thank you to everyone for generous time and help.

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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 10:25 am 
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One last thing...ask them to install the carrying yoke facing in the proper direction for travel..the last thing you want to do when you arrive at a port is to try to have to pick the canoe up backward if they leave the thwart facing the bow seat.


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PostPosted: May 25th, 2007, 10:35 am 
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RHaslam wrote:
One last thing...ask them to install the carrying yoke facing in the proper direction for travel..the last thing you want to do when you arrive at a port is to try to have to pick the canoe up backward if they leave the thwart facing the bow seat.


Damn you're smart! :D I really have to say I couldn't have made it through the maze of canoe decision making without you and Rolf....

Thank you Rob

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