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Sawyer Algonquin ?
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Author:  yarnellboat [ October 3rd, 2007, 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Sawyer Algonquin ?

Anybody know anything about the former Sawyer Canoes? Specifically, 16' Algonquin in Kevlar (or some composite combo in Kevlar).

Good company/boats?

What hulls would an Algonquin compare to?

Thanks, PY.

Author:  pknoerr [ October 3rd, 2007, 7:01 am ]
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The Algonquin was produced by both Sawyer and Swift, as they had a mutual relationship. Swift still builds the Algonquin 15, 16, and 17. The Swift Algonquin series, which also included the Otter are David yost designs, as opposed to John Winteres designs. I believe that the Algonquin 15 is actually a Sawyer 190, which is a highly desireable canoe. I've heard Swift Sales folks essentially state that the Algonquin boats are "novice" style canoes. I disagree, there are many advanced paddlers that prefer the DY boats for their style of paddling.

If the boat was actually manufactured in the Sawyer factory, here in Michiganit would come in two main layups... Kevlar and Goldenglass. Both boats are hand laid, as opposed to the Oscoda boats that were chopgun glass. The goldenglass boat is a fiberglass/kevlar laminate similar to Bell Whitegold. Swift originally built the Algonquins for a price point mainly in Swifttech, but also in Kevlar. The APP rental companies rent them by the hundreds. Today they build them with their infusion technology as well.


Author:  Jwinters [ October 3rd, 2007, 8:07 am ]
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This name business is always confusing.

A little history.

Originally Swift was building boats under license from Sawyer and built boats to the designs Sawyer used. Bill Swift wanted to expand his line of boats but Sawyer was not in a position to do so. So Bill asked me to design the boat that became the Kipawa. The success of the new boat led to the Winisk and the early Quetico. The early Quetico was a sweet boat designed for smaller paddlers but did not suit men. It sold poorly and was replaced by what Swift calls the Mattawa which has sold well.

Between all these I did the Dumoine, Yukon, Albany and Madawaska for construction in Royalex. The Madwaska was one of my best designs (in my opinion) but they could not give them away. (Shows how much JWinters knows about marketing)

I did some more high performance cruisers called the Cirrus and the Merlin. They sold miserably. The Osprey was an afterthought. I built the original for myself and my own peculiar paddling tastes. Neither it nor the Shearwater nor the Raven have sold in great numbers but at least enough to justify keeping them in production.

Bill asked me to design my boats for skilled paddlers but also wanted something more user friendly. He asked DY to design those as I was not interested in that type of boat. DY and I had some long discussions about who would design what for Swift and what they should be like. As expected DY's boats are really nice boats and have sold really well. DY also took on the solo boats and did two I think (the Heron and ?) . Solo boats never sold well in Canada so these were eventually discontinued. DY originally designed three tandem boats - the Otter, the Algonquin, and the Keewaydin. All very nice boats but they lacked stability so Bill had him design new boats with more stability that became the current Algonquin series. All were the same generic shape. They added a shallow keel to them and sold them as the Muskoka series at a low price point. I don't think it made DY happy to see the keel and sure would not have made me happy.

Swift also sold the Sawyer 222 that Dave designed calling it hte Quetico fro a while and later replaced that with the current Quetico that I designed not because the 22 was not a great boat but because Bill wanted to keep some family resemblance among the tripping boats.

The original Algonquin was quite close in shape to the Sawyer 190 but beamier on the waterline.

Confusion persists because of the same names being used for different boats. When people talk about the Quetico I still think of the original 15.66' boat and that results in confusion till I get it sorted out in my mind. RHaslam probably still thinks I am an idiot for confusing the two once. Hopefully he has forgotten the incident. :D

I have heard some mixed opinions of Sawyer especially those boats built when the company was in financial trouble. That is fairly typical though. Any of DY's designs are first class no matter who builds them. The only reservations I have are with regard to the builder and I lack experience with Sawyer's products prior to my involvement with Swift. I suspect that their boats prior to the late 1980's were just fine.

Author:  pknoerr [ October 3rd, 2007, 8:20 am ]
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Thanks John, Interesting to hear it from you, given that many of the folks involved are either dead or don't talk about it much.

I'd love to see one of those early Quetico's. That's my kind of I find myself liking smaller boats over larger ones. Were many made?


Author:  pknoerr [ October 3rd, 2007, 10:51 am ]
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John, I've been scratching my head all morning at work... getting almost nothing done trying to remember what the other DY solo was. I can't confirm, but I think it was a Swift Loon. Despite Swift and Sawyer having some heritage, it's not related to Sawyers Loon which as most folks know is a Verlen Kruger hull related to the MRC Monarch and Verlens own Seawind.

It's interesting that canoe manufacturers haven't done a better job of distinguising hulls, and even muddied the water further by selling evolutions of the same hull under the same name. This surely complicates the discussions on these boards as boats of the same name may not be the same hull.

Anyways, I enjoyed the little trip you took us down memory lane. If I remember when I get home, I'll look up what DYs solo hull was... I'm almost 100% that it was a type of bird like the Heron, and my mind keeps coming back to Loon.


Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 3rd, 2007, 11:28 am ]
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It was the Loon, at 14 feet. I test paddled it and the Heron back in 93 and bought the Heron (15 feet) I love that boat and am seeking another though its hard to find one that hasnt been messed up with badly applied skid plates.

Yep it was the first of the bird boats...funny that JW has kept up the bird names..or is that Swift's idea?

This trip down memory lane is fun. I have three of the memories in the garage : a Sawyer 190, an Otter and the Heron. Funny that you speak John of the lack of stability in the Otter. Its our cottage boat for visitors who dont really know how to paddle. We have not had to fish anyone out of the lake yet..Its a fun FreeStyle boat. However it is kind of hung around in someone elses backyard for a looong time and came to us with some wood rot and wasp nests and oxidization.

I wish I had more use for the 190, its fast, its got no initial stability but its 15'10" and 62 lbs. That was no big deal 20 years ago, now it is. The distinguishing feature is the constant flare. Great wave shedding..its kind of like paddling a saucer however, there arent any straight lines and the boat looks a whole lot wider than it is on the waterline.

Another interesting thing is that my Sawyer 190 was made at Oxtongue Lake ON, not in the States. This would be 1989.

Author:  Jwinters [ October 3rd, 2007, 5:28 pm ]
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You guys are dead on regarding the Loon. It had escaped my mind (nothing new these days). Nice boat I did a number of trips in one in Algonquin park one fall.

Stability is one of those subjective things. One person thinks its great the next thinks it's terrible.

According to my records Swift Built 127 of the small Quetico. For what its worth, DY and I paddled one and DY thought it was a "rocket ship" for a small canoe. He suggested lowering the seats to make it a Sit and Switch boat which I thought was a good idea but Bill vetoed.

At the Canoecopia event in Illinois Mike Galt paddled it and said it was the best tripping boat he had ever paddled which is high praise coming from Mike because he never ever said another nice thing about any of my designs. :D

Another cute story about the Quetico came from one of their salespeople who swore it was the worst canoe he had ever paddled. Then he went on a trip in it for a week with is girlfriend and came back with a whole new opinion. They sold more Queticos that year than any other. I bet his girlfriend had a lot to do with his changed perspective.

Bill let me choose names for only a few boats of my design. He picked the "river" names. I named the Osprey, Shearwater, Cirrus, Merlin and the kayaks. Bill named all of DY's boats mostly because DY didn't want to.

littleredcanoe's 190 might well have been one of the last Sawyer boats built by Swift. Not sure how many they built later on but I never saw a lot of them at the shop. I agree with littleredcanoe about skid plates except that I think all of them are bad not just teh poorly installed ones.

I wish I had kept better track of things because I get a fair number of inquiries about the early boats.

Author:  pknoerr [ October 3rd, 2007, 6:30 pm ]
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Yep, the Swift Loon was a 14'4"x26 solo 25 at the waterline17 bow, 12 at the center and 14 at the stern... so a little Heron (no surpise there). That's pretty intriguing.. but in my mind those early DY flatwater canoes were a little too straight keeled for my style. Still would be an interesting canoe to paddle...


Author:  bcaron [ October 3rd, 2007, 7:02 pm ]
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Jwinters wrote:

I did some more high performance cruisers called the Cirrus and the Merlin. They sold miserably. The Osprey was an afterthought. I built the original for myself and my own peculiar paddling tastes. Neither it nor the Shearwater nor the Raven have sold in great numbers but at least enough to justify keeping them in production.


I'm curious about what your design criteria for the Osprey were? Swift recently had their boat sale at Guelph Lake and I paddled an Osprey for the first time. I loved the boat but was put off by the weight and addition of Royalex whitewater style "grab" loops! The boat was fast with excellent glide and extremely stable both initial and secondary. (My present solo boat is a Wenonah Advantage, so any amount of stability is an improvement).


Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 3rd, 2007, 7:09 pm ]
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Paul, you are right on about the comparative straight-keeledness of some of DY's early boats. The Heron is straight keeled..relatively. It has about (with my tape measure) about 1" rocker stern, 2" bow. As you probably have the real stats, how far off am I?. (in other words how off level is my garage floor?). It seems about midway between Merlin II and Magic.

Now the funny part. I learned FreeStyle 1 in my Heron. This was less than a satisfactory experience with tentative boat heel. I promptly sought out a FlashFire.

Now that I am not afraid to heel the beast, the Heron is by far and away my fav boat. Heeled (and all the way to the rail it must be) it spins on a dime..and it seems fast. Its beaten the Magic in some informal races (like dares). Heeling it is a little scary for the unitiated, but if you find one, (or a Loon) try it. I know you arent tentative!

John, you have made my evening. Your paragraphs are far better than any TV.
I never met Mike Galt, ( I wonder what a talk between him and Pat Moore would be like). I can imagine the conversation between Bill (Sr. right?) and DY...sometimes getting stuff out of DY is like a taffy pull.

My Otter and hornets nests are formerly his. Apparantly when he was redoing his current house( aka hole in the bankbook) there was a need to clear out the backyard.

I love going to events where boatbuilders and designers get together. There is alot more exchange of ideas than you would think...then everyone scurries back to their lair for the latest plan.

Thank you Bill Sr(or Jr) for not naming a boat the Vulture.

JW between all of us its nice to get old. We have the opportunity to string our senior moments together and get a nice mini vacation. ( from Tom MacKenzie)

Author:  pknoerr [ October 3rd, 2007, 8:02 pm ]
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I can't tell you the rocker numbers. Don't have that info. I'd love to try one, and surely will if I run across one.

I never met Mike either, and I'm not sure I would like him. Though I've tangled with Pat a few times in cyber world. I agree that conversation would be pretty interesting, though I'm sure Mike would have turned the air blue with his language.

Speaking of collections of canoeing's elite did you ever hear about the crowd that selected a campsite in BWCA and via 4 different routes collected on several remote campsites for a couple days of hanging out, talking canoes and anything else that happened? I'll have to keep looking for that article. It was amazing who all showed up... a Who's who of paddling in the glory days of canoeing. If I could have been a fly on a tree just listening I might have felt like I died and went to heaven. There was another collection of big paddling names down on on a blackwater (no not Eric Prince's Blackwater) river in North Carolina.


Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 3rd, 2007, 8:13 pm ]
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Jeez sounds like Pam Wedd, Tom MacKenzie and Dave Yost at a WCHA gathering!

The best I have participated in ( and you can bet it was me swiveling my head like at a tennis match) was Kirk Wipper, Becky Mason and Reid Mclaghlahan(butchered that one again) , and Cliff Jacobsen and Suzie Haring at MCS last year all at the same table.

I dont remember what was on the food plate.

Author:  Jwinters [ October 4th, 2007, 7:32 am ]
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I won't do any quotes here because this will go all over the place as I try to write this as it comes to me.

I think DY put straight keels on the Loon and the Heron because Freestyle was not yet a big deal. This was in the early 90's. Also he was still designing for Sawyer and they liked those straight keel boats. A lot of their boats were Jensen designs I think. Bill. of course, was interested in tripping boats not Freestyle so preferred straight tracking to maneuverability.

Incidentally it is Bill Junior not Senior. Bill Senior started AO and died a while back.

Mike Galt and Pat Moore were good friends at one time and even lived together once. They had design philosophy arguments and differed on the direction Freestyle should take. Both had huge egos and thought they should be the founding fathers of Freestyle (my take on it and not authoritative). Eventually they went their separate ways. It was quite bitter as I recall.

I recall Harry Roberts, Mike and I watching Pat Moore racing one of his boats in a slalom race. As he rounded a buoy he came within a fraction of an inch of capsizing and pulled off s truly remarkable recovery. The crowd was very appreciative of that display of skill. I said that is the kind of thing that will help freestyle grow. Mike snorted that there was nothing elegant (his favorite word) about it and freestyle was about elegance not racing.

I think Pat had more paddling skills but lacked Mike's forceful personality.

I found it hard to like Mike and Pat. Both seemed to think they were infallible. I remember a long running argument Pat and I had about whether paddles moved in the water. He simply refused to see the evidence because he had printed a long treatise on how paddles did not move and apparently did not want to admit error. He and Mike just stopped talking to each other. In those days I was just getting started in canoe design so spent a lot of time listening. You would not believe some of the stories I heard.

Charlie Wilson is probably the best source of stories from the early days of Freestyle.

The meeting in BWCA was written up in Canoeing Magazine. I have been told it is less than accurate. The Meeting in South Carolina was written up in Canoesport Journal. I was at that one and the Bar-B-Que was better than the discussions.

I met DY at Canoecopia in Illinois. He and I sat up on a hill and watched the boats. I had a great time. DY is an intuitive designer who learns from trial and error. I am a science based designer who likes to have a concrete reason for everything. Nevertheless, we got along fine and still do. Once you understand that he does not approach things in an objective manner his reasoning begins to make sense.

Actually Vulture might be a good name. :o

Blair, the Osprey was designed to suit my paddling style and objectives. I paddle in a wide variety of conditions including the Great Lakes, streams, small lakes, white water and flat. Because I paddle for the ambiance I did not want a boat that was necessarily fast but it had to do a lot of stuff reasonably well (by my standards) if not perfectly. I did not want to have to own more than one solo boat. I am 6'3" and weigh 200 pounds but travel light so that determined the size. I also paddle on one side 90% of the time so I had to be able to lean it a bit for easy paddling. It had to have enough freeboard not to need a spray cover and, because I have reasonable skills I did not need great tracking since I could easily keep the boat on course. In other words it is my boat and it amazes me that anyone else likes it. Most people don't. One skilled paddler told me it was the worst #%^T&%*% canoe ever designed. He may be right.

The rocker business we have discussed before. I tried to get Canoe magazine and Canoesport Journal to standardize the measurement method but got nowhere. Its a shame because most measure it at some point from the ends of the boat which means that, depending on overhangs, two boats with identical underwater shapes can have different rocker. It would be nice if there was a uniform method measured from some point on the underwater hull. Ideally builders would publish the profile coefficient (area of the underwater profile divided by a rectangle having the boat's waterline length and depth.) but that is even more work.

I suggested the rocker measured one foot from the waterline endings when the boat was properly loaded but that was also too much work for the builders so the idea went nowhere. As a result my boats (measured one foot from the waterline ending) have less rocker than they would if I measured from the stem ends. Out of spite I should start publishing the profile coefficient to see how people respond.

I am stubborn that way. :(

Author:  pknoerr [ October 4th, 2007, 3:31 pm ]
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Yet another fun read. Freestyle existed in the early 1990s, but people were paddling Galt's (Lotus), Moore's, Blackhawks, and Curtis'. The rocker hadn't started to increase with the boats people were using for freestyle yet... and really didn't until DY designed the Fire boats. It's obviously gone beyond that with a few models.

As for the Loon and the Heron, it's interesting because they seem to be like other early 90s tripping boats of their time. Based on paddling a Swift Heron, I think they are more like the Curtis Solo Tripper than the later Vagabond or the Nomad. The Solo Tripper was pretty straight keeled as well, though I think the Loon and Heron have more flare than the Curtis tripping hulls.

As I stated before I've never met Mike, and have only chatted online with Pat. But your thoughts on their personalities seem to gel well with my thoughts. Those that I have heard who have had instruction with Pat have nothing to say but "WOW!!!" I often wonder how freestyle might have ended up if there had ever been the "Standard Figures" and timed bouy races (like what you were describing) like it was originally dreamed to have. I think it might have been more interesting to the masses than the interpretive aspect that is now what we call freestyle. The excitement of bouy racing could have been incredible (and totally related to whitewater slalom), and then the precision of standard figures would have preserved the absolute stroke efficiency of the basic maneuvers and not been lost in poses. I think that freestyle lost alot when it lost Pat.

I think you meant you met DY at Conclave in Illinois. I'm really bummed that I couldn't afford the cash or the time while doing my masters degree to make it to Urbana for Conclave. I was so far, but it just couldn't happen at that time. There was a second Conclave in Indiana (Dana Grover's neck of the woods as well).


Author:  yarnellboat [ October 4th, 2007, 3:33 pm ]
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Wow, thanks, really interesting stuff.

So, if a Sawyer 16' Algonquin has no keel, it's an original version, and may be lacking in initial stability for novices? Is that the basic scoop/caveat on this boat's personality?

And that construction quality might have suffered at some point in the late 80s.

Thanks, PY.

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