First Season Feedback (15/01/02)
I took the canoe out only a few times in September and October so it wasn't exactly a full season. Even so, I can report a few things about the construction method and cedarstrips in general.
First, I put quite a few scratches in the varnish on the bottom. That wasn't as bad, however, as a couple of gouges that went right into the glass and one that went into the cedar. I don't even recall when they occurred. I was careful but perhaps not as careful as necessary. As a result, I have decided next year I will coat the bottom - under the waterline - with a graphite-epoxy mixture. Unfortunately, that means having a black bottom covering that lovely cedar pattern. But I think it is worth it seeing as this is going to be my everyday canoe. I don't want to have to treat it like glass - no pun intended. Hopefully, the graphite will protect it from the gouges I got this year.
Second, the canoe performed very well in rough water. I haven't subjected it to whitewater yet but it has seen some serious waves. It stays dry in the worst conditions I have ever experienced. The Huron has at least 8 inches of freeboard (sides above the water) and a very shallow draft (depth of hull in the water). Unfortunately, the relatively high sides and ends make it difficult to handle in very high winds. On the other hand, it was manageable in moderate wind.
Third, the single narrow gunwhale design has held up. The only flaw is where the mortise and tenon of the yoke-gunwhale joint. The gunwhale has developed a slight crack on the top. However, I believe that developed because I was picking the canoe up by the yoke and carrying it around by the yoke for short distances. Therefore, the entire weight of the canoe was pulling down on that thin upper part of the gunwhale. I don't think the crack would have developed had I carried the canoe properly, ie., on my shoulders with the weight of the canoe on the yoke.
Fourth, the gunwhales developed some discolouration where the varnish was nicked or scratched, especially on either tip. They are made of Sitka Spruce so they are softer than a hardwood gunwhales. At camp I would place the canoe on land upside down, further abrading the varnish on the tips. The moisture in the ground would then penetrate the wood and cause the discolouration. To counter this problem I applied many more coats of varnish. I also decided not to turn the canoe over on land and I tie it off because it is more susceptible to being blown around by the wind when upright.