Early this year, I sold my old venture prospector. It just wasn’t getting used, as I usually picked one or other of my other boats – lighter, faster hulls more suited to solo paddling. But I then discovered that I no longer had a boat that had the capacity to carry two people and gear for a camping trip, especially as my youngest son who usually paddles in the bow with me is growing fast now.
So the search was on for a replacement boat, that would be lighter and faster than the old plastic prospector, with a load capacity to cope with two adult-sized passengers and gear for a week. Most of the trips we do do not involve big white water rapids, but we do enjoy big bits of open water, so it needed to be able to manage waves and wind well.
After a lot of research, I settled on a novacraft cronje, in their light but strong tuffstuff lay-up. These aren’t common boats over here in the UK, so I was buying blind. The order was placed for the boat, to be finished in desert white with white ash gunnels and seats, and all I had to do then was wait for it to be made and shipped from Canada.
A long eight weeks passed, during which time I rebuilt the boat racks to take another boat. But finally, at the end of July, I could collect it from Manchester canoes. What a beauty! Long, sleek, beautifully finished – I couldnt wait to get it on the water. And it was surprisingly light as well, considering it is 17′ long.
Having estimated the hull depth while building the new rack, I was pleased that it fitted ok.
Who uses their garage to put the car in anyway?
The very next day, I took it out for a trial paddle, on one of my favourite local waterways, the Chesterfield Canal at Kiveton Park. I was solo, with the dog, so not really what I had bought the boat to do, but Sunday mornings and teenage sons being out of bed are mutually exclusive events…
It was a lovely summer morning, and as ever I enjoyed the tree-lined cut down to Thorpe triple locks. The new boat was great. Livelier than I expected, but fast. It tracked well, and didnt take too much effort to turn sharply, though as you would expect, not as maneuverable as my shorter canoes.
Once the dog had got the hang of sitting further forward in this boat, the trim wasnt too bad, and the mild crosswinds in the more open reaches didn’t have much effect on the hull. A leg stretch and tea break at the locks was very welcome.
Then it was time to return home, building confidence in the new boat and learning its handling. The first trip of many was done.