Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mohawk Odyssey

I feel kind of sheepish about getting another canoe. I end up playing devil’s advocate with myself, and with good reason. I mean if I can’t get the opportunity to get adequate use out of the couple canoes I have already, what the heck do I need with another one. On the negative side, it was a question of justifying the expenditure. The positive side deals with having the right tool to do a particular job rather than trying to make do with something that just doesn’t get the job done. Sometimes one may even suffer some damage or injury from trying to accomplish a square-peg-in-a-round-hole application. So how did this come about?

When we planned the Buffalo River trip in Arkansas, a medical emergency the night before our departure threw a wrench into the plans, causing us to cancel.. Another couple, however, decided to make the trip on their own. I spoke with them on their return, and they had a couple bits of advice.

They were using a Wenonah canoe made of Tuf-Weave flex core, a proprietary building
material developed by Wenonah using Kevlar and polyester laminates. It is marginally heavier than Kevlar alone, but has the advantage of being more inclined to flex on impact than fracture. On their trip down the Buffalo, however, they holed the bow of their tandem canoe twice. They said my plan of using Buddy for this trip was definitely a bad idea. My plan to use Buddy was based on using what I had in the garage rather than getting another canoe. Royalex is undoubtedly the best material for shallow river running, but I didn’t have a Royalex canoe. With their admonition and the prospect of destroying Buddy, I finally decided that if I was determined to do the Buffalo and other similar rivers, I would need a Royalex canoe.

I had used a Mohawk Probe in my whitewater class, and my instructors both recommended Mohawk Canoes of Chattanooga, TN. The Mohawk Odyssey 15 satisfied two requirements. One, while still described by them as a flatwater canoe, it has enough displacement for me and a week’s camping gear. It has a 580 lb. displacement capacity. Two, built in Royalex R-84 and with full ends that provide reserve buoyancy for running Class 1 or 2 water, it should meet my needs for river camping.

In the past, in spite of the many advantages of Royalex, I had been reluctant to have one because of the difficulty of repair. West Epoxy, however, has solved that problem with the development of G-Flex, an epoxy that will bond to anything. At 57 lbs., the Odyssey 15 is slightly over double Buddy’s weight, but one can’t have everything. I learned many decades ago that anything involving boats (even though one isn’t supposed to call either a canoe or kayak a boat) is a compromise. When I ordered the Odyssey, I also had Mohawk install Kevlar and G-Flex skid plates on both bow and stern.

Mohawk Canoe's Odyssey 15
The seat can be seen as it was lowered, and the yellow
stripe on the bow is the Kevlar skid plate.
The Mohawk Odyssey 15 was shipped to Fort Smith with a load of other canoes at a substantial savings. Our rushed trip to Fort Smith between tornadoes was to pick up the Mohawk before leaving on this last trip. I can’t have a craft without a name. It’s like depriving it of a soul. So, since this was purchased solely because of the Buffalo, it will be named for the river. I prefer Buffalo Belle, but Jean likes Buffalo Gal. In either case, she has a longer alias of “My Last Canoe.” However, what I need you to do is vote to end the naming stalemate. Click on “Jim’s Facebook” in the right margin, and vote there or here in comments.


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