Go burgundy its a cracking colour for a open boat
Go burgundy its a cracking colour for a open boat
You're right, canoes from the Pal type hull do appear fairly often in the Mason films. That hull was probably the most common canoe being used during the era of production. It and a similar model from Peterborough were the most frequently used canoes in summer camps. They don't have the capacity of a Prospector, but they have very nice lines that handle well. In the old Chestnut catalogs, they were identified as the general purpose canoes as a category.
The model names for the Chestunts reflected both size, trim and colour. That is a holdover from the days when canoes were often ordered via telegraph. Ranger was a 15 ft prospector, Fort was a 16 ft prospector, the 17 ft prospector was a Gary if I recall correctly. The Pal was the 16ft general purpose canoe, the Moonlight was the same boat with better paint and trim if I recall correctly. The Chum was the same canoe in 15ft length.
As for modern canoes comparing to the traditional ones, that's an open question. Most of the original canoes got modified by the manufacturers over time. There are documented cases where modern wooden boat builders purchased old canoe molds from defunct companies and found an older, slimmer version of the canoe under the mold that was being used. In addition, the process used by modern manufactures to create their molds will depend on the canoe they are copying and how closely they want to adhere to the lines. Sometimes, there are modifications necessary for the production line, sometimes the manufacturer chooses to tweak the lines a bit to suit their own ideas. I've paddled lots of wood and canvas Chestnut Pals, and I have a NovaCraft royalex version of this canoe too. I find them very comparable in feel.
Hope that helps
So what's the difference between this and a NC Prospector 16 ?
The prospector was in the freight category. It was designed to carry months worth of supplies into the bush for folks who might be gone for a season of trapping. It was capable of handling much rougher water than the Pal.
As with anything, either design has strengths and resulting weakness. Don't know if this comparison will translate... but think of the Prospector as a 4X4 pick up truck while the Pal is the family station wagon.
Hope that helps.
The Pal has a lower freeboard and is easier in the wind, a lot easier than our 15ft Wenonah Prospector anyway. The prospectors high bow and stern can catch the wind if paddled without a big load, but if you want to carry a lot its great.So what's the difference between this and a NC Prospector 16 ?
First, I think Novacraft is a fine company, and like several of their products.
Second, I think the Pal is a fine design, and had a Chestnut Deer for a while, which is the same as a Pal, but with "competition" (positive spin on thinner/cheaper) ribs.
Third, I like both Royalex and composites.
Here's what I have noticed, though. Several boats are designed for one material and made in another. This creates striking differences.
I only briefly test-paddled the Pal Royalite, but found it to be completely different in how it felt and handled than the original wood versions. I suspect the Novacraft composite Pal is excellent, and some might like the Royalex version, but they are not the same. Royalex just doesn't hold shapes as well.
The effect is less pronounced with the prospectors, likely because heavier sheets are used and they are a bit less flat, but it is still somewhat noticeable.
I've had my Pal (burgundy) for a couple of months now and I absolutely love it. To my eyes it's the nicest looking boat out there (the Bob Special and Cronje look just as good too), I like the Prospectors as well but the lower freeboard of the Pal makes it look more sleek to me. I've already done several trips in mine both solo and tandem and including day trips and overnighter/multi-day trips and can't fault the boat. The next thing I'm looking to do is buy a sailing rig so that I can cover more ground in windy conditions. The hull is already bearing the scars of landing on mussel clad sea loch beaches and breaking through the ice on a frozen Loch Lomond but that just adds character to the boat . It's easier to put on the roof of my van than my sea kayak is, carries more than enough kit for my requirements, paddles really well tandem and solo, is super stable and forgiving but easy to manouevre, I really can't fault it. I'm so glad I held out for the Pal rather than buying a cheaper boat.
My $.02 CDN
Don't have my old Chestnut catalogs on hand for reference so I'm going from memory, but to the best of my recollection the Deer version had better paint and trim, not thinner cheaper ribs. Quality of the paint and canned seats opposed to slat seats are the major differences that come to mind from perusing the old catalogs. Pretty sure that's accurate but don't mind being corrected.
From my perspective, I find that the royalex versions are more like the cedar and canvas originals than composite canoes which just tend to be too rigid when compared to the cedar and canvas originals. I've paddled a lot of replica canoes in both royalex and composite. To my way of thinking, the royalex versions seem closer to the original cedar and canvas versions. Given the choice I'd take a roylex copy over a composite version of it. I'll grant that the royalex molding process can't quite replicate the original cedar and canvas lines, but the surface tension of royalex and the inherent flex of the hull seems more like the original than a composite copy in my opinion. The process for creating a mold for composite or royalex (or other) plastic versions is different so it is quite possible to have very distinct versions of the replica canoe, but I think Novacraft has been pretty faithful to the original hull shape. I have several original Chestnut Pal canoes and also a royalex replica from NC and to my mind the NC version is more than close enough for the kind of paddling I like to do.
I'm open to arguments in favour of a lack of rigidity... it's just that the more common argument (at least where I hang out) is that Rx isn't fit for purpose for canoe building in large part precisely because it lacks rigidity!
What I can say is that the flex in the hulls of both cedar and canvas canoes and the royalex replicas does assist in some of the moves associated with "Canadian" style paddling - solo control of a full size canoe heeled over and kneeling in the tumblehome. This harkens back to the way aboriginal bark canoes were used and Royalex does a fairly good job of replicating the feel of a bark boat. For me... canoeing is about the journey, not the destination. I have no doubt that a more rigid hull like what's in composite canoes might get you to your final destination faster but if you really enjoy the paddling, for me I get a lot more of that from a more flexible hull. Makes the process of getting to where I want to go more enjoyable.
Where I notice differences is in fairly small things. I've been fortunate enough to paddle cedar strip hulls I've built, composite hulls and royalex hulls of the same canoe design. Cedar strip hulls... (that's strips of wood constructed on a mold then covered by a skin of fiberglass inside and out) are very rigid. Composite hulls have similar rigidity but are thinner. Royalex has more of the mass and flex that you'd get in traditional hull construction. What I notice most is the effect even small waves have on the different hulls. I can feel almost every little ripple on both the strip and composite hulls while the Royalex seems to easily absorb them. Doing precise and controlled pivots and turns is much easier on a Royalex hull than either of the other ones. In addition, surface tension is different. If you enjoy the control of doing pivots and sideslips etc... those are easier in a royalex hull. Another factor is weight. If you like to paddle with a canoe heeled on it's side in the traditional Canadian style, it's helpful to have the weight of the canoe act as a counter balance. Personally... a super light hull seems to work against a lot of what I enjoy in paddling a canoe. And note... I did say paddle, not portage.
I am in no way suggesting that what's right for me is best for every paddler. Opinions stated are personal preferences and I know for sure that what I want from a canoe isn't typical for the mass market. The previous reply I made in this thread was in regard to an observation that suggested composite hulls were more faithful to the original than Royalex versions were. I respectfully disagree with that sentiment, but that's just my opinion for whatever that's worth.
You guys sent me running for Ken Solway's book: The Story of the Chestnut Canoe
From what I read the Pal formwas max 34 inches wide and the Deer 36.. Depth 12 inches for Pal and 12 3/4 for Deer. The ribbing for the Deer was 1.5 inches apart. The Pal had ribbing 2 inches apart.
In the 1950's for some reason the Pal got 2 inches fatter.
Now as for thinner ribs. I hope I type what I read OK.
Its still fuzzy to me..Is the Deer a grade one or three canoe?Around 1919 Chestnut introduced the grade three canoe, a sixteen foot craft that sold for as little as $38. This canoe took the principle of a lower grade canoe one step further. In this case wood that was not wide enough for normal rib stock-2 3/8 inch was milled into narrow ribstock 1.5 inch and the ribs placed closer together to retain normal rib strength. This not only used up the normal scrap stock but were also much easier to produce as they were not tapered at the ends.People liked the narrow ribs so much that they were soon asked for in first grade canoes
Coming up with a definitive answer for a Chestnut canoe is like trying to corral a passle of cats.
"Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." WS-prophecy about internet postings.
I have a fairly good collection of old Chestnut and other Canadian canoe manufactuere catalogs, they're just not with me at the moment. I can say with certainty that the specs for various models changed over time. There are documented instances where old forms purchased from the Chestnut factory were refurbished later and while doing the work it was noticed that an additional layer of wood was added on top of the original shape, in essence there was a thinner sleeker hull in production on the same form in earlier years. The catalogs probably didn't necessarily reflect what was actually being produced and then there was a certain amount of sleight of hand as Chestnut was actually a portion of a larger conglomerate of three companies while they were portraying the other two partners as competitors. Very few of the documents that would have shed light on the business practices survived and it's easy to find contradictory opinions. Even Ken's book has been sighted for inaccuracies by other experts. In addition to all of that... keep in mind the fickle nature of wood. Even though production was done more or less in an assembly line process, wood by it's very nature would introduce variables in the final product.
A certain amount of skepticism is worth holding in reserve regarding information about Chestnut.
I have read as much on this boat as I could find. I'm looking for any more feedback you would like to offer since getting more seat time.
Also, If anyone has a picture of one with wood trim I'd love to see it. I'm kind of old school, still use wooden snowshoes too.
I sold my Merlin ll so I could get something the wife and I can use, but it needs to be a good solo craft also. Tandem it would never go more than three or four days worth of gear. Solo it might be a week to ten days. Mostly Adirondack lakes, ponds, and rivers. I mess around with the Canadian style when I can so I'm hoping to hear if anyone has feedback on that as well.
Pal is less responsive for CS than a Prospector design. You have to compare boats heeled over and analyze side dimensions and whether sufficient amounts of the stem will be freed. CS is best learned with whatever you have. Unless you plan on spinning in circles and doing LakeWater (this is a Paddle Canada curriculum) maneuvers involving buoys most any tandem can be soloed.
I will be teaching Canadian Style at Midwest FreeStyle Symposium
Bring a tandem and come on over. Its about six hours from Madison NY.
My teaching boat is not optimal.. a Souris River Wilderness 18. But you can maneuver this beast solo. I have a bunch of trips that string out right after MFS and can't transport a trailer full of boats.
The problem with solo/tandem combi crafts is that they rarely do both well per some modern canoe gurus ( and one is a very good friend that I feel free to disagree with!). Reach is often cited as a problem. But if you can choose a tandem appropriate to your bow partner..(who often has stability problems as the bow station is less stable than stern due to width) and that still has the side shape and minimal skin exposure to wind when you paddle it Canadian Style, I maintain you can have a happy result. Prospectors are often cited as ideal but they usually are flatwater slowmos tandem.. Pals are better..but lack some manuevaribility when paddled solo. The tradeoff.. continues.
Also pay attention to your paddle choice. My personal favorite is Turtle Paddle Works Algonquin Guide for CS work but the Kettlewells also work fine.
"Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." WS-prophecy about internet postings.
Wenonah's offering (arguably another that's unrecognisable as a "Prospector") struck me as perhaps slightly preferable to all of the above for going anywhere solo: I could get the rail well out of the way without so seriously compromising the waterline length, and the hull felt (subjectively) more efficient. That said, for me, none of the rockered boats could touch the minimally-rockered the Novacraft Cronje for straight-line performance: at a standing heel, the waterline length remains pretty reasonable.... and I'm not sure quite why anyone would need MORE manouverability when paddling solo as with the sort of modest loads associated with solo-paddling, I concluded that it would still spin through 180 degrees very easily indeed unless the boat was carrying a LOT more load.
My impression of the Pal is that it's reasonably Cronje-like: just a tad smaller: I'd love to read comparisons by folk with a lot of boat time in each... but that pairing strike me as having more in common than the Pal and any Prospector. Maybe the differences were not so pronounced on the old wood and canvas versions.
I never pay attention to anything by "experts". I calculate everything myself.
Greg, you must have a paddle in my Pal next time our paths cross. I'd be very interested in hearing your (honest) impressions and how you feel it actually compares with the Cronje (which I've not paddled).
LostViking, I've paddled my Pal tandem with camping gear in and it's fine as long as you pack reasonably light. With two big guys aboard and a fair amount of kit it does lose a fair bit of freeboard, no problem in flat water but things might get a bit damp in any kind of waves. That being said, when I had mine loaded right up it was an occasion when I took a tandem partner unexpectedly so neither one of us had packed light (there was a lot of duplication in our gear), I think if you coordinated your gear requirements you'd have a lot less and the canoe would sit correspondingly higher in the water (plus our combined bodyweights must have exceded 400lbs ).
The middle seat is fitted with its back hangers using the rear thwart holes already in the gunwales. Just two holes to drill
I bought some hangers and bolts from Endless River, but the hangers were too skinny to match the others in the Pal. However, I found that the offcuts I had when I trimmed the seat to fit made nice chunky hangers. In one of those rare strokes of luck, the size and the shape of them were almost perfect (the seat's angled down at the front). They just needed a bit of a trim and holes bored through the centre.
courage mon brave
Excellent, thanks for the info Dave
"Access all areas, Under the radar"
Wheres the popcorn smilie ?
Thanks for the picture and the responses. Please keep them coming about paddling experiences.
Now does the Pal come with a roof rack and side curtain airbags?
The Pal and a comparable Peterborough model were the most common canoes populating the summer camps in Ontario. You'd also find prospector models in the racks but the Pal was the one used most often to teach paddling skills at camp and for the outings lasting 1-3 weeks. The craft is well suited to both tasks.
It might be worth noting that the person who is arguably most responsible for popularizing what's come to be known as Canadian style paddling (Omer Stringer) preferred a Chum which is the 15ft version of the Pal. He built his own form to produce a slight variation of the Chum which was known as the Beaver. Omer was a pretty small person though and if he'd had a larger stature he might have preferred the 16ft boat. If you ever get a chance to see archival footage of Omer, it's amazing to watch his mastery of the craft.
The Cronje comes from the cruiser lineup from Chestnut. It was designed to have a good load carrying capacity but still be easy to paddle at speed. Hull shape of the Pal and the Kruger (the 16ft version of the Cronje) have more in common than a Pal and a Fort (the 16ft Prospector) but there is still a fair bit that separates the two models.
Hope that helps some.
Well I'm pleased to say I came home today with a Burgundy Pal trimmed in ash, now I've just got to sort out this paddling lark. It seems to be a Black art to someone used to kayaks
Thank you very much Rolf, I will be having a look at them later
Love the videos, Rolf. Much practice yet for me
Enjoying my RX Pal here in the Rockies (USA), much more so than I had expected. I've a nice Wenonah Wilderness that was my favourite canoe but the Pal edged it out this last season. I'm primarily a solo paddler but the versatility of the Pal is a big winner for all around use. I can take a dog and a real picnic box.... and still have plenty of room for my 'old man' outdoor chair It holds plenty of cargo for me without being a 'big' canoe.
I'm 6'2" with simian arms and legs thus the beam isn't troublesome. I've been very surprised how well it does in the wind which is more common than not here in Wyoming. I've not yet made the bent shaft transition and not at all certain I will. Straight sticks suit me and my paddlin' style better. I cannot call myself a true CS paddler as I'm often only lightly heeling the boat. Kneel mostly, sit when I need a stretch. Have a pretty good Canadian stroke nowadays - seemed like forever before I got it as smooth and quiet as it should be.
I plan to take the Pal on a couple week long Yellowstone & Teton backcountry trips this coming season. I've always used British sea kayaks for these adventures as the lakes are big and often stormy. I may fit the Pal with a cover to improve seaworthiness further. Looking forward to doing the trips in a canoe and having the room to cook and eat like a wilderness king
Once our water here becomes liquid again I will be using the Pal during the spring runoff on the rivers. I expect it will do nicely. This is one area where the Wenonah Wilderness has been a slight disappointment. The Pal is noticeably more maneuverable yet I don't think its much if any slower on calm open water as compared to the Wilderness.
I bought the Pal thinking it would be a nice once-in-a-while tandem & dog hauler but its seem to have become the flagship of my meager fleet. May even sell the Wilderness this summer. I have 4 canoes and 3 kayaks and the Pal is at the top of the chart in terms of fun and versatility.
And its the boat purchase I was hoping I wouldn't regret....
I've tried bent shafts, not my cup of tea. You'll find people who'll be willing to argue past sun up on the merits of either, but it comes down to personal preference. I know for my style of paddling - I can get as much efficiency out of either paddle, but I sure enjoy the versatility of a straight shaft.
Thanks for saying that. I often get asked for recommendations for a canoe. After listening to the list of requests a person wants, I'm tempted to say outright that all you need is (insert appropriate model) but I tend to temper my recommendation. Its nice to see that you got your Pal thinking it'd fit the "once-in-a-while tandem & dog hauler" category but that over time you came to appreciate the full versatility of the canoe.I bought the Pal thinking it would be a nice once-in-a-while tandem & dog hauler but its seem to have become the flagship of my meager fleet. May even sell the Wilderness this summer. I have 4 canoes and 3 kayaks and the Pal is at the top of the chart in terms of fun and versatility.
Good on ya!
I've had my Pal now for about a year and a half. I've paddled it quite a lot during that time, so here are my impressions.
The overall design of the boat is great. For it's type, it's quite slick white conserving the classical look. The finishing is really nice, as it is the overall quality of the boat. The ends are high enough to keep it quite dry in chop, while they are low enough to paddle in winds. As a matter of fact, the overall low profile of the boat is one of it's greatest features, as it allows you to paddle under control when other boaters are struggling to prevent their boats being blown around. The cross section is a very shallow arch, which contributes to make it quite a fast boat. It's a bit narrower than the average general purpose boat, so it can feel a bit less stable at the beginning, but it's still a very stable boat, as it is both forgiving and predictable: it has reasonably soft chines. It has a bit of sheer at the ends, which, coupled with a tad of rocker, makes it quite easy to manoeuvre while heeled. This is another of the great features of the boat: it strikes a really nice compromise between manoeuvrability and tracking: it glides really nicely - while it remains stable enough to pole.
It is quite susceptible to trim, and getting it right can improve performance significantly - which is true of most boats, anyway. I paddle it solo most of the time. I found that paddling from the front seat backwards is great for twistier stretches, but on flat sections and in chop the boat handles much better if you're closer to the middle (even though the difference might be less than 30cms). For that reason I have placed a third seat (like Dave above) and I'm very pleased with it.
Used as a solo boat, you can carry quite a lot of gear. Very nice for canoe camping. Used as a tandem boat, it seats a bit lower on the water and once it is on a line it goes very quickly down that way.
Overall I've found it to be a very versatile boat, I enjoy coaching from it and in general is my first choice of craft. I'll be rigging it in the near future, as I'm getting into canoe sailing. Sure enough, if I'm doing just white water I'll take my Yellowstone - but every time I find myself on a flattish stretch with the Yellowstone, I miss the Pal instantaneously. Of course there are also better, faster touring boats, but if I had to have only one boat, the Pal would pretty much be it.
Now, if I had to complain... the only negative thing about the boat is the royalex light: it scratches very easily ― thankfully it's stiffening with time, but the first six months really needed handling with gloves. Other than that, super happy.
Hope it helps
Just got our Pal (ordered September 2013) and I am in love!
Nice one, welcome to the club.
I noticed that there were no additions to this thread since the demise of Royalex so thought I would add some thoughts on my Pal in TuffStuff.
These are the specs from Nova Craft which can be found here.
First of all I have to say that I am a big fan of this boat. I looked into the options as much as was possible before I plumped for the Pal and I have not been disappointed by my choice at all.Specifications
TuffStuff: 53lb / 24kg
TuffStuff Expedition: 58lb / 26.3kg
Aramid Lite: 44lb / 20kg
Blue Steel: 46lb / 20.9kg
Weights are based on year-long production averages and may vary.
Learn more about our materials here.
Length: 16’ / 488cm
Width: 34″ / 86.4cm
Center Depth: 13” / 33cm
End Depth: 20″ / 50.8cm
Capacity: 800lb / 364kg
· Symmetrical Hull
· Shallow Arch Bottom
· Slight Rocker with Raised Ends
Firstly the weight. I have a herniated disc in my lower back which has caused all manner of problems, and just over a year on from the initial injury I am not out of the woods yet, but I can now lift, van top and carry the boat by myself. This is a massive point as it allows me to get out on the water. Not worth saving some cash buying a heavier boat if you can't get out with it.
It tracks very well, even with my rudimentary paddling style, and it feels like it glides a lot better than the poly and royalex boats I have used. I have suffered no oil-canning at all, even in some reasonable chop. It also seems to be less affected by the wind than deeper sided boats. I still need to adjust trim to go the wanted direction in wind but that would be the same for most (all?) boats.
Thus far I have only used it for day-trips, but I am embracing the canoeists way and learning not to travel light! Cargo capacity is plentiful and it would remain so with camping gear added. This is solo however, and I'm not sure how well it would cope with 2 adults my size with a weeks canoe camping gear. I'm sure lightweight campers would be fine though.
I haven't paddled the Pal on any rivers yet but I have had quite a few scrapes on stony shores. These sound quite unpleasant but have only left minor scratches in the TuffStuff so far. Being a red boat, and the scratches being white they look quite noticeable when the hull is dry, but you can barely feel them when you run your finger over them. I am quite happy with the durability of the gelcoat so far and it's nice to know scratches can be effectively repaired if they got too deep. I would suggest perhaps that Desert White might be a better colour option to help hide the scratches, and it's a pretty cool looking colour, though obviously red boats are faster!
Lastly I shall discuss price. It is quite expensive in TuffStuff. They now seem to be at about the £1800 mark which is quite a chunk of change, but I think you would struggle to find a lighter boat with the same capabilities for less money. You can certainly get more expensive ones (with some difficulty though) and there are plenty heavier options. Strong, light, cheap. Pick two!* The price I paid for mine is now long forgotten though and the only thing I'm bothered about now is whether I can enjoy using it. And to that question the answer is a resounding yes!
* Keith Bontrager
Nice boat, nice pics and a nice write up.
I took ownership of one of these in Royalite last November, and I'm also enamoured with it.
Looks are a little deceiving though because the shape makes it look like it has ample rocker. In fact it has barely any rocker, whick makes it slower to turn on moving rivers than might be expected, so planning your line in advance is advisable, cos if you don't you may get into trouble.
Heeling the boat gives a noticable increase in speed.
The Royalite seems to scratch easily, even though mine is not a new boat. Maybe it's the colour (green) ?
Whilst we know that there is no such thing as the perfect boat i.e. one that does everything perfectly, the Pal could well be the only boat you'd ever need.
Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman
Great update to the NC Pal in TuffStuff. I'm looking at replacing one of my prospectors with a Pal in TuffStuff, so its good to read this review. I was wondering what the buoyancy is like from the bow and stern ends?
You can just about see the buoyancy chambers in the first and last photos of my above post. If you have a look on Chainsaws review of his Blue Steel Bob Special he does a floatation test with it. The chambers look the same and I expect the buoyancy would be similar.
Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.
Interesting to see the Blue Steel sink test. I know there is a whole argument as to whether additional buoyancy is needed or not (Re. Lloyd)… however I wonder what it's like to drill into TuffStuff? Is it better to lace to gunnel fixings (providing its not going to be subject to the stress of WW)?
Tuffstuf is fine to drill, it's fibreglass and polyester. Just use a sharp drill bit and take it steady.however I wonder what it's like to drill into TuffStuff?
Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman
already done!! My source for guidance when fitting out my TuffStuff Pal
Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.