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Thread: Help with Royalex Hull selection?

  1. #1
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    Default Help with Royalex Hull selection?

    I am working toward completing my conversion of a grp hull, but as it is flat bottomed, no rocker, a 1" keel, flat sterned and beat up I know I'll be needing a new hull in short order. I'm not sure what qualities make a good sailing hull in a production royalex canoe so I don't know how to narrow my search. Is a truly efficient sailing hull going to be useful as a tandem/solo canoe? I'd like a useful all around canoe that can be paddled both tandem or reversed and used solo. I'll be looking for used canoes but am not opposed to buying new if one hull will serve well both sailing and paddling.

    1. What qualities to look for, in terms of length, beam, and rocker? Tumblehome, flare, entry?

    I am 6'4" tall and weigh 275 pounds. I would like to be able to both paddle and sail with guests when the opportunity ariese, but will likely solo most often. No whitewater near, some large open lakes (not too deep), long slow rivers, aut of course the Gulf of Mexico with its bays, estuaries, tributaries etc. I will daysail most often but want capacity for weeklong camping trips, and seagoing ability to participate in the Everglades Challenge.

    I'd love a canoe I can paddle solo or tandem, and sail both ways. If a larger canoe would sail better but not be paddled solo, I'd lean that way as I have the square sterned tandem and will likely end up with more than 2 eventually! My hearts first desire is a seaworthy tripping sailing canoe.

    If this info is already available in similar posts point me that way...

  2. #2
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    Getting a canoe that does everything well is always going to be a problem. But for sailing the compromises are often the opposite of what makes an ideal paddling canoe. Generally the canoe wants to be wide to give it plenty of form stability to hold up a decent sized rig. Not what you would want for paddling solo, but for sailing stability is everything. It wants to be deep with a high bow, to keep it dry when driving into waves. The windage of the extra height is not a problem when sailing as there is loads of power for driving into a wind. Not good for paddling into a wind though. It helps if it has lots of rocker, to help it turn quickly when tacking. With a rudder it will track well, and turn when you want it to. For paddling this would be not ideal as it wouldnt track very well and would need a lot of correction in the paddle stroke.
    I prefer a bit of flare near the bow rather than tumblehome, as i think it is better when diving into waves.
    Length is a personal choice. A long canoe will track well running downwind in waves and gives lots of room for gear, extra crew, etc. It will be a bit slow to tack though and may stop head to wind unless you are carefull to ease it through the tack. But would be my choice for expeditioning. Windorpaddle has an 18ft Penobscot which has proved to be a good sea boat for expeditions. A shorter canoe will be a dream to tack and be very "dinghy like" in its handling, but more demanding to sail in big waves. Nice and fun for day sailing.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lvacgar View Post
    Help with Royalex Hull selection?
    Why on earth would you want to go with Rx? As a material for canoes, it's pretty awful at the best of times... and nothing you mention wanting to do suggests ANY advantage over a composite canoe!

    At 6'4" and 275lbs... you're mostly into tandem hulls even for solo work (and have the reach to solo a tandem far more effectively than most). In your shoes, and bearing in mind that you're in Florida, and limiting myself to those I know well, I'd be looking at:

    If you must go with Rx / Rx Lite then maybe:

    Re. the Starfire / Eagle: I'd encourage you to look at what Howard Rice's sailing canoe "Sylph"... and at the "Bufflehead" canoes - and to find out what's come of David Yost's interest in converting a Starfire

  4. #4
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    Ivacgar,
    I disagree with GregandGinas's assessment that royalex is in any way a poor choice of material for a canoe hull. While there are other materials, royalex is plentiful in the new and used market, relatively inexpensive, unbelievably durable, and is in the mid-range of weight/foot length. He (they) are correct, however, that your physical size actually places you in a 17ft range canoe for solo work. Maybe even an 18.

    Daves is also right about picking the "right" canoe out of all the designs out there. Except for very specialized boats, virtually all designs are compromises of function.

    There are a few that will do the job you require, though. Among them are the Old Town Tripper in both 17' and 20' lengths. Also the Old Town Penobscot, the Wenonah Spirit II and the Minnasota. All are royalex but can be had in kevlar as well. I have had an older model Spirit built of Tuff-Weave, a 50/50 blend of fiberglass/polyester, which is quite light, and found it to be a great canoe. I wish I still had it. There is nothing wrong with fiberglass canoes except that the older ones can be quite heavy. My favorit all 'rounder canoe of all time is the Old Town tripper, a workhorse expedition class canoe that holds a ton of weight, paddles well enough even with a full load, and is very stable in all conditions. I am currently putting the final touches on one for a friend, converting it to a tricanoe, complete with 85sq ft of sail including a bowsprit and jib. I have paddled and rowed Trippers for many many miles, camping out of them and just messing about.

    If you would like some pics, I can post a link, but I think they are on this forum somewhere.

    Cheers from Everett, WA.
    John

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    Why on earth would you want to go with Rx? As a material for canoes, it's pretty awful at the best of times... and nothing you mention wanting to do suggests ANY advantage over a composite canoe!

    At 6'4" and 275lbs... you're mostly into tandem hulls even for solo work (and have the reach to solo a tandem far more effectively than most). In your shoes, and bearing in mind that you're in Florida, and limiting myself to those I know well, I'd be looking at:

    If you must go with Rx / Rx Lite then maybe:

    Re. the Starfire / Eagle: I'd encourage you to look at what Howard Rice's sailing canoe "Sylph"... and at the "Bufflehead" canoes - and to find out what's come of David Yost's interest in converting a Starfire
    Why the disparagement of royalex? I do lust after Swift canoes but they are just beyond my budget currently. I'd love to build a cedar strip winisk someday, I've admired John's designs. The Winisk begins at over $2,000 for the least expensive "recreational" layup, $3k for more durable layups. No dealers anywhere near here, and few seen on the used market. Most royalex hulls sell for $1500 or less retail, but in reality go for $1100 new discounted at dealers. Great deals on lightly used hulls abound locally.

    There is a gentleman locally converting a starfire, hope to see it soon. That is a $3k hull. I'd love to deck one as in Slyph. I sailed in a Bufflehead but can't afford the money to buy one or time to build right now. Someday I hope. I'm hoping to find a hull for between that $600-$1200 mark.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OutnBacker View Post
    Ivacgar,
    I disagree with GregandGinas's assessment that royalex is in any way a poor choice of material for a canoe hull. While there are other materials, royalex is plentiful in the new and used market, relatively inexpensive, unbelievably durable, and is in the mid-range of weight/foot length. He (they) are correct, however, that your physical size actually places you in a 17ft range canoe for solo work. Maybe even an 18.

    Daves is also right about picking the "right" canoe out of all the designs out there. Except for very specialized boats, virtually all designs are compromises of function.

    There are a few that will do the job you require, though. Among them are the Old Town Tripper in both 17' and 20' lengths. Also the Old Town Penobscot, the Wenonah Spirit II and the Minnasota. All are royalex but can be had in kevlar as well. I have had an older model Spirit built of Tuff-Weave, a 50/50 blend of fiberglass/polyester, which is quite light, and found it to be a great canoe. I wish I still had it. There is nothing wrong with fiberglass canoes except that the older ones can be quite heavy. My favorit all 'rounder canoe of all time is the Old Town tripper, a workhorse expedition class canoe that holds a ton of weight, paddles well enough even with a full load, and is very stable in all conditions. I am currently putting the final touches on one for a friend, converting it to a tricanoe, complete with 85sq ft of sail including a bowsprit and jib. I have paddled and rowed Trippers for many many miles, camping out of them and just messing about.

    If you would like some pics, I can post a link, but I think they are on this forum somewhere.

    Cheers from Everett, WA.
    John
    Thanks for those suggestions. A link would be great if you don't mind!

  7. #7
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    I agree that Royalex canoes can fulfill many purposes, other than an easy portage. I have owned Royalex and composite canoes. Royalex can be a bit flexy, but that can be controlled by outfitting tricks. In my Royalex canoes, I include minicell support between the thwarts and the bottom of the boat. This is quite sufficient to stiffen everything up. Composite boats may need such support also.

    Even the best composite (S-glass over Kevlar) hulls are more vulnerable to catastrophic damage than Royalex. On the other hand, a composite S-glass over Kevlar hull will be quite a bit lighter than a Royalex, or even a Royalite, hull. Light weight makes a difference not just for portaging, but for handling on the water. The trade-off is that, after rough use, a composite canoe owner is going to face more repairs.

    As for poly hulls, they make sense only for short ww canoes, where the totality will be stiff and true. I haven't seen a poly boat over 12 feet that was as stiff and true as Royalex, much less composite. And a wood strip canoe, now there's a boat that holds form!

  8. #8
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    I should also add that, ironically, I sail in a Grumman aluminum tricanoe. I like them for lots of good reasons. Ease of modification being chief among them, and I have the sail kits made by Grumman. Before all the wonder weaves showed up, and before people earned tons of money, there were plenty good serviceable canoes, and sturdy people who used them in all known conditions. So, I have little preference in regards to hull materials in general.

    Go over to the thread "Talk about Outriggers" and see a couple of pics and a vid I just posted. Meanwhile, I'll try to dig up some pics of my old Tripper in action and get them edited into this post. I'll include a series of pics describing my row kit. Rowing a canoe is an unbelievable improvement in how to make distance in open waters.

    http://s1125.beta.photobucket.com/us...09458291938126


    http://s1125.beta.photobucket.com/us...01088107302963


    http://s1125.beta.photobucket.com/us...82966809172534


    http://s1125.beta.photobucket.com/us...19679321391509
    Last edited by OutnBacker; 15th-November-2012 at 04:25 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lvacgar View Post
    Why the disparagement of royalex?
    I'm not averse to Rx for some purposes: whatever it's limitations, it's at least a "safe" option for many folk... in that it's unlikely to suffer catastrophic failure and to need completely rebuilding / replacing even if it gets pinned quite badly on a river or whatever - though longer term, a Rx canoe strikes me as unlikely to outlive a well made and properly cared for composite canoe.

    That said, for touring canoes, the limitations of Rx do strike me as significant, starting with:...
    1. The manufacturing process precludes any design that needs a two part mould...
    2. The manufacturing limitations preclude the formation of tight curves...
    3. The material is inherently very heavy: a PITA off the water, and limiting on-water responsiveness...
    4. The finish is comparatively high-drag: harder to push through the water...
    5. The rigidity is dire: hulls tend to flex and move when paddling, let alone sailing!

    Here's Mad River on Rx vs. Composite...

    The composite Explorer is about 5” longer overall than its' Royalex counterpart and has a much finer stem and entry throughout the first and last 3' of hull. This was intentional. On one hand, each design was tailored to take full advantage of the materials ability to follow design curves; composite materials could mimic much more subtle designs than could thermoformed Royalex hulls. Jim was also very skilled at designing hulls not only to fit their materials but also to favor certain kind of uses. Royalex Explorers quickly became favored as moving water boats and there the fuller bow and blunter entry were actually attributes rather than detractions, yielding boats that paddled drier and didn't punch into the water and pearl so readily.
    When canoe sailing, the power of the rig can perhaps compensate for the excessive weight of the hull and for the blunt nose and comparatively high drag of the skin... but shouldered tumblehome is great for sailing (means you can heel further without taking water over the side)... and with a big sail up, any flex in the hull is going to be badly exposed.

    Ps. Have you seen the big Solway Dory sailing thwarts and mast feet? The thwarts are shaped that way to limit the flexing of the canoe under the loads created by the sail! IN theory the thwart locates one point on the mast... and the mast foot (ideally screwed on through the hull) provides another... but massive additional support turns out to be needed on the thwart, as without it, Rx hulls can deform quite alarmingly!
    Last edited by GregandGinaS; 15th-November-2012 at 01:25 PM.

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