Just got out of the woods yesterday after the maiden BWCA voyage with my used but new to me custom Northstar B17 IXP. I got it second hand from a friend of the manufacturer. She went down the San Juan on the Northstar Experience last year. It's a gorgeous canoe with birdseye maple seats, handles, and thwarts. I spent a week going in through Mudro, Sandpit, Tin Can Mike, Horse & River, LBF, up to Friday Bay, and back. First impression, I LOVE THIS BOAT!!!
Tripped it along side a MN II. We pack heavy, double portage, and base camp so both canoes were loaded to capacity with 700-800 lbs of guys and gear. Water was fairly high so we had no extra portages on the Horse River but hit countless rocks, dry foot portages, and drug it through the rapids in a few spots. The hull has dozens of new scratches but nothing through even the first layer of material.
It tracks straight, handles rough water like a dream, and was as fast as, if not faster than my buddy's MN II. The three inches of bow and stern rocker were a bit concerning to me when I purchased it, but didn't make it hard to stay straight even in heavy cross winds. It proved to be quite the blessing on the curvy Horse river and through the narrower stretches of Crooked Lake. Paddling it from the stern was a joy. Subtle J & C strokes turn it on a dime. My partner said the bow was one of the roomiest and most comfortable he's ever sat in. It handles just as well fishing and paddling empty. It doesn't have the initial stability of a flat bottom boat but the secondary stability is absolutely amazing. You'd probably fall out of this boat before it tipped over.
My only complaints are the laminated birds eye maple veneered plywood thwarts, and the weight. The front thwart broke when unloading it the first time so thankfully I was able to replace them both with solid maple before taking it out. The weight isn't a huge deal, as I added a Spring Creek yoke, but at 64 pounds before adding GSI seats and strapping in rods and spare paddle, it sure made "Heart Attack Hill" live up to it's name on the way out yesterday. It's a trade off though. My buddies MN II took far more damage than mine did and we were the Guinea Pig through all the tricky stretches. So they had the advantage of knowing where not to go when we hung up.
In summation, I'd highly recommend this canoe and layup to anyone looking for a WW boat or something they don't have to worry about beating up a little. It certainly wasn't the boat I started out looking for. However, after finding a screaming deal on a barely used 2019 model, I did some research on the design. Everyone says a prospector is the "best do it all canoe" and after spending a week in it I can confidently say that this by far the best canoe I've paddled. I can't imagine an inshore situation that it couldn't handle save class IV & V WW.
Here's a link to a video they shot of the canoes they used on the trip last year. Mine's the second one shown paddled by Dan Cooke from CCS. 2019 Northstar Experience B17 Video
If they call it tourist season, why can't I buy a tag?
Great review, I have a NW17 in the Blacklite lay up ... and if I could go back in time I would have gone with a B16. Everyone loves IXP, Darren Bush, Cliff Jacobsen, Dan Cooke to name a notable few. I’ll take durability over weight every time. Here’s to N+1 canoes.
I love how fast a 17 moves through the water. You’ll love the extra rocker for river time when your bombing down the outside bends! Follow the bubbles!
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