BWCA First build design decision; Freedom, Cruiser... Boundary Waters Group Forum: Boat Builders and Repair
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02/26/2015 06:07PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)

Just joined the forum but lurking here while preparing for trips the last two years. I am going to build a stripper this year that will be used for tripping for years to come. I have only made two trips, and have paddled a few boats during those trips and I own a Bob's special that I use for general rec paddling. I liked paddling the Wenonah MN iii (rented, had 3 guys) on a trip this past summer, and a friends MN ii and want to build a tripping canoe. I don't really want to get much bigger that that; considered 18' but my building space would be just a little too small, and I have white cedar boards for strips that are 18' or a little under, and those two factors, while not insurmountable, has me interested in 17. And I'm a smaller guy, so 17' should be fine.

I have it narrowed to a Bear Mountain Freedom 17 or a Northwest Canoe Cruiser, but open to others. Easy to find opinions and critiques of the Freedom, wanting more performance info on the Cruiser. I have searched on this forum and elsewhere, and mostly people just say they love/like their Cruiser. Can anyone compare handling these two boats? Or compare to Wenonah MN ii? Anyone with a Cruiser give a feel for how they handle in rough water? Is it a wet design into waves? Easy to move hull? Things like that.

Any input greatly appreciated! Thanks, John
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distinguished member (138)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/07/2015 10:08AM  
I am not very experienced but built a NW Cruiser last year. It performed very well for me. I was able to handle it solo in rough water once. Two of us in it another time going into whitecaps was slow going but not bad. Very stable canoe. Very difficult time swamping it to play. Only problem I had was keeping it straight when loaded down with a tail wind. Was not big waves, just a steady breeze from behind. I am very happy with it though.
distinguished member (138)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/07/2015 10:13AM  
By the way, I'm in St Cloud MN. If you would want to check out my canoe send me an email. Water should be getting soft soon!
distinguished member(541)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/08/2015 08:06AM  
If my memory hasn't totally failed me, there was a High School shop teacher that built beautiful canoes in St Cloud.
He built using one of MCAs plans, and would bring a boat to the Mid West Mountaineerings Spring auction.
Steve ?

Back to Johns build. I've heard great things about the Freedom 17, and a lot of people have built it.
I'd try and use every inch of that 18' lumber ! A 17'6" would make a great tripper, Just add a 1/4" to the form spacings.

distinguished member(2478)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/09/2015 12:05PM  
I looked at both of the plans you mention in your post. The Bear Mountain design is Steve Killing design and a lot of people like his canoes. Both of the models are somewhat deep with the Cruiser being too deep IMO. 14" will really catch the wind. If I built the Cruiser, I would take out 1" across the sheerline (where the gunwales go).

The Cruiser appears to have a slightly flatter bottom but I can only tell by the drawings on the web site. Flat bottom boats do not handle well in waves. This is where a slightly shallow arched hull will help you. The canoe will stay level in waves where as a flat bottom canoe tends to ride with the waves.

I really like both canoes. The Bear Mountain design says there is a little tumblehome but I can't see it and says it's slightly rockered but I don't know how much that is. As you exceed 1 1/2" of rocker the canoe will not track as straight. And the Bear Mountain canoe is not very wide so fitting number four Duluth packs in it will be tighter.

Everything is a trade with a canoe.

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