Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blast From the Past - A Canoe Earns a Name

When I was a kid, my father never had a canoe of his own - they were always borrowed from someone else when we used them. My mother decided one year to get my father his first canoe. She went down to the local sporting center and picked one out. It was a bright yellow 16' Lincoln fiberglass canoe with a black interior much like the one in the picture below. My mom was very happy with the color, mostly, and my dad was very happy with the canoe itself. As a matter of fact, my father still has the canoe although sadly, we haven't paddled it in years as there are too many other canoes in his livery to choose from. This past winter, we moved it out of the basement of my grandparent's old house for the installation of a new furnace and put it back a few weeks ago.

I remember several things from the first time I paddled the canoe. It was:
  • Fast (Hot rod fast - for a canoe.)
  • HOT! (The interior is black, like the one above.)
  • 'Slippery'
I guess that I should explain the last item. The canoe is a "laker" in that it has very little rocker, a molded-in keel and a cross-section that is a shallow arch with tumblehome. Boats with this type of cross-section usually don't have very much initial stability (they feel 'tippy'...) but generally have good reserve stability once the boat starts to heel. (It 'stiffens up' as the boat heels.) However, i would describe this canoe as very 'slippery' in that it lacks both initial and reserve stability until you put a load of gear into it. Paddlers in this canoe have to be co-ordinated fairly well to avoid becoming swimmers.

We belonged to a Boy Scout troop and had planned a canoe trip to the Grand Lake Stream area in Maine. One of the parents of a fellow Scout has a cabin at the south end of Third Machias Lake and we were to start the trip there. After dinner at the cabin, my father and one of the other Assistant Scout Masters decided to go for a little paddle. With the bow of the canoe in the sand of the beach, this fellow made his way to the back of the empty canoe, crouched low, paddle in hand making his way along the center of the canoe to the stern. He managed to turn and sit down on the seat. He made one sudden move to adjust himself on the seat and the next thing we knew he was in Third Lake's frosty water and came up spluttering.


And, keel or no, the name was cast in stone.

The Keel-less Wonder.

I should point out the fact that the Overboard Brothers happened to be paddling the Keel-less Wonder on the day they went into the drink.


texcollex said...

My wife and I just bought a Lincoln 16' fiberglass that appears to be the same build as this one. Ours is the fake birch bark color, but otherwise it looks identical. It seems to be in very good shape. Haven't tried it in the water as we picked it up just today. We actually called the company to try and find out the weight limits of the canoe, but they are under new ownership as of a few years ago. Their records don't cover the serial number that ours has. The new owner said he would try and identify it from photos and measurements if we brought them by. What year did your mother buy that one?

Canoez said...

I think she bought that canoe sometime between 1980 and 1983. The canoe is a 16' model and has carried two people and enough gear for a 10 day wilderness trip. I'm sure it was a little deeper than the 4" waterline when that trip started out, 'tho.