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10/17/2020 10:29 am  #1

My sweet new ride

Fellow AA posters, I am delighted to share with you news of my sweet new-to-me ride.  Yesterday, I picked up a Curtis Canoe Nomad, sold new in 1993 to its one an only previous owner, who lives within 15 minutes of Hemlock Canoe.  (For those who don't know - Hemlock Canoe is owned by Dave Curtis, and it was Dave Curtis who designed and built that hull.)

I have room for two canoes in my garage, so while research searching for a solo canoe, I knew my Old Town canvas lightweight model (1967) would lose the battle of the garage.  I've nothing bad to say about that boat.  It was fast, stable, fun, beautiful, had a marvelous personality, and a demonstrated non-fear of bears.  Anyway, my big plan was to take the canvas with me when I looked at the Nomad.  If the Nomad checked out and I bought it, I would take the canvas to Dave Curtis at Hemlock to sell it on a consignment basis.  So, I rolled up in Hemlock's parking lot with a canvas boat and a boat he made 27 years ago!  And it turned out that the owner of the Nomad and Dave Curtis are good friends.  Super-nice people, and to say that the canoe was well cared for would be a gross understatement.  It looks showroom new.  I'm looking at the hull with the owner, and he's saying "I think there is a scratch under here somewhere...."  I didn't see it.  

Photos, neither the one I found online when I was looking, nor my photos, do it justice.  It is just lovely.  15'4", 26.5" interior gunwale, 28.5" exterior gunwale, mid depth is 12", kevlar, weight 34 pounds.  In my solo search, I became acquainted with a lot of models/makes, but in all cases I knew I would be buying used.  At the top of my list was the Swift Osprey, second the 15' Keewaydin.  Try finding those in the U.S, and try finding them USED.  The Colden Canoe Nomad topped my list a couple years ago, but those are hens teeth.  When this boat showed up I quickly realized it was the same Nomad hull.

In addition to dropping off the canvas at Hemlock, I was able to spend a few minutes with Dave Curtis and learned a few things about the solo design.  Seat position is about 4" behind the center of gravity, height of the seat is to allow you to optimize your paddle's position in the water, and trim concept is to have a little elevation in the bow to optimize maneuverability.  Also got tips on loading for trim.  I'm just looking forward to not sitting backward in a tandem and getting wind-killed when the boat is empty.  I've been doing that since 1987.

I will introduce the boat to water for the first time in about ten years later today.  The boat can't wait, and I can't either.  I can't believe I will no longer be browsing used canoe ads.  Honestly.  I've been doing that regularly for so long.


10/17/2020 1:36 pm  #2

Re: My sweet new ride

Just got back from first paddle.  This wasn't just my first time in the new boat, this was the first time in a kevlar boat, first time in a solo boat, and the narrowest hull I've ever paddled.  Yeah, I know, I should have taken a test flight, but that wasn't an opportunity I had with this.  I think I'm going to want to lower the seat a little bit, because I now know what twitchy means.  

I started to get more used to it, as I went along.  I know I have a lot to learn here.  Just the impact of a j-stroke or a little rudder adjustment carries immediate influence on the boat.  Some observations - narrow hull means my legs have to find different comfort positions.  I need to get accustomed to knowing that this boat can lean a good bit over before it will go over.  That will come with experience, but I don't want to test that too hard in cold weather.  Pretty fast hull, that's for sure!  Held a line really well.  I now also know what "sticky" means.  I knew what it meant, and it didn't feel particularly sticky to me, but feeling is different than knowing what a term like that means.  It was a bit windy out there (the photo below doesn't show it, that was in a tree-protected area), and the boat gave no ground to it.  It was fine parallel, into, and at angles with the wind.  What was remarkable to me was I could feel everything.  Every ripple, every shift, everything translates through the hull to the paddler.  All little messages I will get familiar with.  All in all a successful first run, some nice photos, bonus - I saw a wood duck that was hanging out with some mallards.


     Thread Starter

10/17/2020 2:15 pm  #3

Re: My sweet new ride

You'll find that its "tumblehome" allows you to enjoy a long-shafted kayak paddle!
In my opinion, maybe the best-of-both .. a canoe and kayak? But I confess to never having paddled or portaged a kayak.
This is my old Bell-Magic.



10/17/2020 2:38 pm  #4

Re: My sweet new ride

Congrats Dave, that’s a great looking boat. Enjoy!


10/17/2020 5:10 pm  #5

Re: My sweet new ride

Congratulations on the Nomad. That is a real gem! If you find she is too tender you know where to find me. I will take it off your hands. Next time you take it out weigh it down with your camping gear it will settle down a lot. It also settles if you kneel in it. Not everyone is comfortable or even able to kneel in a boat with 12" shear, but it does make for a more stable feel.


10/17/2020 6:43 pm  #6

Re: My sweet new ride

Congratulations, Dave! I have the same canoe, bit older than yours, it's a tremendous tripper boat for lake country. Some craftsmanship! - still in very good shape after 30+ years (and being heavily used, at least for the last 10). Great color - mine is hard to describe after being beaten by sun for so long. Somehow difficult to maneuver in whitewater (may be it's my lack of skills), but perfectly balanced for flat water travel and wind is no issue. I usually paddle with a single pack, weighing 60-70lbs, usually in the stern, but if the wind requires I move it to the bow. Haven't tried it with double-blade, but both straight- and bent-shaft canoe paddles feel native to this canoe.


10/17/2020 7:53 pm  #7

Re: My sweet new ride

Thanks to all for the comments.  It really is a lovely canoe, and I feel kind of re-energized with the learning that is before me.  Part of me would rather not have to go through a learning process, I've got 40 years of paddling that I need to add to/modify, I'm sure it will be a process, but I'm kind of excited to do it.  I've never dunked a canoe I didn't mean to, and I have this feeling my streak will end as I mount the learning curve.  Not going to push the tumblehome too much now though, going to wait for warmer weather for that.

Eddy - interesting about the pack.  My pack generally weighs 45-50 pounds, I was thinking it would be too much to put in the stern, but maybe not.  Dave Curtis said he generally has two packs, one 30-35 pounds that goes behind him, the other, lighter (not sure how much lighter), but a daypack I gather, he puts in the bow, and fastens to the gripping thwart so it doesn't move around.  The lighter pack clips on to the larger pack so he only has to carry one pack.  I was thinking I would have to break up my pack and put something forward and most of it aft.  I guess we'll find out.  Experimentation.

The primary thing for me right now is I am no kneeler.  I think I'm going to have to lower the seat a little bit, just a couple inches maybe.    

     Thread Starter

10/18/2020 7:18 am  #8

Re: My sweet new ride

beauty canoe m.w.d.  great find,,,
    what do you have for a yoke?  
       go out and make memories 


10/18/2020 10:40 am  #9

Re: My sweet new ride

Swede - I asked Dave Curtis if he had a portage yoke that would fit the boat.  He walks across his shop to the shelves where he keeps replacement parts, grabs a portage yoke and says "this is what you want".  He likes this cut foam one-piece pad that I guess he designed, but his supplier no longer makes them and he's been trying to find a new one.  He had one pad remaining that he's keeping while he goes through that process.  No problem, I have pads I can put on it.   

So I bought the yoke and I'm thinking he hasn't made one of these boats since maybe the mid-1990's?  He grabbed it with such confidence, and I'm thinking gee I hope that fits.  I'm sure not going to say hey Dave, let me insult you and ask are you sure that is the right size?  But the yoke is cut to size - not adjustable for width.

I got home, and it fit the 26.5" like a glove.  I guess if you make enough of your own boats you remember your dimensions.


     Thread Starter

10/18/2020 4:00 pm  #10

Re: My sweet new ride

Don't foresee any problem with a 50lbs pack in the stern. I should admit that I kneel, but it doesn't put me forward of a sitting position for more than 1-2 inches. And I like an adjustable yoke - gives me a chance to move it depending on what is attached in the stern. Usually I tie my 2 paddles there, and these paddles could be heavier or lighter depending on a trip. Even some yoke pads could slightly change the fore-aft balance.


10/18/2020 5:45 pm  #11

Re: My sweet new ride

I may have been confusing when I said the yoke was non-adjustable.  I meant the width can't be adjusted.  It can be removed, and positioned fore and aft as desired, just as long as the canoe width aligns with it. 

     Thread Starter

Board footera

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