Saturday, March 16, 2013


I was up at 4 AM to get ready to drive to Chattanooga to meet with the owner of the Mohawk Canoe Company.  I quickly made two quarts of piping hot coffee, jumped in the old Ford truck and was off----for that blasted interstate.   The drive wasn't bad that early in the morning and I sort of enjoyed it.   Chattanooga is about an hour and a half from Knoxville but Knoxville is about an hour drive from my house.  Mohawk is closed on Saturday but, the owner, Richard, was kind enough to meet me personally to assure I had my new canoe for the weekend even though I said there was no rush and that I didn't want to ruin his day off.   I pulled in the factory lot at 7 AM and called him.  We were together in another twenty minutes.  I was impressed, to say the least, at the enthusiasm of Richard's desire to make me a satisfied customer and the pride he exhibited about his canoes.  This impressed me.  I can tell a fraud right away and Richard was the real deal.  

I kicked around and looked in the windows to see if I could spot any canoes.

Things appeared to be in disarray in there.  The boats were sitting here and there and paper, plastic and boxing material seemed to be lying about on the floor and on tables.  Then, I remembered that this is a factory and not a showroom.  It's purpose is for building boats and not impressing people.
I had read all the reviews about this particular canoe and they all were very favorable.  I wasn't really excited about this boat but, after talking to Richard about the technical aspects of the build - my enthusiasm to get my hands on it increased.  We walked back to the shop and he pointed my boat out to me.  It was lying across two saw horses top up.  It did look good, and big.  This boat is a 17 foot long, royalite Nova tripping model.  Royalite is extremely tough stuff and impervious to rocks.  It has moderate rocker and a beam of 35".  That's not the widest boat in the world but, it's wide just the same.  The huge expedition boats will run 37" beam to beam (total width at the middle).  The 35" width should be a snap to paddle.  My Mistral was 37" and I had no problem with it at all even when fully loaded.  The down side to this boat is the weight of 72 pounds.  She's heavy!  That's why I am picking it up with the canoe trailer and not hefting it to the top of the truck cap.  I lifted that Mistral to the truck cap numerous times and paid the price by experiencing sciatica.  I don't want anything to do with sciatica ever again.
We loaded it onto the trailer and I was headed back home.  The trip back was horrible.  I did mention I don't like anything about interstates, didn't I?  I stopped at Melton Hill Lake to take the Nova for a spin along the shoreline.  The wind, however, was really strong and put a stop to that plan.  I just drove on back to the hide out.
The dog is the same stuffed coon hound I posted previous to this one.  This boat is heavy and should displace a fair amount of water resulting in good primary stabilization.  The nova is noted as a very, very stable boat all round.  I can't wait to try her out.
This boat can't be compared, really, with the Attikamek kevlar boat.  It would be apples and oranges.  One is a antelope and the other a buffalo.  The Nova is praised as a fast tripping boat but, kevlar is tops for speed.  It can't be beat.  I'm looking for a boat that will not be torn apart on rocks and gravel, super stable all around, will carry heavy loads and is dog proof.  The dog part is most important because I can't camp on the shores of any lake without Shade.  Just won't work.
The fitment and quality of the build are great on this boat.  The materials are not of the traditional materials - cane and ash wood - but they are heavy duty modern plastics and nylon.
 The seat hangers are made of aluminum instead of the traditional hand carved ash wood.  That's ok.  It's not a big deal on a canoe that is used strictly for business.  The seat is made of nylon webbing instead of woven cane.  That's fine too.  It's a durable material and build.
The gunnels and fore and aft decking is hard plastic.  This is extremely durable stuff and will stand up to severe use.  The Attikamek trim and decking is all ash wood.  It's durable also but boasts tradition.  It is below:

See the difference?

There is a fare amount of wood in the build.  The thwart (brace between the gunnels), the seat frame and the yoke (to fit against the back of the neck) are all wood and nicely finished.  Even the entry line (sharpness of the bow) is fairly sharp.  This is the part that slices through the water.  Note the entry line on both the kevlar boat and the Nova.

They both have sharp entry.  The Attikamek is a bit sharper.   I lugged that big thing across the yard, up the steps and into the living room.  Whew!  That thing ain't going on my shoulders any time soon.  It's hard to see due to the light reflecting off the boats but, you can see how much wider the green Nova is than the Attikamek.  That wide shallow arch bottom is what will give the stability when getting in and out as well as paddling.  It also will make the boat slow.  I'm in no hurry though.
That's sort of an introduction to the Nova 17 footer.  I'll get it on the water as soon as the wind dies down a bit.  The oak trees out in the yard are really being blown around as I write this and rain is due in tonight and is to last through tomorrow.   We'll see.  There's some good things on the horizon so, keep tuned in.  The adventure continues.  :)