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Restore or look for something else?

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by vtwoodworker, Feb 17, 2021.

  1. vtwoodworker

    vtwoodworker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    So I have a 1910 Charles river I have put off starting the restoration of(I have pics of it posted on this site from a few years ago)for several different reasons and really want to start on something soon. One of my hesitations is I want it to be a user and I'm just not sure how the Charles river is going to perform. I'm looking for a tripping/camping boat to mostly take on small lakes ponds and rivers to do family camping and tripping...nothing too intense. I"ve always had it in my head I wanted a chesnut prospector, but this fell into my lap a few years ago. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Canoes and other small boats like this are really personal so it's difficult to make anything more than general recommendations about them. My usual suggestion is to go try out a several different options to see what feels best to you. It is said that you don't get in and out of boats like this, you 'wear' them. The one that fits and feels good to me may not be the same one that fits and feels good to you. I would encourage you to find someone with a similar Charles River model that you can try to see if you like it. Another option is to use heat shrink plastic or some other temporary solution for a few test paddles with the one you have.

    If you really want a Chestnut Prospector then go get one. This design has been copied enough that you shouldn't have much trouble finding something close. A 17 foot long Charles River model that is 34 inches wide and 12 inches deep is clearly not going to be able to easily carry the same amount of tripping gear as an 18 foot long Prospector that is 38 inches wide and 15 inches deep. Good luck and let us know what you decide,

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
    vtwoodworker likes this.
  3. OP

    vtwoodworker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Benson, appreciate the thoughts and feedback--good stuff to chew on....
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2021
  4. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I have a 16 foot 1914 Charles River AA and I consider it to be a day tripper. It is a heavy canoe with all of that mahogany and I used No. 8 canvas that came with originals. It has no center thwart, which is a big drawback when thinking about portaging and multi-day tripping. I do consider the canoe to be surprisingly fast. I routinely carry a big dog, day gear, tandem etc. and don't consider the canoe to be overly "tippy". You are welcomed to try it sometime.
  5. OP

    vtwoodworker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Fitz, appreciate it. ITs definitely on the projesct list to finish, and I have heard it is suprisingly fast. I found a 16' picard somewhat locally that has a much better wilderness tripping profile to it and needs less work than the OT I am planning on picking up this weekend. I love the Frills of the mahogany and classy look of the charles river.
  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    How much gear you haul is a consideration. For many years our go to canoe for three of four day Adirondack trips has been a 16 foot closed rail Morris. I doubt anyone would consider a Morris as a great backcountry boat but we have always enjoyed it. Our gear is not very extravagant. We carry three dry bags and a 3 man tent, a pack basket and fishing gear. It all fit's perfectly and balances. There are no reflector ovens, wanigans, wheels or ice chests in our kit. I always double carries and have carried the Morris as far as 2.5 miles. It's been dropped a few times but it's none the worse for it.
    I once used a 1915 OT Common Sense for all of my trips and did three and 4 week paddles with made the trip from Greenville to Fort Kent twice including some pretty rough going on Moosehead and Chamberlain.
    Recent one/two week trips in Maine have been done using a 17.5 NW Atkinson Traveler. I would say without any hesitation that Rollins hull is the most perfect tripping canoe you can own. I definitely prefer it to our Chestnut and the Prospector hull, but to each their own.
    Point being, depending upon how you use it, your Old Town will probably be a great canoe to use. A Picard would also get the job done.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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  7. OP

    vtwoodworker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I do really like the lines of the Atkinson, has more of a MR explorer type of bow line to it. Lots of things to consider, aI appreciate everyone's thoughts on this.... and this isnt/wont be my only boat, but I want it to be loved and used.
  8. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    We have a 1922 16' OT Ideal -- the Ideal model, introduced some years after your canoe was built, is essentially a Charles River canoe with with top grade (AA) trim and half ribs -- and that is what you have. We find it a delight to paddle -- it is a bit more tender than our other canoes (a 15' OT 50 pound model and an Island Falls 15'9" Model 1889) but certainly not unmanageable or unsafe. And the factors that make it a bit tender also make it faster and easier to paddle, while being quite maneuverable.

    We use our Ideal for ay trips -- for camping, we have had access to larger canoes and appreciate the room (the Atkinson Traveler Mike Cyr mentions above was one, and I second his recommendation). With some careful planning and packing, I think our Ideal could serve well for a short trip. Your 17 foot CR, which has the extra foot in the middle giving more space where it is most useful, could be quite fine for camping, but . . . . you mention family camping
    -- I presume that means two people per boat, but if you are of the persuasion that holds that canoe camping lets you bring everything along including, perhaps, the kitchen sink (which canoe camping can make pleasantly possible), or if you want to bring a dog and/or a kid, you might want something larger.
  9. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

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