I recently read some commentary that a fibreglass/woodstrip canoe is 'a delicate boat, fit only for a Sunday paddle on the local pond'. Since I'm thinking about building a fibreglass/woodstrip canoe, I would like to get various opinions before I start. Are they 'delicate' or are they suitable for some moderate tripping in Algonquin Park? I don't envision too much whitewater in my future.
I'm into my second year of using the strip-built canoe I made, and I don't think they're 'delicate' at all. I think the idea of their 'delicacy' may derive from the fine varnish finishes on them. If you can live with and/or repair scratches in the finish, they're fine for tripping, IMHO.
I think that the kind of people who generally like wood canoes and build them (the only way to get one comparatively cheaply) tend to be perfectionists and love the looks of the wood and take very good care not to injure the looks of it. I've not found mine to be delicate. I don't bounce it around the way I did my Old Town, but then I treated that boat abominably. I take minimal care of my stripper and it's looking scratched and pale, but it's fine. Then again, I've not done any rapids in it.
They are quite strong by nature. If you want to beef it up glass the interior from gunwale to gunwale, add some fillets in the bow and stern. Add 3 laminated ribs amidship.
I built a stripper a few years ago. My stripper takes a lot of abuse, however I take the time to sand out the scratches and revarnish the hull often inside and out, I must add that I have recently I ordered the same hull from Smith canoe in EX Kevlar so I can spend more time on the water than putting on more spar varnish. Good luck You can see my stripper at www.markplessner.com
I built a stripper a few years ago it takes plenty of abuse. I do take the time to sand out the scratches and put on new spar Varnish every time. I recently ordered the same hull in expedition Kevlar from Smith canoe. I want to spend more time paddling than varnishing. I use my canoes on the Maumee river and there are plenty of rocks. and flat water too. Good luck you can see my canoe at my website www.markplessner.com
check out the builders forum at www.bearmountainboats.com with your question
A friend of mine has an 18' Jensen build by Dusty Waters (in Iowa) almost 34 years ago. It's been to the BWCA over 12 times and it still looks great.
IMHO, strip boats are just as suitable for tripping as kevlar - and there easier to fix if you do damage them.
Thanks to everyone for replying to my post. I'm a bit more at ease about the durability of a woodstrip/fibreglass canoe.
I have owned or used fiberglas, kevlar, aluminum, wood and canvas and stripper canoes and subjected them to some pretty brutal conditions. Aluminum is pretty tough, but impossible to get the dents out, are subject to scratches like all boats and can pop rivets. Fiberglas and kevlar are ok, but take a picture of your new boat, because it will never look as nice and shiny again. Scratches are almost impossible to repair to make the canoe look like new again. My wood can canvas canoe is tough, but when you crack a rib or tear the canvas, you are looking at a major repair job. The stripper that I built takes all the punishment that the other canoes can take, BUT it is relatively easy to get scratches out and make it look new again. If by chance you punch a hole in it, which would probably happen under the same circumstances with a fiberglass, kevlar or wood and canvas canoe, repairs are not that difficult (you built it, you can fix it) and the canoe will look new again. I used to be worried about having an accident while in the bush and carried a small repair kit of a little sandpaper, a couple of small brushes, couple of containers, epoxy and fiberglass cloth. I have never had to use it. When I built it I saved a mess of wood strips so if I did need to make a repair, I could match the original wood. After several years of hard use the extra strips of wood are still gathering dust in storage. IMHO a stripper is one tough canoe and on top of that it is lighter than every one of them except the kevlar.
Where ever I go with my stripper, I get compliments on what a beautiful canoe it is, even after I get back from a trip and the canoe is full of scratches, which nobody notices. The only trouble as the builder, I notice them. Knowing that they are cosmetic and easy to fix with a light sanding and a coat of varnish, I have to restrain myself to limit the revarnishing to once a year or so. Building a stripper kind of makes you anal on how it looks.
. IMHO a stripper is one tough canoe and on top of that
I have a cedar/fiberglass canoe myself and love it. 'Course I've never bashed into a rock, so I'm not sure how it would stand up to that punishment.