Buying a Canoe - Stage I
Renting a canoe for a two-month expedition is not the best idea. Katie and I have decided to buy our very own canoe, and let me be the first to tell you -- this is not an easy process. It’s kind of like buying the right kind of car for a specific task, but since we are in Texas (instead of Minnesota, for example), we can’t exactly go around to different dealers and test paddle all the available boats.
To those uninitiated in the canoeing world, there are numerous types out there. Since the NFCT involves crossing Lake Champlain, the largest lake in the United States after the Great Lakes, as well as navigating through a series of rivers, we need a versatile canoe. Our vessel needs to handle long stretches of flat water as well as currents, rapids, and river bends. We have pretty much decided on the Wenonah Spirit II, an expedition canoe that can handle both types of environments. And even though we haven’t test-paddled it, we have borrowed Katie’s parents’ Wenonah canoe. Theirs is a different model, an ultralight Kevlar suitable for the lakes and portages of the Boundary Waters.
But where to buy the canoe? As I said, our geography really limits our options. We found Hayward Outfitters, an outlet operation based out of Wisconsin that sells canoes with slight blemishes and is willing to ship directly to our house. Major problem: they don't have a canoe with all the specs we want (right color, right weight, adjustable web seats, black aluminum trim, etc).
We could request a custom canoe from Wenonah, but we need to find a retailer nearby to do the ordering and receiving. The nearest is TG Canoes and Kayaks located approximately 40 miles away in San Marcos. We are currently communicating with them about our custom order, and hopefully we can have our canoe within about a month or so.
In more important news, I have conceded (quite shockingly, and doubly shocking because I've become happy to do so) to buying a MANGO-COLORED canoe. We've also considered several names for this thing. "Dolores" was my favorite (Seinfeld fans, anyone?), but that got shot down for propriety's sake. The name at the top of the current list is "Pearwood," the name of the street of our first house together, because this boat will be our home away from home for quite awhile.
I'm dreaming of the day we finally have our mango boat. Maybe we'll hold a formal christening with champagne. And then take it on a maiden voyage down the Colorado River this spring.