I was recently delving into older threads of this canoe forum. I noticed a decent number of threads (and posts) regarding the construction of a freighter canoe. Many diff. materials were discussed: cedar strip, canvas on wood, and aluminum for the most part. Although the Scott canoes are great (the best currently around)...to purchase a new one requires quite the drive, and paying quite a bit more than what they would cost back on the East coast (they are sold 20 minutes from where I grew up). I did notice quite a big diff. in price when compared to the price in Whitehorse. From what I've been told by Scott, and forum members.....The Scott freighters were once avail. in Anchorage but the cost of shipping was through the roof......this was one of the reasons that someone had brought up the discussion of an Alaskan built canoe.
If I were to put forth the effort to construct a canoe....I wouldn't do aluminum, fiberglass, cedar strip, wood on canvas, stitch n glue, or any other of similar construction. No......what I would do is take the freighter into a new generation of construction that would compete against all others. To me.....aluminum is heavy (try dropping a paddle.....listen for the echo) and noisy. It transfers the bitter cold right from the water to your feet, and grabs ahold of rocks (lots of dents) instead of sliding over them. Now for those of you who own aluminum canoes.....don't take that the wrong way.......just stating it how it is. I wouldn't get meticulous with wood on canvas or cedar strip......and after all the work.....I couldn't push that boat and beat it up on a rocky river. I wouldn't go fiberglass because my whole agenda would be again.....to take the freighter into a new generation to compete against all others. What materials and building techniques are left? Graphite and Kevlar comes to mind. I've worked with both....and I've also worked with a woven graph./kev. hybrid cloth that worked really well with East Stem epoxies utilizing an extra slow hardener. This type of construction is so light and rigid that there really is no need for "aluminum" reinforcements like on the Scott fiberglass canoe. One more material comes to mind.....UHMW. 1/8" UHMW would add some weight but would protect this type of boat from cracking or shattering. Graphite is so rigid and tough....that it's more of a non-issue and a bit of overkill to line the bottom outer hull with UHMW. These two materials would accomplish so much when combined, bashing into rocks, dragging over wood, running across gravel.....UHMW we all know is PERFECT for that! It would protect the very rigid graphite hull from abrasion and smoothly glide over rocks. Having worked with UHMW a few times.....these two materials when combined would make an extremely rugged boat ready for any abuse....but would also provide a hull of rather light weight and a hull that could also be painted various colors (excluding the lower outer hull lined with UHMW). Many other materials have come to mind for all the mods. needed for pushing a square stern canoe to do things that the Alaskan rivers require.
A little about hull design: The only two sizes that I would put the effort into would be an 18 ft. and a 20 ft. model. The 18 ft. model would be designed to efficiently push appropriately sized loads with a 9.9 horse. The 20 ft. would be a bit more beamier and designed for a 20 horse outboard. The keels would be made of shallow (beveled) strips of 1" thick UHMW. The height of the hull would be 20 (18footer and 24 inches(20 footer)....quite a bit more than the average 15-16 inch height of most. This height would still allow comfortable paddling posture......although I don't care too much about the paddling efficiency of a darn square stern.....if I wanted to do that.....I would clone a MacKenzie sport canoe. THE MOST IMPORTANT DESIGN PARAMETER: This is perhaps the flagship of my two designs (spent 5 months drawing them up). The stern! Almost every square stern canoe drafts deep at the stern. Some square stern canoes have such terrible draft that old timers would often bolt fin shaped pieces of metal to the rear of their sterns to try and get their canoe to plane out. Some....have gone other routes such as installing outboard planing devices like the stingray. Draft is so terrible at the stern that you often waste power and fuel for a miserly increase of 1 or 2 mph. One boat that I've run in that kind of defied this problem was the Grum. Sport boat. The sport boat had a slightly wider stern and actually stayed on top of the water quite well! It achieved better speed and drafted less at the stern......BUT only being a 15 footer....it's missing the load hauling capacity of the longer square stern canoes. A stern slightly narrower than the widest part of the beam is what i have on the drawing book......not to mention a shallow 2.5" tunnel that's about 3ft. long The tunnel would be about 10 inches wide and has other technical geometry to protect it from damage and other design features. The beam of the 18ft. design is 48 inches. and the 20 ft. design is 52.25"
Having worked for a paddle company....beautiful wood accents are a must. The gun whales, the nose caps, the transom wood, the seats.....gotta have beautiful wood to counter these advanced materials! The bow has been designed to almost resemble the angle and shape of the nose of a salmon shark......the rounded up swept bow shape of traditional canoes are not practical in my design. I wanted a bow that could be bashed and ridden up over objects not "stopped" dead in your tracks.