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Old 04-13-2020, 03:00 PM   #15
Bob K
Bob K's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Saratoga County, NY
Posts: 565

Iíll add my input as the owner of both a PBW and a Hornbeck solo who does a lot of paddling in the Adirondacks. When I expanded my fleet from a 14ft kayak (Perception Spectrum) and 16ft tandem (OT Penobscot) I considered several of the boats you mention. I wanted a lightweight canoe suitable for double blade paddle that I could solo camp with for multiple days and could handle rough water. Long portages were less of a concern than carrying capacity, durability, seaworthiness and lifting the boat safely on/off my car.

I had paddled a friendís 12ft HB before & liked much about it. I had been considering Swift solos too. After I met a retired ranger deep in the woods who recommended PBW, I went to try out both the Spitfire & Rapidfire. I brought much of my camping equipment to check for fit & handling with a load (loaded cooler, backpack, popup chair & other stuff). After the test I picked the RF over the SP due to capacity (I donít travel light). Mine has wood rails and seat on the floor.

As others have said, the Yost hull designs seem to perform very well including rough open water (LTL, Cranberry, Lk George). On an attempted trip to do the Lila traverse on LTL with a friend in a 12ft HB, we had to turn back when he took on water (and I had more of the load). That was not the only time Iíve seen a 12ft HB not perform as I would like in rough water.

Granted my boat is 15ft, but I do believe the Yost hulls shed waves better that at least the old style HBs without taking on water. This includes power boat wakes as well as wind driven waves. I do not have firsthand experience with New Trick hull. My HB (my wifeís) is an older 10.5í Lost pond and while a great little boat, not what you are looking for.

The extra layer & gel coat on the PBW (like Swift) makes the boat stiffer and more durable than most HBs, but with some cost & weight penalty. The PBW seat back is way better (I added a similar one to my HB) and you need foot rests. I also added a spray cover for mine (and in fact made one for my friend with the 12ft HB for his safety).

Both firms are good at doing repairs reasonably & I know PBW sells a repair kit with clear/tinted/white resin, patch materials & sandpaper. My 10 yr old boat is now in fine shape again - and I use it a lot without babying it. Both Pete & Joe are nice guys and you should feel good about supporting them.

Enjoy your search & donít let a few hundred $ make the decision for you. If you do get a HB, I recommend the highest sidewalls for safety with a load (penalty is getting more windblown, not really weight). Consider a spray cover eventually at least for the front.
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