Canoe Review: Original Wee Lassie

C&K tests five worthy descendants of Nessmuk’s Wee Lassie—and one lapstrake original

Original Wee Lassie.
Original Wee Lassie.

Original Wee Lassie

(L: 11'; W: 22"; 16 lbs.)

This is the trunk from which all branches spring forth. Made from oak ribs and cedar lapstrake planks, this Wee Lassie is true to the form of the original. No fiberglass, just clinched copper nails and spar varnish on the outside. No seat, just as with the original. Nessmuk would have used a small pad of some sort and leaned on the thwart directly behind the center of the balance point.

The reviewer (my lovely wife Stephanie, who is much more suited to the capacity of the boat than I am) loved paddling this boat. Yes, it's gorgeous, but she loved how it slipped through the water. It was plenty stable. She said she'd like to paddle it again. I can arrange that. Because it's mine, all mine.

The only slight problem is that we didn't pre-soak the hull to get it to tighten up a little, so it took on some water during our test outing. If you decide to procure a traditional wood lapstrake canoe, bear in mind it needs a little maintenance. After a good coat of spar varnish, it's watertight again. This is a boat that wants to be paddled, and often.

And, of course, wood is fundamental. It's where we, as a species, started our love affair with canoes, with an old cottonwood log and a sharp rock. We got better at it, of course, but there's something about paddling a canoe that doubles as furniture. If you can find one and you are an aesthete, buy it. Use a light wooden paddle.

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