Nova Craft Moisie

A River-Running Expedition Canoe deserving to be amongst the kayak classics

Nova Craft Moisie

Tester Conor taking the Nova Craft Moisie for a ride. Photo: Conor Mihell

Nova Craft Moisie
($2,079; novacraft.com)
L: 16’6”; W: 34”; 77 lbs. in Royalex Plus, 67 lbs. in Royalex

Mister Twister is a bizarre hybrid hole-eddy that eats canoes for breakfast. It’s the last hurrah on the Agawa River, a 20-mile whitewater run flowing through Ontario’s most spectacular canyon, a 600-foot-deep corridor of granite and pine that embraces the river all the way to Lake Superior. Mister Twister isn’t a difficult rapid if you run it cautiously along an inside sneak route. But to get caught up in the main flow usually means at best a wet ride and at worst a cold swim.

I test-paddled the Nova Craft Moisie on the Agawa last spring. The 16.5-foot whitewater tripper’s maneuverability shined on the upper river, where the run begins with a steep, Class III rock garden and a high-volume narrows section. The Moisie inspired my partner and I from the outset with its ability to turn on a dime in turbulent water. Instead of relying on cumbersome back-ferries—the usual technique for piloting a loaded tripper through whitewater—we found ourselves running the river as if in a tandem playboat, deftly spinning upstream to front-ferry powerfully back and forth across the river.

So when we hit Mister Twister we lined up a hero route, smoothly catching the last-chance micro-eddy above the gyrating drop and planning an aggressive front-ferry across the top of the hole. Alas, we bit off more than we could chew. The river promptly spun us downstream as we peeled out and lined us up directly with the meat. Without the benefit of speed we prepared for the worst. The Moisie wallowed in the foam, but a couple of braces kept the open side up. Amazingly, when the canoe pulled clear of Mister Twister’s grasp, the inside was still dry.

Credit the Moisie’s four inches of rocker for its agility, and cavernous 15-inch depth plus soaring bow and stern profiles for its unparalleled dryness in big water. A direct descendant of long-defunct U.S. canoe manufacturer Blue Hole’s popular Starburst design, the Moisie performs just as well when loaded down with two weeks’ worth of food and gear. And with a trim 34-inch beam, it’s not too big to paddle solo. Just remember that maneuverability and volume come with a downside on windswept lakes: Choose the Moisie if you favor big-water rivers with minimal flatwater between the drops. — CM

 

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