How much do your boats weigh?
Our lightest boat – the SpitFire XLT Ultra weighs in at a scant 18 lbs. The Spitfire XLT is our standard laminate and is RUGGED. XLT stands for “Xtra Lite Trim” – a 50/50 weave of carbon and Kevlar braided sleeving over a foam core that is infused at the same time as the rest of the hull (a system developed at Placid Boatworks) – weighs in at 21 lbs. Both weights include seat, backband, footpegs and portage pads. In fact, all of our boat weights are “as paddled” – no bare hull weights for advertising purposes here. Other solo boats in our line weigh between 19.5 and 22.5 lbs in XLT Ultra and 23 and 26 lbs in XLT. Wood – we use cherry – adds three to four pounds, depending on model.
What's included in the price?
Everything. We give you your choice of color and your choice of seat. The boat comes with backband, footpegs and portage pads.
I noticed that your boats don't have foam cores like a lot of composite boats. Doesn't using a foam core in the hull laminate make boats lighter? What about repairing?
You can make a very lightweight boat with a foam core in the bottom. Sandwiching foam between two laminate layers makes a very stiff panel. However, using our vacuum infusion process results in a hull that is about as light as a foam cored boat without the downsides. The problem with a foam core occurs when the laminate that is adjacent to the foam core is soft – as many are when the object is to save weight. When you hit a submerged rock or other sharp object, the non-cored area of the hull will deflect – until it gets to that stiff foam core – at which point it breaks. Repairing is a nightmare, too, because water gets into the core space and travels between the foam and the laminate. To repair this requires removal of a large panel of laminate from the inside of the boat, removal of a large panel of foam, thorough drying and patching of the inside of the outer panel, replacement of the foam and replacement and patching of the inside laminate panel. Then, the gel coat needs to be repaired. In the event of a large hit that results in a crack to a Placid boat, a Kevlar patch and gel coat is all that’s required to fix it. Repair kits are available.
Why vacuum infuse? Isn't that a more complicated, time consuming and expensive process compared with hand lamination or vacuum (wet) bagging?
Yes, it is more labor intensive and requires more materials and expertise. But it is clean – 90% of resin styrene emissions are captured in the closed bag – and produces a hull that has no trapped voids which weaken the laminate. Extra resin, which adds weight and no strength, is also removed from the system. Watch our video on how we build our boats to learn more.
Why is the bottom white?
The bottom of all Placid hulls is an off-white gel coat. This is done because when you scratch any color gel coat, it scratches white. Making the bottom a white color hides all of those incidental scratches you’re going to get and acts as a scuff patch. When paddled, the off-white patch is slightly below waterline. It can also help you trim your boat when carrying a load by having someone observe the patch from the side while you’re floating.
Why do you use gel coat on the outside of your boats? Does it, and the color, add weight?
Gel coat adds a small amount of weight to the boat, but it gives the fabric on the outside of the hull some abrasion resistance and protection. You may have seen some older “skin coated” boats – just fabric and resin on the outside – that have become worn through on the stems (and “fuzzy” in the case of Kevlar outside layers) due to repeated dragging over rocks and sand. And even skin coated boats have something filling the outer surface of the fabric weave (or in some cases, partially filling it – leaving it rough in spots) – resin, which is not weightless as some may lead you to believe. Our upper tint colors add no more weight than that of clear gel coat.
What are your end decks made of? They're beautiful.
Our decks are handmade from blocks of birch plywood with each ply dyed a different color (three in all; colors alternate). The plywood is formed under intense heat and pressure, and with the use of a lot of resin, so it is more of a laminate than a wood in the end. They require no maintenance but can be touched up with 120 grit sandpaper and spar varnish.
Why do your boats get narrow at the top? What other design features make them different than anything else out there?
All of our boats possess generous shouldered tumblehome to improve paddler access to the water and allow for more vertical paddle strokes and better tracking. You also get to use a shorter (and lighter) paddle when compared to a straight-sided boat. They’re more difficult to build than a straight-sided boat because the narrowing at the top requires that we use two-piece molds to be able to remove them. We feel the effort is well worth it. Differential bow and stern stem radii (stem radii as viewed from the side – much smaller in the stern) create a de facto skeg which greatly enhances tracking .All of our boats have asymmetrical rocker, too, allowing for responsive turning as well as great tracking. Lower shear height than conventional canoes makes for easier access to the water, too. (There’s a glossary of design terms at the bottom of the page.)
I don't see any screws or bolts holding parts in. How do you attach your footpegs, seats and other parts?
Composites and drill holes don’t mix. When holes are drilled through a hull it: 1) creates a hole in a perfectly good boat (bad idea); and, 2) creates a stress riser that will inevitably begin to crack as the part bolted through the hull flexes and the bolt “works” the composite. There are plenty of old composite boats out there with drilled and bolted outfitting to attest to this. We use a special marine adhesive to hold all of our outfitting in the boat. It keeps the lines clean and prevents stress cracks caused by hull flex at hole locations. It also allows us to put in custom attachment points for gear at customer specified locations. Our seats are also bonded in rather than sitting on top of the inner laminate. When a plastic seat sits on top of laminate, sand WILL eventually get between the two and it WILL act as sandpaper.
Which seat is best for me?
We get this one a lot. And I can’t answer it for you (though you can check out the heights and angles on our Outfitting page). Everyone’s different and paddles differently. I CAN tell you that we offer three pedestal-style seats – higher ones can be fit over lower ones – so you can have more than one seat for your boat. All boats come standard with a comfortable kayak backband. We also offer several different kayak seat/backband options for the ultimate in comfort.
What's the best way to portage?
Our boats come with two portage pads. They store on the thwarts and are placed on the rails for portaging. The boats are typically carried on one shoulder; the second pad protects your hip from the boat bouncing against it as you walk. We also offer a fabric portage yoke which allows comfortable overhead portaging.
Your boats are so narrow compared to what I'm used to. Are they tippy?
In a word, no. There are two types of stability when referring to boats – primary and secondary stability. Primary, or initial stability, is the feel a boat has when you first get in it and are sitting still; flat bottomed boats (and floating docks) have high initial stability. Secondary stability refers to how stable a boat is while underway, in waves, or when leaned. Boats with slightly elliptical bottoms like ours tend to have good initial stability and excellent secondary stability. Our boats can be leaned to the rail and will not tip over (provided you keep your nose between the rails!). We’ve had our boats out in some very big lakes with high winds and waves and they’ve always performed beyond our expectations.
What' s the best paddle/length to use with your boats?
Although our boats are designed to be paddled as open-top kayaks, with double bladed paddles, they perform very well with a short single bladed paddle as well. Because of our shouldered tumblehome and relatively low shear height, most people use 220 cm high angle and 230 cm low angle kayak paddles. Single blade paddles usually run from 46-48 inches. We carry Werner (double) and Fox Worx (single and double) paddles.
Do your boats have flotation?
Yes. There is a bulkhead in each stem that creates a trapped air tank providing more than adequate positive flotation. A small plug allows the tank to “breathe” as atmospheric pressure and temperature changes. XLT boats are foam cored, adding even more positive flotation.
What's the best way to transport and store?
See our Storage and Transport page. We recommend transporting with a proper cartop rack with gunwale bracket
Glossary of Design Terms
Differential Bow and Stern Profiles: Asymmetry and differential rocker encourages different bow and stern profiles, or curvature, when viewed from the side. Increasing bow profile radius improves maneuverability, reduces wetted surface and drag, reduces impact damage, and encourages the bow to shed floating debris, like seaweed. Tightening the stern profile improves tracking and handling in following seas.
Differential Shear: Our shear line — the arc formed by the gunwale from bow to stern as viewed from the side — is lower in the stern to reduce weight and wind purchase. We use roughly half as much rise to stern as to bow. Differential sheer also aesthetically balances our larger bow profile.
Elliptical Bottom: Elliptical Center Sections increase initial stability and give more predictable handling when combined with soft chines. Elliptical bottoms are harder to stiffen than arched bottoms, but we take care of that. Soft Chines improve “sea kindliness” as the canoe tips less in beam seas – when sideways to waves.Flare: Placid Boatworks canoes are flared from bow to stern. The sides of the canoe widen increasingly from the waterline upward for most of the vertical distance to the rail. That flare directs waves upwards and outwards, keeping our canoes very dry in waves and spray. Flare also increases final stability by increasing the volume of the boat in the water as it is heeled or rolls to either side.Gothic Arc End Sections: Arched end sections increase flare above waterline and yield fine entry lines. In the stern, these combine to improve tracking, and make the boat more kindly in following seas. In the bow, we modify the arch by rounding the profile (under the keel line) to reduce drag, quiet the hull, and reduce front impact damage.Moderate Asymmetry — placing the widest center section aft of amidships — increases forward performance and narrows the bow station in tandems. Asymmetry compromises reverse maneuvers and back paddling. Our Fire boats are play boats and moving water trippers, and have little asymmetry. Our flatwater trippers have moderate asymmetry and our ultra cruisers have more radical asymmetry.Rocker: Rocker is upward curvature along the keel line at bow and stern as measured from keel at boat center. Increased rocker increases maneuverability, reduces trim sensitivity and decreases wetted surface. Increasing the rocker in the bow relative to the stern increases the bow paddlers control of the canoe and quiets the bow wake without compromising tracking. The stern has less rocker to aid in keeping the canoe on course and to stabilize the boat in following seas. This is particularly important in double-blade paddle pack canoes, as horizontal, sweeping forward strokes are often used.
Shoulders: Using a complex SHOULDER, Placid carries flare high to a double radius that tumbles home to efficient narrow rails. The tight radius deflects waves outward and the TRIANGLE of RESERVE indicates how shoulders increase reserve stability.
Tumblehome: A carryover from wooden canoes where the bilge curvature of bent ribs carries the ends upward and inward. The shape necessary in traditional canoes narrows gunwale spacing, providing narrow paddling stations. It is easier for smaller paddlers to get both hands across the rail for more efficient strokes. Narrow gunwales also ease portaging because the hands are closer together.
A (Few) Word(S) About Carrying Capacities
The paddlesports industry has no meaningful standard to compare relative capacities. The USCG freeboard rule is meaningless. No canoe is maneuverable or seaworthy so loaded. Placid Boatworks canoes are measured and rated for displacement in one-inch draft increments. We feel solos should not be loaded past 4 inches draft, nor tandems past 5 inches.
Placid Boatworks canoes flare above designed waterline for a geometric increase in resistance to load. Rocker also helps control and maneuver a heavily burdened canoe. Our canoes are designed for people plus gear, but paddler skill is always a factor. It is best to test canoes with the intended payload. Bring along your camping gear on a test paddle or use our pre-measured sandbags to approximate your tripping loads. Consider that testing canoes in windy conditions will give more useful information than a paddle around the pond in calm weather.