Mike McCrea - 2003 Nova 16


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Mike McCrea is no stranger to rehabbing old canoes. "I repair or refurbish a few canoes every year", Mike says. " A lot of boat repair – paint, epoxy, urethane, adhesives - is short work and walk away. At long last I’ve found my dream job; 20-minute days, and all the unpaid leave I desire." This time, Mike tackles a 2003 Nova 16 rehab project. Click here and here to see Mike's photo albums of the rehab, and read on below to experience the rehab through Mike's eyes... 

"The Nova 16 is friend Jane’s canoe, a three-seater purchased so she could introduce her young daughters to canoeing. Her husband, despite owning a growing fleet of his own, also used it occasionally, as did her daughters without her. And then it sat, UV protected under a deck, for a decade or more.

The unmaintained thwarts needed replacement and the Nova 16 was so years-of-accumulated grime filthy that a thorough scrubbing inside and out was the first order of business. That cleaning revealed a 20-year collection of yuck hosed out from under the inwales, but other than some minor wear area on the stems the canoe was in remarkably good condition.

The stems needed only Dynel fabric, graphite powder and G/flex mini-skid plates. The peel ply compressed Dynel skid plates are barely 1/16” thick, weigh 2oz total and are five times more abrasion resistant than S-glass.

Half of the webbing yoke had been “borrowed” to use in another canoe by a spouse-who-shall-be-nameless; luckily Jane didn’t notice and I had part of a Mohawk web yoke to salvage missing pieces.

Replacing the missing strap yoke parts was an easy fix, as was everything else.

New thwarts, or actually new old thwarts; from a stash of ash DIY’s I made 20 years ago; out of a dozen made I had three left. Webbing loops with 3/16” holes melted through the folded ends installed on the machine screw shanks; the easiest, sturdiest tie points imaginable. Both new thwarts got a length of bungee with a grabber dowel, run through an underside cord lock for easy tension-ability.

Painter keeper bungee, also with cord locks, through existing holes on the expansive deck plates. That use occluded the molded-in deck plate holes for painter lines, so painters attached to new carry thwarts at either end, waste not, want not made from scraps of the old thwarts. Again with webbing loops below, for a total of eight sheerline height tie points.

No frou-frou outfitting this time. No D-rings, back band, foot brace, minicel knee bumpers or utility sail thwart, just back to a stock 3-seater Mohawk Nova 16.  Balanced hanging from the shop scale, 67lbs. I added a whopping 22oz of outfitting.

The Nova 16 had an oddly adventurous and multipurpose early life, including as Jane’s solo canoe (excellent swamp canoe). And use by a spouse who shall be nameless, who has more canoes than hairs on his head, occasionally “borrowing” it for unauthorized trips with the dog. Good dog companion canoe; good dog, naughty spouse.

The Nova 16 saw frequent participation in oddball “Canoe Olympics” competitions, including Stand-up paddle races, both Father & Child Class and Mixed Juniors Class. The Nova 16’s shallow arch makes a wonderfully stable canoe for a 35” beam tandem.

The Nova 16 ruled the infamous Tandem Backwards races; two paddlers per canoe, facing in opposite directions. For some reason mixed double and single blades were often the weapons of choice. Teams were given the choice of either facing opposite ends of the canoe or facing inwards towards each other. Facing your partner provoked too much helpless off course laughter and experience showed that facing away was the more “efficient” option.

There was little enough efficiency; the canoecluster at the mass start of that bass-akwards race, with boats veering which way, was comical to behold. The “secret” was to get clear of the chaos quickly. Jane, facing forward, opted to dig hard correction strokes with a single blade, and rounded the far turn ahead of the competition with an insurmountable lead.

I credit her partner; that’s my wife in the stern facing the stern, providing backpaddling power with a long double blade."

And what's next for Mike? "I’m keeping an eye out for a derelict Solo 13 or 14, or a Pack", Mike says. "Smaller canoes are easier to rehab."

Update from Mike: "The Nova 16 was sold to a nice young couple, who set a shuttle before they arrived and did a river trip on their way home. I am beyond delighted that the Nova stayed local."



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