Mike McCrea - 2004 Odyssey 14
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Mike McCrea shares his love for his 2004 Odyssey 14 and some stories behind his boat. Mike is a master story teller (read his blog entries to see for yourself!), and we appreciate him sharing his stories in such detail. Read below to learn about Mike and his Odyssey 14:
"The Mohawk Odyssey 14 is my favorite steam and creek canoe, especially for occasionally shallow water gravel bars. I tell people “It’ll float across a dew lawn”, and it proved it on the very first trip.
I had traded one of our tandems to a young family man for his nearly new, factory outfitted Odyssey 14, and he was quite proud of the hull’s pristine condition. The very first trip, on section of river with no gauge or useful correlation, after a long complex multi-vehicle shuttle, we arrived at the put in and, in near unison, remarked “That looks really low”.
The “trip organizer”, (not me), who had never before paddled this section, replied “I think it gets deeper”. We debated it, but we were there, at the put in, in great weather, with the shuttle set, Whadda ya gonna do, drive home like a wimp?
That would have been a wise choice. It did not get deeper, the tributaries were trickles, and in places that should have had fun waves and rapids there was often barely a hull’s width to sneak between boulders. Eh, sometimes less than a hull width, and the rocks and boulders weren’t the worst of it.
The river narrowed at a bridge crossing. A bridge supported by a mid-stream concrete pylon. A pylon with a long, rectangular and noticeably crumble decayed foundation, now fully exposed by the low water, smack dab where the only available current piled in shallow curl against it.
The only run-able spot was tight against that foundation. By “tight” I mean I couldn’t I couldn’t get much of a paddle blade in the water to even set up an approach, or effect a draw, and could only cringe as one side of the canoe skreeeeked against the crusty concrete foundation. It was a memorably long concrete foundation; I remember because, without the ability to brace, I bodily hugged most of that concrete trying to keep my head inside the gunwales.
The Odyssey 14 will indeed float across a dewy lawn, or down a stream below anyone’s estimated level of “Canoe Zero”.
That was not the Odyssey’s only shallows trip, but that one is another story, involving a local dam fed river with a USGS on-line gauge, which I had watched, and checked that morning. They unexpectedly closed the gates during the hour it took us to set shuttle and drive to the put in. “That looks really low”. It involved more wading & dragging than paddling. Another memorable trip.
The Odyssey is such a user friendly solo canoe that everyone in the family paddles it, and it sees action as a newbie loaner canoe. Still going strong 18 years later, it has the usual bottom scratches, but those concrete foundation scrapes, high up on the left chine, yeah, I remember them. And I smile. Scratches, scrapes and dents hold stories.
The Odyssey came with factory float bags, lacing, straps and D-rings. In a testimony to Mohawk’s factory outfitting everything is, 18 years later, still solidly in place. Which is surprising because I have never taken the float bags out. That is not a recommended practice, but it is nice to have one canoe always laced, strapped and bagged at the ready. Those bags are UV bleached near white in places, still no leaks.
The Odyssey also came with a Mohawk Strap Yoke, and I have since put a strap yoke in each of our solos, and in a dozen friend’s solo canoes. No little parts and pieces to twistdiddle with or lose, always there, rolled up out of the way under an inwale, mere seconds to connect or disconnect. A genius simple solo canoe carry yoke solution.
The aluminum plate seat hangers came with small plastic spacers, allowing the seat to be changed to the desired elevation or cant angle; I once calculated that there were 16 different heights and angles possible using those hangers and spacers. Another simple genius solution to personalized seat height and angle; dial it in just right, leave it there.
The webbed Mohawk seat was still solid after 15 years, but I replaced it with a laminated ash and basswood double contour Conk seat, mostly because I had one in the shop, and that special seat needed to go in some desirable and oft used solo.
The two loose straps around the seat are there to hold a slightly deflated (for good sitz bones contact) ThermaRest seat pad for cupped derriere padding. That pad wraps around the front seat rail for some kneeling under-thigh comfort as well.
With the canted & contoured seat, carved minicel inwale bumpers for knee comfort, an adjustable foot brace (padded of course) and a back band, I can lock into the canoe at five points of contact while seated. And if that isn’t enough drop to more prayerful position on the kneeling pads.
The Odyssey got all of the other customary outfitting touches; High Intensity reflective tape bow and stern, large deck plate drain holes, and painter keeper bungees in a / \ pattern.
With the painter line always held between the / \ and extracted the same way it is impossible to yank the line out underneath a bungee cord. No more grabbing a painter in a hurry only to find some boingy-boingy bungee trapped painter elasticity is inadvertently involved.
After some years of shallows abuse, when the vinyl wear area on the stems was apparent, the Odyssey got Dynel fabric skid plates. Installed with G/flex epoxy, black pigment and graphite powder, roller compressed under release treated peel ply. Tough as nails, with a no-gurgle thin profile.
And, finally, modified bow and stern spray shields, which serve both to keep standing wave action out, and help protect the float bags from punctures and UV exposure."