What do you get when you combine a pair of almond butter and jelly sandwiches, Class III rapids, two fools, and their step father’s 15-foot Pelican Dare Devil fiberglass lake canoe? Perhaps, the greatest Pelican canoe review ever!
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…
The Testing Location For This Pelican Dare Devil Canoe Review
Armed with almond butter and jelly sandwiches, moldy undersized life jackets, 2 paddles, and a glass full of ambition and ignorance, my friend Roy and I headed to northern Massachusetts for a canoe adventure with a Pelican Dare Devil Canoe.
It was an ethereal Wednesday morning in April. The sun was out. The sky was blue. It was a perfect day for risking-it-all in an attempt to successfully paddle through the turbulent whitewater, known to the locals of northern Massachusetts as the Zoar Gap.
I needed to take my step-father’s new Pelican Canoe out for a spin so I could write this review. My friend Roy was my guinea pig and the Zoar Gap was our testing area.
Getting To Know The Zoar Gap Before Cast Off
We stopped about an hour north of Springfield, MA to seek advice from some local river guides. In talking with one, we managed to confirm her suspicion that we were: (a) fairly inexperienced, and (b) had never canoed together before.
Her response was simple: drop in below the Zoar Gap to get a feel for things and then, if we accomplished that without any major setbacks, run the Gap and the upper part of the river.
And, honestly, we would have taken her advice if not for our conversation being overheard by a buff-looking 20-year old blonde, with a steel piercing in her eyebrow. “Awhh, just run it. What’s the worst that can happen? You get wet,” she smiled in a “you’re cute but pathetic” sort of way.
Pelican Dare Devil Canoe: Durability Testing
An hour later, having already capsized once due to taking on too much water, we found ourselves being carried swiftly towards the roaring Zoar Gap. We planned to go right down the middle of the mighty rapids – straight between the legs of this mercurial leviathan. But the watery beast entertained no such advances.
I clung to my mate as we slid into the white, frothy abyss, our vessel capsized, our oars lost; all perception, intelligence, and political ideology useless. We had capsized upon entering the Gap and would go down the rest of the rapid swirling in the whitewash in our Pelican Canoe.
Our external possessions turned on us – becoming additional hazards in the water. Our Dare Devil canoe half-submerged spun in the froth like a giant propeller; the oars danced like javelins thrown into a giant blender. Thrashing through the rushing current, we were operating on pure survival. Then suddenly we were out of the mess.
Having recaptured the oars, we swam to opposite sides of the river. A fly fisherman stood on the rocks above, the only apparent witness to our foolishness: two grown men floating out of the rapids with oars in hand, but no boat in sight.
“Have you seen a blue Pelican Dare Devil canoe float by?” I called to him, shivering from the bank. “The canoe has a central built-in cooler seat and fishing rod and drink holders.” I couldn’t exactly make out his answer as the initial signs of hypothermia set in, but I’m fairly certain his answer was, “No,” as he turned back upriver.
Pelican Dare Devil Canoe: Buoyancy Tests
Sanding there soaking wet, fully clothed; I saw no sign of my step-father’s Pelican canoe and began to prepare for the conversation of how we managed to lose his beautiful canoe in the Deerfield River. There would be a lot of pauses and broken thoughts, “Yup, just vanished… was nothing we could do.”
Then, like a visiting angel, a white van stopped on the bridge above. It was one of the river guides. Apparently our canoe was half-submerged in an eddy upriver. All was not lost after all.
Rescuing Our Pelican Canoe
The Pelican Dare Devil Canoe was belly-up in about 8 feet of water, so it took us some time and resourcefulness to un-swamp it without falling back into the river. Ultimately, Roy got hold of one end and we dragged the 80-pound canoe out of the water, righted it, and together prepared to confront the second half of the aquatic beast… where we would be equally as unsuccessful.
Again, we floated by some fly fisherman: two men, two paddles, no boat. This time, our vessel wasn’t stuck in an eddy. “It’s under the bridge,” he called down to us with a surprising absence of emotion. We looked towards the bridge and saw the Pelican Dare Devil canoe being carried in the whitewash at quite a good clip. Attempting to cut off the fugitive vessel at a bend in the river, we ran across the bridge and into the woods, paddles in hand. It looked like we would fail, yet the hand of Zeus reached down, stopping the Pelican canoe in the shallows.
The Pelican Dare Devil Canoe’s Impact Resistant Hull & Luxury Features
We ran down to the riverbank, pausing in the sunrays before wading into the water to recover our Pelican Dare Devil Canoe, miraculously in one piece with nothing more than a few scratches! Perhaps taking a 15 ft family lake Pelican canoe whitewater rafting isn’t such a great idea, but the fact that this canoe survived with only minor scratches is an amazing testament to Pelican and their craftsmanship! Obviously the featured Impact-resistant RAM-X hull of the Pelican Dare Devil really works.
Although we didn’t exactly get to take advantage of them on this trip, the Pelican Dare Devil Canoe also has some luxury features such as molded cushion seats, a central combo seat/cooler for keeping beer and soda cold and built-in fishing rod holders.
All and all we must have spent as much time swimming or chasing after our ship as we did paddling it, but downriver I discovered a plastic bag floating in the water. It was our almond butter and jelly sandwiches packed ever so tightly in a quart-size Glad Ziploc bag, three-quarters dry. I ripped off the river-soaked part of the almond butter sandwich and tossed it into the water. I smiled at my friend, we laughed. Next time we’ll put our lunch in the cooler.
Pelican Dare Devil Canoe: Product Features & Specifications
- Impact-resistant RAM-X™ hull
- Deluxe 15 ft family canoe
- Central built-in cooler seat
- (3) Total Seats: (1) middle seat + (2) molded seats with cushions
- Vertical rod holders
- Drink holders
- Dimensions: 187 x 37 x 15 inches
- 81 pounds
- Sturdy aluminum gunnels with a protective sleeve
- Bow carrying handles
- Stern carrying handles
- Max. capacity 800 lb – 363 kg
Why The Pelican Dare Devil Canoe Is The Perfect Family Canoe
The Pelican Dare Devil is a perfect family canoe. Just load up a few drinks in the built-in cooler seat, stick a few fishing poles in the vertical rod holders, and paddle off for an afternoon of family fun. If this Pelican canoe can survive the Zoar Gap barely scratched, it can survive an afternoon of fishing.
NERD NOTE: Pelican International specializes in twin sheet thermoforming. They fuse HDPE decks and hulls together so they become one piece. This technique translates into extremely durable boats that last for years and have the ability to regain their initial shapes after violent impacts.