Canoe Review: The Nova Craft Moisie

Moisie Review: by Kelly McDowell, President of The Complete Paddler

The Moisie is a brand new canoe design from Nova Craft Canoes. Although it is a new design this canoe is very similar to the whitewater tripping canoes called the Evergreen Starburst and Esquif Canyon. As a former Starburst builder I could see subtle differences right away. I started to measure the Moisie as soon as it arrived in our store and the specs confirmed that it was very similar to the Starburst. The first real difference between the Starburst and the Moisie I noticed was the bottom of the canoe. The bottom of the Starburst is very flat and the Moisie has a very slightly rounded arch to it. This is not very obvious unless you are really looking at it. The other difference I noticed was how deep it was, the specs are the same as far as depth between the Starburst and the Moisie but not all Starburst were trimmed to spec. My Starburst certainly was not as deep as the Moisie we received. I am not one to measure and compare stats too much as they can be very deceiving. The only real way to know how a canoe will paddle is to paddle it!

The first test paddle we organised was with Scott Macgregor from Canoe Roots Magazine and Roch Prevost and Dave Hood from Nova Craft Canoes.We decided on the Lower Madawaska River as the Moisie is designed for white water river tripping. My bow paddler on this first trip was Stephanie Pickett a very good friend and beginner whitewater paddler.

The Moisie outperformed the Starburst in secondary stability. This improved secondary comes at a small price and that is the reduction in its initial stability. Don’t get me wrong as this reduction in initial stability is very small. Even for beginners this Moisie is a very stable boat and most people would not be able to tell the difference between the Starburst and the Moisie.

In a river situation where the water is moving quickly the Moisie is at home. In flat sections of rivers you will notice it to be slow and to be a little hard to track without a lot of correctional strokes. We outfitted the Moisie with knee pads, thigh straps and end flotation from Mike Yee. We then put a few barrels in the center to simulate the amount of gear we would have on a river trip only to find out that the Moise can fit four full sized barrels in the center!

Steph and I really enjoyed this canoe on the Lower Madawaska and we had a blast paddling with everyone. The river was not very high but it was perfect for some of the beginners out with us and it was a good class 2-3 rapid for the maiden voyage of the Moisie.

The next trip The Complete Paddler and Nova Craft planned was a day on the Upper Gatineau River. We wanted to test the Moisie on some really big whitewater. Roch and Dave joined myself and our store Manager Lindsay Finnie as my bow paddler. Lindsay is a seasoned whitewater tandem canoe paddler and absolutely fearless! Don’t let her youth fool you she has been paddling for a long time now and she can handle the big stuff. As you could imagine organising a day for all of us to go to Quebec was very difficult but we had come up with Oct 30th. As we got closer to the day we became increasing worried about the weather as some of you may recall that was the date Hurricane Sandy hit Ontario. We decided to go anyway as paddling the upper Gatineau River is like being in a hurricane anyway!

The Gatineau River was running very high and the sun was out with barely any wind at all, we really lucked out as Sandy was too far south to hit us. Lindsay and I scouted the first rapid and found out how high the river really was. Lucifer’s is the first rapid and it was a huge class 5 at that level. This is one terrifying rapid at high water! Definitely the biggest rapid I have ever paddled in an open tandem canoe. We knew we did not have a good chance of making it down without capsizing but we did want to push the boat and ourselves.

We made it down most of the rapid and ended up going over. When I say we went over, I really mean we had a violent flip from a right hand curling wave that we had planned on pushing through. It was a long cold swim as we were the only ones on the river as Roch and Dave were on shore filming. We did not have much of a problem with the rest of the class 4 and 5’s that day as this canoe was built for big water and it handled it with no issues at all.

The depth of the Moisie is what keeps the water out and I have never paddled a canoe so deep and dry. It was a big relief as Lucifer’s waves were huge and we really did not want to fill up with water right away. We did change the outfitting for this trip and installed a full center bag for added flotation.

The rocker on the Moisie is very similar to the Starburst in that it has loads!! Everyone measures rocker differently so I will not get into spec’s but this canoe can spin on a dime.

I have owned a Starburst for almost ten years and this is the only canoe I would replace it with… and I have with #2 off the production line. Who wants #3? We will be the first store to have them on Nov 14th.

– Kelly McDowell

Republished with permission, you can also find this review on The Complete Paddler’s Blog HERE >

Explore More Whitewater Canoes in the Canoe Guide>


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Register New Account
Join our community of paddlers!
Reset Password
Compare items
  • Total (0)