Looking to do more canoeing on both flat and easy moving water, I bought a Hōu 13, the smallest canoe available in their fleet at 13’3”. The moulds were designed by Colin Broadway (a UK based canoeing legend) and were very successful for many years under his company name Mobile Adventure, the Hou 13 being closest to the old Majorette, re-using a perfectly good design from the past. The other canoes in Hōu’s fleet are also created using reclaimed and recycled moulds, re-established and re-outfitted in the North West of the UK.
So why the Hōu 13? Well, it’s small, surprisingly light and fits on the roof of rather small cars. The boat is outfitted for a single paddler, perfect for the kayaker who doesn’t like to share a boat!
Standard set-up with 1 seat and 1 thwart, choice of wood web or plastic.
The Hōu 13 has the ‘classic canoe look’ with a nice recurve and slicey bow and stern. On the water, this little boat tracks very well despite its short length. The secondary stability is superb, as discovered when the head went over the gunnel whilst shuffling around! On moving water, the Hōu 13 feels very stable and tracks well in smaller rapids; however, the shallow depth (12”) does become a problem in harder rapids with risk of swamping from larger waves and miss-judged holes!
To set the canoe up for moving water, large airbags were installed using 5mm and 4mm sailing rope and swim lines were attached to small 10mm rope loops at each end of the boat. The current set-up was just enough to keep the swamped boat afloat at the end of Warden’s Gorge on the Tyne Tour and I plan to improve the set-up and buoyancy as the airbags are not large enough and need a slimmer fit to fill the narrow bow and stern. The Hōu Canoes website states that they are hoping to sell buoyancy and accessories in the near future. On top of the airbags are foam camping mats to protect from trees and some elastic to hold spare paddles, a sponge and safety kit in place. I’m currently using an Ainsworth OC River (Nylon blade) for rivers and a beautiful Grey Owl Voyager (cherry, ash, walnut and basswood), which are made in Canada, for deeper water.
Overall, the Hōu 13 has impressed so far from Ullswater to the Tyne and it’s been great to get so many comments from other paddlers on the ‘little red canoe’. So far it’s proven its worth on flat water, in the wind, on grade 2 and surfing effortlessly on clean river waves! The Hōu Canoes range is also very reasonably priced – the 13 can be purchased for under £700 and the 17 for under £800 new, perfect for solo and family adventures alike!
You can view the entire Hōu range here.
Article by: Kirstie MacMillan