Freedom 17' - To Stretch or not to Stretch...

You don't know which boat you should build to suit your personal needs? Please post your questions here and our many contributors will surely have some good advice.
Post Reply
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:17 am

Freedom 17' - To Stretch or not to Stretch...

Post by ckebsww » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:26 am

Hello all,

A couple of years back, I got Ted Moore's book for Christmas and have been slowly planning my way into my first build. Woodworking is a long time hobby for me, and I decided that I wanted to build a stripper in time to take my son up to the Boundary Waters when he turns 14 (he's 10 now). I was 14 the first time my Dad took me up there, so it seemed appropriate.

After doing a lot of research, I settled on the Freedom 17 for my build. This canoe reminds me a lot of the Kevlar We-no-nah Sundowner 17' that my Dad bought years ago. That one burned up in a garage fire, so he has a Kevlar We-no-nah Minnesota II now (18 1/2'), which he really loves. I got the Freedom plans for Christmas this year, so I'm gearing up to start.

So, I've been debating whether to try to stretch the Freedom another foot. Most of the canoeing I do involves fishing, and having that extra length can be really useful for keeping 2 guys fishing together out of each other's hair. My thought also is that the extra length might make it a little faster. I'm not a very big guy (165 lbs), and my son is a skinny little guy as well. I don't think I need the additional stability and freeboard of the Freedom 17'9" with it's added beam. Especially since I want to keep the canoe as light as possible for portaging.

Obviously the longer canoe will be a little heavier. The question is whether the added weight can be offset with paddling performance gains and added convenience. Thoughts?


User avatar
Patricks Dad
Posts: 1378
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:11 pm
Location: Warrenville, Illinois

Re: Freedom 17' - To Stretch or not to Stretch...

Post by Patricks Dad » Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:46 pm

Stretching a bit won't hurt but my personal choice would be to not stretch it. I have done many trips with 17' and with 18+' canoes. If given the choice, I'd grab the 17' canoe every time. The extra length makes some of the portage (turns) more difficult (depending on how much portaging you do and which trails you take). I wouldn't expect the weight to be too much larger so I wouldn't consider weight to be a big factor. Overall, I think 17' is long enough for tandem trip (I've put 3 in such a craft without issue). Adding the extra foot will speed it up a bit but the Freedom 17 is a decent speed hull to begin with.

Enjoy your build!
Randy Pfeifer
(847) 341-0618

User avatar
Posts: 625
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:21 am
Location: Bowmanville, Ontario

Re: Freedom 17' - To Stretch or not to Stretch...

Post by Cruiser » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:22 pm

Hi Chris,

I am just doing up the molds for my Freedom 17, so we will be building at the same time (likely).

I am with Randy, the 17' version already seems to meet or likely exceed your capacity needs. Going longer would increase the "sail" area, when the wind gets up, and in a lightly loaded canoe, that can get to be an issue. Depending on how you transport, the length can start to be an issue after a certain length.

Not sure how you intend to use your Freedom, but I read it is a good solo boat, so once I have the hull stripped, I am going to take a look at the lines and maybe design the gunnels and seating, so I can rig it with one seat for solo (center) or two for tandem use ... but I have to take a look at the hull first.

Enjoy your build.


User avatar
Jim Dodd
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:08 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Freedom 17' - To Stretch or not to Stretch...

Post by Jim Dodd » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:11 am

I noticed this is your first post, so Welcome aboard ! You have already made some great choices !

I'm with the others on this one also. I've modified nearly every design I've built, in one way or another.
The Freedom 17 should fit your bill pretty closely !

One design that I stretched was The Minnesota Canoe Association's, Osprey. It's an excellent tandem that is a great BWCA design. I too thought of stretching, and did. All the way out to 18' 6". Here it is. Image
It turned out great except for two things. It was heavy, and it lost a little stability with just two paddlers, and no weight. Paddles great loaded. Trust me it was TOO heavy for a 14 yr old to portage.

Beings this is your son's Baptism to the BWCA. I'd build the 17 as designed. and maybe he can get the Chance to haul it at least on a short, easy portage ! He will always treasure the memory of that first portage, as my sons have !

Nothing much finer than building a canoe with your son !!!

Good luck and post some pics ! We love pics !

Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

Post Reply