The Chestnut 50 lb Special, better known as the Bob's Special, is a classic canoe shape originally built by the Chestnut Canoe Company. Its high stability and low windage have made it popular for fishing and solo paddling, especially in places where it is often windy.
The Chestnut 50-lb. Special has been designed to meet a certain demand for an extremely light weight canoe of good carrying capacity and has proved very popular. Owing to its width and flat bottom it is very steady and the ends are low, making it easy to portage through the brush.
Chestnut Canoe Company catalogue, 1950
This Bear Mountain Boats version of the Bob's Special has been adapted to wood-strip construction by Steve Killing, which required some modifications to the original lines. The strip-planking construction, sheathed in fibreglass, produces a light and strong hull without internal ribs. The Chestnut Canoe Company recommended a shoe keel on the original canoe, because of the lightweight ribs and planking, but this isn't necessary for this wood-strip version.
The Bob's Special is very comfortable for leisure paddling, with a slight trade-off in speed and efficiency. It offers a stable platform for activities like fishing, birdwatching and sketching. The moderate rocker and soft bilges make it a great canoe for traditional-style solo paddling and the low ends are less affected by windage, making it a good choice if you regularly paddle in windy places.
Ted Moores of Bear Mountain Boats is the author of Canoecraft, the standard reference book for wood-strip canoe building. The book is recommended to accompany the kit or plans. It is packed with tips and techniques and has inspired countless first-time canoe builders around the world.
Watch us build a Bear Mountain canoe in this one-minute overview video:
We manufacture our kits to the highest standard using European-grown Paulownia for the planking strips. Uniquely, the strips in our Bear Mountain Boats kits have not only a bead-and-cove profile but also a pre-cut finger joint at each end, making the neat joining of strips even easier for builders at home.
Please note that the kit does not include the box beam strongback for mounting the building forms on. You can either use a straight length of suitable timber or order the box-beam strongback we supply.
This strongback is made up of CNC-cut MDF panels that fit together to form a strong and stiff box beam measuring 200 mm × 200 mm and long enough to build the boat.
The plans contain sufficient information to make it possible to build the boat from scratch rather than a kit. The plans are printed in colour and include scale plans and full size drawings for all the forms.