Eric Voorhis
Joe Moore demonstrates one of his boats in the Chubb River.
Eric Voorhis
Lake Placid Boatworks owner Joe Moore’s main goal as a boat builder is to offer efficient crafts for people of all ages.
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Joe Moore pushed off from the grassy shore of the Chubb River and dug one edge of a double-bladed paddle into the rippling water. He coasted for a moment, then stroked again, leaving a wake as he demonstrated the maneuverability and speed of a 12-foot, hand-crafted canoe — built right in Lake Placid.

Moore is the owner of Placid Boatworks, which specializes in building lightweight solo canoes. Located on Station Street, the shop sits along the Chubb River, just upstream from the dam. According to the website (, “If the water’s not solid, you can treat yourself to a Placid Boatworks test drive, right outside the door.”

Moore said his main goal as a boat builder is to offer efficient paddle craft that help people of all ages enjoy the Adirondacks from a different perspective.

“Even paddling up the Chubb can give you a different view of Lake Placid,” Moore said. “And it beats driving up Station Street.”

Although Moore is now the sole owner, Placid Boatworks began as a partnership between him and Charlie Wilson, a longtime figure in the paddling community who worked with canoe designer David Yost while he was marketing director and sales manager for Bell Canoe Works.

Wilson was also the president of the 30,000-member American Canoe Association before moving to the Adirondacks full-time and focusing on building and designing canoes.

A year-and-a-half ago, Moore took over the operation. He said there wasn’t any one reason — “It was just time for a change.

“Charlie still comes around pretty often, though,” Moore said. “He’ll stop in to see what we’re up to and work on special projects now and then.”

Before he joined Wilson as a partner of Placid Boatworks, Moore spent more than 13 years working for the Adirondack Council environmental group and then moved on to start an environmental consulting firm.

He said his latest project — working with a grant administered by the state Adirondack Park Agency — was identifying and implementing ways to improve parking and hiker safety along the busy state Route 73 highway corridor.

But environmental issues aside, Moore said he always had a love for woodworking, with experience in everything from furniture building to home construction.

“When I started here, it was kind of like coming back to something I’ve been doing for a long time,” Moore said. “It’s a different path, and there’s something neat about that.”

On a recent Monday morning, Moore gave a tour of the Placid Boatworks shop. The air was heavy with the smell of fiberglass. Two Boatworks employees began attaching maple wood trim to the top side of an almost-finished canoe.

“Come on back, and I’ll show you the new project,” Moore said.

As he turned the corner, a long, sleek hull came into view.

“That thing is really going to roll,” Moore said. “We’re always trying to be innovative.”

The new boat — the hot rod of the fleet — is 16 feet long by 25 inches wide, designed for speed, for exercise and day trips. It’s called the Shadow.

But for the most part, Placid Boatworks sticks with lightweight pack canoes, built sturdy with the capability for overnight trips and portages.

“We design and build the boats to be able to do pond hops,” Moore said.

The classic Lake Placid Boatworks canoe is the SpitFire 13, designed for use with a double-blade paddle, according to Moore. It’s lightweight — only 24 pounds — smooth to paddle, sturdy and easy to carry. But it’s also expensive, usually around $2,000.

Moore said the idea from the start was to have a low-production, high-quality business and that the price comes along with the quality.

“A lot of our clients tend to be a little older,” Moore said. “If you’re young, you can manage to carry around a 50- or 60-pound boat, but that doesn’t work for everyone.”

As Moore pointed out the features of the SpitFire, another employee was putting a coat of resin on a canoe on the lawn just outside of a glass-door entrance.

“We always put a finishing coat of resin on the boats to give them a nice shine,” Moore said. “We’re hoping to get those finished today.”