Submitted: 07-24-2006 by Benuetzer
Wanted to add a follow-up to my initial review 2 years ago below (July 2004 ).
I have now taken the Safari kayaking in Europe and in Newfoundland, as well as extensive use in New England, and am still very happy with it. Environments have included placid rivers, ocean surf, mountain lakes, and some open water as well. Conditions have been from dead calm to pretty hairy, the latter when I decided to go out surfing on the ocean after a storm had just passed and the waves were about 5 to 6 feet high. I swallowed a LOT of water that day....
There have been no problems. One minor niggle has surfaced, likely of my own doing. When rinsing, washing or drying the boat, I have usually placed it vertically on the ground, with the stern on whatever the surface is and the bow pointing skyward, usually at a slight angle because I lean it against the car or any available structure. Apparently, this has caused the red cover material to scrape off a bit in a very small area measuring about 5 or 6 square millimeters, and a slight crack about 1 inch long has formed in the red cover materia, both were I've rested the boat on the ground. Both of these are negligible and do not affect the integrity of the boat. I just painted a bit of Aquaseal over both and will see if that does the trick. If not, I'll simply glue on a patch to keep the boat looking pretty. But - and this is important - that was my own fault.I'd suggest you learn from my mistake and either put something soft under the boat or find another way to position it for washing and drying.
The boat is otherwise bomb proof as far as I can tell. I've scraped the fin across rocks and sand, have run waves onto rocky shores, have carried it in rooftop carriers where it was unavoidably exposed to pretty intense heat from the sun, and have paddled it in the winter where the air bladders give you welcome insulation and prevent frozen rear ends like one can get in hardshells.
The only caveat, related to the hairy experience of surfing waves considerably higher than I was - the Safari does not bail fast enough to get rid of consecutive dumping waves, and becomes dead in the water. Do not get it if that's what you plan to do 24/7. There's another model, the Traveller, that apparently duplicates the Safari's hull shape but isn't self bailing and has an inflatable deck.
One of my favorite things to do: I will take the boat way out, then jump overboard and swim with it in tow, using a surfboard leash to pull it behind me. Then, when I'm refreshed, I just get back in the boat and paddle on. Try THAT in your average hardshell!
Bottom line: I like this boat so much I'm in the process of buying a Solar II for my wife and kid.