Submitted: 08-17-2006 by Umnak
I am not quick to review a kayak. Iíve owned my Solstice GT for three summers and will now offer my opinion.
First, I bought this boat after enduring ten days in my Romany Explorer with gear loaded in front of the pegs. At 5í9 and 170 lbs the Explorer was simply too small to carry a bear canister, tarp bag and me in the same cockpit. I gave it to my wife. We are touring kayakers who live and paddle in Southeast Alaska, taking at least three long(er) trips each summer of from 150 to 400 nautical miles.
The Solstice is everything I want in a sea kayak. It has more than enough room for our longer trips Ė we assume 400 miles will take us 21 days, but it never has taken more than 17. It tracks straight; Iíll use the rudder only in a strong following sea. It doesnít weathercock. It rides tolerably dry even in large seas. It sits comfortably during our two sets of five-hour marches; I can still feel my legs and wiggle my toes! And, it is easy to turn. This last point is something Iíve been pondering since it seems to be the negative point of a number of reviewers.
We paddle the coast-line in head winds or when catching eddies in opposing tides. Our coasts are not straight, nor are they particularly forgiving. There is an abundance of rocks covered in barnacles. The kind that make awful scraping sounds when a paddler is unable to adjust position as the rocks become exposed. If by turn, others are referring to maneuvering the boat around objects, then this boat turns well. I young friend who paddled with us this summer commented that, as I entered a small It is as responsive as the Explorer and my wifeís Ellesmere when edged and with the correct stroke. The other definition of turn, could be simply turning the kayak around in a circle. Here too, the Solstice does just fine. I can do a 360 degree turn in a combination of four or five bow and stern sweeps, with the boat on edge and loaded. That is tolerable.
Does it roll? I donít know. My objective is to stay in my kayak and thatís worked well for the last 25 years. It is very responsive to a brace in seas that break over my shoulders and a low sculling brace when I want to show off.
This summer we have decided to reduce the number of kayaks in our garage. The Explorer is gone, the ultralight kayak has found a good home with a former Olympian, and my wife bought back the Solstice SS she sold six years ago. It, along with my GT and a Seward Passat are what we will use to paddle our long trips and on weekends.