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Submitted: 09-21-2006 by kwhitman
We purchased an XL 139 and a Nantucket in May 2005 after demoing them for a couple of hours. Both tracked extremely well, but based on previous reviews I would not buy an Old Town plastic kayak without first testing it in the water under somewhat adverse conditions (wind, chop, etc.) if possible.
Both kayaks have performed admirably for us in conditions for which they were clearly not intended. These are wide, heavy yaks meant for river and protected coastline, but they have proven to have much better secondary stability than we had expected. In the first summer of use, when we were complete novice paddlers, we put on 500 miles, mostly in Long Island Sound and its CT rivers. We surfed 5-6' waves and were caught in 25 knot winds in heavy chop and the kayaks always pulled us through. They have taken considerable abuse from rocks and oyster shells, a staple of L.I. Sound, and after almost 1000 miles now are still in good condition. The best feature are the twist-knob hatches, but they may not make them anymore.
Now the negatives - they're heavy, our XL 139 is about 56 lb.; it's wide, about 28" and therefore edges like a tank. Fortunately, it turned pretty well with minimal lean. The hatches have stayed quite dry, but the bulkheads are situated too far astern and aft, so there is way too much volume in the cockpit and too little in the bulkheads. If you take on water, which I did once when I missed my roll, there are about 50 gallons of water to pump or dump out. Finally, with all that weight and width, the XL has a cruising speed of about 4 knots over the long haul (4-8 hours). Anything more than that requires a considerable increase in effort.
Having said that, for a recreational/touring kayak it is a good choice with reasonable storage, good tracking, great initial stability, and a great kayak for calm cold water paddling with the PolyLink3 fitup. It really does keep you warm.
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