Submitted: 03-07-2007 by George
I bought the Big Yak to have a warm weather SOT that would be suitable for beginners paddling Class I-II rocky Texas Rivers. It works well for my intended purposes.
It provides a very wide, stable platform that gives novices a feeling of security. Because of its short length, its width, and its rather blunt bow, it is a very slow boat. Any trip longer than a few miles will tire out all but the strongest paddlers; however, for an afternoon jaunt of three to five miles, it's great. As with all sit-on-tops, the paddler is going to get wet. Since I personally hate being wet and cold, I regard everything in this genre as being suitable for summertime use only.
Previous reviewers have mentioned the need for using a long paddle--amen to that. They have also mentioned problems with leaks and they are right about that also. Remember to open the drain plug and get the water out after every usage or you'll end up with quite a bit of extra "ballast." Because of the leaks, I would definitely not recommend taking this boat out on open water for hours on end!
I talked to a livery operator recently who said that the big drain holes in the foot wells and under the seat are major wear points when the Big Yak is used in rocky streams. He said that these drain hole areas wear out very quickly, rendering the boat useless after one season of hard usage. I guess I have not hit enough rocks to cause that much damage, because I haven't noticed any significant wear around the drain holes on my boat yet.
Despite its shortcomings, I would buy this boat again so I can take first-timers out in warm conditions to introduce them to paddling moving water.