Submitted: 05-09-2007 by MM
After a lot of research, including talking with local kayak instructors (Chicago area), I went with the Seayak. General consensus among those I spoke with (including the owner of a kayak company here who has a couple hundred Prijon boats for the classes he offers) was that the Prijon HTP plastic is indeed stiffer and more durable than anything else out there. After examining a number of plastic boats from different manufacturers, I would have to agree.
My experience over the last couple weeks of testing the boat out has exceeded my expectations. I've not yet had it loaded up for trips, and so have been paddling it empty. I do have the rudder, but I've found edging, stability, and tracking to be great without it. I've been out in 4-5 foot waves with winds up to 20 knots: in those conditions, or in following sees, I find the rudder nice to have, but in honesty someone of higher skill level would perhaps not feel the urge to drop the rudder in...I've always felt it optional, and choose to drop the rudder honestly when I'm feeling lazy. Longest distance I've done thus far without stopping has been 6 miles (Montrose harbor out to Wilson Crib and back), which flew by...the Seayak is quick to get up to speed, and really moves.
Hatches have been watertight. Deckbox is a nice convenience. Generous deck rigging is a plus. I agree with others that the "cargo net" style rigging fore and aft of the cockpit seems as though it may not last more than a few seasons, but no big deal: I actually plan to take off the aft net an keep it as a spare, replacing that with some 1/4" bungee I just bought. In any case, it's easy to change out or customize rigging as you wish with this boat.
Regarding size: I'm 5'10", 165 lbs. No problem with this boat. Cockpit is snug, but wet exits require no thought. Standard thigh bracing that came with this boat is right on for me. Adjustable seat is fine, I've had no problem with it popping out. I may ditch the seat back for a piece of custom foam, though, simply because I prefer more lumbar support and forward angle in my posture. Finally, I have rolled this boat, no problems there, and I'm not a great roller. The Seayak has been stable enough to me in rough conditions that I perhaps feel less urgency in that department than I should; some rough-water rolling practice is in order.
All in all, if you want a bombproof boat for expedition/open water/touring/camping, you can't go wrong with the Seayak. If you're bigger or pack tons of gear, go with the Kodiak. If you're average size and pack light as I do, the Seayak will get you there faster. And it looks much cooler also.
Final note: previously mentioned kayak instructor commented to me that he also has owned a Prijon Seagull, the fiberglass version of the Seayak. He went back to the Seayak: better handling, and indestructible. It's nice when the cheaper option is the better one!
If you paddle in Chicago, keep an eye out for me: bald guy in the Granite (white) seayak.