Submitted: 06-12-2007 by DGM
I bought this boat in plastic on a whim last Aug (2006). It was the tax free day in Mass (where I was vacationing) and there was a huge sign for a kayak sale at ERBA in Essex, so I stopped in. My lucky day, to say the least ($1,100, no tax)
I have a West Side Boat Shop Thunderbolt (racing kayak), but didn't have a boat I could comfortably take onto the ocean or the great lakes in windy conditions. The Avatar has proven to be the PERFECT boat for this. I've heard on countless occasions that there's no such thing as a fast, stable and maneuverable kayak, but, for an experienced paddler, this is it! I routinely cruise at 5 mph (can get it up to 6.5), the thing turns on a dime, and handles 3 foot waves beautifully. This is a boat that rides over the waves, rather than cuts through them, so you have to want that (i.e., it's a wet ride). Also, a prospective buyer should be able to put the boat on edge comfortably.
I'll reiterate what previous reviewers have said: this is not a boat for very big people with very big feet. It's not a boat for people who like 100% primary stability. It IS a boat for people who like to feel the boat is part of themselves in moderately challenging conditions. If this boat was a car, it would be an MG (guess I'm dating myself).
The boat was designed, at least in part, by Brent Reitz and it shows. If you've ever seen his forward stroke video (highly recommended!), everything he suggests can be carried out to a "t" in this boat. In short, it lends itself to a proper stroke, including applicability with a wing paddle. The bow is narrow enough that you can really plant the paddle right next to it.
I'm obviously in love with this thing, but it has one strange drawback: the folks at Perception did a lousy job sealing the bulkheads -- there were quarter inch gaps before I fixed them. It took an entire tube of Marine Goop just to remediate the rear bulkhead. Beautifully designed boat, but someone in quality control at Perception was asleep at the switch!
To sum up: GREAT KAYAK!! I told my wife I want to be buried in it, but wives don't seem to have a sense of humor about this stuff.