Submitted: 09-12-2007 by BateauDesPapillons
We have had this kayak now for a year and really like it a lot.
We bought it to take with us on trips up to Michigan to use out on Lake Michigan and also to use on small, inland lakes here in Illinois.
The plus is obvious...this is a wonderful, basic boat that is stable and yet reasonably fast. It will catch some wind, but actually less than our recreational hard shells often do. It packs into a large backpack bag and is easy to store. We tend to pack a lot on our trips, but this kayak fits in the trunk or back seat very well.
One of the reasons I didn't give it a 10 was some flaws in workmanship when we got our boat. We had to send the first one back because of a flaw to the outer rubber coating. We could have patched it with Aquaseal, but chose to send it back since it was a brand new boat. On our first outing on Lake Michigan, on a day where the water wasn't very rough, the skeg patch tore back. We glued it back on but this was kind of irritating since the boat hadn't been through anything unusual and had only been used a couple of times at that point.
Since then, we only use the skeg when we really need it, such as when we want to go on a longer paddle or if the wind is up. The boat does have tracking strakes on the bottom so unless you are doing lake paddling or touring, you may not need it... for this I mean situation such as casual paddling on slow rivers or surfing. On slow rivers we tend to shoot ahead of the recreational kayaks we paddle with. It's really not that slow of a boat. Wouldn't be at all comparable to a sea kayak, though.
We have used it to surf 1-3 ft. waves on Lake Michigan and it is a blast. We always paddle tandem and it's worked very well, as long as you have a partner who can synchronize a bit. (Not always the case since I go out with random family members). The boat tends to take on water during the launch, so we take along a bilge pump and sponges. Once in the calmer water outside of the surf zone, we'll pump things out and paddle around a bit. Then we head back in through the surf. As the previous reviewer noted, this is "Woohoo!" time. This boat is speedy in the surf, stable and not difficult to control. Really, really fun, even for people who aren't experienced paddlers.
We also have gone out when the water is more overall choppy on Lake Michigan with less pleasant results. Because of the boat's low profile, it tends to take on water, which needs to be pumped or sponged out. It will take on quite a bit of water without sinking, however. This is definitely not a boat to take on big water in rough conditions however. It would continue to take on water and will tend to weathercock in strong winds.
In the situation of surfing, where you have a short ride and then can dump out any water it works pretty well. In surf however, it does tend to ride well over the waves and we only take on water when the waves catch up to us when we hit shore. As others have mentioned, it is pretty amazing and fun how this boat "boufs" over big waves. It's almost like a roller coaster ride and that part is a lot of fun.
In general, this little boat has a lot to offer, especially in light of its convenience. The user just needs to keep in mind the conditions where it will be used and not take it out in anything that is beyond what it was designed to do.