Submitted: 11-15-2007 by Jeb Charles
I have owned a Sapphire for 4 years and used it in about as many different situations as a PA paddler can envision. It falls into an odd category where I don't believe there is such a rating as a '10' - it is not a whitewater boat... yet I've had mine on class III or perhaps better. It is not a creek boat... yet I've had mine on flooded feeder streams narrower than the boat is long. And it definitely is not a touring boat...though I've had mine across 5 mile lakes and fished from it for days. In a nutshell, I believe it compares favorably to an Old Town Rush or Perception Swifty. It is more boat than both, and a definite class upgrade from an Otter or Heritage Featherlite.
I own 2 Sapphires, one with and without a storage hatch. I definitely prefer the storage hatch...for consolidation of valuables in a capsize situation. I find many of these reviews accurate about the full length keel - it is flawed. On flat water, you will grow tired of steering, this boat cannot track straight for more than 20 feet without paddling. Its overall shape feels 'blunt' as though it could be streamlined. The boat keeps its senses though, and doesn't choke in tough spots. 4 foot drops scare the paddler more than the boat, and chaotic becomes routine as the boat stays predictable in tough stuff.
Big pro's: 1 boat, very many uses. Comfortable enough to spend 5 hours in it. Decent storage for a boat this short. Brave enough to tackle any element.
Big con's: it won't track...oddly goes backwards better than forward. Holds a ton of water in a capsize event, and can be challenging to get back into after a wreck. Cockpit is so big, no skirt won't buckle with that much water on it. Too tippy to stand up in. Never got mine to roll, just so easy to fall out of that giant cockpit.
I've never sat in a more 'touring' or 'whitewater' - at the same time - rec boat. It feels 'featured-up' much like a bigger boat, yet doesn't become driftwood in crazy class III chaos.