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Submitted: 01-19-2008 by endo
I've been paddling a standard lay-up fiberglass Mariner Coaster since March 2002.
Bought this boat sight unseen because Mariner Kayaks only sell direct to the public and I was no where near them to demo one. I wanted a short boat that was designed for rough water and had the capability of being used for kayak camping and fishing. The review from Sea Kayaker magazine in the summer of 1994 suggested this boat would meet my requirements. Furthermore, the boat received a positive testimonial from Tsunami Ranger and Coaster owner John Lull, which added more credibility. You can see this boat in action in John Lull's book "Sea Kayaking: Safety & Rescue" and the video "Kayaking Ocean Rock Gardens--A Tsunami Ranger Guide". Based on these reports and a positive gut feeling, the decision was made to a purchase a Coaster.
Did a two week solo circumnavigation of the Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior back in May 2002, and the boat did a fine job. I was able to cover up to 25 miles per day with a 300 lb total displacement (I'm 5' 6", 160 lb). Seas from one to two meters were handled surprisingly well. No real problems in quartering seas. Matt Broze suggested that I keep the stern heavy for more control. The boat was able to carry enough camping, fishing and safety gear for a comfortable trip. The lack of a front bulkhead actually is an advantage for me due to using an extra large custom made tapered drybag that can be loaded up in camp and quickly inserted into the bow.
Have done other short and extended kayak camping trips following that with equal success. The boat's volume is 90 gallons and can easily accommodate luxury items to make the experience more pleasurable. I particularly like fishing from the kayak. The boat tends to ride over smaller waves, thus allowing me to fish with the spray skirt off. Portaging the 40 lb or so kayak is easy due to its shorter 13' 5" length. Furthermore, once camp is set up, this little boat can be used in its element to surf any nearby waves.
It's a simple boat without a retractable skeg or rudder, and thus easy enough to perform repairs on in the field. My Coaster has a rear bulkhead, so I use a float bag in the bow along with a seasock. The standard perimeter decklines that the Brozes put on are really nice for safety and securing extra gear. Taught myself how to roll this boat from a book in less than one weekend.
I must admit that it is an odd looking kayak, but the first time you go diving into the trough of a big wave without burying the bow you appreciate the design a little more. It is an expensive boat, but I'm the type of person that will keep the boat for twenty years to recoup my investment.
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