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Submitted: 03-10-2008 by CRJ
Now that I've had my Express for a year and put 170+ miles on it last season, I feel better qualified to review it. Last September, at the Port Townsend Seminar, I paddled around the point and into town. On my return I noticed two paddlers about a mile away. By the time we reached the seminar beach I had overtaken them and landed first. When they saw me later they said, "Yeah, we saw you blow past us. Those Mariners are fast kayaks." For a 16 foot kayak, that is impressive performance. I'm 65 years old and these guys were in their 30s and 40s.
I mentioned that I had a high volume kayak for touring. My son and I went on a trip up to Upper Priest Lake in Idaho and he took the high volume boat. I packed gear into dry bags and stuffed them up into the hull (no hatches). I was amazed to discover that I could load almost as much as the 18'6" high volume expedition boat. The fat butt of the Express - which makes it surf so readily - also lets me easily carry enough gear for a trip. Even more surprising, when the wind came up he took more water over his boat than I did!!!
It's fast and it can carry a load and it loves to surf. So how about handling? Well a friend came up to visit and I gave him the Express and a few tips on the sliding seat. We took an hour paddle on a local lake and during the paddle the wind came up and he had some issues with weathercocking. A simple shift of the seat position solved that problem. No rudder, no skeg... just scooch back or forward until the problem goes away and keep on paddling. Adjustments to your heading are accomplished by a quick edge to one side or another without changing paddle cadence. After a short while it becomes second nature.
The Mariners are, at least for now, available again (www.marinerkayaks.com) but if you can't find one new and see one advertised used, buy it! You won't regret it.
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