Submitted: 05-18-2000 by Brian Nystrom
I've been paddling my Passage for a few weeks now and recently spent a weekend paddling wood/glass boats at CLC. After paddling several other boats, the Passage seems very impressive for its size. Tracking is a bit weak with the skeg up, but with the skeg down, it tracks as well as any of the longer boats I've paddled. I find that I use the skeg much of the time. The Passage is also quite maneuverable and responds well to leaned turns, particularly carved turns on the outside chine. Weathercocking is minimal; just enough be an aid in maintaining a heading when paddling in a moderate cross wind. I've had the boat in a stiff wind and waves up to 2' and it handles them with aplomb. Despite the wind and waves, I never felt unstable. Actually, I thought it was a blast, though my paddling partners weren't so enthusiastic.
The cockpit has plenty of leg room and it fits me well (6', 170#, long legs, size 11 feet). There's enough room under the foredeck to mount a pump, float bag and possibly additional gear, without interfering with entry or exit. The seat bottom is very comfortable and the standard seat back isn't bad either. The seat is not very wide; I don't need to pad it on the sides as all. The coaming holds a spray skirt securely. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I've had no problem with the coaming and I like the looks (it's more like a 'glass boat). The hatches seal tightly and must be "burped" on warm days. The rear hatch is close to the cockpit and is readily accessible when sitting in the boat. Coating the hatch lips and covers with 303 makes them very easy to install and remove.
There was one flaw in my boat. The front bulkhead was installed crooked, but still provided any airtight seal. I removed it and reinstalled it in the correct position using silicone sealer. I've made a few of modifications and enhancements:
- I installed breather tubes in the bulkheads, to eliminate air pressure buildup. I simply poked a sharpened wire through the foam, then inserted a section of thin tubing into the hole (the type of tubing that comes with aerosol sprays like WD-40). This provides enough air flow but won't allow any significant water in.
- I replaced the seat back with a Rapid Pulse backband, which is more comfortable.
- I added a rub strip to the keel line using 1/2" wide automotive door molding.
- I adjusted the skeg for increased travel. You can easily adjust it to the point where the cable begins to show when it's in the fully down position. As long as the upper edge of the skeg doesn't show, it won't snag on anything when paddling in reverse.
- I sealed around the skeg pivot bolt with silicone sealer, to prevent any seepage.
- I move the seat back 1" to try to improve the tracking and to compensate for my long legs. This is very easy to do.
- Overall, I'm very please with the Passage. Aside from the handling characteristics, I think it's also one of the nicest looking plastic boats on the market. There isn't another plastic boat that I would rather own (my next boat will be home build wood & 'glass).
- BTW, the Walden neoprene/nylon spray skirt is great! It fits perfectly, is easy to put on and seals well.