Submitted: 06-30-2008 by CraigJ
If you paddle the west coast of North America then you probably know that the Mariner Coaster is truly a "legendary" kayak. I have had a Mariner Express for a while and love it but wanted something small and nimble for rock gardens and surfing. A friend found a craigslist ad for a Coaster in the Seattle area and I bought it. I took the hung seat out (too small for my butt - I'm 6' and 215lbs). The previous owner had used this Coaster as it had been intended to be used and the boat had been badly beaten up with five (5) holes and fractures; some as long as 8 inches.
The Coaster's initial stability is high so you can stop and look around without fear of the boat tripping you up. The secondary stability is also high and the kayak can be turned 180 degrees with one sweep stroke. The boat is so stable and safe that it's the regular ride for a 7-year-old girl. Even my wife likes paddling this boat!
The Coaster excels in rough conditions and, like the Express, seems to float over waves with a minimum of fuss and wet. It surfs well and is controllable and stable while surfing. You never have the feeling you're going to broach or slide off the wave. It's fast enough to keep up with or ahead of most paddlers... it seems to effortlessly move at 4 or 4.5 mph but anything beyond 5mph requires a lot of effort. The boat tracks well and a raised knee or slight hip tilt is enough to correct its heading. Rolling a Coaster is a breeze. It's also light weight (about 35lbs) and I can literally pick it up with a hand on each end of the cockpit, raise it over my head, and put it on my car's kayak rack.
Mine has no bulkheads or hatches so if I used it for a long trip I'd load it using many smaller drybags (I like the ones with the clear window in them). I don't mind this system as it means I can put longer items in without a problem. But since the Coaster is only 13' 6" you won't be able to take as much as in a Telkwa.
It's not a "pretty" kayak but if you own one on the west coast make sure you keep it under lock and key. They are in high demand; especially in San Francisco, and there are thieves who specialize in finding and stealing popular kayaks.
Go to YouTube and search for "coaster" to see a video of a guy in Denmark playing in a rock garden with his Coaster.