Submitted: 11-11-2008 by Phelps
Bought the composite Eliza, 'cause I got tired of waiting for Nick Schade to release plans for the Petral in ply construction. I have built and love the Night Heron, and wanted a shorter play boat. I am 5'10" and weigh 150lbs. After moving the seat pan forward, as well as the foot braces, and replacing the back band with a foam pillar, I can get on the back deck. I sit on a half inch thick foam pad, which jacks me up a bit, so I can 'dominate' the boat. This also gets the deck down and further out of the way.
The boat is as responsive as a sea kayak can be, and yet cruises efficiently at touring speeds. After doing some analysis of my paddling using GPS, I concluded that the only reason I need to be in a longer boat, is to have enough volume for touring. If there's a headwind, you're not going to hold hullspeed, a shorter boat with good rocker will catch the shorter waves that often occur; and waterline advantages seem to disappear as soon as there is any significant sea running. The full chines carried out toward the ends provide a good carving turn. Eliza's shape is a lot like Nick's boats I think especially the Guillemot Play.
The whole women's specific thing is great for selling boats; this boat fits me, what would a smaller person do? If one is not a boat builder, there are no production choices that are as small or smaller than Eliza. One of the fun things about having this is that if I take any of my smaller friends out, they can be in a boat that fits them better than anything they've ever been in!
I have owned six kayaks and this is the best built production boat, and the hatches don't leak a drop! The cored construction yields a fair and rigid hull. It could have been built lighter, but some durability would have been lost and 46lbs is nice for me. Now if only they built a boat this nice for the smaller paddler!