Submitted: 07-06-2009 by Mike Henebry
I have been paddling my LW 12.5 for about four months, so I have a better idea of how it handles a variety of conditions. Two weeks ago, I participated in the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium in Washburn, WI on Lake Superior. Nigel Dennis led an "advanced paddler" tour (I did not
participate in this), and, in general, this was a very serious and experienced group of sea kayakers. The most common kayaks paddled on the tours were NDK Romanys and Explorers as well as other Brit boats such as P & H and Valley.
My Little Wing drew a fair amount of interest and many questions from fellow paddlers. However, mostly they were somewhat amused by the
design; they live in a Brit boat world and don't plan to change. The organizers and fellow paddlers were very impressed with the weight and the construction and finish of the Little Wing.
After the organizers saw my boat, they approved it for the intermediate-level tours. Many of these paddlers in their 17-foot kayaks Brit boats were probably somewhat less amused during the 6-8 mile tour of the mainland sea caves in the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. On the way out, we encountered 2-ft beam and following waves (which I had never even seen before on any water body, much less paddled; most of the other paddlers encountered conditions like these quite frequently in their paddles on the Great Lakes). My 12.5-ft Little Wing handled these conditions very well and was among the "faster" boats. The two guides/instructors split us into two groups for a more direct trip back through a 10-15-knot headwind and 2-foot waves. Surprisingly, I (and
my Little Wing) was assigned to the faster group of paddlers, and the Little Wing was not the last craft to reach the put-in beach. Needless to say, the LW was easier than the longer boats to maneuver in the sea caves and surrounding rocks.
Overall, I am very pleased that my 12.5-ft Little Wing more than kept up with the 17-ft boats on the intermediate level tours in mildly rough waters. My boat seems to have much of the performance of the longer boats, but is much lighter and more compact.