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Submitted: 08-17-2009 by mangobravo

We went from a sailboat to a canoe and, along the way, I got interested in kayaks. One fine summer day I pulled up in front of the house to find one on the front lawn; Jeni had bought it for me and had it delivered. It was a smallish, rotomolded plastic boat. It worked but I never felt good in it and it tracked poorly. It was what it was; an inexpensive boat, made to sell for a price. After a season with it, I decided I needed something to compare to and went down to Northwest Outdoor Center, asked them to recommend a boat for me to try for an hour or so. There was so much difference I knew I needed to trade up.

So we headed for the West Coast Kayak Symposium at Port Townsend. We spent the entire day trying boat after boat, kayaks of all sizes, all materials, every length, beam and volume then in production. That day, I gained an appreciation of the way design results in the way a boat feels and handles. Some were like highly tuned race cars but took all my concentration to keep it upright or on course. Another was like paddling a truck. Yet another was a bathtub toy, useless for anything more than play at the swimming beach. I was getting pretty discouraged until I heard her voice coming from the water saying "You gotta try this". She was just off the beach, smiling her trademark "this is mine" smile from a QCC 400XL with a mango-yellow deck and white hull. So I tried it. She was right. We bought that boat right off the beach and I ordered an identical one from Steve when we got home.

We've now had our twin 400XL's for ten years. Seattle is surrounded by fresh and salt water and our boats are perfect for enjoying Lake Union with its views of the downtown Seattle skyline or Puget Sound, our vast saltwater inland sea. We've ghosted along on millpond-flat water, worked into headwinds and two-foot seas with quartering waves. We've even played in the mouth of Thunder Creek up in the Cascade mountains. The John Waters design is in-freakin'-credible. I still don't think I've come anywhere near the limit of what these boats can handle. And Jeni never looks more beautiful than when she's in the cockpit of that mango-yellow 400XL she discovered in Port Townsend.

Just a word about Steve Freund; since we came upon our boats with such serendipity, I corresponded with Steve for a time, asking many questions and clarifying fine points. Anyone else would have been justified in declaring that guy in Seattle to be a nuisance. But not Steve. He even hung in there with me when I asked for digital art files for the QCC logo, so I could make my own mango-yellow vinyl signs for the side of our Outback kayak-hauler. I have never met a merchandiser as willing to accommodate his customers. Thanks, Steve. You have all my admiration and respect.

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