Submitted: 08-18-2009 by ARGAMAN
I purchased the magic 14.5 Solo 1 year ago; the result of a 50's crisis aftershock. Fond memories of summer camp canoe trips on Lake George allowed me to delude myself that age, arthritis, and a world class circumferential challenge were no match for motivation. (Remember "The Little Engine That Could" ?)
The search for the "perfect canoe" led me, one sunny Sunday afternoon, to Oak Orchard's Water-port store and test pond. Several hours (and several test paddles) later, I found myself driving down the Thruway with an SOT on my SUV trying to figure out just exactly how and when my "canoe dream" had morphed into kayak reality. The past year and several outings with the Magic (as well as some of its cousins) has convinced me that SOT's in general and this SOT in particular offer the physically limited (and the horizontally challenged) an opportunity to share in the fun of paddle sports, (Rumor has it that SOT's also work well for fishing. You fisher folk will have to judge for yourselves. I get mine at Wegman's)
So what makes the Magic special? Excellent initial stability, tracks like the Super Chief, glides very nicely and has a comfortable, easily adjustable and very sturdy seat. Although the (adjustable) foot braces appear less sturdy then they might, they have yet to fail to do their job. The shallow sides make getting in an out (or on and off) doable without assistance. Turning the Magic, which was a challenge when using a 240 cm paddle became a non-issue when I switched to 280 cm. (Teddy R. was right about the "big stick" thing.) Wind has thus far not been a problem (keeping in mind that my paddling has been on relatively small bodies of water) and while I have yet to test the limits of the boat's secondary stability, my sense, from dealing with motorboat wakes, is that you will fall out long before you are able to tip the boat over. The weight, which makes a helmet mandatory for anybody trying to car top the beast, seems to be part of the reason for its excellent stability. As for the rotomolded polyethylene hull; love it or hate it, the stuff is truly bomb proof.
There are some caveats. The plug in modular system for seat and foot braces needs some attention from the folks at Native. A relatively simple redesign of the plastic clips would make the whole system a lot more user friendly. Also, sturdy stainless steel bow and stern rings (for those all important bow and stern lines for out of water transport) as well as the odd paddle and water bottle holders should really be an integral part of a boat whose price tag is in the $1k range.
Overall however, I'm glad I ended up with this boat. It's allowed me to return to paddling and as my skills improve, the boat seems to grow with me. Most important, I'm having fun and in the end, that's what it's all about.