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Submitted: 08-25-2009 by Andre Germain

The Tomahawk is a cross between a traditional and a Greenland-style sea kayak. It is 13' long with a 25.5" beam, constructed of 2 layers of super linear polyethylene making it virtually indestructible. At 56 lbs., a bit heavy but not unmanageable. The hull is very stiff and doesn't "oilcan" at all, even in the worst of conditions. The bow and stern are plumb and in cross-section, the hull is of a "shallow arch" design. The boat has a very straight keel-line with no rocker. The cockpit is 50" long by 18" wide. Definitely not a "rolling" kayak with such a large cockpit, but entry and exit are a breeze! I use a "mini-skirt" (which covers the front third of the cockpit) to stay dry in rough waters and big waves. The seat (molded plastic with a high back) is positioned about 10" ahead of the rear of the cockpit affording enough room behind the seat for a tacklebox or whatever. The boat has a watertight bulkhead behind the cockpit with a good-sized oval hatch on the rear deck with its cover battened down with two nylon-webbing straps. At the 4" waterline, the beam is actually about 25" at the widest part. The extra beam width above the waterline adds to the "final stability" of the boat.
    Advantages:
  • Easy entry and exit.
  • Comfortable seat with good back support.
  • Paddles easily and travels well with minimum effort.
  • Has great initial and final stability.
  • Tracks exceedingly well under all conditions with no need for a rudder.
  • No "weathercocking" in quartering or crossing winds.
  • Surfs effortlessly without need for correcting strokes.
  • Feels stable and safe under all conditions although a sprayskirt is necessary in very windy and rough conditions if I want to stay relatively dry.
  • The cockpit is roomy enough to fish out of, even trolling!
  • The boat is virtually indestructible.
  • Looks and feels and paddles like a sea kayak.
  • Easily adjustable foot pedals.
  • Foredeck bungies.
  • Ergonomic carrying handles fore and aft.
  • Enough bow and foredeck rise to shed all but the biggest waves. The bow's fine lines punch into a wave and then the kayak has enough volume to rise above the wave before swamping the cockpit.
  • Short enough to handle Lake Erie's "chop" when the wind is building. Longer boats (ie. 15' or longer) are great on calm waters out here but get really "shaky" when paddling in crossing waves or surfing.
  • Low profile that effectively precludes windage while at the same time affording a closer intimacy with the water.
    Disadvantages:
  • A bit heavy for its size.
  • The rear hatch and its cover stick up above the deck a bit too high and destroy the "sleekness"' of the kayak's looks.
  • No watertight bulkhead and hatch in the fore portion of the hull (should get some flotation up in the bow...).
  • Padding for the seat a bit skimpy.
  • Definitely not a "roll" boat (although for me that's not an issue because I'm "out there" for enjoyment and not to get wet.)
  • Cockpit could have been 8" shorter without compromising ease of getting in and out.
Considering the fact that I'm out there on Lake Erie paddling under all kinds of conditions about 300 days a year, winter, summer, spring and fall, I've yet to find a kayak that fills the bill all around as well as the Tomahawk 13! I guess if I wanted to be a true "kayaker", I would get myself one of those long sleek ultra-narrow boats with a small cockpit (well, truth be told, I bought a 17' stripper-built Steve Killing design Endeavour on ebay in May, 2009, strictly for fair weather use), all kinds of foul-weather gear including booties and gloves, inflatable paddle buoys, etc., all the accouterments in case the kayak flipped (pretty well inevitable in those boats...) and I'd have to do a recovery in freezing cold waters, and learn all those self-rescue techniques and rolls etc. But all that defeats the purpose for which I bought a kayak in the first place. I just want to be able to climb aboard when I get the urge to "get out there" no matter what the time of year or water conditions, without having to worry about all that gear and having to spend an hour getting ready to go out, not to mention all the practicing I'd have to do in warm weather to get efficient enough to hope to survive in case of an inevitable upset in January or February. The Tomahawk's inherent stability precludes all that. I've paddled and surfed it in 6' waves and high winds and learned its idiosyncrasies to the point where I feel comfortable enough to paddle it any time of year. I also know its limitations and am not so stupid as to try to push the boat beyond those. Funny thing is that all those "true kayakers" with their "designer" kayaks, who have all the right gear and technical expertise (and who no doubt laugh at my Tomahawk), are nowhere to be found during the late fall and winter months while I'm out there paddling amongst the ice floes... That suits me fine. I love being the only soul out there with the wintering ducks and geese!

The fact that the Tomahawk with its roomy cockpit is a good fishing boat, whether drift fishing, casting or trolling, is a bonus! Not to mention the fact that it paddles relatively easily while traveling at a good pace. Definitely not a racing kayak but, as a good paddling friend of mine is fond of saying, "Paddle slowly, the journey is too soon over!" So it goes...

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