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Submitted: 09-03-2009 by Too Busy
I just picked up a Native MR 14 and paddled it for the first time on Saturday. I've got to say that so far I'm very impressed with this yak. These are first impressions only, so I'll keep adding to this post as I get more seat time in this yak.
Initial Stability - Very good.
From the moment I sat in this yak I thought "It feels like a classic canoe." It's just a little bit tippy when you first sit down. Initial stability is less than all the following from tippiest to solid as a rock: Heritage Redfish, Tarpon, Ride 135, OK Big Game, Native Ultimate
I'd rate this boat as being very similar to a Heritage Redfish with slightly lower initial stability. Very slightly.
Secondary stability - Excellent.
Since it felt like a classic canoe I decided to see if I could really heel it over. I adjusted the foot braces, tightened the straps on the seat back and LEANED, and LEANED, and LEANED SOME MORE. I was able to lean it until I had water on the gunnels without it sliding out from under me. I'm sure it's possible to flip this yak, but it wouldn't be easy to do so. I stole an Idea from Chad and the W/S Commander when I was paddling this boat Saturday and I popped up on the rear deck for part of my paddling. The extra few inches above the water didn't make the boat feel tippy, but it did improve my ability to spot cruising fish. I found that I was able to stand in yak very easily as well, but I didn't get to do an extended poling session as the trip didn't line up with high tide. I can't wait to get it on the flats in a few days.
I'll rate it above the Redfish and Tarpon on secondary stability.
Storage capacity and ease of use - Excellent.
Large front hatch and huge tankwell. Front hatch is big enough that I was able to load 7 foot 1 piece spinning rods without a problem. I also tossed in my 9 ft 8wt fly rod - not broken down!!! Tankwell had my crate, soft sided cooler, shoes (ok I forgot to leave my crocs in the car), cast net, and an assortment of trash I picked up during the days paddling / fishing.
Seating - LOVE THE DVC seating system.
The molded seat is deep enough that it really gives you a solid felling in the yak. No scupper holes in the seat pan gets mixed reviews from me. On the plus side, no enema when you're pushing through waves; on the minus side, no drainage if / when you do get water in the seat. Carry a sponge and get the water out of the seat pan if it gets in there.
Cockpit size, dryness, and layout - The floor of the cockpit ACTUALLY SLOPES FORWARD - Why can't any other yak companies get this one right?????
This boat sits high and dry with my 200 pound frame, plus fishing gear, cast net, anchor, cooler, trash , etc. I probably had it loaded with 260 -270 pounds and never had a problem with water in the footwells. The cockpit is wider than the Tarpon so I get to relax my hips and let my knees rest in a more natural position. Cockpit width is very similar to the Redfish.
Footwell length is one area where this boat whips the competition. I have a 35 inch inseam and there was PLENTY of adjustment left in the foot rests. I'm guessing this yak could handle a 38 or 39 inch inseam EASILY. So you guys that are 6'4, - 6'7 should add this to the list when your checking out the next yak.
Cockpit layout is pretty good. I haven't started adding accessories yet, but the console is within easy reach. Molded in paddle keepers on each side of the hull come in handy. One issue I notice is that they're a bit small in diameter. My Stake Out Stik fits nicely, so does the handle of a fishing rod. It's a bit small for my paddle though. There are two good sized easily accessible flat areas behind the seat that are just begging for rod holders. Molded in cuholder, plus a couple of recessed wells make it easy to keep small items available. I put a few split shot in one just to have them handy to vary my presentation as the current kept changing. They do add a step to getting the yak clean when you get home.
There are 2 small day hatches; 1 in the cockpit and 1 behind the seat. The boat I picked up has a fitted plastic cup that fits in the day hatches instead of a catch bag. I used the one in the cockpit as a mini livewell. I filled it with water and dropped 5 or 6 mud minnows in there. I'm not sure how long they would last, because they were getting eaten pretty quickly on Saturday.
Paddling / tracking - Again, I found myself thinking about a classic canoe.
I was paddling by myself Saturday, so I don't have a good feel for ultimate speed of this boat. All I can say is WOW! for my first impression. Maneuverability is great. At low speed it turns easily. it responds well to leaning... just like a good canoe. Tracking was very good, but the wind wasn't blowing very hard on Saturday, so I need to get it out in 10-20 winds to see if it's going to weathercock. Glide is terrific on this boat. It takes about 3 or 4 paddle stroke to come up to speed. It took very little effort to maintain speed for a long paddle across Copahee Sound.
Noise - Very quiet hull while paddling. When you look at the boat in profile you notice a nicely raked bow and stern. Now compare this to a Tarpon which has a similar bow and a little less rake to the stern, or a Redfish which has even less rake to the bow and a vertical stern. I think the raked ends make for a quieter ride and improve the efficiency of this hull. The ends of the MR14 are narrower than the competition, so I believe this reduces noise as well.
I did notice a fair amount of hull slap when I was staked out perpendicular to the ripple. This is to be expected with the high flat sides on this boat and something to keep in mind when you set up to target spooky fish.
Weight - 65 pounds. This isn't a light boat, but it IS 13 pounds lighter than my Tarpon and 7 pounds light than my Redfish. I've read a number of reports of Redfish cracking as Heritage chases the weight game, so I'm a bit concerned about the durability of a boat this light. It warrants keeping a close eye on the stressed areas around the scuppers and at the seat edge.
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