Submitted: 08-30-2010 by joekanu
Since I've now owned the boat for a couple years I feel qualified to give it a review. I've paddled the San Francisco bay and estuaries for about 25 years. I don't do rivers. I'm comfy in open ocean and bays but rivers with rocks and sharp stuff give me the willies! Anyway, this boat is the 4X4 of kayaks. It carries my 220 lbs. and all the gear I can cram into it with ease. I've slammed into pilings, beached it on barnacle covered rocks, and all other sorts of abuse. It's plenty scratched but everything still works.
Considering how incredibly short it is, the thing tracks very well. As it loses speed it will skid a bit but won't leave you doing donuts and feeling helpless like most rec boats. It took me awhile to get used to the slight rocker since I was used to long skinny sea kayaks. It will turn with ease so controlled strokes are needed to keep it going straight. Leaning the boat seems to have very little effect on steering as the hard chines seem to want to track straight. Since it turns so easily with paddle strokes, I consider that a non-issue.
Now to stability. I've never seriously tried to roll this boat (I didn't buy the skirt) but I did notice it has a tendency to self right. For a boat this wide it's primary stability (tippiness) is a bit less than what one would expect but it's secondary stability locks in solid. In short, it's not an easy boat to tip. It's very unlikely you'd tip it by accident and would have to try really really hard.
I have noticed some people seem to expect the boat to be something it's not and review accordingly. It's not a sea kayak. Though I regularly take it out in fairly heavy seas and surf, I'm very experienced and kind of dumb. It's not a playboat, It's a couple feet too long for tight work in rapids and though it turns fast, it's not that fast. My review is based on what it is, a rec boat, and compared to others in it's class it stands head and shoulders above the rest. It's cheap, tough, tracks well enough, carries plenty of gear, turns fairly easily, and you don't have to be a seasoned pro to paddle this boat. Considering what it is, I have to give it a solid 10.
I would not recommend this boat to smaller people. I don't consider myself an expert but I'd say anyone under about 150 lbs. would have difficulty with this boat. This boat is designed to carry a lot of weight... and it needs a fair amount. It's sides are high so for kids with kid sized arms, even with an extra 100 lbs. of ballast, it would still be a handful. I tried. It's a vee-hull with a moderate rocker so with a light person, there just won't be much boat in the water and you will have a great deal of difficulty with directional stability. Though it's short, it's a boat for bigger boys. If you want something that you can toss in the bed of a pickup that's good in most types of water, this is the boat. You can cross the bay but won't won't win any races. It is short enough to explore marshlands, sloughs, and estuaries but cuts through the waves well enough to get you home again.