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Submitted: 12-08-2010 by wirerat123
Yes an experienced kayaker giving this boat a 10. I'll explain just exactly why below.
I've been kayaking for what seems like forever. Everything ranging from class 3 rivers to flat smooth lakes. I cruise, I fish, I surf that hole at the bottom of the class 3 slide. I paddle every chance I get.
With that said, I'm always looking for a bargain on a boat that I can find a good use for. Got a couple of Pursuit 100s, mainly for running class 2 and under rivers with some hammock camping gear stuffed in there.
Since I am already familiar with whitewater boats, the issues others have with this boat, I simply do not have. I have been VERY surprised at how well these little boats fill that void between playful low volume whitewater kayak and under responsive larger rec boats.
My Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 was the first boat I had for weekend river running with camping in the middle. Excellent for larger wide rivers and easy to maneuver rough spots, but could be a chore to steer around the rock garden and into the slot then back around the strainer at the bottom. But I could do it, but I knew there had to be something better without having to cramp everything including myself into a $900 creek boat. I already have a creek boat, river runner and play boat. None of them suitable for stuffing a weekends worth of gear and myself in without risking being stuffed too tight or overloading my boat. I also have longer flat water boats that will easily hold a weekends worth of gear, that glide well and track straight as an arrow, but on tight spots in a river become a chore to paddle tighter technical sections.
I could get a whitewater canoe. But those are typically $1000 at a minimum. They run $600+ used. Plus big money for custom outfitting, float bags, and learning a new way to paddle, as well as testy knees threw that out of the water. No open boat for me.
Going through Dick's Sporting goods during a late winter sale I saw them on sale for $199 each. Checked out the quality of the plastic. Well not quite the quality of my Wilderness systems or Pyranha boats, but certainly better than I would have expected for the money.
Hull design, this is where I got happy. Compare the hull design with a modern whitewater canoe (say the Evergreen Solito). VERY similar in design to a whitewater canoe. Meaning better tracking and stability than a whitewater kayak, but much better maneuverability than normal in a rec boat. It was the in between I had been searching for!
Got it home, first things first. I need to make the back hatch waterproof, and open up into the body of the boat for more storage area. A utility knife around the inside area of the hatch opened it right up with little issue. Glued some auto door trim around it so the lid would seal good on it. Took some paper and made a template of the space behind the seat, and cut a 1" piece of foam rubber into a bulkhead and glued it behind the seat and sealed it with silicone. Now for less than $20 I had decently dry large area storage in the back. Plenty for a weekends worth of gear. On to the cockpit. I sealed any screw holes with silicone, took a beach ball mostly inflated, put lines of silicone on it, partially inflated it and wedged it into the front for flotation, not that the bulkhead in the back wouldn't be plenty, but it wouldn't be perfectly waterproof if submerged. Glued on some knee pads under the front deck to help me maneuver the boat.
On the maiden voyage I took her out on an overnighter on a class 1 river with a couple of really technical moves needed or else you get wet, but no real danger involved. Initial jump into the boat told me that this little boat indeed was going to please me. It was the perfect in between from my whitewater boats to my flat water boats. It was faster and tracked better than my whitewater boats, but was loosed enough to turn hard and fast when needed. What a pleasure to find out this little boat was indeed exactly what I was looking for.
I had one issue left, it wouldn't hold a skirt worth a crap. The skirt material was just too bulky to hold under the lip well. So I put a 1" wide fairly thick line of silicone around the lip of the cockpit to add grip. I only put on a nylon skirt if I'm hitting rougher water, and it now holds well enough to get me through a wave train or slide without letting too much water in. The hand held bilge pump handles the rest in short order.
This boat was just what the doctor ordered for it's needed purpose, and it has held up perfectly for the last 3 years with likely another year or two left in it. But they are cheap enough getting a new one isn't going to break my heart.
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