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Submitted: 03-21-2011 by ROADHOG

Plan was using a sea kayak for Orca and gray whale observation. I had not kayaked, never paddled Haro or Charlotte Straights. I awkwardly canoe and swim class III-IV rivers. I chose the Solstice Titan for foot room and easy of ingress at 6'4". Bought a used Kevlar Titan.

Reviews had the Solstice blowing in the wind. The Titan I paddle tracks into and downwind when trimmed evenly with MRS waterbags, like a train. Trimmed to the rear, the hull rides over standing waves at 6 mph on the Fraser River side of Haro, does not bury the nose, surfs with control, slaloms with pleasure. I weigh 165, add 70 pounds water in MSR bags, 10 for cart plus food for trim and ballast on the touring load hull design. Keep in mind, I am a novice kayaker. The steps of learning on Haro Straight are covered by the design. Swallowed into a trough by standing waves, deck awash, at the Nacelle's mouth with incoming tide during a 20-25 mph wind also incoming, the hull was stable then popped out with stability. Repeated on Haro.

My second long crossing on Haro was during a small craft warning condition. I do not know how to effectively turn the straight cruising hull into the wind, even humming a good jazz background. The hull, in going your way moving water is maneuverable, giving ample setup time for positioning the hull straight into each waveset, the long stable buoyant design working for cresting continuous but variable incoming directions, series of 3-5 foot waves. As a beginner, I'm avoiding parallel paddling along waves higher than 4 feet. On choppy water, the hull slaloms effortlessly floating with tidal or river flow. Not on a dime, of course, but responsive and effortless. Fun cruising. The hull is lean able to wet your ear.

I assume using a to be learned turn skill of shortening the wet hull shape using wave crests and slopes, will effect a quick(er) upwind turn. This turning skill thwarts some of the preliminary BS read of west coast rocker needed hull vs the east coast or Great Lakes design on the Titan. No, it's not for rock gardens but dissing the Titan design for a rocker design because the hull is on the west coast is not logical in practice.

The design supported my meager skills in rough water conditions leading into productive learning. Looks like the hull design will lead me safely as my skills advance toward off shore, beach surf and Misty Fjords cruising. Rudder pedals need fastening down. The pedals jump out of position like PEEE time before the 6 foot drop or rip: 1/8th shock cord hooked to hardware store clothing hooks using 3M marine urethane fixed jumping pedals. Hull storage covers leak several tablespoons worth per afternoon. The gasket tubing needs fooling with. Workmanship there and in total is above acceptable. Gelcoat thicknesses in the usual wear prone areas are adequate for protecting the cloth. Straps hold covers tight, are durable, shock cord rigging is extensive, durable quality hardware. The seat doesn't irritate or annoy, nothing in there to bang yourself on. Hull finish is smooth, no lumps, loose ends, flapping tapes. Hardware does nit rust, quality durable shock cording is extensive, side hull cord anchors are recessed.

Well, how fast is it? On Haro and elsewhere, I bask in "Awwwww geeee whiz lookit that its a Ferrari." Paddlers watching me zoooom down Haro into standing waves at 6 mph wonder why they have a weenie rockered 15' West coast hull. Ask yourself, does your yak draw attention? Are you concerned the grocery cart man will steal it?

I have the strength of an old woman. On Florida Bay with GPS, I cruise around 4-4.5 mph without traveling against a current. Crossing a mild 4 mph current and 10 mph cross wind with a 100 pound camping load, I work at 4 mph. My roll works well, but the hip snap is unlearned so I'm using a self-inflating deck bag back up rolling aid for rolling up easily, loaded or not.

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