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Submitted: 06-12-2011 by sherryb
I've had a half dozen outings in my new Journey now. It's been challenging trying to get out on the water with my work schedule, so I usually paddle a lot of chop and wind in the middle of the day. I bought my Journey sans rudder but after realizing that I paddle so much in wind and I don't live near any ocean rock gardens, I decided I will have one installed. Mostly, I paddle big mountain lakes where surprising gust fronts occur frequently off the nearby mountains and continental divide. I had one day when I paddled, still sans rudder, in gusts over 40 mph and sustained winds in the 30s! I was able to do it although I don't think I'll make a practice of that! I did make it back to my put-in on the other side of the lake, which is better than a couple guys in a little motor boat who had to abandon it on the far shore and take a long hike back to their car. I'm not bragging on me, but the boat for making it possible for me to get back.
I demo'd a Journey with a SmartTrak rudder and although the fixed, gas pedal style thing sounds like a good idea, I found it a little awkward to use (another reason I decided to forgo it initially). Compared to the WS Tsnunami140 (fiberglass) that I also have, I find the Journey to be a much more lively boat, stable but easy to tack and spin in rough water. I love the way it responds to turning by leaning. It's really fun!
I am only an intermediate paddler but I am really looking forward to all the new skills I can learn because this boat responds. If your only stroke repertoire is a straight on forward stroke you may not be happy with this boat. It asks for more but gives back with proper paddle technique. The WS by comparison is a bit doggy. Yes, it goes straight but gets stuck going straight too. Yes, you can sweep and pry but I will say it again, it is sluggish by comparison. I also once demo'd a plastic Tsunami 140 and it felt like a barge. I literally couldn't wait to get out of it.
I also prefer the athletic, whitewater style backband to the upright rigid seat of the WS Phase 3 outfitting. The Jackson seat is much more conducive to good roll technique and plenty comfortable enough. I sometimes have difficulty getting in the WS at difficult put-ins, snagging the top of the seat with my behind and having it fold down on me. The Jackson seating will allow a larger range of roll techniques.
I can only go an 8 on the rating though because I am not thoroughly happy with the rudder system and it is a PLASTIC boat which means heavier than if you wanted to spend some real money on a fiberglass model. However, plastic is durable and I have thrown it off the car a couple times trying to work out my loading technique and right now, in Colorado, our reservoirs are very low, making for rocky, less than ideal put-ins. The Journey is the go-to boat for those conditions for sure.
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