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Submitted: 07-15-2011 by george4908

Last year I bought my first kayak, an Eddyline Skylark, 12' long and 26" wide. Great rec boat, but within a short time I was looking for something a little longer and narrower, as I wanted to improve my skills and cover greater distances more quickly. The only catch was that I did not want to add much weight, as I do my own lifting and my back sometimes gives me trouble.

The new Samba looked perfect on paper, and it weighed only two pounds more at 43 lbs. My only concern was that, being used to the 26" width of the Skylark, the 22.5" beam of the Samba might feel tippy, but after a test paddle, I found I was comfortable right away. I had earlier test paddled a 21" Fathom LV, but unfortunately the winds were up to 25 knots that day, with white caps and a chop, and I spent a lot of paddling energy just keeping it upright. Under calmer conditions (or with more experience), I think the LV would have felt fine as well, but the additional size and weight was a concern, and I am very happy at the end of a long paddling day for a few less pounds to carry.

The Samba is a significantly faster and more playful boat than the Skylark. With the skeg up, it is less tracky and turns very easily, due to a bit more rocker in the hull, but with the skeg even partially down in windy conditions or cross currents it tracks very well. Cruising speed is nearly effortless and it sprints easily, with much less bow wake. I crossed the open Chesapeake -- 5 miles -- in about an hour and 15 minutes, i.e., 4 mph, without pushing it very hard. I haven't rolled it yet -- will be taking lessons soon. The backband, I have found, is much more comfortable than the rather hard seatback in the Skylark. (I velcroed a Seal Line back pad over that one, which was a big help.)

Any gripes? Not really. It's a wetter boat than the Skylark, as the entry is finer and the deck is lower. At 5' 10" and 155 lbs, the cockpit fits great, but if I were much taller it would be tight, as the foot pegs are nearly all the way out. Storage is not huge in a boat of this size, but I use it for day trips so that's not a concern for me. You could certainly weekend with it.

So now my wife paddles the Skylark and I have the Samba, and we're both happy. While we're relatively new to kayaking, we've been around boats all our lives. Eddyline builds a beautiful and very high quality kayak. Boats should be pretty, and this one is. I'll rate it a 10 (doesn't everybody?) because it fulfills its design brief very well and is perfect for my needs. I wouldn't change a thing.

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