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Submitted: 10-06-2011 by woody405

Bought a "very much-used" Old Town Otter kayak; as evidenced by the zillions of scratches on it. A short kayak like the Otter was wanted strictly for its "maneuverability" and "light weight". Let's face it, if I want to get anywhere in a bee-line, fast; I'll take a commercial airliner. On a river, control and quick turns is what's called for.

Being 6'4" and 230 lbs, the cockpit of the Old Town Otter was initially hard to get into; although, the leg room was fine. So, the seat assembly was unbolted so it would slide wherever it was needed. When pushed way back, climbing in and out is a breeze. On calm water I use my body weight to shift the seat forward so the back slants to 45 degrees; stretch my legs out-forward all the way; and totally relax. It's way cool.

During times of hard, fast paddling, the seat is shifted/slid backwards in the kayak; so that the back-of-the-seat angle is about 90 degrees; like a regular chair.

It has been found that bolting the seat in one stationary position in the Old Town Otter is not necessary. To get out of the kayak when it is beached, the seat is just slid partially under the back deck so a guy has room to roll over on hands and knees where he can then easily stand up; even when on a steeply-inclined, uphill beach or mudbank.

It's totally "in-the-zone".

Next, carrier strap anchors were installed via pop-rivets to the front and back decks in order to load the kayak down with gear. In that regard: 1.) a dufflebag with water-proofed-bagged clothing and extra food for a day trip (including thermos' of hot soup and coffee) was placed under the back deck behind the seat; 2.) two folding lawn chairs that fit into the "long" bags were strapped on top of the back deck; and, 3.) a large knapsack with water, snacks, binocs, camera and notions was strapped to the front deck.

When stopping for a break at a beautiful spot along the river; why not be comfortable? After all, it is an "off-road" vehicle; able to get away from the destinations of mass-transit; in all forms.

Loaded down with me and all the gear above and below decks it handles like a leopard through the jungle; agile and fast. It tracks great, too; but that may be attributed to the ability and finesse of someone who has been dipping paddles for 54 years. And, in having acquired that ability to track a short kayak, a "long" kayak just isn't needed merely for "trackings" sake.

Sure, a longer Kayak will go "proportionally" faster; but why go even one mile an hour faster on a river? If a guy is in that big a hurry, why be on the river at all.

The thrill of kayaking rivers is in taking the narrows and rapids with control and confidence; and, in watching carefully for the easily-missed wildlife. And, when "beaching" to stretch-out and relax; why stand around on the sand or in the grass with a cold sandwich and a cookie in one hand and a luke-warm bottle of water in the other? Why not pull up a chair and have some hot soup with a garnish; and, top it off with pudding? Why let our complex, third-millennial, hurried-life-style take over our "wilderness" time, too?

I throw the Old Town Otter kayak on the dinette table inside my camper van and just take off whenever the Kayak Klub has a get-together at some river every week or two. It works perfect. Great on the river and great for hauling the gear I need to have a super-mini-vacation on some remote riverside paradise.

At 39 pounds, it's terrific. It does everything I need.

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