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Submitted: 04-07-2014 by DonP
First off, I do really like this boat, I have made some modifications to this boat that I deemed necessary to accommodate me, at 6'2" and 275 lbs with size 12 feet it is a snug fit, but it does fit! The biggest change was that we moved the seat location back about 2" to make it easier to get into the rather small cockpit(16"x32"), contrary to what some suggested it may do, it did NOT change the way the boat sat in the water at all. The other big modification I made was to cut off the factory backrest and replace it with a back band (best decision I made with this boat). So, with those changes mentioned, lets go over the pro's and con's.
1.Right off the bat, the seat, the changes were easy enough to make, but from the factory it is not great, there is little adjustment, and the access behind the seat is very limited with the support structure for the backrest in the way, once removed however, there is a fair amount of storage behind the seat.
2.The hatches, they leak horribly, not an issue in calm flat water, but anything more than a few inches of chop will result in water in the storage areas.
3.The rudder system, although it does do what it's supposed to do, and does it quite well, the sliders on the foot braces tend to bind, and this is apparently a common problem with this boat, common enough that there is apparently going to be an instructional video put out by the manufacturer on how to fix it!
No boat is going to be absolutely perfect for anybody, and there are little things here and there that are apparent on any boat you may paddle, but these for me were "the big 3" on the Gaspe.
1.The speed, this boat is rather wide for a touring boat at 25" (also making it very stable), but it does have a rather long waterline for a 16' boat making it very efficient through the water, the width may make it feel a bit cumbersome to get up to speed, but once there it is very easy to maintain making it great on long trips!
2.The hatches, before you say it, yes I know I complained about them, but the fact is, they are very large with squared corners instead of the traditional oval and round hatches making it very easy to load tons of gear. The rear hatch is large enough we actually had a 7 year old girl sitting in the back facing the rear like a miniature "rumble seat"!
3.The value for your money, I know the manufacturers website lists the MSRP around $1400, look around, you will find it for less brand new, I managed mine for about $1000 with a paddle, and that's not far off from what I've see elsewhere. You will have a tough time finding this much boat for anything less than $1500 unless you are buying used!
So, why a seven? Yes I said I like this boat a lot and I do, now. The fact is I HAD to make changes to this boat to make it work, the seating didn't work for me and the hatches leaked, but they were relatively easy fixes. I probably should rate it higher but I feel this to be more of an entry level touring boat, great for someone new to kayaking who isn't quite sure if a touring boat is what they're after.
This boat is very confidence building for anyone who paddles it enough, but anyone looking improve their skills and move beyond recreational paddling or light tripping, will very quickly outgrow this boat!
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