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Submitted: 04-21-2014 by Frank Porter
Last spring I purchased a Long Haul Stretch Mark 2 for my wife and I. It is a tandem folding kayak. At 17 feet 5 inches long and 34 inches at the beam, it is not a small kayak. Nor is it a light kayak. However, all that length and beam width create a very stable craft on the water.
The Mark 2 has a ash and birch wooden frame with fiberglass rods that are easy to assemble. It takes me 45 minutes to put together by myself. I enjoy the process. The hull is Hypolon rubber and the deck is Seamark. (a synthetic material that will resist rot and look great years to come). My deck is blue and my Velcro Spray cover is bright yellow for visibility.
We purchased a 1.6 M Kayaksailor with a .6 M Genoa last year at the same time. Mark Eckhart, the owner of Long haul, modified the front of the spray cover to fit the Klepper America mount that the Kayaksailor sail is mounted to. I think if you ask Mark for anything he will figure out how it could be done.
This may be a good time to mention that Long Haul Folding Kayak stands behind their kayaks with a great guarantee and very good customer service. Both before and after the sale. I had a frame part that was not quite right and Mark overnight shipped a replacement piece. In addition, I find they are willing to answer all my questions and they make you feel like family. Their Facebook posts continually welcome new kayak owners to the ever growing Long Haul family. Nice job to all the crew at Long Haul. You are the best!
We took our Mark 2 out on Lake Superior 3 times last summer and the last time proved to me just how stable this kayak is. Rounding a breakwater in Marquette MI, about 1 mile out, the waves changed from 1 foot or less to 3-4 feet high. We had 2 choices, to turn around or to continue on. After a few minutes of being in the washing machine like conditions we could see we were no danger so we continued on. We even had the confidence to return rather than beach the kayak on the other side of Presque Isle. Other kayakers turned back when they saw the conditions ahead. It was a wonderful way to find out just how seaworthy our Mark 2 really is.
Long Haul offers several options in each kayak. I choose a lighter hull and lighter frame. I had 4 keel strips placed on the hull by each keel edge and the fiberglass rods for additional abrasion resistance. After 25 times on inland lakes the hull looks as good as it did when I unpacked it the first time. I decided to have the stainless fittings rather than aluminum for greater durability. Mark Eckhart calls them bomb proof. I have never felt the Seamark deck gets hot in the summer. The Velcro Spray cover is water proof and I never felt hot inside. We use it every time to stay dry.
The rudder is large and works very well with it's integrated Rib #4 foot peddles. I bought the solo package in case my wife didn't want to go out. This spring I decided to purchase a 36 Sq.Ft. HP Sport Balogh Sail Design sail with the BOSS Extreme outrigger system so we can catch more wind this year so we can get it up to the top hull speed. Long Haul sells the BSD sails and modified my stern keel and coamings to accept the sail rig. My spraycover was also modified for the mast and crossbar that will be behind the front paddler. I can't wait to get the kayak in the water and test it out. Right now the water is too cold to be in so this was a great time to have the modifications made. having the Kayaksailor sails up front and the BSD sail behind will be great fun. We are confident in the stability to run as a schooner this year.
In summary, my wife and I are not in this sport to be the fastest kayak on the water or the first in the water. When strictly paddling we can maintain over 4 MPH with ease and the kayak glides well. Tracking is perfect and I have not felt the kayak being blown around by the wind. The initial and secondary stability is great due in part to the double chine in the hull and the sponsons. We appreciate the stability far more than a long, narrow, light kayak that could go slightly faster. I feel we can extend the distance our day trips take us because of the sails and the comfort built in this kayak. We are day trip kayakers but we know that if we wanted to take a camping trip there is plenty of room for gear inside and on the deck. There are many D ring tie downs and a full length life line on the deck.
The capacity of the Mark 2 is 800-900 LBS depending on if you choose the Classic package with 2 full length sponsons or the Quarto with 4 sponsons. These air filled bladders are inserted in a smooth fabric and are permanently sewn to the hull. Each sponson has a plastic hose that is for filling with an air pump. I wish the openings for the sleeve for the sponsons were turned the opposite way so when you insert the frame in the hull it would not catch from time to time. I always go slow so as not to do any damage to the sleeves.
Safety, stability, comfort, reliability, rugged, fun to use, are just a few of the words to describe this kayak. Having a manufacturer in the USA that stands behind his kayaks is a huge plus for me. I love the wood frame and the way the kayak plows through the waves instead of bobbing up and down all day. I would never have an aluminum frame kayak. There is no art or craftsmanship to an aluminum frame.
I hope to trailer the kayak this year to lengthen our outings but being able to take a large kayak inside your car on a longer trip is a great advantage.
If you want a kayak that is well made here in the USA, with a great guarantee, that is stable and fun, this is your next ride.
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