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Submitted: 08-13-2014 by Kentuckyak
At Cabela's on June 23rd I placed my order for the Emotions Kayak, Stealth 11 Angler. It finally arrived from the factory on Monday the 14th of July. A bit later than Cabela's said it would but no problem. I took it out the next day to Freeman Lake, a very nice 170 acre lake in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Only trolling motors or self propelled vessels permitted. This was my first experience on a kayak so I didn't want to start out fighting wakes from hot hammered power boats or jet skis on some bigger reservoir. It was a beautiful day but windy. I decided this was good because I'd need to learn how to paddle in the wind. One branch of the lake is narrower and sheltered by higher ridges providing a wind break from both sides so I could paddle on some smooth water too. At the end of this branch it goes into stickups and finally into a creek that is the source for the lake. The creek provided some of the most enjoyable paddling and showed me that kayaks are really suited for rivers, tail and head waters. I haven't paddled in any strong currents yet though.
The Stealth 11 handled fantastic. Even though I'm a newbie to paddle craft, I researched kayaks for a month before buying this one. I watched a bunch of YouTube vids and read the blogs and after market web sites as well. Stability was a concern for me but at the same time I learned that the trade off for stability is speed. I also learned that good tracking (as it's called) is desirable. This 11 foot by 30 inch wide kayak seems to balance these three concerns without noticeable loss of either. I paddled for two hours steady except to drift for a few cell phone picture moments and a selfie to InstaCam. It didn't tire me at all. Even though I was fighting the wind and some waves much of the time the kayak moved and tracked fine. Its 11 foot length must help account for that. It will rock when I rock it but I never felt like I was tipsy. Also my seat never got wet. I saw some water swell up in the scuppers but they never overflowed. I'm 5 ft 8 inches at 210 lbs. I got some paddle splash on me and my legs occasionally but that was all.
I'm looking forward to rigging up for some fishing now and weather permitting I'll be casting into those stickups soon! I had decided that for the first day out not try to fish but rather to concentrate on learning the kayak.
Now for the complaints as there are a few.
One slight failure I believe is the skeg wheel feature. They've put a lot of stock into this innovation but it's not "all that". When you transport the boat using the front handle it still tries to roll over even though they mounted the handle perpendicular to help with balance. It still will rock and the skeg will get scratched and gouged some on any rough concrete that you may need to transport over. The skeg wheel is to small to roll well over most parking lot paving gravel so it gets dragged part of the time like a kayak without a wheel! The big plus to this is that the whole skeg is removable and with a bit of DYI engineering a better method can be accomplished. Perhaps I'll fill the core of the skeg with epoxy putty or silicone and install a bushing through it for an axle arrangement that would make for two larger, quickly removable and storable wheels. Being able to drill into the skeg without it putting a hole into the hull (thereby flooding the boat) is a plus. Because the skeg is removable it can be improved or replaced with some kind of better idea. That failing just use a dolly as you would for any kayak that you can't or don't want to carry. I noticed a bit of water in the hull when I pulled the kayak out. I think it mostly got there from the screws that attach the skeg to the hull.
This brings me to the second and major complaint. I'm wondering if silicone is more expensive in Utah (where they are manufactured) than here in Kentucky. I couldn't find a dab of the wonder sealer anywhere on this boat! I've had to do re-screwing with silicone blobbing everywhere.
Another complaint was that one of the side handles almost pulled out when I first tried it. I attribute that to it not being screwed in deep enough. Better that than it being stripped out. All the others seem secure enough. Because there is access to the underside of these two side handles through the hinged storage port, I replaced all the screws I could reach from there with stainless bolts and lock nuts (and sealed with silicone!). Next, they have a bungee cord looped on the starboard side handle that coupled with a "J" hook is designed to hold the paddle when not in use. Didn't work very well. The bungee is way to small in diameter but I've replaced it with a heavier one that should work.
Finally, this kayak is 30" wide. Their info tends to make you think you can stand on it. Not this guy! I started to try that but quickly sat back down. Maybe being 65 years old has some bearing on that but even though it is stable and maneuvers great, standing up is not easily done. I'll try again later, when I'm dressed for a possible dunking!
Concerning customer service, Lifetime Products shines. I called to order an extra skeg I want to modify and they sold it to me at cost and had it here in a few days. Also I had noticed that the factory had drilled one screw hole on the hatch too deeply and had messed it up a bit. They sent me a replacement hatch no questions asked.
To conclude, even though there were a few issues (nobody's perfect), overall it's 9 Stars for this Emotions Stealth 11. I think it's a great bang for the buck. If you're not the type to "tweak" what you buy you may need something else but it'll be more expensive I'm sure. I'm looking forward to fishing from it and just plain enjoying the ride! If my wife likes it we plan to get her the Emotions Temptation 11. It's same as the Stealth 11 model sans the fishing accessories.
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