Submitted: 03-26-2001 by cd
I bought my plastic Eclipse last year, and also tried sitting in a Shadow. I'm 5'6" and the Shadow fit me nicely, but my legs were going to sleep in a few minutes and I didn't have room to move them around to relieve the pressure. I know now that a kayak should fit snugly, but at the time it would almost panic my body to be so immobilized from the waist down.
So I bought the Eclipse, and went for my first kayak ride *ever* about a week later. I put her in at a lake on the Susquehanna River, and there was lots of current from the recent rains, so the paddling was difficult at first. I noticed that it felt tippy at first, but I love efficiency and this boat feels like it's giving me good movement for each paddle stroke.
I've done everything wrong so far: no lessons, no sprayskirt, no pump, no spare paddle, no partner. Don't follow in my footsteps, I could have easily been finished off if weren't for dumb luck (actually it was probably part of my loser ethos. I didn't want to aggrandise myself by winning a Darwin Award... &^). Since then I've bought a bilge pump and a sprayskirt, and I'm looking for lessons but haven't found them yet.
I also have problems with side winds weathercocking, and have noticed that the rudder slows me down, and have been thinking about grinding a taper into the rudder to see if that helps. I'm thinking about a cross-section that looks like this: ()
I still haven't found a good seating position, even with lots of canoe pads trimmed and glued all over the seat. The tall cockpit and my short legs are not working together yet, but I've got ideas about how to pad the top of the cockpit better.
One thing that helped me was to cut a canoe pad in half and lay the halves down on each side of the pipe for heel rests. Just put a bit of rubber cement on them and let it dry; this will make them sticky enough to stay in place, but still moveable. They help prevent foot cramps from the cold hull, and makes it possible to paddle barefoot without getting heel pain. I also cut a bit of the canoe pad (this is the gray closed-cell foam about 1" thick) and glued it on each footrest for padding. Ahhhh. Make the pads larger than the footrest so you don't bang your toes, and you may need to adjust your footrests once they're on. Love to paddle barefoot!
What I like about the boat is that it's sturdy (plastic is a good idea for a first boat), the fittings and decklines are nicely done, and it feels quick without feeling dangerously tippy. I did go over once while exiting the boat to a high dock, and it will roll very quickly! Watch that you don't raise your center-of-gravity with seat-padding, as you'll make it much more tippy.
What I don't like is the plastic "feel" in the water (just a bit sloppy) and the foot control rails for the rudder are iffy (mine got stuck early on, and Perception mailed me a new set right away, but actually all they need is a bit of sanding so the slider clearances are better). The weight makes it hard for a small guy to load and move around, although I'm getting better as I practice. And I sometimes wish it had end toggles and security loops.
All in all a thumbs-up, especially for a first boat.