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Submitted: 07-16-2001 by Jim

I began looking for a touring kayak to upgrade to from my recreational kayak (Keowee II). I paddled Perception's Carolina, Walden's Passage, Dagger's Magellen and Cortez, Valley's Skerray and Avocet. I am 5'11" and 160 lbs. Kind of on the big side for a small paddler but not big enough for a big kayak. The Carolina and Passage were easy, stable and fun but a bit slow. Good fishing boats I bet. The Magellen was way to big and heavy for my taste. The Cortez was very fast and yet reasonably stable. Tracked very well but turned slowly and with effort. The Skerray was fast and just a hair to big for my build. Now for the Avocet RM. This is a very well built plastic kayak that is suited for speed, maneuverability, and rough water. I rented one for two afternoons from Sea Kayak of GA near Savannah. Nice people. The conditions day one were gentle. Day two saw lots of chop and a ripping tide. Both days the Avocet was fast, fast, and fast. This boat can maneuver and go all at once. Its skeg system is more appealing to me than a rudder. If you need to turn on a dime pull in the skeg and turn fast. I returned home and worried about the price of the kayak for two weeks before making the plunge. $1650 Later I owned a new yellow Avocet RM. I have taken it up the Savannah river here in Augusta into the faster, rougher, yet still open portions and played sea kayaker. The boat pleasantly surprised me with its ability to turn on a dime and sprint around. It took a few treks to the river to get down traveling in a straight line with no skeg down but gentle use of the hips solved that. With the skeg down this kayak tracks well. Different than with a rudder like I am used to. Not worse, just different. I actually prefer the skeg. The price really was a big issue with this boat. But when I realized I won't have to sell it in a year to upgrade, it seemed fair. The quality is easily as good as with most fiberglass kayaks. I watched a customer at the store learn how to roll an Avocet during a course given by a guide. Afterward the customer wanted to sell his Necky boat with rudder he had purchased only two months before because he felt he had outgrown it. Paddling half a dozen boats really helped solve the decision dilemma. The Avocet is a serious boat that doesn't have to be used seriously, but the price will keep you from buying one casually. Expensive, but worth the entry price.
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