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Submitted: 08-31-2001 by Ben

This Blackwater EXP is my first kayak- I had researched over the summer and had narrowed my choices down to this, the Perception Acadia EXP, and the Dagger Cypress EXP. Essentially, I chose the Blackwater out of those because of the price- it was on sale at REI for $499, and the others were all almost $100 more- this poor college boy had to opt for the low end. However, I have been very satisfied with my Blackwater. I have taken it out 5 times so far- exclusively on rivers- the Huron and Kalamazoo in MI, the Nippersink in IL, and in sloughs off the Mississippi in Wyalusing State Park, WI. The initial stability is not great, but it makes up for it in secondary stability. It turns well, and tracks very well for a relatively short boat. That is with the skeg down- as per other reviews, I untied the skeg and retied to hang lower. I had one problem with the skeg- the guides for the line that raises and lowers the skeg are quite sharp on their edges, and the first time I took it out, I scraped a lot of skin off my arm when I reached back and planted the paddle. I covered it with duct tape and the problem was solved. I also must agree with other reviewers who said that the bow of the Blackwater plows the water- compared to my girlfriend's America, I feel like I'm in an Ice breaker. OK, not quite that bad, but there is definitely more resistance up front than I had expected. It is plenty roomy for me - 6'4"/160 and also lots of space for equipment. Overall, a good buy, and an excellent introductory kayak.
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