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Submitted: 04-09-2002 by TimW
Don't worry about the rating number. I don't give 10 because rating is too subjective. Because Elaho is a recent model and there's not a lot of reviews, I'll give my impression from one time out. I was in the poly version. It's a touring playboat, so don't buy it just to cover miles. LOA 15'10", but the waterline looks shorter than my Wilderness Systems Alto has at 15'8". However, it's an interesting tool with a range of adjustability to conditions. With skeg up, on flat water, I could paddle it directly sideways like my river boat, and spin it in its own length without leaning at all. Leaning actually seemed to stiffen it up. However, I could paddle a fairly straight course with the skeg up, probably because of my experience in my river boat. The wind was light to moderate and the waves were small to nonexistent, so it wasn't a full test.
The skeg is simple. I like that it sticks out the stern a bit, so a helper can coax it down without reaching under the boat (maybe) in the event of a pebble jam after a beach launch. The skeg drops by gravity, so it has to be a bit of a loose fit. I had to waggle my hips almost every time I deployed it, to get it to release from the skeg box. It dropped readily after the shimmy. At partial levels, the skeg clunks as it shifts in the box. At deeper levels, this one buzzed with a harmonic vibration as speed increased. I've encountered the same thing in sailboats with flat metal centerboards rather than streamlined shapes. I did notice drag from the skeg and a peculiar feel compared to my Alto, which has no rudder. Adding lateral plane aft does stiffen the tracking, but it also moves the center of lateral resistance, contributing to the feeling that one has suddenly hopped into a completely different boat. Depending on how far down you drop the skeg, the boat responds differently to lean because the fin is still in the water. Elaho owners might want to mark the skeg cord to correspond to different depths for different conditions.
I'm 5'8", 160 pounds, with "bike legs." Getting into the cockpit was a bit like putting on snug trousers. My feet were a bit cramped and my thighs were forced down and out, but I might have improved things by scooting the footbraces one more notch forward. The tight fit is great for the more dynamic uses of the boat. Also, someone with skinnier legs might not notice the boundaries as much as I did. With air in the low 40s at best and water only recently returned to liquid state (this written in early April in NH) I did not try any rolls, but I expect no difficulties. The deck profile is low and flat. Aft of the cockpit it's easily low enough for the paddler to lie right flat. Even I might manage a layback roll recovery in Elaho. And I have to say I'm far from expert at rolls as yet.
Necky's flat-bottomed hull gives an interesting stability profile. Initial stability is fairly solid, but the flat section is narrow enough that it doesn't inhibit the first lean. The low deck line allows even cautious paddlers to dunk an ego-boosting amount of cockpit rim while still supported by the secondary stability. But, as I said above, leaning is not needed and maybe not even helpful with the skeg up. That leaves all that stability for leans you might need in surf or peeling out of eddies when playing in current.I have yet to see what the low deck and all the doodads on it (hatches, deck lines) do in larger wave action. Recessed hatches mean those little neoprene berets will be working hard to keep things dry inside. All in all, it looks like a fun little package, though.
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