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Submitted: 09-02-2002 by Todd_S
I bought a composite Caribou S in April 2001, and paddled it from then through this summer. It is a great boat - it has beautiful lines (long and sleek), and is very fast, with excellent initial stability and very good secondary stability. The finish was beautiful, although it seemed a bit more prone to scuffs and scratches than some other kayaks I have owned.
The Caribou fit me very well (5'-10" 180lbs), the seat is very comfortable, and the cockpit large. I especially liked the way I could enter the Caribou by straddling the kayak in shallow water, sitting down, and then pulling in one foot/leg and then the other, without a bobble by the kayak.
We paddle mostly flat water (NY Finger Lakes), but I did have a chance to take it out into 4-6 foot tumbling swells with 9-18" wind chop in Maine. The boat handled the conditions well, but for some reason I found it did not inspire confidence. Maybe it was the initial stability showing up in a somewhat jittery motion from the wind chop. I found out that the Caribou surfs like a rocket - it really took off on a couple of smaller breaking waves - what a ride!
While lots of people told me that the Caribou is reasonably easy to turn, I found it takes 4-5 sweep strokes to turn it 180 degrees when I need to go back and help someone. I also found that it weathercocks some, but the adjustable skeg does a wonderful job of putting you on track.
I went camping for 3 days with my son, who paddles an Eddyline Merlin LT (read limited storage), and I found that the Caribou has adequate storage and is pretty easy to get things in and out of the hatches. Packing articles around the skeg box was a bit of a challenge, but something that you learn to work around.
All in all, it's a great kayak. I sold two weeks ago. It's only weakness in my case is it's speed - the rest of my family couldn't keep up with it! Since one of my kayaking goals is exercise, I found myself waiting for them too much, and I decided to switch to a slower, more manoeverable kayak. Sigh. Some things are just too good.
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