Submitted: 06-09-2003 by SteveM
I recently purchased my first kayak; a Whistler by Current Designs and I feel like I should write something about this boat since I see no one else has. Having only recently taken up kayaking Iím certainly not qualified to write any kind of serious in depth review but I would like to throw out a few comments about why I chose this model and what I like about it. After spending only one day last summer on Lake Keuka in the finger Lakes region of New York State, paddling a rented Old Town, Loon 138, I fell in love with kayaking. Since then I spent a lot of time studying these long skinny boats trying to figure out exactly what it is I like about them and what Iím looking for in a kayak.
At my age, (40 something), Iím no longer looking for thrills and spills when it comes to outdoor activities but rather something just the opposite, freedom and relaxation. I live at the Jersey Shore and have always been around water but Iíve never had any real fascination with boats. What does appeal to me it the idea of paddling over a quiet lake or pond, cruising the shoreline of a bay or spending a day exploring a salt marsh. So when it came time to choose a kayak to fit my needs I was able to narrow my search to type, size and fit. I first considered a recreational boat. Something that would give me plenty of stability and room to stretch out, such as the Loon I had rented last summer. The problem with that was I didnít want to tie myself down to a boat that I might soon find too slow and sluggish just for the sake of stability. I also knew I was not ready to take on one of those long pencil thin boats built for speed knowing I would not feel comfortable if things got rough.
After spending a day at a local paddlefest climbing in and out of kayaks and talking to a number of manufactureís product reps I was able to narrow my choices to four boats I felt would give me what I was looking for. Here are the boats I picked out: The Carolina 14.5 by Perception, The Cape Lookout 145 by Wilderness Systems, the Charleston 14 by Dagger and The Whistler by Current Designs. All four were similar in size, weight, and price. All four claimed to offer a combination of stability, maneuverability, comfort and quality. A few weeks later I looked them over again at a store and ended up eliminating the Wilderness System. Although it had the most comfortable seat of the four, I couldnít help but to think the plastic they use looked and felt a little cheap. It might not seem like any big deal to some but after only a few minutes I felt like I was sitting with my legs inside a Rubbermaid trashcan.
When the weather finally warmed up a bit I went back and took a test paddle of the remaining three at a near by pond. This is where the differences really showed themselves. As I said, Iím still very much a novice so keep in mind this is only my humble opinion. Right from the beginning there was something about the way the CD Whistler looked and felt that attracted me to it. Its basic construction had a certain significance that appealed to me .The boat felt sturdy and somewhat more rigid then the Perception. The plastics used seemed a little better then most and the overall quality was good. I know Current Designs makes about 20 different kayaks, mostly higher end and this model was one of their entry-level boats but that didnít bother me. Up until this point I had been leaning toward the much popular Carolina by Perception, which I also think was very well built and a good value.
Out on the water the Carolina was a breeze to paddle and I had no trouble with tracking or turning. It handled well and was fairly easy to maneuver. However, after only a short while I was starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable. The deck seemed a little to low for my knees and for some reason no mater what I did I could not get the seat back to adjust right. Of course this might have just been a little thing but I was feeling something just wasnít right for me. I then took the Dagger, Charleston for a while which I was also prepared to like. It was fairly stable and paddled easily but almost from the start I had trouble keeping it straight. The drop down skeg seemed to help but the boat still felt like it had a will of itís own. Iím sure this had more to do with my lack of experience then any defect in the kayakís design. When I pushed off in the whistler it felt a bit more tipsy then the other two but after only ten minutes I felt comfortable. It paddled as well as the Perception and was the easiest to turn once I got the feel of it. At 25 inches wide and just over fourteen and a half feet ití generally referred to as a light touring kayak. The two hatches (bow and stern) are large enough to carry a dayís worth of gear including a small cooler if you can get it through the round opening. The seat back was easy to adjust and gave me good lower back support. Even after two and half-hours I never once felt cramped or uncomfortable. My whistler came with a rudder system, which didnít interest me much at first but I managed to get it for the same price as without. After using a few times Iím glad now I got it, although I do feel like Iím cheating a little when using it to turn. I have to say that over all this boat fits my needed perfectly and Iím very happy I took the time to compare before going right out and buying the first one I found. I canít say this will be the last kayak I ever own but for now I could not be happier.