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Submitted: 09-02-2003 by Steve
I wrote a previous review in 99...and thought I'd add my updated comments. I've had my Captiva on quiet lakes, class I rivers (some with nasty and fast turns around gravel bars), and in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. I also have a canoe, the Perception Acadia and a new boat...the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 to compare the Captiva to. I understand the Carolina 16 is its new name.
First off, the Captiva is a good boat. It's not a great boat. It looks snazzy and such. I've gotten comments on how sharp it looked, setting on my truck rack. The paddling is where differences of opinion occur...even with me. I frequently paddle it with friends who borrow my Acadia. If you paddle a strong and relatively fast stroke, the Captiva is the faster of the two, simply put. But, if you paddle slow and easy, I've had canoes run off and leave me. That said, if you are going down a river on a weekend camping trip, and you want to be able to take most of the fridge, kitchen, bedroom, etc. with you, this is the boat to do it in. The boat is pretty darned stable, holds a lot of gear, and then holds a lot more gear. I've had both hatches full, gear crammed between my knees, behind the seat, and under both bungees, and the boat was still as stable as a barge. It was slow and took effort in calm water, but in a creek with any current, it's reasonable. A good paddle and good technique will make some difference. The lighter the boat is, the less draft, i.e. the faster boat as it will have more freeboard. As I don't do any demanding water, I took off the thigh braces to give me more room to wiggle into the cockpit. I kept skinning my knees and even capsized a couple of times trying to get in the boat on slippery banks and boat ramps.
I'm a big guy, and admittedly, paddling the Captiva gets me tired after a bit. But then, don't we all get tired after a day of paddling?
I just bought a W/S Tarpon 160 and WOW! I had been concerned if it would be fast and how it would handle. It's wider than the Captiva and the same hull length, but it could outrun the Captiva with half a paddle, and turn twice as quick. Do I still like my Captiva? Yes, I do. The boat has its merits, which other paddlers have noted in previous reviews. However, if you don't mind a sit on top, look at the Tarpon. There's no skinny cockpit to wiggle into, and you can move around freely. For bigger paddlers, the Captiva is a pretty good boat. You feel safe and all, with the cockpit around you, sprayskirt fastened. However, even with my 250# butt, I felt very good paddling a Current Designs boat at a paddle day last year. So...look around before you buy. If I had it to do over, I probably would try and get something other than the Captiva.