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Submitted: 05-11-2004 by GFB

I picked up a poly RMX a few months ago. I am a complete newbie, but wanted a boat that was A) seaworthy and B) affordable. For less than the price of a leftover boat at the local shop I got the Skerray and a full complement of paddling equipment, right down to the rack for my truck. Looking back, it might have been a bit of an impulse purchase, but my reasoning at the time was that, as a newbie, paddling several boats at product demos wouldn't yield much useful information beyond "gee, that one is a nice color and the seat was comfortable for the whole 5 minutes I paddled it". Anyhow, after many hours of flatwater paddling and a kayaking lesson I think I have some useful info for anyone new to the sport who might be considering one of these boats. It doesn't track like the proverbial train. This is actually a GOOD thing, because once I learned the leaning-turn trick it is actually quite easy to make the boat go where desired. Wind effects are easily compensated by dropping the skeg an appropriate amount - and no, I do not feel as though I am "cheating" by using the skeg - it's there for a reason, and why should I interrupt my paddling rhythm for compensating strokes if I don't have to? Second, the backband is as bad as the other reviewers described. It's narrow and placed very low. Low is OK, as I understand that this gives you the option to layback on the rear deck for certain Eskimo rolls, but I've seen plenty of low backbands that looked as though they offered a whole lot more support than this feeble thing. I've been practicing paddle float self rescues, and I was pleasantly surprised at how very little water was shipped into the cockpit after a capsize. The boat floats high when righted and it is easy to get back in. While I've not yet mastered the Eskimo roll, it is very easy to right the boat while swimming next to it, which bodes well for flipping it back over while seated inside it. Stability (remember, I'm a newbie) seemed twitchy at first - I'm moving from a fairly beamy canoe to this kayak - but over time I have become accustomed to this. I've yet to become "one" with the boat while heeling it over for turns, but blame that more on my experience level than the boat. My point here is that this is most definitely NOT a stable beginner's barge (I've paddled a few of those) - it seems quite fast, but you pay a price in that you can't fall asleep in it and expect to stay dry. The hatches are tight and dry, and there seems to be enough room for a few day's worth of camping gear. I'm a veteran backpacker, so it looks like a lot of room to me, but if your camping style tends more toward luxury/gadgets you may want more room. So far, I like it a lot. With some more time to grow into it I may fall in love.
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