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Submitted: 07-15-2004 by sullivant41
This is really a composite review of Boreal Design's Pakesso: it reports my teenage sons' impressions of the kayak as well as my own.
A year ago in early spring, we started looking for a small touring kayak to replace the Eddyline Skimmer that our younger son had been paddling for three years. His feet had grown to an adult size 10 the previous summer, and they didn't fit in the Skimmer any more. We visited several kayak dealers, and he sat in several 14' to 16' kayaks by several manufacturers. They all failed his 'sitting test' for one reason or another, or did not have a rudder, which was one of his requirements. (No comment here on the logic of 12 year olds!) He paddled several other kinds of kayaks at a couple of dealers, but nothing appealed... until he tried the Pakesso. His older brother (14 at the time) tried it also, and both of them gave it a hearty thumbs up after a limited paddle in flat calm weather. They liked the seat, the light weight, bouyancy, the way it paddled, and it's finish.
So, late last winter, we bought a 2003 Pakesso during a winter kayak sale, and brought it home. We didn't have a chance to paddle it again until a couple of weekends ago. The location was Cayuga Lake, one of the large Finger Lakes in upstate NY, with a fresh NW breeze of perhaps 10-20 mph and 9"-15" wind waves.
My son hopped in and had no trouble paddling the Pakesso. He kept up with the two of us - I paddle a Capella RM and my other son paddles an Eddyline Merlin LT - and he seemed very comfortable in it. We paddled into the wind and waves, across them, quartering downwind and straight downwind. The Pakesso seemed to handle all of these points of paddle comfortably. As we neared our takeout, my son pulled his legs out of the cockpit, laid them on the foredeck and reclined in the cockpit, as if he were sunbathing (a trademark of his). That was sort of the ultimate compliment to the Pakesso's stability.
Since the Pakesso will fit adult-sized folk as well as teenagers, I was anxious to try it. Looking the boat over inside and out, I found the workmanship and finish to be first rate. The hatches are recessed into the deck, and there are lifelines and bungee cords in the right places. I was able to get into the cockpit seat first, and then pull in my legs, one at a time. Once in the kayak, I found the seat relatively large and comfortable. The seat is wider and longer than the Capella's, and the width made it a touch tricky to balance (I'm 5'-10" and 175 lbs) - I had to sit exactly in the center. Padding the seat sides would probably eliminate that problem, although my son seemed to have no difficulty with balance.
Under way, I felt that the Pakesso has a decent cruising speed for a 14'-6" long and 22.5" wide kayak. It was a dry ride the whole time, despite my attempts to get it to throw spray back at me (pounding into waves, sloppy quartering into the wind, etc.). It has a fairly high profile (lots of footroom!), and that, combined with the design of the bow, does a terrific job of keeping water from being blown back onto the paddler.
The Pakesso does seem pretty sensitive to being balanced upright, since even a small lean would start it turning ('carving' the turn? -I'm not sure what that term means). So, it seems pretty manoeverable, especially with the rudder to help in the turns. The rudder is small but effective, although I didn't find it necessary to use it most of the time. (My Capella does not have a rudder.) My son also discovered that he didn't always need the rudder during his paddling time.
Overall, the Pakesso is a very nice kayak. It fills a niche between larger (and heavier) kayaks and the smaller 'rec boats'. It provides a paddling platform for smaller people who are serious about kayaking, since it has all the features of a serious sea-going kayak (bulkheads, hatches, bungees, lifelines, etc.). Also, its finish is outstanding. I gave it a 9, and my son gave it a 9-1/2!
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