Submitted: 08-12-2004 by pikabike
I am following up my review from about 2 years ago, because I used the Squall to paddle from Ketchikan to Skagway, Alaska this summer. I feel a long-term review might be useful to other small paddlers.
Though the Squall is not a big boat, I managed to load it up with camping gear and enough food for up to 2 weeks at a stretch. (We sent caches of food to post offices along the way.) The catch is that I put any food that did not fit in the hatches in a big drybag that sat on my rear deck. Not exactly a great location for reasons of weathercocking and stability, but the boat actually remained stable, possibly because I am a bit light for the boat in the first place. A Pelican box for my SLR camera sat in front of my feet in the cockpit.
So.....it IS possible to use this small a kayak on an expedition, but if you don't like bags on deck, one week of camping would be a better duration so that the decks can remain "clean." Typical speed during this day-after-day stretch of loaded paddling dropped, compared with unloaded day paddles--about a quarter to a half a mile an hour. This was expected.
As also expected (from previous experience), the loaded kayak felt heavy and bargey, not exactly confidence-inspiring for leans but I still *could* lean it when I (tentatively) practiced with it like that. However, in actual progression I usually just flipped down the rudder and used that instead of body language. Less tiring. This was another big difference from using the same boat for day paddles.
Being plastic, the Squall endured the abuse from typical Alaskan "beaches" well. It came back with more scratches from 25 days of shore-hauling than it had garnered in the previous 2 years of day paddles, but nothing horrible. One odd thing everyone in my group noticed was that sea lions always popped up behind my blue Squall, NEVER behind any of their yellow kayaks.
Anyway, the Squall did its job well and I would say that I have gotten my money's worth from it. It is forgiving enough for a beginner to learn on, yet it still rewards diligent practice with improved handling. I just wish CD had made both the front and aft decks a bit lower.