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Submitted: 08-20-2004 by R. McCarthy

My wife Jan and I are experienced small boat and blue water sailors, but novice kayakers. A few years ago we sold our cruising boat and Kevlar sailing dingy and found ourselves longing to be back on the water. Last summer after paddled friends Arcadia 12.6' kayaks for a week on a lake in Michigan, we were smitten. Months of research followed as we looked for the right kayaks to fulfill our water needs. Our goals were (1) reasonably priced cross-over recreational/touring boats, (2) modest in weight, (2) easy to store, (4) about 25" wide, (5) with a comfortable cockpits and seats suited to our near 60 year old bodies. At 5’2”, 120 lbs and 5’11”, 195 lbs respectively, we hunched that we would need two different boats. We paddled many. The Carolina 14.5 was a favorite for its comfortable cockpit and ease of paddling, but in the end longer and heavier than we wanted. After much debate, we settled on two Dagger Catalyst 12.8 kayaks with rudders from After four excursions in 10 days we are very happy with our choice. At 45 lbs the boat is easily stored hanging one above the other on the inside of the garage. From there they are easily lifted onto the van with the aid of Hully Rollers into Landshark Saddles. The cockpit and seat are similar to the Carolina; easy to get into, sit comfortable and let you get “locked” into the boat. Thigh braces would be a welcome addition. Combined with Werner carbon bent shaft paddles these boats are fun and fast. Initial and secondary stability are just right for us as we lean into turns. The rudders are a big plus, especially in cross-winds on the Willamette River that is our current venue. Due to our limited kayaking experience we rate this boat a "9". If your goals are similarly to ours, the Catalyst 12.8 is definitely worth trying.
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