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Submitted: 09-28-2004 by Steve
I recently traded a Pungo 14 for the Ookpik. What a difference! The Ookpik is like a small sea kayak that is as comfortable as a recreational kayak. The Ookpik tracks much better with very little weather cocking which was a terrible problem with the Pungo. The cockpit is still easy to get into for my 6 foot 1 inch 200+ pound frame, but has the added advantage of feeling like I have more control of the boat. I can easily fit my knees right under the cockpit rim and lean the boat to turns. The cockpit is very comfortable on trips of several hours (I just don't usually go more than 4 hours at a time). I upgraded the seat back to include Boreal's new comfort seat back so I have more support for my not-young back.
I bought the version with the rudder and am impressed with how easy it is to keep the kayak straight even in strong crosswinds and quartering waves. The rudder is smaller than many other rudders and allows easy turning with a sweep of the paddle, but keeps the kayak straight in the tough stuff.
The narrower width, 24 inches for the Ookpik as opposed to the 28 inches on the Pungo, does not make the kayak feel less stable. In fact, it has good initial and secondary stability. I have felt extremely safe even in some very windy and rough conditions. I expected that since it was 1 foot shorter than the Pungo that it might me slower, but it is just as fast as the Pungo, and I have no trouble keeping up with many other 16 foot kayaks.
The kayak is also one of the prettiest boats on the water. Mine is purple with a flawless finish. It has an upswept bow for riding through waves, forward and rear hatch covers, and plenty of deck rigging for gear. It is hard to believe that it is only 13 feet long because it feels like a much longer sea kayaks. I have paddled more than a dozen different kayaks and owned several, and this is the most fun, easiest to paddle and maneuver, easiest to car top, and overall the most enjoyable kayak I have ever paddled. This is a truly great kayak for flat water, smooth rivers, coastal shores and estuaries, class 1 & 2 whitewater, and is good on almost anything accept severe whitewater and long ocean crossing. Affordable, comfortable, enjoyable...it truly is a small sea kayak that fits people of all sizes. I don't rate anything a 10, so I give it a 9.