Submitted: 04-02-2005 by DB
In writing this review I hope to clear up some of the confusion about the two different Elaho boats that have been reviewed here, as well as their attributes and deficiencies.
I was first drawn to the Elaho DS (drop skeg) a 15’ 9” long Poly boat as an alternative to destroying my “glass” Greenland style boat on the limestone littered rivers here in Florida. (Unlike the smooth texture of rock found in northern rivers, the limestone here erodes in a fashion that leaves the texture of a cheese grater, which will cut through gel coat and glass fibers in one swift sickening crunch.) Both my wife, (5’5” 135 lb.), and myself, (5’-10” 165 lb.), are fairly small, and finding longer boats with a small / shallow cockpit was also a concern.
The first Poly boat acquired in 2003 was what was then called the Elaho Rudder at 16’ 4” long. This boat gave the secondary stability I had become accustomed to with the Greenland style boats, was long enough for a good turn of speed, and tracked well without ever deploying the rudder. However the “spongy” foot controls were most distracting for me, having never had a boat with a rudder. My wife on the other hand, was used to ruddered craft and loved the boat. (So I lost that one to her.)
The next boat acquired in 2004 was one of the last of the Poly Elaho DS models. This boat has noticeably more rocker, is slightly narrower, solid foot braces, and the same excellent secondary stability. The increased rocker required judicious amounts of the skeg to be used for flat-water travel, but was quite maneuverable when retracted. Quartering winds require a little more skeg. But this is where trick is. If you allow the skeg to hang too low it conspires with the now empty skeg box to become a sea anchor. Marking the skeg cord prevents inadvertently lowering it too far and watching your paddling partners disappearing into the distance.
Never satisfied, I have now picked up what is now just called the Elaho, 16’ 4” long in Poly with the rudder, (The DS model is no longer made.), with the intention of installing the Seal Line Smart Track rudder controls. At first glance it looks like Necky had “cheapened” the boat up some from its original form, but most of the changes seem to be for the better. The seat is no longer the air adjustable model, (Which always leaked down on longer runs.), but a comfortably contoured foam seat with adjustable hip pads and thigh braces, which are a nice addition. The back band is now ratchet adjustable with two rather bulky levers and the back shock cords are attached through the cockpit top lip. The ratchets work ok for now, and the new higher cockpit mounting does prevent the back band from sliding down. However laying back is somewhat encumbered. The only disappointment is that the first boat had nicely made ABS bulkheads surrounded by a foam ring, (To allow for the dimensional changes of a Poly boat.), while the newer ones have minicell foam bulkheads surrounded by the same style of foam ring.
So buyers beware! There are two very different boats out there.