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Submitted: 06-27-2005 by Mike Parks
Have had my Castine for 2 years now, and continue to be pleased with it. What you should know is that for a 13-footer, it is an extremely happy compromise between initial stability, secondary stability, maneuverability, and forward speed. This is a hard balance to achieve, and OT has done it. Leaned turns are very effective (I put a rudder on mine and took it off after 1/2 a season; superfluous and gadgety). I have had it on long (5 mile) Chesapeake Bay crossings in 20-KT winds, nasty chop, and I was properly nervous but in the end, gratified by the boat's intrinsic seaworthiness (it got me there safely). It lies nicely to the seas when you stop paddling, doesn't weathercock excessively when properly trimmed, and is generally well-behaved. The aft bulkhead leaks after much fussing and lots of silicone, and my guess is it always will, because of paddler weight flexing the structure at that point. C'est la vie, and as Feathercraft says..."hello, it's a water sport..." Forward bulkhead, made the same way, is bone dry.
Cowboy and paddle float re-entry work fine even at my arthritic, 59-year-old 199lbs. HOWEVER, and please note for safety: The high, rigid factory seat back make both rolling and re-entry techniques extremely difficult. Even though the thing folds forward, imagine climbing back in and maneuvering around the thing to quickly get your center of gravity low...bearing in mind the conditions under which you would have wet-exited in the first place. I took mine out and installed a backband, augmented by a portable camp seat for long trips. Thus, the 8 vs 10 rating.
BTW, those who think that kayaks under 18 feet are toys should have a look at Tappan Adney's The Bark And Skin Boats of North America. In it they will find Inuit kayaks in the 13-14-foot range. The Greenland tradition wasn't the only one...