Submitted: 08-07-2005 by G. Olson
After 30 years of paddling a canoe, I bought my first kayak several weeks ago: an Adventure XL 139. Since I live on the shore of Lake Superior, one of the premier kayak spots in the world, I was drawn to the full-fledged sea kayaks that ply the unpredictable big water of Superior. The thing is that I didn't want to start out by spending $2,000 for a yak that might not get used. Instead, I found an XL for $500, bought a really good fiberglass paddle (don't skimp on the paddle - I found a really light glass one for $120.)
I've had it out several times on inland lakes and on the St. Louis Bay on Superior. This boat has great final stability, although the initial rocking was much greater than the canoes I'm used to.
The boat also has a fairly high degree of weathercocking, a tendency to turn into the wind. From my sailing days, I recognize this is not the worst thing. You want your boat to point into the wind and waves without a great deal of effort. Nevertheless, it is a bit of a chore to keep it pointed where you want in a crosswind. A little paddling adjustment is needed, but this yak tracks darn well.
At 56 lbs, it is not difficult to get it on and off the roof rack which is critically important to me. I would not want a boat much heavier than this. The easier it is to throw on the car, strap it down, and take off the more it will get used.
I'm sure it is not the fastest boat around, but you also don't need a rudder. My second time out I covered 3 miles paddling easy in about 45 minutes - that's 4 miles/hr. Knowing Old Town, I am confident this little yak can handle heavy weather if the paddler is up to it.
I ordered the spray skirt to keep some of the water from the paddle out of the cockpit. Next week, I am taking a kayak technique and rescue class on Lake Superior. I think some instruction in kayaking is really essential to get the most out of the sport.
I may upgrade eventually, but for me personally this Kayak is a "10." I have to rate it 8 because of the compromises that had to be made to make a short yak with a lot of stability for larger people. I'm 5'10" and 200 lbs, built more like a wrestler than a Pillsbury doughboy, but still not a small guy. This a very good recreational day touring choice and a great buy.