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Submitted: 09-27-2005 by ladams
It was with some reluctance that I parted with my Boreal Designs Narwhal. I had enjoyed that boat thoroughly. But, as time passes and skills develop, needs change. I wanted a boat which felt livelier. I wanted to edge turn the boat, which was not easy with the Narwhal (she's SO solid she doesn't like to go up on edge). And I wasn't happy with the rough under-edge of the cockpit coaming (my only complaint with Boreal Designs).
I asked Ike at Lake George Kayak for a recommendation. He suggested the Assateague. Ike knows me and I trust him, so I paddled his demo boat. I really didn't have to look any further.
At 6'3" and 235#, I'm not a little guy. At 60 years, with a little arthritis in my knees, I needed a cockpit that was easy to enter and exit. The keyhole gave me a little trouble, as it did the previous reviewer. Must have given someone else trouble too, as the starboard thigh tab was broken. That was the only problem I encountered.
I could go over all the details but you can read them in the other reviews published here. Instead I will just give you my impressions.
I found the quality, fit and finish to be excellent. Hatches were tight, easy to open and reseal, and the day hatch was a nice bonus. The skeg deployment and retrieval was smooth and positive. Everything worked together to provide an impressive and attractive boat.
The Assateague accelerated quickly and easily, had excellent initial and secondary stability while edging easily, turned as well without a rudder as my Narwhal did with one, and tracked fine without the skeg except in a strong quartering sea. Deploy the skeg and she goes on rails.
I have to cast my vote for FAST. She eats up ground at a good clip with very little effort. Though I didn't test her against any other boats or with a GPS, I could see the shoreline sliding by and she FELT quick. As to a nineteen foot boat being faster... well, sure. there are formulae that will tell you that. It's the extra waterline...and, btw, its the boat Ike paddles, too, even though he has his choice of kayaks in a very extensive inventory.
She's comfortable, too. The seat and back band work well together...the adjustment system for the back band...a ratcheted affair...provides easy, positive fit control. Plenty of room for my legs. Good foot pegs, easily adjustable. Coaming height felt natural for an easy swing of the paddle. All I could ask, even after several hours of paddling.
Ike gave a great deal, both trade-in on my Narwhal and discount on his slightly damaged demo, which happened to be one of the two colors I would have wanted anyway.
I brought her home to Florida and took her to a good glass man. Something had to be done about the broken thigh tab. Since I had the Arthritis problem in my knees and never missed the broken tab (plenty of bracing room under the coaming) I decided to open things up a bit by having the tabs removed. It will be better for MY fit and won't hurt a thing for anyone else my size. After all, this is a big man's boat, anyway. I can't see myself trading this boat in.
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