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Submitted: 12-07-2005 by Brian_High
We bought our Gemini a year ago and have paddled is about 20 times this year, mostly short day trips 4 to 13 miles in length. We have had it on lakes and bays, with up to 1-1/2 foot wind waves. The boat feels a little tippy to newbies, but is very stable compared to standard sit-inside kayaks (SINKs). We have had our dog out in 1 foot wind waves and even with the dog walking around the boat and leaning on the edge, we did not have any trouble. With the skeg deployed tracking is great. No real need to use the rudder except in tight spaces.
This boat, like any sit on top, (SOT) is great for taking newbies out without a big fuss over gear or skills. Just make sure they will be warm, that they can tread water, have on sun protection and start paddling. It is so easy to wade out a bit and slide on into the seat and start paddling. Unlike most sit-on-tops, this boat is super comfortable since it is an inflatable and has great seats supported with no less than 7 straps per seat. And the 18' length and relatively narrow beam (for a SOT) means the speed is not too bad ... good enough to keep up with SINKs going a casual touring pace of 3 knots.
The downsides have been mentioned by others ... low storage space for gear, nooks and crannies which are hard to dry out, hard to deploy skeg, slow to self-bail. All of these issues can be easily addressed.
The fact is, no one else makes a hybrid folding/inflatable SOT. The other inflatables like Innova, etc. have high sides that get in the way of the paddle and are not made of fine and strong materials. They do not have the excellent seats. So, basically, if you want this type of kayak, and you are willing to pay for the comfort and high quality, there is no competition. Oh, and just because itís a SOT does not mean it is just for warm water/weather. We just had a lovely paddle of 9 miles in 40 deg. F. air temp. and 48 deg. water temp. with 10 knots winds in Puget Sound. Stayed warm with wetsuit and fleece.
The ease of launching and landing really helped the portage over the causeway and our lunch stop. Much more convenient than fussing with sprayskirts. And lighter (50 lbs) than most other 18' kayaks. This boat is so much fun, convenient to use, and comfortable that it more than compensates for its minor limitations in performance or carrying capacity.
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