Submitted: 03-17-2006 by bobdvm
I read a study recently that suggested complex decision-making involving over 6 inter-related factors was best done unconsciously, and that's how I ended up with an EFT. I paddled quite a few relatively fancy-pants boats and never found one that was different enough from my Alvik to make spending $3000 seem like much fun. And then one day I stumbled over Doug Bushnell's site on the web and decided, sight unseen, that I wanted an EFT. I liked Doug's idea of the large, knees-free cockpit, and the (lack of) weight, and the price, and the fact that the boat can pass, in a pinch, as a touring sea kayak. I liked the hull shape, and the lines. I liked the price. My unconscious mind may have liked other things, who knows. Anyway, I plunked down the money for the carbon-kevlar layup, and enjoyed my interaction with Doug Bushnell, and took prompt and uneventful delivery, and have been happy ever since. The boat is just nice, to paddle. The knees-together, thigh-strap system takes a little getting used to, but quickly comes to feel more stable than knees-abducted and prompts a better stroke.
There were a few small things I would have changed. The finish has a couple of unnecesary elements of "hand made" about it - the stop nuts on the rudder wires were cheesy little wire nuts from electrical connectors - functional but unattractive, and the wires weren't capped off or soldered, so they frayed out unattractively. The carry-handles and their attachment fittings are also a bit cheesy, and hardly even necessary - I have never used them, so far, at any rate. Anyone able to paddle a boat like this ought to be able to hoist 33 pounds without popping a hose. The hatch cover needs re-thinking, and its straps are about useless in their as-delivered form, being too thin to hold without slipping. The rudder tiller is made to fit any distance setting of the footbar, I guess, but needs to be trimmed back to a peg - it's a pain in the neck otherwise, as it's always in the way when you climb in, and needs to be awkwardly coaxed over to center - easy in bare feet I suppose but I'm a winter paddler and found this awkward in mukluks. These things were all easily fixable, and of course what could be more fun than piddling around with your new boat anyway. Nevertheless ...
Other things I'm not quite crazy about include the height of the rear coaming/deck - it's ok for using as a seat-back during rests, but sucks for rolling, and the same goes for the fit of the seat at the sides, and the thigh-strap system. Great for paddling forward - which is what the boat is made for after all - but strictly so-so for rolling. It's a trade-off I suppose, and again one that you can adjust some with hip pads and so on. But since rolling securely can kind of be the difference between living and dying, in the winter, it's something that matters to me, at least, and something you need to test out some before heading out in poor conditions in cold weather. I haven't ever capsized in this boat though - waves and chop move easily under the rounded hull, and the 20" beam is relatively forgiving.
The hatch-cover is the thing I like least about the boat, and if I had it all to do over again, I would have asked Doug to make the hatch in the bulkhead, instead of in the deck. Not quite as functional, but good enough, and more waterproof; and this boat is not really, after all, a 'real' touring boat so much as a really, really nice boat to paddle, that you could also camp with if you wanted to.
I would certainly buy another EFT from WSBS - wouldn't really consider anything else very much - if this one was stolen or something. I like paddling it, which is about 99% of what matters, really, for this kind of a boat. Honestly I have no idea what another reviewer meant when he said that the EFT can be turned easily. It turns well for adjusting course - with its rounded hull it doesn't track well for its length, but is actually about perfect since a little edging and body english keeps it gong where you like, without using the rudder (which turns the boat fast, considering it's just a little thing). But trying to turn the boat in its own length by putting it over on its side is a bit of a flop. You get it around eventually, but it isn't pretty.
So, not a boat for everyone maybe, and not in every respect perfect. But for what it's made for - moving along comfortably at a decent speed, it rocks.