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I highly recommend this kayak for recreational lake and creek paddling. I see no reason it won't do fine in a river but since I have not taken it in one yet I won't comment on its suitability. I bought this new this month but it was manufactured in Sept. of 2010, the material is not the flimsily plastic you find used in a lot of newer models.
This boat is so fun there are no words. I would really have liked a small hatch and a cup holder but I make do. There is enough room for a large dry bag as well as my kayak cart. I could want no more for a little
Bottom line... you do not know me and I do not know you but I was sent terribly askew when I was reading all of those glowing reviews.
I paddled up a short section of the Cape Fear here in Erwin, NC. I went upstream, through small rapids (easy), portaged one small rapid that I couldnít paddle up (lightweight and easy to enter/exit). The boat tracked very well upstream and on rails downstream. I knew I had bought the right boat from the moment that my paddle hit the water. By the time I turned around to come home, I was in love.
I wanted a cheap boat that could do a little of everything. Instead I got a cheap boat that does a little bit of everything and is comfortable, fits in (yes IN) my Pilot, looks pretty cool, and is super fast for a wide 9.5. The best part is that I got all that for less than $350!
When you really think about it, this boat is designed perfectly for what it is. It has an almost magical balance of speed, maneuverability, and stability. If you want a short, all-purpose Rec. boat, this is your choice. It just makes paddling easy!
It is a fun boat to be in especially with the large cockpit and adjustable foot-pegs. I still have not purchased a skirt yet and don't think I will. Great boat!!
I chose this shorter length so my boyfriend (who has a Swifty 9.5) can strap them down in the bed of his Chevy S10 and go. It also has tons of storage space and leg room. It's quite comfortable to to sit in for an extended period. I'm hoping to add some extra flotation and get a full or half skirt so I can take it out on some more challenging trips (no open seas though but possibly the intercoastal on a calm day).
My biggest "complaint" would be that it is not easy for me to re-enter in deep water. I know that this a sacrifice that is made when you get a recreational instead of a sea kayak though. However, my boyfriend can pop right into his Swifty (which is similar to the Sundance) from deep water with no assistance, so I'm hoping that with some practice and a paddle float I'll have some better luck. We live in Florida and it would be nice to be able to get out, swim, and get back in without dragging it to shore. I also had a bad experience where I flipped (my fault) and the "shore" was hip-deep, soupy mud.
All in all though I feel this is a very versatile kayak that can handle everything but large waves. And you can't beat being able to take them along without having to use the roof (no wind drag=less money spent on gas). I would definitely recommend this kayak if you're like me and want to do more than just ponds and small rivers but don't want to lug around a big long boat.
Getting into it wasn't really difficult although it was mostly grounded in the shallow water when I stepped in. I just pushed off with my hand to get moving. I was a little nervous about the tippyness being that I have never been in a real hard shell kayak before but after awhile I realized I wasn't going to tip over.
The speed was a little on the slow side but I'm not a fast paddler (not yet anyway). Also I felt that it didn't track perfectly straight unless I put an effort into a good paddling technique. But by no means did I get off course at all, it was more of a slight tracking offset (less than a foot either way) without using a good paddling technique.
This kayak was very easy to handle and turn which I liked. I'm more interested in maneuverability than speed. I would have liked some more convenience features with this kayak though. The water bottle holder is in an ok spot. It's not too difficult to reach. But it would have been nice to have a paddle holder already attached to it.
My first impression of this kayak is a good one. I'm only planning on using it on lakes and it should fit my needs well.
I bought a Sundance 9.5 (it's really an upgraded Swifty). I really like it. It tracks well, turns well, and is very stable. Sundance is a great little boat. I recommend it.
I have another short yak, OT Rush. Sundance is lighter than Rush, and is much lighter when car topping. I don't play in river or long distance, and don't fish on it, either. Therefore, this kayak is perfect for my situation.
The surprising thing is that when I tried it out (whitewater paddler with a Pyranha H2) I loved the thing, too. The seat is like sitting in front of my big screen with home theatre system. It's that comfortable. I was surprised at how sturdy it is, and how well it cuts through the water. Everything on this boat is user friendly. The quick adjust foot pegs to the little water bottle spot under the deck bungee. Really, a fun little boat.
We did purchase a spray skirt and paddle clips for it, too. It's going to become my photography boat (shhh, don't tell her...)
The only weird thing for me is that this boat doesn't turn as quickly as my whitewater boat, but that's not what it's meant for. This boat is everything that every advertisement I read said it would be.
I love this size because it's so easy to carry, put on top of the car, and to store. At 9'5", I'm able to store them vertically in the garage which takes up very little space compared to having a larger kayak that I would have to store horizontally. I know that a larger kayak would probably track better but I was really surprised by how well they do track.
Size-wise, I'm able to put my 6-year old in front of me and take her too and we're very comfortable for around an hour, then out legs start getting cramped. We even take a fishing pole and small tacklebox for fishing.
Overall, I wish I had bought my boats years ago and I can't recommend them enough. I looked at the Dagger Zydeco and the cheaper Perception Swifty but the Sundance 9.5 was better made, cheaper than the Zydeco, and in my opinion had better styling than the other boats. It also has deeper, longer grooves in the bottom which I would think help it to track better.
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