I am new to kayaking. I bought the 9.5 Featherlite to mainly fish local reservoirs. I have been learning my way through handling the kayak since March. I feel pretty comfortable in it from calm to moderate chop (ie no white caps).
However, on a local reservoir, I recently got caught in some pretty strong winds that came up unexpectedly. I had a about a half mile paddle in heavy, rolling water, and a good 20-25 mph steady wind in my back that would shift from S to SW with gusts recorded at 40+ mph. I'm still a newbie and I knew that I was in a bit of trouble.
I had heavy, rolling water outside of the main channel that was pushing me W, SW to shore, the wind pushing me S, SW and the main channel, that I had to get to to get back to the landing, pushing due south and white capping. To make matters worse, I had to go under a bridge which is a narrowing of the lake, funneling all of this water into an area like a spigot, due S. When the W, SW water hit shore, of course all of that energy would force the water back into the rolling water, making an area like a washing machine. I was forced right into the middle of it. I paddled like crazy, making adjustments to float over the bulge of water that erupted from the water reverberating from shore. There was a small island that broke up some of this violent water, but that would mean I would have to head E, putting me broadside to the rolls and and turning me in the direction the wind was forcing me. I knew that was not an option, so I angled as slight as possible SE, with my eye on the rocky shoreline of the upcoming bridge. Wind and water both conspired to shove me into the rocks the closer I got to the channel. Getting tipped over is one thing. Getting slammed into rocks is quite another. I paddled, paddled, paddled and made it to the main channel where the current had accelerated and the waves intensified. Into the channel I went, missing the rocks by a paddle stroke. My last stroke, clearing the narrowing, my paddle hit rock. Out I was shot, like a bullet, into calm water.
That was close. Closer than I ever want it again. But, I must say, at no time did I feel I was going to tip over as long as I maintained control of where I put the kayak. This little kayak performed wonderfully. I couldn't be happier with my choice. I'd recommend this little kayak to anyone new to the sport.
That same day, several boats had been reported capsized around the area. This little kayak got me back to shore safe. I can't say enough positive things about it.