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I intend to extend my paddling season this fall by adding a splash deck spray skirt. Without it, there definitely is some splash that lands on my legs in choppy water and from paddle drips. My one complaint (hence my 9/10 rating) is the paddle holder. The bungee is just pushed through drilled holes in the deck with a knot on the inside, so it will drip into the kayak from the water wicking when it gets wet (which it does every time I go out). I'm fixing it myself. The real solution is for the manufacturer to not try to do it on the cheap and instead mount the bungee properly with proper hardware (using shock cord ends so they won't leak). In addition, in my opinion the paddle holder is placed too far forward on the deck, and ideally should be moved back toward the paddler and a bit higher on the side. All of that would make this kayak just that much better.
If I were to change the design I would make the cockpit tighter. The foot pegs help with transferring power to the upper body. But, with a tighter cockpit my stroke effectiveness would be enhanced.
Tracking is excellent and the boat can move fairly quickly, tho' it's no racer. I paddled directly into a series of windy, choppy rainstorms in the BWCA and the boat handled them with ease, with only minor leakage under the spray skirt due to a slight flaw in the cockpit combing.
My only complaint is common to all kayaks, in that they are a little difficult to portage. The Perception is a bit of a tank to carry over distances. The answer to that has been a universal kayak yoke purchased from a store in Ely, MN (About $80.00 and worth every penny). With the yoke,the boat balances perfectly and makes portaging a whole lot easier.
Over all, the America 11 ain't no speed racer, no Lexus, nothing fancy. But it makes a more than adequate fishing platform and touring boat for large and small waters. A good investment!
O.K. Here's my opinion. It's great, and I'm hooked. My home river is class I,II. I just came back from her maiden voyage. Wow. Handled like a dream. Went right where I wanted it to. Dodging rocks and over mild whitewater was almost effortless. I bought the accessory spay skirt (not a full skirt) and only shipped a very little water from the paddle drip. I was amazed at the added control provided by the footpegs. The storage hatch has ample space for gear (as in a planned overnighter in the near future)and the speed was really impressive. The tracking on this kayak and the glide was the best that I have experienced.
I do have to agree with a previous poster (who I thought was on drugs, ha.) that when it's stopped in current it wants to go backwards! At 215# and 5'10" I was quite comfortable. I was a bit leary of the slight rocking at first as compared to the more flat bottomed boats I had rented. But I soon got comfortable with it and was on my way. Found it to be quite stable. Bottom line is it was a lot of fun and I recommend it to anyone.
I thought I would like this sport, and with this kayak I am not disappointed. I have nothing to compare it to, since I have never paddled before, but I can already see that as my experience increases this kayak will continue to serve me well.
I love this thing. It fits like a glove and goes where I tell it to. It supports my excessive weight (230 lbs) and travels with little resistance. It is easy to carry, and comes in colors that don't scare away the wildlife. It is totally silent (I snuck up on a family of racoons yesterday), and the footpegs give you great stability and confidence when making tracking decisions.
There are spots for fishing poles, but I'm not a fisherman. The only thing I can think of to be aware of is that the rear storage area is not enclosed. Things could get wet, so I just recommend a dry-bag if you have things you want to keep dry.
If you want a kayak that will serve the newbie (even the overweight newbie) but still serve them as they advance and yet give them an option if they want to go fishing... this is the one. It is an amazingly versatile kayak. It does everything well.
When I buy a second kayak (for when company comes over and wants to go out) it will be another Islander America 11.0 definitely, but I expect to be using mine even when I hit advanced level skill.
I obviously needed something larger, and the budget was still tight. Dick's had an "America 11.0" by Victory on sale this December. After a lot of research online, I found out it's the old mold from Perception, and at $299 it was about half what the Perception name used to cost. Actually, it came with a Perception sticker on it, so I knew the research was right.
Took it out twice this week, a few hours each time. Wide, slow moving river, although the Spring thaw has it moving pretty good, but no rapids at all. I was able to paddle easily upstream a couple of miles, something I could never do in our canoe or the Blast. It glides really well, especially downstream. Tracking is great, straight as an arrow until you slow down, then it gets turned easily by wind or river flow. Actually, if just floating downstream, it had a strong preference for going backward. I think it's because there's a prominent keel on the stern, and none on the bow. In the 25+ mph wind yesterday, it was a little trickier to keep straight, but overall it was easy to paddle.
I like the oversize cockpit, but since I fish, it is an issue on where to put a rod holder. The bow is too much of a stretch, as I need to come out of my seat to reach it, and there's no good place behind. There is plenty of room at the front of the cockpit, however, to mount a tool bar across for mounting whatever you need without making entry/exit too tight.
One major difference between the Victory and Perception marketing, however, is that this one came without a sealed stern. There is still a hatch that seems to seal very well, but the stern flotation does not in anyway seal off the entire stern, so the storage is not dry.
Seat was very comfortable, stability was great and overall I'm very pleased. Great affordable kayak for just about anyone.
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