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It is a wonderful craft to paddle: lively without being unpredictable or tippy, carries a load well, tracks straight, efficient at touring speeds and so on. I have now done hundreds of kilometers in it, from calm water, to moving (but open) rivers, to difficult open ocean conditions. It handled all of it well.
I am 78kg, and the boat is sized well for me. I have had up to 25kg of gear in it, which takes it slightly past its maximum recommended load. If you are bigger and intend to camp from it, I recommend the full sized version.
The pinched keel works to track the boat in all but the strongest quartering winds: I intend to build a rudder for it but at this stage have not done so.
I have no problems in giving this fine design a perfect "10".
At 16 feet and 9 inches long and 21.5 inches wide, it is designed for an optimal paddler and gear weight of between 140 and 200 pounds. I’ve had 220 pounds in it at it still performs very well. Paddlers planning on heavier loads should consider the larger Expedition model, which is designed for an optimal 170-260 pounds of paddler load.
The hull design is perfect for touring: It is rounded towards the bow to achieve a fine entry with minimum frictional resistance, and flattens out towards the cockpit for stability and superb turn-carving. The stern has a well-defined fixed skeg for excellent course-keeping. It does not need a rudder or external skeg.
If I were custom designing this boat, the only change I would make is to lower the decks a little, as there is more room than necessary in the cockpit, especially around my size 10.5 feet, and more storage room than I need in the hatches.
The plans from One Ocean Kayaks are very clear and thorough, with each full-size form template on a separate page. Little things such as choices of cockpit coaming sizes are a big plus. As far as strip-built kayaks go, this boat was relatively easy to build, with no radical twisting of strips.
The optional manual that accompanies the plans for this kayak is filled with building suggestions, and the ‘Workshop’ section of the One Ocean Kayak website contains a wealth of tips that made building much easier for me.
Friends who paddle this boat tend to be impressed with its performance, and I receive many compliments on the appearance. A paddler in the 150-175 pound range could hardly go wrong choosing this kayak design. Unquestionably a '10'.
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