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Overall, I would recommend the Castaway to anyone who just wants to get on the water and doesn't want to spend a lot of money.
This has been the best decision I have made. The kayak doesn’t track like a $800 or $1,500 dollar kayak but its not the worst either and with proper paddling skills you wont even notice it. In regards to storage and weight it does very well. I weigh 200lbs and I carry a 5 gallon bucket, tackle in the back and first aid kit with extra paddle and no problems.
I held off on writing this review because I wanted to see if the negative review that people posted were true. I have enjoyed this kayak and did thing that I did think I could based on what people said. You can sit side ways and cast your rod or reach for something in the back without tipping over.
I guess the last thing I don't like is the seat if it gets wet you will be wet for the duration of your trip.
I got my castaway at Sports Authority on sale for $419.99. I took it home and tested the scupper holes for leaks after reading that there have been issues with leaks in the scupper hole seams. Using a flashlight, I was able to see that there were no leaks anywhere on the boat. I took it up on the Snake river the following day to Dalton lake, a small body of water along the river. I am 6'2" and 265 pounds so I was anxious to see how well the castaway would support me. The boat was rated at 275 lb. capacity and as I got into the seat water began coming up through the scupper holes in the foot well and in the rear storage deck. Aside from the wet ride, I was pretty happy with the performance for the price. The boat was better than average in stability and tracking was satisfactory. The fishing amenities proved very practical, and I was able to land several trout that day.
I took it out again several days later, this time plugging the scupper holes with rubber plugs from Home Depot. The ride was almost totally dry and I was able to pack an additional 25 lbs. of gear. I kayaked down 7 miles of the Columbia river starting north of Richland, WA. The kayak handled just fine in the at times swift current and was able to fish freely the whole time.
This boat, while not a Hobie, works great for the price and i am pleased with it so far.
Now, to the problem and the reason I'm writing the review:
When I got home and tried to find the leak it was almost impossible. I finally thought to put a flashlight inside the hull and look for light shining through after dark. I could see a tiny bit of light coming through the seam between hull pieces inside the stern-deck scupper hole. This seam is at or under the surface while paddling. I plugged the scupper hole completely with expanding foam and paddled it for 15 minutes or so this morning. It appears to have worked but, after reading about other seam issues here, I don't trust it. I bought myself a new one piece Perception kayak today, will try it out tomorrow.
Good paddling and good fishing to all!
I rolled this kayak over getting into it the first time and the seal on the storage hatch worked just fine, nothing got wet. I just use this on the Colorado River in Texas so I don't know how good it is in big rapids, but if you want a kayak to just do some cruising and fishing on a relatively tame river or lake this will do you good. For a paddle I got the Pelican Poseidon Paddle, trust me, that paddle works well with this kayak. I am pleased with this product, a good deal at a fair price. $379 at Academy.
After I have done some research, it appears that it is very common for Pelican 2 piece kayak. I called the place I bought it from. They said very strange, this is the first one this year. What he really meant is, I have 4 replaced last year with the same issue. But that just to tell you the design is flawed and the quality control is poor. If you need some reliable, I will not recommend this. If you're looking for something and you don't care if it sunk. then this would be a cheap one to get.
Good luck, I swam 40 mins to get to shore with the heavy water loaded kayak. I hope your luck is better than mine.
Final note. I have read both good and bad reviews on this kayak. It works for what it cost, I believe you get what you pay for and with a few enhancements and practical thinking this will get you to where you need to go.
As for all the people with rod holder issues: Just spread your legs, hang your feet in the water and scoot forward till you can reach the rod holder. I am 6'-1" so I don't have a problem with the rod holder but that is how I access the storage hatch. The bow will go down and the scuppers will take on water, NO BIG DEAL. When you set back down all will return to normal.
After about 30 minutes I got the feel of it. Some reviews say it's not very stable, but when I got used to it, I had no problems. There is also plenty of storage and room. It comes pretty much ready-to-go when purchased. Academy is by far the best price @ $379. I would recommend this to anyone thinking of kayak fishing.
To be sure, there are other complaints out there, such as unstable and won't track. At first, I agreed whole heartedly and was even saying that I was going to get another kayak, with this Castaway being dropped to spare/buddy use status. But, that was only for the first hour, if that. After that first hour, I got used to the boat and could paddle straight and stable. Yeah, it will dump you if you get stupid. There are probably more stable boats out there. But, I had no problems and would Highly recommend the Castaway.
Oh yeah, the paddle that comes with it is not great. It will work, but its what you should expect from a free paddle... The Pelican Posiden paddle ($25 at Academy Sports) is a great upgrade, although nowhere near top of the line either...
The bottom line is that this boat is one hell of a deal on a well featured fishing kayak (~$400 before tax at Academy, with the Pelican Posiden paddle). I'm quite sure it won't compare well, performance wise, with the >$1000 boats. But, should you expect it to? I don't. In any case, it sure exceeded my expectations.
I have read many reviews about it taking on water through the storage hatch... first off, I'm not sure why they made the storage hatch open when the lid is off, i.e. it goes throughout the kayak and isn't just two or three inches deep thereby making it possible to fill up with water and sink... however, after spending 45 minutes getting bombarded by waves that were coming over the hatch and hitting me, it only took in about a quart of water total.....all I did was tighten the straps down as tight as possible and made sure the hatch was covering the entire hole. A little foam insulation will cure the problem. Definitely not a reason to give this cheaper, yet promising kayak a bad rating by any means. I got it with an employee discount from my sporting goods store for 322 which is simply unbeatable.
I am a pretty heavy person, when I purchased the yak I was about 250, now down to about 200. I use the yak mostly for just recreational paddling, and have to say that it carries me, a stocked cooler, anchor, snorkel gear, dive flag, and sometimes a cart beautifully. My friends with sit-ins actually get a little jealous of everything I can carry, since they have everything crammed in their seating area. We have at times done up to 14 miles in a day, and it is nice to be able to have your stuff.
I did get a different paddle as well. However, when I was pricing kayaks, many made you buy the paddle and seat as extras.
The people I go out with are mostly in 9 - 10 ft. sit in boats. We have gone in the Gulf, Tampa Bay, and some of the spring fed rivers around our area. I have not had any problems, and keep up with them fine. They are all smaller than me and in better shape, too!
For the tracking: First practice and be aware of yourself. I am right handed, and tend to pull harder on the stroke on that side, which can throw me off. Second, use the foot pedals for leverage and weight distribution. Not only does it help the tracking, but is great for your obliques.
I am considering plugs for the back hatch, simply to try to keep some of my stuff drier. I don't mind getting wet in the seating area. I figure if I am out to play on the water, that's just part of it. And yes, we have gone out in Nov - Jan when it's in the 50s - 60s.
Overall for the price......it got to my fishing spots and i caught fish. Isn't what we are trying to do in the first place???
I'm 195lbs, 5'11" with a 2 1/2 foot reach, maybe that helps, I dunno. And it tracks like most other kayaks, cheap or expensive. So go buy this thing if you wanna have good time and don't wanna blow a big wad, and don't mind all the fat short armed people who have complained about it. Thank you. And by the way I have the DLX model if that helps.
The bow hatch is the bane of the boat, getting to it while on the water for me is an impossibility, however water pipe insulation, when cut and "marine gooped" right works quite well. I haven't had the dry hatch problem but it is good to know as that is where I do keep the cell phone. I have added a fish finder and am working on an ACTUAL cup holder and junk tray. The seat is good even though it is "molded" which means they took an "average" person and made a guide. I have spent hours comfortably in this thing and even with a PFD I can sit all day.
The only real beef I have with the boat is that I have to heft the 62# onto my car at the end of the day, but who likes a whiner. Other than that it has to be the best starter boat to get into our great sport, plus NO GAS!
Getting wet is just part of the sport, I usually get out and wade fish a few times on each trip, so I am always soaked. Took it out in 3-4 foot surf and nearly sank it within 50 feet of shoreline, stays nice and dry in the bay, but the surf over the bow are just too much for it being the front hatch is not that well waterproofed.
The paddle that comes with it is worth about what you pay for it, nothing!! I don't like the fact that the seat is riveted into the kayak and not removable. My friend who just bought his was paddling with the aft completely submerged due to water seepage from the seat rivets. Must have had about 5 gallons of water in it when we drained it, and he is well within the load limit.
It is very stable and paddles fairly easy, tracking is so-so and speed is average. Not really a rudder option unless you rig it yourself. Would have rather had the option of riggin it out myself but it does come rigged out fairly well. I am 6'5" and 210 and fit comfortably in it with no problems, not much for the foot pegs cause they take away about 3 inches of legroom for me.
After kayaking for a few years you realize your habits and what you need and don't need, so the next purchase is easier to know exactly what you want. I am fairly pleased with the Castaway. Overall it's one of those things, you get what you pay for, not a bad buy but not a great one either.
The boat is awesome! The paddle is horrible though, like many other posts, bloody knuckles is an understatement. Took me another paycheck to save up for a better paddle and with stabilizers from www.keywestpaddlesports.com and quite a few mods, we can all stand and cast, or fly fish from all of out boats without a problem. It's a boat folks, you're floating in the water, you're going to get wet. I bought a cheap bicycle seat from Wal-Mart and that's what I sit on. Pegs are great, rod holder really isn't that big of an issue for me and you're in a kayak for crying out loud! Pack Light! of course if you've got 20 lbs of gear in the boat the performance is not going to be great.
All in all, for a beginner, or someone looking to not spend as much money on a fishing kayak and with few modifications this boat is sweeet! Hey if a college student can afford it, anybody can!
I'm 170#'s and 5'11". I was very stable, got a little wet from getting in, and after talking to some experienced folks, will be getting a different type of oar than the factory one to cut down on the knuckle busting and drippage. Other than that I love this thing and can't wait to get off work to get back in the water!!
My only issue was that it was hard to go straight, but that may be due to it being short. It just seemed to wander a good bit. Oh, and the paddle really sucks.
I like the foot pegs, and crazy as it sounds- the rod holder is far forward, but it works great for trolling by keeping the rod out to the side and out of reach of the paddle. Look, I have read all of the other reviews and have heard all of the "my rear gets wet" comments... That is to be expected with most Sit On Top kayaks anyway! If you want to stay dry, get yourself a Sit Inside model, same price and it is called the Getaway from Pelican. Same features, dry ride.
I've put 30 hours of fishing in two days on the Castaway, and had no problems. Great entry level boat, we'll see what happens when I take it to the Gulf this spring/summer...
Recomended changes: Seat pad to put you in leaning forward position. Higher backrest for extended paddling. Glue down a can cooler where the cup holder is. Get a Scotty deck mount pole holder and install it closer to seat. I am 6'1" and still can reach original.
Inexpensive Kayak I don't worry about dinging up. very tough material that ram -x. hit lots of rocks,stones, scraped bottom, very little damage. Good value. Gets even better with the improvments
The Castaway does track slow and mine pulls to the right when I used the narrow, heavier kayak paddle supplied with the kayak, but I switched to my old wider (8"), sturdier paddle and that stopped that.
The front rod holder is way too far forward for me and I'm a 5'6" tall woman with long arms. Scupper holes fill up quick as I have to scoot forward some to position the rod. This meant wet pants legs before I could set back in the seat. Okay in warm weather. Bad in cold weather. I plan to make an adapter and have the front rod holder extended about two feet closer, so I won't have to lean so far forward. Kinda scary seeing the kayak fill up with water like that and so fast.
I like the Castaway though. I paddle slow waters most of the time and fish out it, so I'm not expecting it to be stressed too bad unless a storm blows up and I have to paddle like all get out to get back to the boat landing.
It handles a lightweight anchor (less than 8 pounds) well. Nice to tie off to the side of the kayak instead of the rear like I had to do with the Otter. I wouldn't go much heavier than 8 pounds though if you fish where a rogue wave might suddenly cause you to rise. When I fish in the submerged willows, I have a home-made limb hook made from the wire handle of a five-gallon bucket. You just basically bend the wire handle into and around again to make a loop on one end and make the bail ends overlap each other. The bent ends of the wire overlap a tree limb, but will pull free if a strong wave pushed the kayak to one side. I don't tie mine off too tightly incase a wave does this. Have had this big wave action below the spillway happen a few times. I guess it is caused by the opening of the races too fast.
For $384, it's not a bad purchase for weekenders like me. I built a tiny, sturdy kayak hauler and can store it behind me bungee-corded down tightly. I do recommend you carry no more weight than necessary. Had about a gallon of water in the rear section when I sat fully back. The anchor and extra gear added about fifteen pounds to the overall weight. Scupper hole in the rear filled up quick. I am considering plugging it, but would need to write Pelican first to ask if this is safe.
The stability of the Castaway was very nice to have on the short runs of rapids we had, as well as making entry and exit of the kayak very easy. The kayak is a little bit to slow to turn to make it a good rapids runner though. Wind was a major problem on our trip. Most of the day we were contenting with 15 to 20mph steady winds. On the long straight aways I did have to fight with the kayak to keep it on track. (It kept wanting to go nose into the wind) When the wind was calm, I had no problems with tracking. In fact I found the Castaway a pleasure to paddle.
The seat was pretty much constantly wet, either from paddle drip, drip from me wading, or rapids splash. I used a two inch thick flotation cushion as a seat to stay up out of the water for most of the trip. A scupper hole for the seat would of been nice to have, on this boat without a major redesign your rear is going to be wet, and I would rather have the extra water draining instead of being trapped.
The only real serious negative comment I have to make is that when the kayak is fully loaded, the rear storage hatch is barely above the water line, and I believe was the source of the water that collected in the hull over the span of a day(approx a gallon). I am seriously considering siliconing the circular hatch closed.
What impressed me the most was how little damage the hull took from the rocks and gravel I ended up running over during the trip. I expected to find large gouges and scratches at the end of each day. None ever surfaced. The bottom of the boat is scraped, but I think the Castaway could make many more trips before taking any serious damage.
I would give the Castaway a 10 if the rear circular storage compartment was located in a different position.
Overall, lots of fun to be in. Ten easy relaxing strokes of the paddle and you can coast half a football field. I can take this thing out 10 miles with no problem. I have crossed the reservoir. I do wish it was bright orange or something other than green because I want bigger vessels to be aware of my presence. I can't imagine not been pleased with this rig when considering the price. If the above negative issues were addressed, this would be the tops!
The front hatch definitely needs some help with its waterproofing, but should be an easy fix with trunk gasket material. The paddle is a little too short. For me the short paddle resulted in lots of drip inside the boat, and a couple of banged knuckles. I will definitely be purchasing a better paddle.
The weight (62 lbs.) is a little heavy considering the competition (Ocean Kayak) is around 55lbs. Also, considering the size of the kayak it has only an average max capacity of 350 lbs. considering the OK Drifter can pack a hefty 450lbs. in a lighter boat.
My suggestions to Pelican: I would rather have an upgraded seat or better seals on the front storage than the included paddle.
Bottom line for me: I can live with the compromises of weight, capacity, and design considering the price vs. the competition. As far as I am concerned I got 80%+ of the performance of a Drifter or Prowler for 50% of the cost.
Overall: good boat if you want a stable platform for fishing, paddling, etc. Too much gear and it becomes a heavy barge though, so beware.
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