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PROS: Responsive handling, extremely durable.
CONS: Foot peg adjustment, sprayskirt grip, kicks up spray.
This is a fantastic boat. It handles very well, responding to edging nicely. It is perfect for day trips and rock gardens. The raised hatches do kick up some spray in the chop - especially since the boat tends to punch through waves more than go over them. The hatches are small pods so storage in them is a bit tight. They have neoprene covers with plastic lids - I have replaced them 2 times in 20 years. The foot pegs are a pain to adjust, so swapping paddlers is a hassle.
I began paddling doing quite a bit of "offroad" paddling. This boat has been over more rocks and mussel beds than I care to think about. It is very tough.
#1 drawback (besides that I'm now too fat for it's 225lbs limit) is the cockpit coaming has a hard time holding the skirt on.
Given how great this boat is, I'm surprised I don't see a ton of them on the water.
The boat came without a rudder, so after paddling it once, I knew it needed a rudder badly. It comes ready to hang a rudder on the stern, so I ordered a rudder kit, installed it easily, and now it handles like a dream.
This boat is seemingly bullet-proof! The HTP plastic is very sturdy and stiff. The seat back is not the greatest, (that may be the next improvement project for me) but the boat tracks well and is relatively fast for a plastic production boat.
I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10.
Whether on the open lake water or a slow moving creek, this has been a surprisingly versatile kayak and the right choice for me.
Her fore and aft compartments are quite roomy and I have no problem getting two weeks' worth of gear and (dehydrated) food inside. The hatches have plastic covers over neoprene seals, which are quite secure. Once you master the technique of sealing them -- similar to getting a sprayskirt adjusted -- you'll never have to worry about wet gear.
The cockpit is fine for a 6'1"/185 cm guy who weighs 190 lbs/87kg, which I am. As others have mentioned, the seat is not the greatest piece of engineering on the boat, as its backrest tends to pop out when entering and exiting the boat, but once you're settled in it's comfy. The dayhatch leaves a bit to be desired, as it's not super easy to open, but its neoprene-bag interior is about the size of your head and can hold your map, snacks, water bag and camera easily.
The construction overall feels very sturdy. It's easy to quibble over little details, but my bottom line is that I've trusted this boat with my life several times and she hasn't let me down. I expect there are faster and lighter boats on the market, but get me above the 50th parallel and this is the boat I want with me.
It is a very predictable performer, and does not punish the paddler for mistakes. It is very easy to roll, and very easy to turn. It's a fabulous rockgarden and ocean because of it's playful 16' length. The storage capacity is enormous, I've had it out on lots of camping trips from overnighters up to 2 weeks, in any kind of conditions from mild to wild.
The HTP Plastic is the toughest material on the market, this boat takes tremendous abuse, I've got slammed into sharp rocks in a way that would have destroyed any fiberglass or kevlar boats. No miracle that this material is favored by some serious expedition paddlers worldwide. The cockpit outfitting is well thought out and the seat is extremely comfortable. The tri-hedral hull is an excellent design, quick to accelerate, the boat has great glide and is very easy to turn. Yes, it does turn into the wind (like any other sea kayak), but that's easily corrected with edging the boat and some sweepstrokes. My Seayak is equipped with a rudder, but I've only used it very few times, in big following seas and on a long bay crossing sideways to the outflowing tide.
The hatches stay bone dry after excessive rolling and rescue sessions and the little day hatch in front of the cockpit is very convenient. The boat is very well balanced for a solo carry and at 58 lbs it's not heavy - hey it's a plastic boat... All in all it's a wonderful boat that will help a beginner get into the sport and it's a fun playboat or expedition boat for the experienced paddler.
On one of my "windy" outings in the Seayak, I decided to try it without the help of the rudder and found the boat to be useless without it. All it wanted to do was turn up wind even in more mild wind and with a good breeze,… I found I had to continually fight the boat to get it to go in any direction other than up wind which made going forward extremely slow.
As I said I spent many hours in it each time out and as far as comfort goes I’d have to give that boat some high marks, very comfortable. That being said I am 6’ and 200 lbs and found the cockpit to be a bit on the small side for me. (its designed for smaller framed paddlers) Getting in and out was a bit of work. Once in it was ok it was just the getting there. The boat also has great room for storage and looks like you could bring your house with you. The hatches do a very good job at keeping the water out and have a nice look about them as well. It also has a dry hatch right in front of the coaming, nice, works well, great location but a little hard to get into.
Overall I think the boat is made very well and looks like it could take some serious abuse and is capable of much but if your in or near the 200lb range, you may want to check the Kodiak out. Very nice kayak with more room. If you get the Seayak get one with a rudder, you’ll need it with this one. It does not do well in the wind.
What do I love about the Seayak? A great boat for beginners or even intermediate paddlers. Very good levels of primary and secondary stability, so I often lend it out to friends who are novice paddlers. Handles rough water reasonably well, although doesn't surf as well some other sea kayaks I've paddled (maybe due to short length and lack of rocker?). It's almost indestructible - I'm sure the HTP plastic is the toughest on the market. The materials and finish are very high quality, better than most North American plastic boats. I find it very comfortable, seat and thigh braces provide lots of security (although might be too snug if you're >6 ft tall). Easy to roll, but the high seat back prevents laybacks. Deck rigging with the nets is quite functional too.
Bad points. Not the fastest boat around (actually, verging on slow), although probably similar to other boats this length and width. As many other reviewers have stated, it weathercocks to an unacceptable degree. With the rudder down its fine. It's heavy if a prolonged portage is required. On the bright side it does balance well.
Overall, I was very happy with the Seayak. A good beginners boat and great for weekend trips anywhere. A solid boat which will take a lot of abuse. However, it is an old design now and if I was considering a Prijon boat again I'd probably look at the Barracuda or Catalina.
I have used my SeaYak in Pacific coastal waters and large inland lakes. I am 5'8" 170lbs. The boat fits me perfectly and has excellent stability.
This is a terrific beginner to intermediate boat. It is easy to paddle distances, though not a fast boat for its size. It has sufficient cargo space for a multi-day trip, and the rudder control via the pedals is wonderfully easy to use. I suspect this boat is nearly indestructible.
The low amount of rocker makes it a bit unstable in uncertain seas. It weathercocks noticeably in winds over 10 knots, though the rudder easily corrects for this. The boat is rather heavy; long solo portages can be a chore.
Overall, I give it an eight.
If Prijon redesigns the hull to reduce weathercocking (if possible), I will give it a 9, and if they increase rocker for responsiveness I would give it a 10.
My experience over the last couple weeks of testing the boat out has exceeded my expectations. I've not yet had it loaded up for trips, and so have been paddling it empty. I do have the rudder, but I've found edging, stability, and tracking to be great without it. I've been out in 4-5 foot waves with winds up to 20 knots: in those conditions, or in following sees, I find the rudder nice to have, but in honesty someone of higher skill level would perhaps not feel the urge to drop the rudder in...I've always felt it optional, and choose to drop the rudder honestly when I'm feeling lazy. Longest distance I've done thus far without stopping has been 6 miles (Montrose harbor out to Wilson Crib and back), which flew by...the Seayak is quick to get up to speed, and really moves.
Hatches have been watertight. Deckbox is a nice convenience. Generous deck rigging is a plus. I agree with others that the "cargo net" style rigging fore and aft of the cockpit seems as though it may not last more than a few seasons, but no big deal: I actually plan to take off the aft net an keep it as a spare, replacing that with some 1/4" bungee I just bought. In any case, it's easy to change out or customize rigging as you wish with this boat.
Regarding size: I'm 5'10", 165 lbs. No problem with this boat. Cockpit is snug, but wet exits require no thought. Standard thigh bracing that came with this boat is right on for me. Adjustable seat is fine, I've had no problem with it popping out. I may ditch the seat back for a piece of custom foam, though, simply because I prefer more lumbar support and forward angle in my posture. Finally, I have rolled this boat, no problems there, and I'm not a great roller. The Seayak has been stable enough to me in rough conditions that I perhaps feel less urgency in that department than I should; some rough-water rolling practice is in order.
All in all, if you want a bombproof boat for expedition/open water/touring/camping, you can't go wrong with the Seayak. If you're bigger or pack tons of gear, go with the Kodiak. If you're average size and pack light as I do, the Seayak will get you there faster. And it looks much cooler also.
Final note: previously mentioned kayak instructor commented to me that he also has owned a Prijon Seagull, the fiberglass version of the Seayak. He went back to the Seayak: better handling, and indestructible. It's nice when the cheaper option is the better one!
If you paddle in Chicago, keep an eye out for me: bald guy in the Granite (white) seayak.
I like three features common to most Prijon boats. The first appears in almost every review of Prijon Kayaks: the HTP plastic construction. Given the real and potential abuses I put my kayaks through (both on and off the water) I cannot bring myself to put money into a fiberglass boat. I would rather give up a little in weight savings and (supposed) top end performance to have a low maintenance boat that I can count on. The fact that the initial price of Prijon boats is lower than fiberglass is just a bonus. A second feature I like is the adjustable seating. I have paddle several excellent boats in which the fit just wasn't right for me. A third feature is the the hatch system. Whatever one thinks of the aesthetics (I kind of like them myself), the duel neoprene/hard plastic cover system has worked admirably. Granted, I do not paddle in ice cold salt water, so the slightly increased splash from the protruding hatch covers is not a consideration for me.
As for the Seayak in particular, I like the 2005 model's 34-inch key hole cockpit. That's a pretty generous cockpit by traditional standards, but the adjustable thigh braces keep the fit snug when in the boat, while the extra length down the middle aids exit and entry. It is still easy to reach gear in the deck netting and forward-mounted, "Deck Box" day hatch. This latter feature (which is really more of a neooprene sock), is far easier for someone of my limited flexibilty to reach than more conventional, rear mounted day hatches. At first I concerned that the day hatch would interfere with my legs while seated or during exits, but it is held in place by and internal hook,and it has not been a problem. I was also initally annoyed that the slight bulges created by the forward hatche and day hatch created a "saddle" where the deck netting lies. This interfered with my using that netting as a handy way to secure my paddle during rescues or at rest, but I created a quick fix by stringing a length of elastic chord between the D rings found at the base the hatch straps.
The Seayak has a high load capacity for its 16' length. I am 5' 8" tall and about 190 lbs., and most tour kayaks have to be in the 17 foot range to accomdate someone of my paddling weight I love the fact that I can comfortably load myself and my gear into such a compact hull. The Seayak achieves this bouyancy in part by being a bit wider than comparable boats (23" vs 21-22")but in part owing its trihedral hull. The only downside to this bouyancy that I have discoverd is when attempting such unnecessary manueveres as a "cowboy" re-entry. Out of the water, the Seayak's hull depth is comparable with that of other kayaks but unlike many touring kayaks, the depth of the Seayak remains pretty much the same along the length of the hull. This, combined with ample knee space may make the latest Seayak a bit too voluminous for paddlers at the smaller end of the spectrum, but it is more than fine for a broad range of medium size paddlers.
On the water, I found the initial stablilty to be comfortable. The lack of a pronounced keel and the angled panels of the trihedral hull make edging or leaning easy. At first, this also made the Seayak feel a little less stable than I was used to, but one quickly learns that the Seayak can be held at these angles relatively comfortably. Leaning beyond these angled panels (approximetely past the point where the deck perimeter lines meet the water line) is a bit trickier owing to the soft chine between the angled and vertical hull surfaces (and again the Seayak's bouyancy). In many recent kayak designs, it is not difficult to lean the kayak until the cockpit coaming is below the water line. However, while this may look impressive, it is worth pointing out that the Seayak carves sharp turn and performs other manuevers well without ever needing to submerge the cockpit coaming.
In beam seas, the Seayak's "rounded" cross section makes traversing beam seas relatively smooth. The Seayak's big ol' greenland-style bow slices through smaller waves with ease, while the hull widens sufficiently fast to keep it from "submarining" in larger waves (though admittedly, I have not been out in larger than 2'-3' waves). The Seayak both tracks and manuevers well enough in the following seas and mini-surf zones that I have been in, and I am looking forward to testing myself further in these conditions. I have yet to roll the Seayak, but other reviewers have, so I am confident that the Seayak will not be limiting in this area.
I find that the Seayak tracks well in both calm and wavy conditions. Weathercocking (which all kayaks do) is more noticeable when the winds are stong, but the waves relatively small. Edging or leaning on the angled panel is usually sufficient to take care of the problem, and though prolonged leaning can be uncomfortble, it has become much easier since I have learned to relax (think "reclining on a roman couch"). Once the waves have reached a certain height, I find that the Seayak tracks better again (perhaps the waves partially block the wind).
To keep my kayak as simple, clean, and maintainence free as possible, I opted for a rudderless Seayak. I intend to keep it that way, so I am not in a position to comment on the pros and cons of rudders vs. skegs (though I have heard good things about both the design and durablity of the Prijon's balanced wing rudder.)
After a season of use and abuse, both the hull and its fittings have held up well. I have had only one problem with a gasket that forms a water tight seal on the day hatch, and Prijon promptly sent me a free replacement part. Fixed the problem completely.
My gripes are confined to the metal posts that help keep the back rest in place (they pop out easily during entry, and are a bear to put back in place while sitting in the kayak), and the foot pedals that are only pegs when you don't install a rudder.
So far, I have taken my Seayak up and down narrow rivers with significant currents (though short of rapids); quiet backwater channels barely wide enough for the kayak; Lake Michigan, and a variety of different water bodies and conditions in between. While I may consider adding other kayaks to my fleet for running rapids or going on extended expeditions, I have no intention of giving up my Seayak.
I just had a six-hour sea trial, and concur with other reviewers that the unladen boat tends to round up to windward with the rudder up, and requires concentration to keep it on track. However these issues all disappear when the rudder is dropped, so my recommendation is to purchase the rudder if you purchase a Seayak. The Wildwasser rudder is a work of art, providing minimal drag and very low steering effort. Being of swede-form design, with the centre of buoyance aft of the cockpit, the boat trims up slightly bow-down with the hatches empty, which causes the boat to veer off course slightly on the glide. If you choose to paddle rudderless, the cure would be to move the seat well aft, and pack all of your gear well aft in the rear compartment. Fully laden for a camping trip, I expect the helm would be more neutral - I would think that the hull was designed with this in mind. In any case, I have no issues at all with the way the boat handles with the rudder deployed, and would encourage anyone looking for a superb multi-purpose kayak to seriously consider a Seayak. For the record, the folks at Wildwasser Sport, who handle Prijon boats for North America, have been more than helpful with shipping and with all of my questions - they are very receptive to customer input and constantly working to improve their products. .
There is a peculiar ethos out there that using a rudder is "cheating" or reflects poor paddling skills - in fact what works for best for the boat you have is the right way to paddle. With the wing rudder deployed on this boat, there is no noticeable drag, and edged turns can be done just a cleanly as without the rudder - in fact you can spin the boat even faster with a bit of rudder assist. In straight-ahead paddling the rudder acts like a skeg in the neutral position, and of course minor course corrections can be made either by adjusting your stroke or by subtle rudder input.
Overall this is a beautifully built and very seaworthy boat which handles well under a variety of sea conditions - just accept that it works best with a rudder, and plan to use it. Nothwithstanding the current popularity of british-style skeg boats, there are lot of very experienced sea kayakers out there who will not put to sea in a kayak that is not rudder-equipped. For me, the choice of a rudder boat was motivated by a desire to fit a sail of the folding Pacific Action type for downwind legs. A rudder provides hands-free directional control under sail, leaving the paddle available for bracing if necessary to balance the boat.
The HTP plastic is far more durable and stiffer than LP (linear polyethylene), and much easier to repair than composites. (All you need is a hot glue gun and some sandpaper) I've seen plenty of older LP boats with rippled bottoms and sides. They convinced me that it's either HTP or composite for sea kayaks. LP is fine for shorter boats with lots of contour, but the long, flat surfaces of a sea kayak require stiffer materials. I don't think there's a better boat for long, self-sustained trips - the combination of good speed/stability, big hatches, and high weight capacity is hard to match.
Tracking is a problem, but she responds quickly to correction. This morning, I was bucking a strong current and a 25 mph head wind, and I was cutting through the waves like I had a motor on the stern! Going WITH the current, I was throwing up a bow wake, so I have no complaints about speed - I have no trouble being a "little" girl keeping up with the "big boys."
Finally, although I initially wanted a fiberglass boat, I decided on the Prijon for durability and easy maintenance. I believe I found it with my Seayak. Besides that, it's the best looking boat in town!
Seayak - My wife is 5'4" tall and is trim. The Seayak fits her although some purists would argue it is too big. The cockpit is big enough where she can lift both knees. Getting in bottom first is a snap. The Seayak is advertised at 24" beam, but hers measures about 22.75"
The boat weighs 55 lbs empty. I can pick it up and use the cockpit/shoulder carry method comfortably. The stern toggle is too close to the rudder to be comfortable. The hatches are watertight and well designed. The neoprene covers are difficult to get on and off.
The rudder mechanism works very well. The deployment line is a bit farther back toward the stern than I like and I have long arms. The gas pedal foot controls allow strong braces and sensitive trimming of the rudder. The boat edges nicely although the limit is elusive. It takes seas on the bow or stern well. It weather cocks enough that she would rather rely on the rudder than edging and correcting in most conditions.
The seat and backband are "okay." They adjust easily but aren't real comfortable. She uses one of the Voyageur inflatable seats and it works very nicely for her. The coaming lip is quite slippery and coupled with the long cockpit trying to stretch her neoprene skirt over it is a chore. We are thinking about roughing up the stern edge... we'll see.
The deck netting works pretty well. The forward net should extend back closer to the cockpit. The rear net is effective for carrying "stuff" but isn't great for holding a paddle blade during a self rescue. The cross straps on the hatches work well for holding spare paddles. The D-Rings are very useful. The boat accelerates and glides well making it relatively easy for her to keep up with my Kodiak.
The one area of the boat that needs improvement is the seat. The seat design could use help. The seatback has two tabs that slip into the bottom rear of the seat. When the seat is level or slightly inclined than the backrest falls out and you are seating on the folded backrest. Needless to say this can cause a major inconvenience when you are trying to enter the boat. Secondly, the manufactors claims that you can easily adjust the angle of the backrest when in the boat. It is almost impossible to reach the pull string with the hip braces attached. I removed them and it seems to be easier. The tech support was less than helpful when I asked for suggestions to adjust the seat and keep the backrest in position. Once in the boat, aproperly positioned in the boat and with some additional padding the seat is ok.
This is my first seakayak so I can not compare it to any others. The boat seems well constructed and the plastic is very scratch resistance. I have never had any water enter the hatches even though I have been in waves that crashed over the first third of the kayak. Overall I am satisfied with this kayak and hope to spend a number of years exploring the waters of Long Island and surrounding areas. If someone is looking a stable, reasonable speedy, durable, well constructed kayak they should consider the Seayak. However, Prijon please make a better seat.
I must admit this is one tough boat. It's plastic is much stiffer and stronger than other plactic boats I've seen. This boat would last a person for ever.
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