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The Santee 116 has a lot going for it - it looks beautiful, it's fairly fast for an 11'6" kayak, is easy to place on a car, and is remarkably stable. The Trylon material the kayak is constructed of is tough, smooth, and rather nice looking. I was especially attracted to the kayak's dual bulkheads, which not only provide some degree of safety but also provide a great deal of storage space. The bulkheads are actually glued in place pieces of the Trylon material the boat is made of - no ridiculously cheap and leaky pieces of foam. The front storage compartment is small, but can handle some light camping equipment. The rear compartment is huge - I was able to easily store a one man tent, 32 degree bag, sleeping pad, and stove with no trouble. So in effect, you've got a nice, capable, and very small touring boat.
The Santee is a pleasure to paddle, easy to turn, and quite maneuverable. There's decent foot space, and it's easy to get in and out of. It is possible to edge the kayak, and to maneuver into the tightest of spaces. The Santee is surprisingly fast for such a small boat - or at least it feels fast. It also handles mild waves quite gracefully.
Fit and finish of the kayak, however, are issues. There was a small plastic barb on the coaming that would have easily cut a spray skirt, and in a few spots the caulking looked hastily applied. More serious was the new seat - very comfortable, very plush, and pressing in a U shaped pattern on the bottom of the hull. Be sure to check your hull if you have the 2006 Santee by removing the seat to ensure that the seat has not penetrated the hull. Mine had reached that point, but Hurricane has excellent customer service, and corrected the issue to my satisfaction.
Despite those few issues, I'd say that this is a great boat - and certainly remarkably more sophisticated than nearly and rec boats in its price range. Its true competitors are the Eddylines, and the various Airalite kayaks that cost far, far more. Hurricane has raised the bar in this category, and deserves credit for making a wonderful kayak.
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|Austin Canoe & Kayak|
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