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I have taken this boat on numerous fishing trips, camping trips, and Class III whitewater runs. In all scenarios, this boat is AWSOME. I have tipped this boat, but only under extreme conditions. If you roll this boat on flat water, you may need to up-grade to a raft. It is VERY stable. Stable enough that I have gotten hung up, right in the middle of a Class II+ rapid, rotated the boat, and took the rest of the run backwards.
I highly recommend this boat. It's great for taking a friend, or pet, along for a relaxing weekend. Plenty of room for a week of camping, if you pack right. Fishing is a dream. A buddy and I just returned from a trip to the Watauga River, and both of us were catching trout all day long w/o getting in each others way. I will NEVER sell this boat. It will be my big ol' baby until it falls apart, and that will be no time soon.
Plenty of room to spread out in (I'm 6' 4"), carry tons of stuff (literally the SUV of kayaks) yet still paddles well fully loaded. Suprisingly stable, even in waves and wind. Downside is the weight. I could barely load/unload the boat from our car roof by myself, a bit easier with my wife's help. With a combination of an easy lift system and a kayak cart, there would be no problem.
Additional fun has been had downwind sailing with an old octagonal tent fly held up between two paddles - yea-hah!
Next up will be the addition of an outrigger/mast and sail system (I have an old windsurfer sail and mast ready to go...)
Bottom line - great boat if you need tons of room, carrying capacity, versatility and no concern about scratching/denting. That being said, be prepared for the weight... Looks and feels like a combination of a kayak and canoe with better features from both.
I also agree that a rudder is necessary for all tandem kayaks of this type. It really is worth the extra money. Even though the boat weight almost 90 lbs, it is very agile in the water. I can control it very easily by myself when my boss/navigator/wife wants to take a break.
If you are looking for a recreational tandem kayak, compare this one (or the regular Pamlico tandem) to any that you are considering before making your purchase. I bought the Excel model because it has a greater weight capacity.
I am fortunate that one of the local shops holds numerous demo days at a local lake. My first experience with paddling a kayak was in a Loon 160T. I had a lot of trouble tracking straight and came back to shore a little disappointed with the whole kayak experience. Then the staff sent me out in a Keowee 3. Wow! It tracked straight and was a pleasure to paddle. I took my wife out to one of the next demo days and got her to paddle the Keowee 3 also. She enjoyed it and had no complaints. Decision made...right?
Wrong! I stopped by the shop to look at one of the demo Keowee 3's that they were selling at a discount. I wasn't impressed with the condition for the asking price. The owner then showed me the leftover Pamlico Excel and offered to bring it out to the next demo day. I took one kid in the Excel while she took one kid in the Keowee 3. We paddled for a while and then switched. My mind was pretty much made up to go with the Excel but I wanted her thoughts. She paddled it and felt it handled much better than the Keowee 3. She even thought that it was much lighter althought it was actually a pound or two heavier.
I rate this kayak as an '8' not because there is anything wrong with it but because I have a limited amount of experience with other yaks. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Excel or the Keowee 3 to anyone who is looking for this type of kayak. Getting the Excel for the price of the Keowee 3 was a bonus! As far as the Loon 160T, I believe my problems were most likely due to technique. It just seems that the other two yaks were more forgiving than the Loon.
Just to be objective, I had a friend call the other day to tell me that he had taken a Pamlico Excel out with his wife and absolutely hated it. He couldn't get it to turn at all and was completely frustrated. Go figure....my 100 pound wife was turning it at will.
Here in South Texas, The average wind speed in the spring and summer is 20 MPH, so the rudder is necessary for ease of use in choppy water. Tracking ability is enhanced also by the rudder with a broadside tide or wind. Rudder is also great for down wind sailing (I have mounted a small sail in the bow for downwind use). Don't have the boat strapped down onto a rack during a hot (98 Degree) day for too long, you will end up with a dent(s) in the poly hull.
Boat is great for fishing, single or double paddlers. Jump seat in the middle is great for small children or when removed, a large dog!!! Boat will hold a "LOT" of water if dumped so use float bags in the bow and stern. Boat is also heavy (87 Lbs.) for cartop transport, but I use Thule racks with a "outrigger" and can put the boat up and down by myself. Kayak dolly is a great investment if you plan to move the boat very far over ground. The optional 'double' spray skirt is well worth the money if the rear paddler wants to stay dry in the winter (or summer) months.
Kayak is well built and hardware is good. Bottom scratches and gouges (lots of oyster reefs here) can be repaired with 'p-tex' snow ski bottom repair sticks. For a recreational kayak - this one can't be beat.
This is my first kayak and I enjoy the speed advantage this boat has over the canoes I have used. The rudder is useful for wildlife watching when you need to steer yet drift quietly. It also helps when you have trouble coordinating your moves with your partner and in the chop of the Pamlico Sound. The boat is a bear to throw onto a car single-handed, but most of my trips thus far have been solo.
The hull seems stiff and all parts appear to be well made. I have yet to get in really rough water, but I like the way it handles chop. I'm a little surprised at how easily polyethylene scratches, but I don't have any terribly deep gashes yet, just a number of annoying surface blemishes from gravel and cypress stumps. The boat is comfortable with two adults but really fine for an adult and kid. Worth the money.
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