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Fit, finish and rigging is excellent. Would give it a 10 but for two items, rear hatch too small and adjustable seat chafes the inside of hull. Definitely a great choice for smaller frame paddlers.
About the boat. Top quality boat, lives up to expectations for agility, speed and tracking. Always felt a little tender when starting out, but two or three paddle strokes and all good. Looks beautiful on and off the water and truly a fun paddle. Wonderful glide and easy to get going and keep going. That is the good.
The bad is I could never get the seat/pegs adjusted where I could paddle longer than two hours without getting squirmy in spite of a wide range of adjustability in the boat. Bought a yakpad that helped, but didn't cure the problem. I would just plain be hurting before I got out if paddled too long. The other thing is, I have a mobility issue that makes exiting a kayak difficult. Although the cockpit is 31x16 (and feels fine when in) getting out was always difficult. For some reason the shape of the cockpit and heights of the sides were really challenging for me. Notice, I said "for me". Grandson has no such issues.
I have since traded this for another brand (will review after season ends) which has the same cockpit dimensions, but I can exit this one with ease and the first trip out in it paddled 4 1/2 hours and was ready to go on. I think the placement of the thigh braces is one of the factors.
I was very reluctant to part with the Samba as I could see this as my grandson's new boat. And I really did enjoy paddling her on short trips. In a perfect world I would have kept the Samba and just get a new boat, but I was offered such an incredible trade-in that it just wasn't feasible.
I gave this boat a nine because I think its a top notch little craft, and if I had a top notch body we would have been a better match. I do think Eddyline needs to work on the seats as my son had the Journey and disliked it as well. He now has the bigass Nighthawk and different seat, no problems.
The new Samba looked perfect on paper, and it weighed only two pounds more at 43 lbs. My only concern was that, being used to the 26" width of the Skylark, the 22.5" beam of the Samba might feel tippy, but after a test paddle, I found I was comfortable right away. I had earlier test paddled a 21" Fathom LV, but unfortunately the winds were up to 25 knots that day, with white caps and a chop, and I spent a lot of paddling energy just keeping it upright. Under calmer conditions (or with more experience), I think the LV would have felt fine as well, but the additional size and weight was a concern, and I am very happy at the end of a long paddling day for a few less pounds to carry.
The Samba is a significantly faster and more playful boat than the Skylark. With the skeg up, it is less tracky and turns very easily, due to a bit more rocker in the hull, but with the skeg even partially down in windy conditions or cross currents it tracks very well. Cruising speed is nearly effortless and it sprints easily, with much less bow wake. I crossed the open Chesapeake -- 5 miles -- in about an hour and 15 minutes, i.e., 4 mph, without pushing it very hard. I haven't rolled it yet -- will be taking lessons soon. The backband, I have found, is much more comfortable than the rather hard seatback in the Skylark. (I velcroed a Seal Line back pad over that one, which was a big help.)
Any gripes? Not really. It's a wetter boat than the Skylark, as the entry is finer and the deck is lower. At 5' 10" and 155 lbs, the cockpit fits great, but if I were much taller it would be tight, as the foot pegs are nearly all the way out. Storage is not huge in a boat of this size, but I use it for day trips so that's not a concern for me. You could certainly weekend with it.
So now my wife paddles the Skylark and I have the Samba, and we're both happy. While we're relatively new to kayaking, we've been around boats all our lives. Eddyline builds a beautiful and very high quality kayak. Boats should be pretty, and this one is. I'll rate it a 10 (doesn't everybody?) because it fulfills its design brief very well and is perfect for my needs. I wouldn't change a thing.
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