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We bought the kayak this spring and have only used this in the ocean. In light conditions, little wind and flat seas we leave others behind. In these conditions the rudder is not necessary, as this kayak responds well to sweep strokes for turning, while tracking very well when the intention is to go straight.
This past weekend we gave it a very good test, paddling 9 miles around Bartlett Island off MDI. Conditions were a slight breeze and a little chop in the lee of the island when we started, and we knew we would encounter rough water on the open side of the island. We paddled through 2 1/2 foot seas and 20 to 25 mph winds for 2 of our 3 hour trip, and the kayak was grand. The trip the previous week took only 2 hours. While we had to be attentive on every stroke and watch every wave, and had a lot of them coming up over our spray skirts, we had full faith in our Two Lights. I used the smart-track rudder system the whole trip, and could put the kayak where it needed to be. Most challenging paddle I've done in 40 years, and loved the way the kayak handled.
My only reason for giving a 9 and not a 10 is I wish the screws on the inside of the boat had acorn nuts on the ends, to prevent any accidental scrapes. But we car-top this kayak like we do our singles, and look forward to years of paddling. We have the fiberglass version, so it probably weighs 55 lbs. The kevlar is about 47, but out of my price range. I think this is a great value.
This boat has done everything we have asked of her and more. At 16'7" and a feather-light 40-some-odd pounds rigged, she is compact and exceptionally easy to carry. As Lincoln notes, the Two Lites is a "fast tracker." Acceleration is tremendous, and we have to go very easy paddling with our fellow Floridians, who are usually in heavier, fishing-oriented plastic SOTs. We are no athletes, but paddle easily at 4+ mph per GPS, and can hit 6 mph in a sprint. This means that turning around and paddling back upriver is barely a consideration.
She will not weathercock with the rudder down. Storage space is indeed a bit limited, but a day cooler and basic safety gear is not problem. We generally rig two deck bags -- one for each paddler, and therefore have no problem keeping camera gear, compass, GPS, sunscreen, et al at hand.
Initial stability is less than a SOT, which threw us a bit, but only on the first run. Secondary stability is strong, and we've never dumped, save for a couple of klutzy exits by yours truly that were my fault.
The boat is ideal in flat water, but shrugs off 1-2 ft. swells with ease, and our first launch into surf in the Gulf of Mexico (yes, there are waves on that coast) went well after one false start. We've taken her to the Florida Keys, Sanibel / Captiva, Clearwater Beach, and dozens of flat water river runs and can't wait to take her out again.
As for shortcomings, it's true the hatches are not perfectly watertight, but in fairness the original gaskets are due for replacement. The backband style seats are great for hours at a time, but one came unglued once on the highway. After a daring rescue, I applied the adhesive Lincoln suggested, and it's stayed stuck for more than a year since. She's not the tightest turning boat in the world, especially for her short length, but then I'm still working on edged turns.
The *feel* of this boat is tremendous. The "paddle lite" kevlar / foam sandwich layup is light, stiff, and remarkably buoyant. We routinely load the boat with 400+ lbs (including, ahem, the kayakers) with no problem, and still glide forward with little effort. When the wind or current are against us, we still move easily and just get a bit more exercise. We look like paddling heroes with just a few seasons under our belts, and never worry about reaching the limits of the boat's capabilities.
I hope Lincoln's new ownership maintains the high quality of these excellent boats, because we're already eyeing a pair of Quoddys or Chebeagues so we can try "singling" it now and then without sacrificing the incredible experience we've had in our Two Lites.
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