Just got an Eskimo via Craigslist. I have kayaked twice in the last 40 years. The last time in a short plastic boat in MI. had so much fun, came home (FL) and bought an Eskimo 17.
It is very stable and paddles easily. I am learning to paddle. It tracks great and is quite easy to maneuver even as a beginner. I haven't had it out in white caps yet but have been in a good breeze - 20-25 mph and no problems. Great boat.17' ESKIMO fiberglass (1987 model) Though technically not the CRX, my 17' Eskimo with rudder, is its predecessor. I had tried only two kayaks before I got it...one was a Carolina 14' and I was leaning toward that one as a first boat. I was looking at 14' boats though the local hard core groups did share that a longer boat would serve me better in keeping up on long trips. Price was a big factor at the time. I looked at every used kayak ad and posting locally & on the internet for about 9 months, checking each one against the reviews at paddling.net. (Thanks paddling.net!)
In the meantime I got some DVDs that taught me a great deal about safety, technique and choosing a kayak. I recommend "Practical kayaking" and "Sea Kayaking" (or similar instructional DVD's) to all beginners considering buying a kayak! The information & lessons are invaluable in helping choose a kayak, help avoid trouble and could save your life. The reason I suggest the DVD's in a review is because of the lessons learned I was able and comfortable in getting the Boat.
When I found the Eskimo online (June 2006), the seller was kind enough to post good pics with the serial number. I checked reviews here and called Easy Rider. I spoke with the president/designer Peter Kaupat and he told me the boat's age (older than the seller thought) but stood behind its value and told me that I would do well to snatch it at the bargain price it was offered for (under $900) and advised on transporting (this model seat up). I truly lucked out, so my first boat was about 3 boats above my skill and experience...a 17' glass...The only issues were the seals were dried out and the finish was a little flat (not bad at all after 19 years!) I order new seals but couldn't wait to try it. I knew that if I tipped I'd be taking in some water so I had floatation in the compartments, and all my safety gear and lines as I'd learned from the DVD's and the safety list on Paddling.net.
The ride: WOW!... I was forced by the level of boat to pay attention to my strokes, balance, and technique. This boat is fast. It responds very well to the nuances of the paddle. It is as the designer said, a great boat. The boat was a great teacher too. I paddled a few days a week all summer into fall & I extended my trips from 1 mile to 3, then 6, then 8-10 miles. I took her out in calm and mild winds at first. Within a month I was going out in 20-25 mph winds, 3' chop and cross seas. The first time I took waves across the bow I got the name "Eskimo" ...It rode low in the water and loves to stay on course and it felt like an Inuit boat. I have never had more than a cup of water in the cockpit without a skirt and in stormy conditions (with a skirt) its still a blast to paddle.
It responds quickly to what you ask it to do, weighting, sweeping, bracing, hip pivots etc...The boat can turn very tight. I did not have a spray skirt for a while and yet at the end of every trip I had virtually no water in the cockpit. The boat dispels any water taken over the bow quite efficiently. It has great storage capacity in forward and aft compartments. (I believe the newer versions of the boat have notches for outriggers and paddle holds.) The rudder comes in very handy in cross seas and high wind. The boat tracks where you send. The large surface area of the rudder does catch wind so though I prefer to use it without the rudder, it becomes necessary to drop it when it when it blows because it will weathercock. I
A fellow paddler in a custom home built 16', challenged me to a race back to the dock (1.5 miles) after a 3 hour trip... he lost....
I am 5'10" 188 lbs and the boat is great for me...easy to get into and out. It has a wonderfully simple, yet ingenious design to it making the adjustments for footrests, and foot steering a breeze. The fiberglass seat and adjustable backrest are great...comfortable for even my longest segments so far of 5 hours+..the boat is easily managed to put on and take off the car. Though with fiberglass you can't pull it onto the sand or rocks it is light enough to lift out easily. I'd buy another Easy Rider for sure.
I would not recommend this for beginners unless you are a patient and quick learner with other boat and water experience. For newbie it can be a bit tippy...(I have not rolled it yet) For the experienced I can proudly recommend the boat as a true joy to paddle and travel.
I have picked up an Ocean Kayak Sea Lion (14'9") guest paddlers and fishing. It is extremely stable and great for friends to join me ...but I can say I cannot wait to take my easy rider out again ASAP