I spent a few months researching recreational and light touring plastic kayaks. I enjoyed doing the research because I find it to be fun, and I didn't want to end up buying a kayak that I'd be unhappy with. I've been kayaking on and off for over ten years. I certainly don't consider myself an expert, but I love to kayak quiet waters, bays, inlets, etc. and always have a great time paddling.
To begin with, I'm 68 years old, and weigh "over" 225 lbs. I'm physically sound, but the only exercise I do is paddling a kayak. I can paddle for two, three hours, perhaps more with no problem. This is not non-stop paddling I'm talking about. I paddle ten minutes of so, stop, and the kayak continues to glide, I take in the beauty in between strokes, and have a ball. I mention all this because my physical condition had to be taken into consideration before I purchased a new kayak. So, I now began researching for a new kayak. I read all the paddle magazine kayak reviews that I could. And, of course I read every review on this very website, paddling.net/Reviews. Of course, the only way a serious paddler should buy a kayak is to "try before you buy". Simple as that. And of course, that's what I ended up doing.
Most paddlers have different needs, and I was no different. I've paddled some beautiful boats, that you couldn't give to me for free. I saw a beautiful Old Towne Loon 120 that could handle my weight, and the finish coat was a beauty to see. But, I like to "drag" a boat in the sand for a bit when "beaching a kayak", and knew I'd have a "fit" when I saw all the bottom scratches that would occur eventually. I almost bought the Perception Acadia because she paddled, and tracked great, which is on the top of my requirements. I then went to Eastern Mountain Sports, and saw the Perception America with its huge cockpit, and began to "salivate", since I've gotten so tired of getting in and out of "small" cockpits, and the America seems too good to fit my requirements. First: she was 27 1/2 inches wide. I immediately assumed she'd be too "slow". Second: She was 50 lbs.. My last kayak was 38 lbs, so I knew the America would be a bit too heavy for me. I made up a list of kayaks that would accommodate my 225 lbs. Old Towne Loon 138, with a 18x55 cockpit was just too wide and long.
Dagger: Edisto, Cypress, and the Savannah, all great kayaks, but all had cockpits of 19x34. Necky: Zoar, and the Zoar Sport, cockpit, 17x32, too small.(Great quality)Perception:Vizcaya,Captiva,Carolina, and Acadia, all great ones.
I found myself putting the America back on the list, then taking it off, for about three or four times., until I decided to test paddle it in Long Island Sound, N.Y. I use the Yakima Roof rack system, with four cradles, but at 50 lbs. I had to have my wife pick up the other end, and put it on top of the car. The water at Long Island Sound was not the smoothest on that day. What I was looking for in this kayak was straight tracking, and a good amount of speed, and of course a comfortable cockpit. And that's exactly what this boat did. I took the boat back to EMS. I didn't buy it. I liked everything about the kayak, but I still wanted to think about it. I'm retired, so, I've got plenty of time to have fun researching. A week later, I walking into EMS, and saw that the America was on sale of $475, and bought it.I really didn't care for any of Perceptions hull colors, but I decided on "Firecracker", (red). Its the Basic model, not the expedition. I purchased flotation bags, for the bow and stern, and I was on my way up to Cape Cod for two weeks of paddling, and swimming. I crossed one beach, to another, all sandy of course, with the greatest peace, and tranquility ever. I found the America to be fast in quiet waters, even in a bit of a chop. I paddled at times, with my legs "over" the cockpit with no problem. The bottom of the America is "flat", so its got great "primary stability". As for secondary stability, I can only guess, that its not good. My last boat had great secondary stability, but for the kind of paddling that I do, the America, with its super primary stability leads me to think that Perception had someone like me in mind when it first went on the drawing board. Another reason I bought the America, is that since the cockpit is so large, I could sit my 6 year old grandson in front of me and have him paddle for a while, and then, I would. There's an option child's seat that I could have bought for $25 extra, but my grandson had plenty of room in the cockpit without it, so I didn't buy it.
He now talks to me about going "kayaking" up at Cape Cod again. While at the Cape, I tried to re-enter the boat, from about four feet of water, and could not. I even tried it with a paddle float, with no luck. The reason: I have so few muscles left, that I can't even get into my son's 14 foot runabout. But I do believe the America's probably one of the easiest kayaks to re-enter due to its large beam, and flat bottom. If I were in better shape, I know I could have hopped onto the stern, keep my head low, and just slide into the cockpit, without even using a paddle float.
One last point: My daughter kayaked the America a few times, and I noticed that she could not go as fast as I could. I cannot emphasize buying the "Proper paddle". I do believe that my daughter couldn't go as fast as me was because my paddle is a "fixed left hand control" paddle. Meaning that, if you're a right hand control paddler, as most people are, you'll have a bit of a hard time adjusting to MY paddle. I now intend to buy an "adjustable" paddle so ANY paddler can adjust it to left, or right when using my kayak. You'll not only go faster, but you'll feel no pain or strain on your arms, and upper body. So, for me, I've found a kayak to love for a long time. It may even be my last kayak. The America is made of Roto-molded superlinear polyethylene.
Some of those boats I mentioned above were simply great, Dagger, Necky, and Old Towne, but with my "girth", I had not much of a choice, and luckily, I'm as happy as a "pig in mud".......One last point: Canoe & Kayak magazines August edition, did a review on 6 recreational kayaks. The Perception America was one of them reviewed. The last part of the review said, "We found it much more pleasant to relax and enjoy the kayak, rather than push it through maneuvers it was not intended to make". That's what originally helped to "turn me off" on the America. The "push it through maneuvers, etc," had me thinking negatives against the kayak. Well, I certainly can go as fast as I wish, and am elated over the great tracking, while I "relax", and paddle with ease, the "maneuvers, that this happy paddler always "intends to make"... "Have fun paddling".