Caribou vs. QCC 600

I’d appreciate feedback from anyone familiar with both the Current Designs Caribou and the QCC 600. I have paddled the Caribou and like the fit and feel of the boat. The only thing I didn’t like was that it seemed to need the skeg deployed in conditions where I didn’t think it should have been needed. I have never paddled the QCC 600 but have high regard for John Winters’ designs.I am aware of QCC’s 30 day trial policy which is certainly generous but would prefer to avoid the hassle of recrating and returning the kayak. I’d really like to get some feedback from anyone who is familiar with both of these boats. Thanks, John

not extremely familiar
but have paddled both. You picked extremes well. This is purely personal preference territory. The 600 is more efficient and weathercocks less. The Caribou with four panels is going to have funny transitions on waves, sliding sideways then stopping while paddling forward.

I’d rather have a Caribou than some designs out there, and like the thigh/seat better than the QCC but if the choice was pure paddling efficiency then a QCC.

I got a QCC400 as a second boat for friends and was surprised how manageable it was in high winds even with all it’s windage.

QCC 400
is the only Winters’ design that I paddled looking for a boat that might have some of the characteristics of my long gone and much lamented Coaster [Sold it to a pretty guide-lady from Maine; ain’t no fool like an old fool.]. Liked the looks and build quality of the 400 but thought it had way too much primary stability for my taste. Also paddled a WS Arctic Hawk for about four years and liked it a lot but found it to be a bit too twitchy in certain following sea conditions. The secondary on the Hawk was terrific and it was a comfortable fit which is important as I will be having a second hip replacement before too long so it’s a matter of being able to sit on the back deck when entering or exiting the cockpit as the body doesn’t bend like it once did. Anyway, I thought that the Caribou might be as good as the AH without the twitchiness.


hey old fool
on Craigs list in Seattle there’s a yellow coaster for $1900,or there was a couple weeks ago. The Chatham 16 isn’t quite a decent coaster replacement but it’s close. The 400 does have buckets of stability but it all feels useful, in other words there’s something to lean on to the sheer line.

The Coaster is rare
on the East coast. They never became even close to popular here and I’ve only seen one other than my own. The Brit-style boats are really the kayaks of choice for many on the Jersey shore, the WS Tempest series probably being most popular lately but that might be because Jersey Paddler pushes them hard. Not that they’re trying to make up your mine or anything like that. I really should paddle a Tempest 165 qnd see what all the fuss is about. I like smaller boats.


Had a Caribou…
…and paddled QCC 700’s. Caribou had much smoother ride in the wind driven chop with less of a hobby horse ride and slap. The low volume bow will pearl a bit but was not a problem.

Most QCC owners seem to prefer a rudder so that puts it out for me.

And besides the Caribou is a pretty boat… JMHO

I disagree on the looks…

– Last Updated: Dec-31-06 7:39 PM EST –

I actually think the Caribou is hideous. Something about a pacific northwest deck on a greenland hull just seems wrong. Of course different strokes for different folks. Oh I also think the 600 is ugly so I guess it's a tie from an aesthetics standpoint in my book. :)

With that said, I like how the Caribou paddles much more than the 600. The 600 is a speedy boat but the Caribou carves much better and is a better rolling kayaking as well. I didn't really have much wind when paddling the Caribou so I didn't experience any weathercocking but I also have no problems using a skeg on boats that benefit from them (Pintail, Skerray, etc). It's what the skeg is there for since no hull will be completely neutral in all conditions despite some manufacturer's claims.

Form follows function
A lot of people think the Arctic Hawk is very pretty but after having the wind push that high bow around for a few years, I began to think it somewhat less comely. OTOH, there are some who regard the Coaster as being an ugly little duck but I found it quite attractive especially after a ride across Barnegat Bay in conditions that would leave me white-knuckled in the AH. The Coaster just surfed along, leaving the long boats behind. Handsome is as handsome does.

How does
a displacement hulled boat “carve”? Could you please explain this to me? After 20 + years paddling I still do not understand this “carve” thing. I await enlightenment. Thanks in advance.

How could that be!!!
Leaving the long boats behind…How dare you!

I mispoke…

– Last Updated: Jan-01-07 3:10 AM EST –

I meant to say that it responds very well to edged turns. Thanks for the catch.

With that said, a displacement hull boat CAN carve turns since the dominant aspect of the turn is more dictated by spin momentum versus the edge engaged, but for the most part, sea kayakers do not carve their boats. Conversely a planing hull boat can edge turns as well. The notion that displacement hulls only edge and planing hulls only carve is false. Also false to some degree but slightly more applicable is that sea kayaks edge and whitewater/surf boats carve. That's a generally good rule of thumb but as always there are exceptions to this rule as well. (Feel free to test this. You can take a sea kayak, have your final stroke be on the left side, edge the kayak to the right, and carve the kayak to the right since spin momentum is the overriding factor in edge vs carve.)

For the above statements i am defining a carve the inboard edge of the kayak being initiated in the direction of the turn and edging is defined as the outboard edge of the kayaking being initiated in the turn.

carved turns
Carved turns, lean[ed] turns and edging seem to be used synonymously but around the Jersey coast we lean the kayak to carve a turn. Hard chined boats always seem to execute carved turns better then soft chined designs. The folks who write the Curent Designs catalog make reference to “lean turns” which doesn’t sound right to me. OTOH, I have a Northwest Pursuit that carves turns as well or better than any boat I’ve paddled. The Pursuit kinda looks [to me] like it was derived from a Mariner boat, maybe the Mariner Max except it comes with a rudder. Except for it big volume, the Pursuit is a super boat.

Get all that
It’s just a scemantics thing. Industry uses the word carve a lot in marketing etc. I would not use that term with a displacement hull, but that’s just different terminology. People still call 2 stroke engines 2 cycles, and internal combustion engines motors… It’s all just words.

People attribute a lot to edges in sea kayaks. I once had the opportunity to take a multi-chined hull proto out…Next the same hull with the edges sanded away… Acted the same, if not better. I believe how a sea kayak turns has more to do with its overall chine / rocker profile etc. Good day.

Coasters in New Jersey
I have one right now (No. 467) up in Bergen County.

carve, slide, slew, turn
yr right about the carving business. My understanding of the sense of carving is when the chine provides a distinct curving turn where the tracking is no longer a straight line but a specific radius turn. The kayak feels just as locked in on the turn as it did when going straight. Not all four panel hulls do that and to my sense it’s not really the most desirable characteristic.

The Caribou is maneuverable and can pivot around the paddler anywhere in the turn, Pygmys Arctic Tern is similar but with a bit more “set” to the turn. My Express can slew and slide when desired but pretty much pivots under the paddler when turned .

A Shearwater Merganser/CLC Shearwater has the closest characteristic to what I’d call carving and it is most distinct on waves but is evident on flat water. It pivots under the paddler but doesn’t slide through the turn. The bow,middle and stern follow the same arc.

The Chesapeakes don’t carve, you can feel the ends dig in a turn and on waves it wants to slam into a broach, a bit like a CUrrent Designs Solstice

From what I’ve read about 99% of the time I read “carves turns” it doesn’t tell me anything close to what I’ve experienced.

a QCC will outrun snakes better.
I think you would fit a gun in the caribou better though.

Can ya fire off
a few rounds while carving a turn? That is the question.

Mariner SOF Replica
Or get an authorized replica Skin on frame Coaster.