Knowledgeable advice needed

I am a beginner looking for a new boat. One year ago I bought 4 boats (for the family) after 50 hours of research and thought I made good choices. I out grew my boats in a week. The reviews here (or anywhere else for that matter) are almost worthless. One of my boats is an America 13.5. There are 40 reviews for this boat here and all but one of the reviews gave it an 8 to 10 out of ten. This boat sucks and got great reviews: It seems that people are reviewing there love of kayaking, not their love of the boat. The results for the Acadia II are exactly the same: great reviews, crappy boat. Naturally, I am only really familiar with Perception, Dagger, and Wilderness System boats, as they are readily available. I am looking for suggestions on boats to research from people who have actually paddled them AND other boats. I am very interested in a low volume touring boat, as we do not do any extended trips. Most common conditions are lakes with 2-4’ waves, and sand/rock bottom, but also paddle Lakes Superior and Michigan. I like the durability and price of plastic, but could be convinced to go to something like Airalite. Two of the boats I am considering are the WS Tempest 170, which fits me extremely well, and the Eclipse 17. I don’t like the hatches on the tempest, and the eclipse is a bit bulky. Any advice at all will be appreciated.

go with the…
Temp…oh heck…whatever YOU like.

The Eclipse IS bulky and handles COMPLETELY different than the Tempest.

soundz like you need to GO PADDLIN! then decide.


Go demo the boats!
Well, as you just stated, what works for someone else may not work for you. On that note, I don’t see why you are even asking for advice, based on how your purchases have gone in the past and how you say that every boat that people gave positive reviews has, in your mind, “sucked.” The only solution seems for you to actually go demo the boats that interest you and then make a purchase based on your discoveries.

I’m sure people will be happy to help out after you called the opions and reviews from members “worthless”. The people in this forum are often the people who write the reviews you just insulted.

Genaral reply to all
The point was not to insult, and if that is what happened, I apologize. My intent was to point out that the non-professional review process is flawed: not every boat can be a 9 out of 10. But reading the reviews here and, as stated in my original post, other places, every boat rates great. Somehow I think that there might be some Kia’s among the Porsches. If you are truely passionate about your boat, you will take the time to tell everyone who will listen how geat it is (ie, reply to a post). Otherwise, I waste my time reading review after review about how great every single boat is. Ask a CD owner to trade his boat for an Old town: but I am sure all the old town boats got great reviews. As for demos, I, like you, cannot demo every boat. The Q600 is sold direct, necky has no dealers within 200 miles, etc, etc. Many manufactures don’t even have websites to read PR about their boats, and even if they did, they wouldn’t tell me that any of their products were not as good as someone else’s. I will stick with my opinion that these reviews are worthless, based on my above statements. If you choose to disagree with me, that’s fine, ignore my posts. If you have similar needs and went through the same rigors of finding the perfect boat, I would love to hear you story. Again, thanks for any advice

I won’t go as far as to say any
boat “sucks”, as I could have a great time lashing some logs together and poleing down the Wisconsin River.

I tend to believe that many of the reviews are by folks that have only paddled one or two boats. I also have found that once someone plunks down their cash, they tend to stand behind what they have done, even if only for the sake of pride.

It’s a lot like buying a sports car. Of the hundreds of models that are out there, there are hundreds of owners who think they made the right choice. Fact is, by their own standards, each one of them just might be correct.

The common thought here is that you must find a good retailer and paddle every craft you can find. Then go to a symposium and paddle every one there. Then go home and think about it. Then go back and paddle them all again. In time, you will find your “sports car”.

CD Stratus
Something you won’t out grow quickly…

At least you are honest and
you do know your boats. there are plenty of boats that SUCK and you named a few. Reviews by people who don’t paddle much or by people who just got their boat are a total waste, I mean there are kayaks reviewed here that are little more than trash can lids that recieved 9 of 10 and 10 of 10 scores all the way down the page with 20 reviews! So go figure. Good luck and be sure to try as many boats as you can before you plunk down the cash.

Did you find your "sports car?"
what is it? Thanks for the reply, I have demo’ed some boats already, and plan to try on a few more…

I know a lot about cars, and even more about sailboats. I also know there are many out there who know volumes more than I about each subject: I am always willing to listen to and learn from those that are more knowledgeable. Admittedly, I know little about kayaks, and know that there are those who know volumes. There are people who are not trying to sell me something that have found the perfect “sports car” for my type of paddling, and I expect that those persons are here.

I’ll check it out

the review process has some inherent flaws. they do not suck as you suggest as every single one of them give a smidgen of information that help you understand their decision to purchase that particular boat. (Notice I said THEIR decision)

You just need to understand several factors:

  1. Not everyone lives in an area where they can try out twenty similiar boats.

  2. More importantly, not everyone lives in an area where they can try out twenty boats over a period of time to determine the quirks and qualities of each. (You said yourself that you outgrew your boats very quickly)

  3. As your skills and knowledge increase, your perception of what is a good boat for you changes. The timeframe or level that the reviewer is in when they write may be completely different a few months from now and are certainly different from the level you are at. so unless it becomes a requirement that every reviewer re-write their review in four months, I am not sure you will ever get a completely objective review until you have an entire fleet of boats and can competently discuss each one’s attributes without it being an ego enhancement because you bought the best one…because you quickly find out there is no best.

    There may be a best one…for now…but how could you possibly try to blame the good people in the forum who try to give an objective opinion (without being reviewers themselves) who are at varying levels of skills and don’t know anything about either your style or your preferences, and more importantly never singled you out or targeted you to convince you to buy their boat?

    Me? I have a tempest 170 RM. I have tried out about 15 boats altogether. The tempest was too much boat for me when I bought it and I am quite comfortable with it now…not expert mind you…but pretty comfortable. The point is that I rented it three times and demoed it twice over a period of a month. It had great reviews along with some flaws that were quickly pointed out. Fortunately I do not have the same obvious bitterness you have about my purchase.


I might be able to help
you on the Eclipse if you are talking about the Perception Plastic one since I have had mine for about ten years now, but you probably won’t believe what I say.

I will say the seat back finally wears out, but duct tape makes a good replacement.

PS I have a room full of trophies from it’s competition against other plastic yaks.



Any boat you buy
will be a compromise for the ideal boat. As many have said, paddle as many as you can. Unless you have special(ized) needs, you will find a boat within a range for the kind of paddling you want to do. Fit and comfort are very important. How quickly you think you may outgrow the boat is also a consideration. I started paddking one year ago. Been thru four boats. I started with a folding boat now I am paddling a Boreal Ellesmere. If you are committed to developping your skills, go with a boat you can grow into and not out of.

best boat
you can always consider a trip with time to check out boats, mine was worth the trip to ps composites for a custom built boat that was less than some/most top line on the market. I kept the plastic barge which will go almost any thing while I try to get to a point I can match my boats capablity, a second choice is to come down with the rest of us learners and find friends with boats you can try

Consider the useage
At this point in time you seem to have a fairly good idea of the capabilities of boat you want. It sounds like that includes that the boat is designed for big water, has appropriate stability for waves and paddles pretty efficiently over a longer distance. I suspect that you weren’t as clear yourself when you went looking for these boats, nor did you look for that in the backgrounds of reviewers.

A rating means little unless the person who is happy has the same goals as you do in useage and skills.

There are periodically questions on this board about what boat for use on the Great Lakes, with touring capability. You may want to check the archives on the boats in which you are interested appear in threads like that.

Knowledgeable? No, how about opinionated
To answer your question and also offer some unsolicited advice,

forget the plastic. If moneys an issue find one of the below kayaks, used, in fiberglass.

Wilderness Systems ARCTIC HAWK

Current Designs GULFSTREAM /Slipstream



Also, If you can live with inconsistant quality (Brian! Step back from the micriophone!) but very good design, any of the Nigel Dennis models will serve you well.

if the Eclipse was Airalite it would be a completely different boat and if it were fiberglass it would be a completely different boat and if it were a 16’ Eclipse it would be a completely different boat.

Eclipse/Shmeplipse. WhatTheHeck??


I think Celia hit it
you need to review boats you wnat for Your needs. Not some others. Did you buy a America thinking you would get out in Lake MI with it? Best to match you need to a specific boat. As my 9.5 Sundance does not suck, it just doesn’t perform for large lakes. It does work well for small twisty sreams, back waters and rivers. What sucks is your lack of thought to what ya wanna do with a specific boat before ya bought.

Sea Kayaker magazine
has great reviews of boats. The reviews always provide techncal information as well as the impressions of several test paddlers. Check out:

BTW, you are right that the reviews here are not often helpful. I have read them for boats that I know and, even allowing for individual differences in people, I am surprised at the high ratings and the failure to detail problems and flaws.

Maybe Al should go sailing.
Who do you think write reviews Al? And the rest of you that thing they are junk? To simplify it for you, the selection is as follows:

People who are pissed at their choice, People who are happy with their choices, and a rare few who give knowledgeable reviews for the benefit of us all.

What did you think you were going to read?

If you would never contemplate anything under 25 feet for sailing do you suppose all those wonderful reviews of West Wight Potter 15’s are going to sway you? Would you say they are junk even though 9 out of 10 reviews give the wonderful little boat a 9? Are you one of those smug Macgregor 26 owners or one of those humble, open minded Mac 26 owners?

The guy with the Montgomery 17 is going to be no faster than those P15’s with their 12 foot waterline but he aint going to say that in the review if he is an ass!? He’s going to say the M17 is THE boat to own!

As you suggested to one of us that we don’t need to read your stuff, perhaps you should not read the reviews but just start traveling out of your area to demo.

I personally think you are getting yourself on target with the ideas of plastic but there are a few plastic boats that are worth the 60 pounds for the handling, speed and durability they offer. One example of a fine short boat is the little Perception America. The America 13, despite your opinion, is a fantastic little boat that does exactly what it was designed to do extremely well. It’s predecessor, the Antigua, is another great boat. My son wore his out on rivers and lakes as a fishing kayak. If you are mad at yourself for making some bad choices (4 boats after 50 hours of research?) then cool. Learn from it and use those boats for what they are good at or pass them on to your children, neices, nephews, whatever as first boats or permanent boats for a particular use.

Don’t get your lines fouled and good luck with your research (sans reviews).