Perception Sonoma 13.5

I’m going to try on the water a Perception Sonoma 13.5 with the hope I will fit in it and use it as a day/exercise boat on flat protected water and that is light and small enough just grab and use.

Question - what is its successor or currently produced counterpart? What draws me to it is the 22" or so waterline on a short boat which still looks fast enough to keep-up in a group paddle and looks like fun to paddle for an intermediate paddler. The tsunami 135 seems similarly specified and just a bit heavier, but the material on the Sonoma I think is the “better” - the “Airalite” or termoformed plastic vs. the rotomolded or flimsy (IMO) “duralite” on the Tsunami…

Anyone else making a fast (for its length) 12-14 footer around 40 lb and under 23" wide? The CD Kestrel 120 in TSC or Kevlar comes to mind and it may be a better boat with the larger cockpit possibly allowing knees-together paddling and that’s on the list to try as well, if I can find one used, though at is 26" wide it is wider than what I need…

a few recent comments

– Last Updated: Nov-19-08 7:32 PM EST –

My recent thread on the CLC Shearwater hybrid kits elicited comments from LeeG and a few others on the Sonoma. My comments are there, too, though you've probably already read my Pnet review, among others.

What about this?
I never paddled it, but sure looks interesting:

Pyranha Speeder,

Eddyline Merlin LT Carbonlite
13.5’ x 23", 42 lbs.

I paddled it once before, when I did not have enough skill to really figure it out - did not like it at all at the time… May be I need to re-visit it…

How about repair/mods of Airalite?
Another question - repairs/modifications and more specifically deck changes. If I decide I like the boat but my feet do not fit, is there a reliable and easy way to cut/patch the airalite? For instance, cut out a 10x20 patch and raise it up by 1 inch using 1" strips on each of the four sides (of course with some overlap outside of the 1 inch? And is the material available for purchase?

I could not really find a reliable write-up on how to work with airalite… Seems that the thing is glued together (deck to hull) so there are adhesives that work well enough. But where to get some raw material for a repair like that???

Price is also an issue - the Sonoma can be found used at around $600, almost half the Eddyline…

Test paddled today…

– Last Updated: Nov-20-08 7:44 PM EST –

Had a chance to try it in probably the worst it would see: flat water with 10-15 miles per hour winds and gusts up to 20 or a bit more. Up to 2 feet short waves with some white caps.

And I thought this was a very nice small boat. Stability seemed similar I thought to my Tempest 170 but it felt livelier it seemed as it is lighter and shorter. Being shorter it also did not impress me with very good tracking compared to the 17 foot Tempest but it was not bad either. I can understand beginners finding this boat tippy, especially if they are lighter than I am. The seat was OK, though my tailbone felt pressure after an hour paddling though. The back support is nice but high for a layback roll - may be a backband would be better suited for this.

At 6'4" and size 15 feet I needed may be 1" to 2" more length on the foot rails, but otherwise there was very good foot room - moving the rails would make it a good fit.

At just under 200 lb with wet gear I expected that the boat would ride lower in the water but it stayed pretty high IMO - providing for a dry ride in up to 1' waves, but a very wet when the wind picked-up and the waves came up to 2 feet - the nose would burry rather than go over these steep waves. But so does my 19 foot kayak, except that the bow of the Sonoma is very close to me, so the spray would hit me in the face at each wave pretty much (due to the wind).

Going downwind was a lot of fun - due to the short length and relatively hard chines it catches the small steep waves easily and goes along just fine at a good speed.

Side-winds however were not good to tackle - too much weathercocking and even with slight edging it still required pretty much full-time one side paddling to stay on course. A skeg would be very good to have in this situation. May be with hard edging it would go where you need it, but that's too much work compared to just dropping a skeg... Also, being that tall I probably shifted the designed center of gravity forward of the intended point, thus increasing the tendency to weathercock - I noticed that if I lean back it was easier to stay on course, so perhaps for a lighter/shorter paddler who's legs won't weigh down the bow so much it may behave better - my bow was pretty well planted and the stern would slide downwind more than the bow.

Did not get a chance to measure speed with GPS - it did not strike me as a terribly fast boat but it had OK glide b/w strokes and for its length it seemed pretty decent.