My checkbook is getting really nervous.
After going to another demo yesterday, I am about to pull the trigger. As you may recall, I’ll end up buying two boats so my girlfriend can paddle with me (still mine and must be liked by me) . The boats we tried and that I am most looking seriously at are:
I liked the Tracer however found it to not handle the wind very well without the skeg (skeg was broken on the demo so couldn’t try with). I also would like a day hatch. It is probably a high second on my list.
The Avocet cockpit didn’t feel right for me and is out of consideration for either of us.
I liked the Kajak Sport Millenium a few weeks ago but it is a bit out of my price range since I’m buying two. I’m also a bit paranoid about dropping it and breaking it when loading/unloading solo.
Today I will go test paddle a Merlin XL again -and maybe a Nighthawk. I liked the boat before and want to try it again before deciding on the Tracer since they are both similar material.
I have not paddled any Wilderness Systems boats (less convenient to demo). Will I regret it or are they relatively comparable to the other boats?
Given what has caught my interest above, any suggestions on others to check out before I pull the trigger. I am 5’8" 150# and GF is 5’6" 130#. I find some cockpits to be constraining due to my relatively large feet and developed legs (I’m a runner).
Benefit of buying the Hurricane and P&H boat is that they are from the same outfitter so I may be able to get a better price (I hope). Any idea what a typical mark up is -or rather a fair price as a percentage of MSRP?
My checkbook is getting really nervous.
I found that the Capella…
…is VERY skeg dependent. When I demoed one on a windy day, it weathercocked even with the skeg fully down. I was not impressed with that at all, but otherwise, it was a nice boat and very maneuverable for its length.
I don’t know the Tracer at all, have paddled the others at least a little.
Of the EddyLine boats, I felt that the Nighthawk was the best all around boat in terms of secondary stability, handle, speed and fit. I am 5’4" and 135 pounds. I think it’ll support advanced learning better than the other EddyLine boats you mention that I know. I’ve also noticed that it isn’t uncommon for paddlers here who start with the Merlin to move out of it fairly quickly over complaints of sluggishness, at least those who paddle in groups. If your get the Nighthawk and GF gets one of the other boats you may be a good bit faster than her - which is fine. You get more time to take photos.
While the Capella has enough rocker that beginning paddlers will likely find the skeg to be critical, with time and a better forward stroke you may need it less. If you ever want to see the diff the paddler can make, go out with someone who has years of whitewater under their belt. They’ll never drop the skeg on a boat that has all the touring kayakers using it full time!
I don’t have any time in real water with the Capella, but a number of people who have commented on this board find it to be a very capable boat for if you get caught in slop by surprise - an almost universal experience for new paddlers. (Obviously most of us lived.) Overall the Brit boats have very strong secondary stability, which really helps when things get interesting out there. And its speed is respectable if not fast - fine for boats that can get you started.
The Avocet is a great boat, and as I recall a bit faster than the Capella even in RM. I have also noticed that the Valley hull has a more distinct feel of hitting its secondary stability point than the P&H boats I’ve been in. This can be a good thing.
There is one thing to anticipate - a couple of these boats have oval rather than keyhole cockpits. That means that it is harder to establish really positive thigh brace contact without a good bit of fitting. You won’t care when you first hit the water, or once you have really mastered some skills. But when you first start advancing, you’ll want to add some fitting. This is not a big thing - the dealer can help you with this I am sure (ours did).
Finally, on GF - aside from the Tracer which I don’t know, all of the listed boats will be a leetle big on her at the point that she wants to move her skills up. But not enough that some padding out won’t solve it - the two inches of height she has more than me is a lot in terms of boat fit.
Hope this helps.
Checking in to ask about your progress or success at buying kayaks.
I’m also curious why you stated that the Avocet was out of consideration for either of you after noting that it was your GF’s first choice?
Out of consideration
I think he said earlier that both boats would have to work for him because if the relationship doesn’t work out, he may get stuck with both. It is a practical mindset.
I wonder if he could find a used Avocet? That way if he has to end up selling it, he probably wouldn’t take much of a loss. Just a thought.
I have a Night Hawk
So I’m partial. I’d vote to get 2 of them. However, the Wilderness Tempest 165 felt awfully nice on the showroom floor (never got to paddle it). It had some nice features like a seatbed that is long enough to support the thighs which can prevent numbness during long paddle, seat adjustment straps that allow seat adjustments while out on the water (makes things less crampy), and a day hatch. It’s also a tad more snug than the Night Hawk, which I liked.
You’re right. I overlooked his stated practical consideration.
You are also right that he could find a used Avocet. Especially as he is considering RM, there are quite a few out there used and if he ended up having to sell it he might not loose any or much money.
I am a Valley fan, and (IMHO) of the boats under consideration, the Avocet might be the nicest/best.
Rocker & bird watching
celia said “While the Capella has enough rocker that beginning paddlers will likely find the skeg to be critical, with time and a better forward stroke you may need it less. If you ever want to see the diff the paddler can make, go out with someone who has years of whitewater under their belt. They’ll never drop the skeg on a boat that has all the touring kayakers using it full time!”
I don’t have any trouble keeping my Phoenix Isere straight while paddling, but when I stop paddling to pick up my binoculars to look at a bird, the boat usually starts turning. Will increased experience help in this situation or is a different boat with less rocker needed or does the Isere need a rudder or skeg added? Phoenix told me they won’t add rudders to complete boats, only before the top and bottom halves are joined together durning manufacture.
I now use my Mad River Slipper canoe for birdwatching because it keeps going straight when I stop paddling. It appears to have zero rocker.
Go with the Capella’s. I’ve got a 166 and my wife just ordered a 160…she’s fairly small and found it to be a really good fit…she also tried the Avocet before deciding to go with P&H.