A nice comfortable fast kayak. Easy to paddle and plenty of easy access dry storage. The rudder is great in strong winds. Not too bad for a poly kayak as far as weight and handling.
After a few weeks of looking, an Eclipse/Sea Lion became available nearby. The original owners had given her a full life, and taken good care of her too.
This is a great kayak. Yeah, she's a bit heavy. So what - so am I! So far, that's the only thing I can find to 'complain' about.
I've read other reviews about primary and secondary stability and find myself wondering if I am missing something? I haven't had any problems with stability. If I do something stupid and forget that I'm in a boat, she reminds me. But I haven't been swimming, yet. A couple of 'pucker' moments, yes. But I blame myself, not the Eclipse. I'm learning and she is pretty forgiving of my occasional sloppiness.
The rudder works like it should, allowing me to focus my paddling on forward motion and making course corrections with my fever as needed.
The cockpit is roomy enough for my long legs, allowing me to paddle without getting cramped or uncomfortable, but able to effectively use the thigh braces without feeling sloppy.
The previous owner replaced the backrest and it gives comfortable low back support. It didn't come with a seat pad but, so far, the seat has been great without one. When my 3-times weekly sessions begin to last more than 70-90 minutes, I'll contact Harmony for a solution.
So, if you are a Real Grown-Up size person looking for a great used kayak that you can use/learn/enjoy, I say go for it.
The problem that we have found with this kayak is extreme weather cocking due to an insufficient rudder. The rudder looks like an afterthought. It isn't long enough and frequently comes out of the water during low rolling waves. The rudder doesn't have sufficient width to get an effective "grip" on the water.
We were not able to find a ready-made rudder with longer dimensions or wider. So we had a metal fabricator make one. Now the boat tracks well in the wind and waves. It was an easy fix and it is like a different boat.
So, for a purely recreational paddler who goes out on short trips on flat water, I am happy with this boat. It lets me keep up with the stronger paddlers without a lot of stress.
My criticism about the boat is the initial stability. It is very tippy. After a long paddle you get used to it but you literally are jerking your body back and forth to manage the poor initial stability. I mean to take it to a lake and truly test the secondary stability but frankly haven't done it yet. As I paddle the boat you can see the boat makers built the boat purposefully this way. It cuts the water very well. You can speed though the water with the boat. The stability is fine as long as you are moving forward. The problem is the initial stability causes you to have to correct your balance while you are standing still and it gets annoying.
Regarding fit I hear all these reports about boats where people complain about the stability, size and fit of a boat based on their size. Look ALL boats are not made for my size and I figure out how to paddle for the boat. After 20 minutes your paddle stroke adjusts to most boats. Spend more time focusing on your stroke and less on your equipment.
In conclusion: it's a good boat. The builders have definitely sacrificed stability for speed. If you are sitting still in the boat talking to a friend you will be adjusting yourself to keep from tipping. If you are moving this is not a problem. Its annoying but probably means I move faster and more efficiently in the water.
I've read the reviews from those that say the kayak has good initial and fair secondary stability but I just can't agree. I have kayaked for years in a variety of kayaks in all types of weather and sea conditions but never had this type of experience. Maybe there are a certain few of us that the Eclipse just isn't made for, I know I'm one of those.
This boat weather cocks and the rudder compensates adequately. I don't usually use the rudder. I find the seat uncomfortable after 2 hrs sitting and have to get out at times. I do have back problems (fusion surgery) but generally I find my back is ok most paddles. It's heavier than I'd like but certainly lighter than poly.
Overall for a person like me there are few viable options. It does have a very good carrying capacity at 400 lbs. I've never paddled it fully loaded so I can't say anything about loaded performance. I have taken this boat on many 15-20 mi paddles and it is surprisingly stable. Even when dealing with crossing wakes - 3 to 4 ft (standing waves) in the Hudson River or Long Island sound. Have had it in the Chesapeake and it performed well.
The 17ft Eclipse is great for a larger person. I am 6ft 230lb. The cockpit area is very roomy. The load capacity is around 400lbs. Plenty of storage. I have used these kayaks on extended multi-day, 60 mile+, yakpacking trips carrying camping gear, food, etc. I have been in rough water and found this design to be very stable. I have never rolled accidentally.
I have used this design for 6+ years and have never had a hatch leak, or a bulkhead partition leak. I have loaded these down, with folding chair and sleeping bag lashed to the deck, and easily can paddle 20 miles a day on flat water. Hands down in the wind it out performs any canoe.
Initial stability is good Secondary stability is fair. As others state, it does weathercock. I have used this for five day excursions in Vayageurs Nat'l Park. It fit all my needs nicely. It handled well in three foot waves, and I felt secure with gusts to forty mph. I was looking for cat tails in those winds. The rudder is not very useful, but I have long since chosen not to use a rudder.
I love the kayak. It is sturdy and fast enough to suit my desires for ten to fifteen mile paddles. It is not light, but it is reliable. I strongly recommend this boat for day paddles and touring. The hatches are not large, but I prefer smaller openings on the water. Storage is more than enough for long touring trips. I highly recommend the Airalite model.
Starting at the cockpit, there is sufficient space, knee braces are comfortable,and the adjustable footpegs are well suited. The seat, although it looks gimmicky with the gel pads, is comfortable. Packing space for touring is restricted by a narrow nose area in the front, the hatch openings are small, so you have to pack wisely. The rear hatch is more accommodating. In heavy weather, the neoprene and rubber hatch lid combination leaks badly. The fore and aft bulkheads have not remained adhered to the kayak shell, resulting in the leakage from the hatches swishing around in the cockpit floor.
Initial stability is good, secondary stability is marginal.The kayak requires a good boot of rudder when paddling on a windy day to prevent from weathercocking. I complete in a 10km time trial every Wednesday at the local canoe club, with an average time of 75 minutes for the 10km distance.
If you are a recreational kayaker, this would be a good option.
Only 2 things: it really wants to go into the wind, and not the fastest boat on the water. I weigh 240 lbs.
The boat has very good primary stability and OK secondary stability; it would be a good boat for a beginner. While the boat has a fairly narrow beam it still feels wide, but responds to steering strokes reasonably well. It doesn't turn fast unless it's leaned.
The Eclipse handles reasonably well in low winds and flat water, but starts to weathercock in just 10 kts of wind, enter the rudder.... The rudder seems to have been added as an afterthought. When dropped it barely touches the water and doesn't seem to move the boat very well. The roto version seems to have a different stern and may integrate the rudder more effectively.
I didn't find it a fast boat when trying to escape lightning. The bow has a lot of volume and seems to plow through the water. I've read a lot of positive reviews of this boat so I was surprised by how it handled. The boat has a lot of space and would be good for week trips.
I can't recommend this boat, it's light for it's size in plastic and the airlite is pretty durable and looks good. It might preform better with a heavy load, but I never had more than 50 lbs of gear in it.
The "tippy" initial stability that some object too, makes the boat quite fast and efficient to paddle. The secondary stability is very secure for me, and when laid over the Eclipse turns very quickly with a strong sweep. All in all, it feels lively and fun.
If bracing is not instinctive, then the Eclipse 17 might be "too much boat" for such a paddler. First day in this thing, I paddled in moderately rough sea conditions and had no difficulty or near-capsize incidents. But, my braces are pretty good and getting better.
I'm not crazy about the neoprene/solid hatch cover system - why not use the new-style flexble covers like the Valley? Furthermore, there is a design problem with the current hatch system: the bolts that secure the hatch cover straps project down far enough that when I filled the front hatch full of gear and the neoprene cover was slightly pushed upward, one bolt wore a hole through the neoprene.
Lots of storage. Comforatble seat. Good rudder system. Excellent outfitting (as usual for Perception). The extra lbs are largely due to the many outfitting and hull features Perception has built into this boat (and other models).
A better hatch cover system would jump the Eclipse 17 to a "10" for me.
I am 6’6 and 190 Lbs. Before I bought this boat, I tried several other touring models and found that this one was by far most roomy for my long legs. My shoe size is 12, and I have plenty of room in this boat. Buying a kayak is very much individual thing and what fits one person, doesn’t necessarily fits the other, even if same size and build.
I didn’t paddle for 3 decades and I was a little worried about the stability of this boat. Initial stability is FENOMENAL on this boat. I read some reviews here about this boat, and some of the reviewers where complaining about initial stability of this boat. I just don’t understand. All I could say is – if anyone has problem with initial stability of this boat, they should switch to another sport. Maybe get in to the bowling?
Secondary stability is not that great but only at the highest possible speed. This is not the fastest boat around, yet it has solid speed for it’s weight and size. It is well build with the attention to detail. Wind may be the problem with this one, but show me the kayak which doesn’t have a wind problem. That’s why you have a rudder.
Overall, this is one great boat and I highly recommend it to taller and bigger people.
Enough of the nitpicking. The boat is an absolute hoot to paddle and is drop dead gorgeous, especially with the silver deck. It's fast, but not a rocket. The upswept ends make it very easy to turn, but rob some waterline length and, therefore, speed. With maneuverability, you surrender some tracking, but the rudder takes care of that. The round bottom buys some speed, but trades off some initial stability, possibly making it feel a bit twitchy to some. But, secondary stability is good, so I'd say it's a stable boat. That said, I respectfully disagree with those who disqualify it for beginners. Paddling skills and instincts progress rapidly from inception, so my philosophy is that neophytes should buy boats they'll learn from and grow into. Not skittish high performance designs, but boats like this that reward proper paddling and maneuvering technique with results.
Bottom line is that this popular design is a great balance between speed and maneuvering, and it doesn't hurt that it's a looker.
I also had problems with weather cocking at the end of the day, which might have been multiplied by my tiredness. I’m a real big guy, 6-4, 250 lbs, with a large frame, but the boat seemed to fit me OK. But I’m thinking wider flatter boat for my next outing. The only good thing I can say about the experience is that I got lots of practice with my bracing stroke and assisted recovery.
If you are a paddler with strong skills, good balance, and lots of experience, you may find this to be the boat for you. But if you’re a novice look elsewhere. Be aware, that paddling in the ocean with real 2-3 foot swells is much different than trying it out in the bay or lake.
Oh yeah the seat support is the best I have ever seen even when compared to $3500 kevlar boats! The knee braces are just right. They allow for an easy exit and easy entry, but also allow for great solid knee support rolling practice!
The hatches are receded which is great. I have noticed some water leakage through the inside neo covers, but that's only doing rolling practices and very rough big choppy seas.
The deck rigging is perfect and is plentiful- could not ask for more. The boat even has a great towing clip! I have yet to use the rudder, so I cannot comment on that yet.
My overall advice- buy one. This is well made and reasonably priced boat. I am 5'10" and 174 lbs.
The AirLite is nice. It is lighter than the polly. It is amazingly forgiving and it is surprisingly rigid. One thing I did not like was the cockpit coming. It seemed a bit shallow for the rand of the skirt and did not provide that solid a connection. The fit and finish and overall quality exceeded expectations. There was room for my clown feet which was a big initial concern. The hatches are flush fit and I never had any leakage problems. As it was the first boat I owned, I don’t have much to compare it to other than a couple of rentals and loaners.
My new Current Designs Extreme HV in Kevlar is on its way. While by all accounts a choice boat, I will miss my eclipse and remember it fondly as one remembers their first love.
Putting the boat on edge is very predictable. The speed is equal to other boats of this length and design. I find the seating and thigh support perfect for me [6 ft. 175lb.] My size 13 feet are tight but ok. I usually ware wet suit socks. The weight is over come with a dolly on land and is not an issue on the water. When money allows, I will purchase a Fiber glass or composite Eclipse.
Anyway I gave it only 8 out of 10 because I don't feel qualified to give it a ten because it's the only boat I've ever paddled - but otherwise I'd have given it a ten!
I've found the Eclipse handles best when evenly loaded with at least 20-30 lbs of gear. When riding light she does tend to weathercock and is sluggish in the turns. Not a problem when she's loaded down with a weeks worth of gear. This is a touring boat, not a day tripper. When day tripping I'm always sure to throw a couple half gallon containers of water in the bow compartment with the rest of my sparse gear in the stern. Loaded properly the Eclipse tracks and turns better than the other 17 footers I've paddled. The quality of workmanship on my boat is superb. Can't nit pick a thing.
I'm puzzled by other's comments regarding this boat. The seatback is not plastic and the hatch covers are not held in place by bungies. Sounds like somebody got hold of a very ragged out and abused rental model. And yep any plastic hull will oil-can unless it is stored properly. Keep it in the shade and store it on it's side. Great job with this boat Perception.
I'm considering replacing the Eclipse as my primary boat with a Current Designs Extreme, for high speed and lower weight, but I'll certainly keep it for rock gardens, surf and generally all the places a kayak can get seriously banged around. I think it's indestructible.
PERFORMANCE: tracking is fine if there is no wind as this boat has very little rocker. The amount of surface area (due to the ridiculous volume) make it a boat that requires considerable effort to get it up to speed. Because of the hull shape and lack of rocker, the boat is very slow to turn and edging has little effect. Because of the hull's cross-section (round like a log) the boat doesn't even actually "edge" and leaning it gives you a vague uneasy feeling that you're just going to go over. Some chine would've made leaning much more secure. The flattish bottom leaves you with a lot of initial stability but a boat that's rockin and rollin in the slightest chop. Weathercocking is severe in the slightest breeze. MUST be paddled with the rudder deployed in any wind at all. This is the best REC boat out there. But if you're 9 feet tall, weigh 500#, plan to paddle indoors or in calm water and no wind and the rudder deployed ALL THE TIME while carrying with you a mariachi band this is the boat for you. a log with a cockpit.
Keep in mind that the kevlar and fiberglass Eclipse is really a different boat than the plastic version, which has different performance characteristics and even different hardware, although there are similarities. The plastic version seems tippier, slower and less luxuriously outfitted. The kevlar version is a lot more expensive, but it is worth every penny. The Shadow is the Eclipse's little sister, basically a scaled down version, little people love them!
I am 55 years old, in fairly good condition, 5'10", 180 lbs (a little overweight), paddled for 6+ years, took advanced lessons, rate myself intermediate++.
Hull and outfitting: - The boat is 17'3", 23" wide, a featherlight, car-toppable 44 lbs. Fit and finish are excellent. Hardware/outfitting are excellent. Hatches are secure and dry, with heavy duty straps. They are fairly watertight. My back compartment leaks through the rudder cable tubes, especially when rolling. I tried a little silicone sealer, but steering became almost impossible. Steering cable is routed haphazardly through the rear compartment, binding in places (Newer models seen have corrected this). Steering gear is very sturdy, although the pedals were undersize and kept falling off and the paint on the industrial strength rudder mounting peeled off after 6 months. The dealer gave me some runaround on this, but a call to Perception produced replacements very quickly. The new design steering system on the later models is MUCH better- great, especially the pedals. There is an optional low drag rudder, which I may get.
The Perception is comfortable. The only problems I have in that regard are a slight tendency for my legs to fall asleep, which I counter by periodically flexing myself up from the seat. I have never really achieved the perfect fit for my thigh braces, although I have sufficient edging control and can roll the boat OK (I did install some hip padding). The Eclipse came with a separate stick-on seat pad, which reduces slippage. The seat back is very comfortable and adjustable. Others have complained that the back adjustment cord slips-just tie a knot and it's fine. The seat back is a little too high and gets in the way for a cowboy or paddle float re-entry. Now I see why the pro's favor back bands. With the high seat and high rear deck, it's a balancing act to get back in the boat, but some practice will do it. There is room for safety gear, jacket, food and water behind the seat in the cockpit. I keep my pump on the starboard side in the cockpit, tucked between the seat and the hull, with a cord to secure it. Storage space is pretty good, although I had gear lashed to the deck when I did a 6 day trip as a leader and also had to carry 8 gallons of water. I was able to carry 3 gallons in the front of the cockpit. The cockpit entry is fairly large, which is nice for claustrophobic people. Wet exit is a cinch.
The deck bungees and hardware are top grade, much better than, say, Necky. There are really neat soft grip carrying handles. Great on shore, but not so great in the surf zone. A couple of out of boat in surf experiences made me understand why toggles are so ingenious. There is a built-in rudder tie down bungee, nice for those 80 MPH trips back home at night.
Let's see-what else? There is a stainless steel anti-theft ring aft to fasten your lockup security cable to. The coaming has a deep recess, great for holding spray skirts on-- you have to work to get a tight one off. There is no compass mounting pad, a surprising oversight for a touring boat. I have my compass secured with bungees. Kayak manufacturers should consider incorporating a GPS mounting pad, too- Maybe a PC also J. There is lettering on the bow, proclaiming it is a Kevlar Eclipse, so they'll know which boat to steal.
Regarding performance: - It is one of the most forgiving boats I have ever paddled. With a little judicious bracing, you can handle most conditions. I have been in 18-20' seas with 4' wind waves, in 30 knot winds. It was hairy, but the boat really performed for me. Edging is good. I wouldn't agree with some of the other reviewers that the boat is a cinch to turn, but if you lean the boat hard, it will carve pretty well. Until I learned to do this, I was unhappy with the lack of maneuverability.
The Eclipse feels slightly tippy at first (more so for the plastic model), but one becomes quickly accustomed to it. I find the boat easy to edge and control. It is very predictable in anything but the trickiest surf. Speaking of surf, it really doesn't track well going down wave faces. I have gotten so I can usually anticipate what it will do and put in control strokes just before they are needed. Fortunately, the boat is very easy to do a controlled broach in.
Tracking sucks without the rudder. Cross/following seas and wind effect are considerable. I just leave the rudder down all the time, and then it's pretty good. My buddies razz me, because it's not macho to rudder, but I can run their asses into the ground on long distances. The extra rudder drag is more than offset by the improved control.
Acceleration is phenomenal and performance is excellent to about four knots, but hydrodynamics rears its ugly head above that speed, requiring exponential increases in effort to exceed that. I have had the boat up to 5.5 knots (GPS) in calm water with no wind or current influence. It required Herculean effort to do so, which I could not sustain for long. I can paddle the boat comfortably at 4 knots all day in mild conditions. As speed increase, the bow rises and tries to plane, affecting performance adversely.
The bow could use a bit more buoyancy, as it tends to plow in to waves a bit. I have pitchpoled a few times in surf, a hair-raising experience. Otherwise, it rides fairly dry, but pounds in rough water, more than boats such as the Necky Arluk (X), Current Designs Extreme and various Eddyline models that buddies have paddled alongside of me.
The Eclipse is a top quality, seaworthy boat, worthy of extended ocean open touring. The major drawbacks are the poor tracking and relatively slow speed, although the Eclipse is a rocket compared to 85% of all kayaks. It just that a few are faster.
I'd rate it at least an 8 out of 10.
One criticism I have is the boat's propensity to weathercock in the slightest cross breeze. The tracking is greatly improved when you drop rudder, but this can be annoying to do when the winds are fairly low, as it definitely slows the boat down. I suppose this is a tradeoff for the maneuverability, but it's tiring, nonetheless. The boat is quite fast and efficient; it accelerates to speed fairly rapidly. In fact, it's often deceiving how quickly you are covering distances. Storage is fine, the hatches are fairly large, and the boat seems to track better when loaded, no great surprise. The seating position is fairly comfortable; I'm 6'1'' and 200lbs. and have no complaints as far as room, etc. I may experiment with replacing the seat back that pops out of its track often, with a back band, to get a more upright position. Aside from that, the thigh braces are quite comfortable, giving excellent control and bracing.
The fit and finish is good. I opted for the red/yellow fade for visibility on the water, although I really admire the handsome blue/gray version. My wife's boat is gray, and I've found you just don't see her on the water, and the blue presents similar problems, to a lesser degree. Aesthetics aside, I'm pleased overall with my purchase. I'll be taking a rolling class this winter, so as to more comfortably explore its carving limits. I feel that as my skills increase, this is a boat I can grow with.
As far as performance, the Eclipse seems to get excellent ratings. But I did not find the Eclipse to be ideal. I'm 6'1, 250lbs. Initially when I tried out the Eclipse I loved it, it seemed to handle and fit very well. But after I bought it and tested it out for long durations in a variety of conditions, I was not impressed. I'm a pretty good paddler, but still had a difficult time tracking. And even the slightest bit of action on the water made the kayak nearly uncontrollable. I don't even want to mention what it was doing in gusts of wind (can you say merry-go-round). I couldn't even take advantage of the kayak's legendary secondary stability. Forget about leaning or edging, I would have ended up upside down fast. Being a big guy, I could not maneuver properly inside the kayak and was essentially "locked" in the boat. And I don't mean snug, I mean locked (forget about hip flicks or adjusting to wave action). This lead to a lot of tension and eventually my legs would fall asleep or would eventually cramp. The biggest problem with the kayak is the thigh braces. Whoever designed this boat at Perception was a tiny person, because the thigh braces cut in way too much. They were obviously designed with control and rolling in mind, but impede versatility and comfort over exetended periods on the water. Worse, they cannot be adjusted or replaced easily. I got the feeling a whitewater kayaker designed this boat.
In conclusion, while a good-looking kayak that seems like it's made for the "bigger paddler", let the "bigger" buyer beware. I believe this kayak was made for taller folk in the 200-220 lbs range. Any taller, or heavier, and you might not like this kayak too much. If you have big legs you're going to hate the thigh-braces. I don't think it was made to carry a heavy, tall person. I found its performance to be over-rated. If you are a larger person, and can't get the beauty of the Eclipse out of your head, definitely take this kayak out for an extended day trip before you buy and make sure you take it out in a variety of conditions (wind, wave, whatever you might face) to be sure "it's the boat for you." For the record: I ended up trading my Eclipse in for a Prijon Kodiak, which, at least for me, outperforms the Eclipse tenfold. But that’s another review. Overall rating is based on amenities and performance, unfortunately I'm giving this kayak a 6, and I'm being forgiving.
I rented several different boats, most by Perception, but also a Boreal Inukshuk and an Old Town Heron. The Eclipse seemed to be by far the most efficient and enjoyable to paddle. It accelerated well, handled well in all seas (I took it out of Rockport harbor, about 1/2 mile beyond the lighthouse) and, frankly, was real delight...head and shoulders above all the rest except the Inukshuk. It DID feel tender at first but I adapted quickly and soon felt at home.
I am 6'2", 240 lbs, and entry to the cockpit was tight, due to the thigh braces. But once in, the cockpit was snug and comfortable, with no tendency on my part to cramp or go numb, even though I was out for almost 4 hours. I bought it!!!
After a year of paddling, I do have some criticisms, though. The hull has a tendency to oilcan...a surprise, since the Eclipse has a keelson bar. It DOES pop out with a little heat, though. More importantly, to me, is the seat back which, though very comfortable, has an annoying habit of coming loose while underway...maybe I'm doing something wrong. The rudder controls quckly stiffened up and have been balky ever since. It weathercocks in a crosswind...not that annoying, as it just requires a correctional stroke every once in a while...
But, as I said, It is quick, sensitive, responsive, and a whole lot of fun. It handles rough water well and keeps me and my gear dry and comfortable. No boat is perfect, so if you know the faults and appreciate the fun, buy it!!!
Yes, this boat does weathercock, but I haven't paddled a boat that doesn't. The large volume deck does catch the wind, but with correct paddling technique and skills, a paddler can counteract the effects of the wind. I do have a rudder and on most trips I don't even use it. If I do, it's on the way home after a long day and I am tired from bracing and fighting the wind and waves.
The boat tracks well and with proper skills turns quickly. As with most 17 ft boats, they are not made to turn quickly. If you are in for the long ride the Eclipse tracks straight and true and is surprisingly fast. I've paddled with a group of Perception Carolina's and they had a hard time keeping up with the sleek Eclipse. The Eclipse is a sharp looking boat with quality craftmanship and nice little extras such as the 360 degree deck rigging and grab handles.
Some kayakers complain about their seats. I personally don't have a problem with the Eclipse's seat and have paddled all day without numbness. I want to play with the knee supports, but haven't found it that much of a problem where it needs to be corrected right away, so my cockpit is pretty much "stock." The storage is excellent on the Eclipse and on some of my trips I haven't even needed to us the front hatch, but I have used it to balance my load. I love the bungie system that holds down the neoprene storage covers. Storage is super dry. I've read that some boats have a hard time car-topping and that their storage covers get torn off. With the rigging on the Eclipse, this is impossible.
Over all I gave this boat a 9, because nothing is perfect and I wanted to save a point if I ever get a chance to paddle the composite version of the Eclipse. I'm sure that model kicks butt. If I ever have the desire to purchase another boat, I would clone the Eclipse, but with a flatter deck.
A little FYI for car-toppers, I manage just fine racking my 17' Eclipse on my 95 Honda Civic. It rides smooth, with no trouble on my Yakima rack and Land Shark saddles.
So I bought the Eclipse, and went for my first kayak ride *ever* about a week later. I put her in at a lake on the Susquehanna River, and there was lots of current from the recent rains, so the paddling was difficult at first. I noticed that it felt tippy at first, but I love efficiency and this boat feels like it's giving me good movement for each paddle stroke.
I've done everything wrong so far: no lessons, no sprayskirt, no pump, no spare paddle, no partner. Don't follow in my footsteps, I could have easily been finished off if weren't for dumb luck (actually it was probably part of my loser ethos. I didn't want to aggrandise myself by winning a Darwin Award... &^). Since then I've bought a bilge pump and a sprayskirt, and I'm looking for lessons but haven't found them yet.
I also have problems with side winds weathercocking, and have noticed that the rudder slows me down, and have been thinking about grinding a taper into the rudder to see if that helps. I'm thinking about a cross-section that looks like this: ()
I still haven't found a good seating position, even with lots of canoe pads trimmed and glued all over the seat. The tall cockpit and my short legs are not working together yet, but I've got ideas about how to pad the top of the cockpit better.
One thing that helped me was to cut a canoe pad in half and lay the halves down on each side of the pipe for heel rests. Just put a bit of rubber cement on them and let it dry; this will make them sticky enough to stay in place, but still moveable. They help prevent foot cramps from the cold hull, and makes it possible to paddle barefoot without getting heel pain. I also cut a bit of the canoe pad (this is the gray closed-cell foam about 1" thick) and glued it on each footrest for padding. Ahhhh. Make the pads larger than the footrest so you don't bang your toes, and you may need to adjust your footrests once they're on. Love to paddle barefoot!
What I like about the boat is that it's sturdy (plastic is a good idea for a first boat), the fittings and decklines are nicely done, and it feels quick without feeling dangerously tippy. I did go over once while exiting the boat to a high dock, and it will roll very quickly! Watch that you don't raise your center-of-gravity with seat-padding, as you'll make it much more tippy.
What I don't like is the plastic "feel" in the water (just a bit sloppy) and the foot control rails for the rudder are iffy (mine got stuck early on, and Perception mailed me a new set right away, but actually all they need is a bit of sanding so the slider clearances are better). The weight makes it hard for a small guy to load and move around, although I'm getting better as I practice. And I sometimes wish it had end toggles and security loops.
All in all a thumbs-up, especially for a first boat.
Edge turns amaze me! I am impressed that a 17'2" boat will turn that quickly. Next time out will be in calm water and I need to find that point where the secondary stability holds and where it dumps me. Yes, I plan to get wet. The finishing touches are very much nicer than on the Necky Zoar Sport. (The Eclipse also costs more and you do get your moneys worth.)
There are trade offs, but I wanted speed, nice finishing touches, great looks, and I got all that. I will continue to grow into this boat and look forward to many hours of paddling in various conditions to really know all it will do.
I found the boat to be very stable in chop, waves, and boat wakes from any angle, letting the water just roll under and around you without pitching around or trying to dump you. Initial stability isn't anything to write home to Mama about, but who cares? It really slices into waves nicely. It was easy to set and keep almost any course relative to prevailing wind and waves with a little help from the rudder, which was easy to deploy and retract. The boat carves well. I expected it to be a little faster than it was, but it was, after all, a plastic boat. I could smoke my buddy in his Looksha IV Kevlar, but he has the extra volume version and can't paddle for shit, either.
I can cartop it easily solo. It has a lot of little nice features, like a rudder bungee, really great carry handles, a groove behind the cockpit for paddle outrigger self rescues, a nifty cleat/security bar, and well placed deck rigging. The rescue lines around the perimeter are pretty close and tight to the deck, I might have a tough time come winter when I have neoprene gloves on getting my hand under the line to control the boat if (when) I do a wet exit. I liked the hatch arrangement, but I'll have to see if they leak when I dump it in the surf. I was too lazy and it was too nice a day to roll the thing and see if it leaks. It didn't leak from waves coming over the deck, but it didn't happen all that often Saturday.
I paddled a Dagger Atlantis the same day, but not for long. The cockpit was uncomfortable, the seat unacceptable. So I bought the Eclipse. Thanks for your input. I took it out again yesterday, and it paddled like a dream.