Always enjoying trying new boats and testing them. Wesley Echols reviews have always been very interesting and informative. So I decided to do one myself. Last Fall I went up to visit Dave Thomas of Stellar Kayaks to try some boats out. It just so happened my buddy, Pete, of Erie Canal Boat Company ordered 3 boats from Dave. Since it was an easy task I brought them back to him. This spring Pete and I were talking about how we think the S14S surfski would handle rough water.
One blustery day last week I went over to the outlet of Irondequoit Bay into Lake Ontario. The wind was about 15 to 25 mph and the water was still cold. I set the boat up to fit me. Being a much more stable boat than I am used to, just hopped in when I was in the water. Immediately it felt very comfortable as I started to paddle. I noticed immediately that my leg drive, trunk rotation, and hips were moving freely. Most surfskis and racing boats I’ve used I have always had to put a lumbar pad on the seat so my tailbone would not rub raw; not the case with this boat.
So as I paddled out to the break wall, the boat moved along smoothly and very nicely. As I approached the end of the break wall water started to churn and get very rough. The wind was off my left shoulder, but the waves were at a different angle. The water was very turbulent with few good surfing waves. As I paddled the boat parallel to the waves, the boat was very stable and responsive. As I turned the boat down the waves aiming toward shore, I noticed there was little surfing to be had..
On Lake Ontario near the shoreline the wind drives the waves into each other causing them to slow down and stall. I repeated this several times just going up and down into the swells. I figured out the wave timing and I got several great surfs with great control. It was very hard to link the waves as there was not much space between them. The boat surfed the waves very nice when the waves did form. All of sudden the wind gusted to 35 to 40 mph. The waves flattened out and the water was more confused. The boat handled it very nicely. Even sideways to the wind and waves the boat was very stable paddled around the bay for another hour.
In my opinion, even a novice and intermediate paddler would really enjoy this boat in about any condition feeling safe and comfortable. They could experience and pleasant cruise or a good surf session. The build of the boat is excellent and very comfortable. The fittings all work very nicely and the rudder is very smooth in it’s action. In summary, I would recommend this boat very highly.
These knives have locking blades – the lock is on the spine of the blade and has a "David Boye dent" milled into it, making accidental release of the blade very unlikely, even under heavy use. The single most noteworthy characteristic of these knives is the blade steel. For years I have preferred carbon-steel blades for their toughness, but if you carry carbon steel around water you'll often spend more time cleaning and oiling the blade than using it.
Spyderco Salt Series knives use relatively new "super-steel" in their blades, proprietary steel from Japan referred to as H-1. My understanding is that H-1 steel uses nitrogen instead of carbon to precipitate hardness in the steel matrix: the upshot of this is that since the carbon is the element in the steel that facilitates rusting, H-1 steel is not just rust-resistant, but actually rust-proof. Certainly other manufacturers have been working on "stainless" steels for years, but most of these steels are so soft they won't hold an edge, and you consequently find yourself sharpening them constantly. H-1 steel is different – it has the wear characteristics of the better carbon steels without the problems with rusting. In fact, H-1 steel actually gets *harder* every time you sharpen it (no kidding), meaning that your sharpenings get less and less frequent the longer you have the knife.
Spyderco produces several models worth mentioning to the paddler, but my personal favorite is the Tasman Salt. The Tasman is a knife with a hawkbilled blade a little under three inches long. Overall, it is four inches long when closed and not quite seven when open. This knife only weighs two ounces – that's TWO OUNCES. You don’t even know it’s clipped to your PFD until you need it. It has a lanyard hole for tethering to your PFD and a rust-proof, titanium pocket clip. The blade has the trademark Spyderhole in it to enable you to open it with one hand. The Tasman Salt is available with either plain edge or fully serrated Spyderedge blades, and either black or bright yellow handles (interestingly, when asked why yellow handles instead of, for instance, safety orange, Spyderco indicated that the yellow actually proved to appear brighter to the human eye underwater than the orange did).
A lot of people think that hawkbilled blades look kinda' dangerous and nasty, but they're actually safer than you would think. First, it is unlikely you'll accidentally stab yourself with one – the curve makes it really difficult to shove in the point. Second, hawkbilled blades tend to pull whatever you're cutting into the inside curve of the blade, making them excellent for cutting rope and netting on a boat without chasing and just pushing them around the way a straight blade tends to do. They're also fairly safe if dropped, unlike a straighter blade that would easily stick into your foot, lap, or the bottom of your boat.
To answer the next question, yes, these knives are actually 100% rust-proof. I personally own one of the very first Tasman Salt knives made (circa 2005), and it has been with me in the Atlantic Ocean on vacation numerous times, in the local lake incessantly in the summertime, and is now making its way down every river in WV that I can get my kayak into. My maintenance on the knife is limited to sharpening it once in a while, occasionally placing a drop or two of oil on the pivot pin to keep the blade movement smooth, and making sure that I don’t have a bunch of pocket lint down inside of the handle that could compromise the integrity of the lock. That’s it – no oiling of the blade at all, no cleaning off rust. It doesn't matter if I cut acidic fruits or vegetables, meat, branches or rope – it handles everything I throw at it and still looks new.
Do I own other brands and models or knives? Sure. However, when I am near, on, or in the water I carry a Spyderco Salt. They're not exactly cheap, as street prices average a little over $50, and if you’re the type that loses knives you’ll probably want something cheaper (I tend not to lose knives). They're really the best knife for those of us in watersports that I have found yet.