Most Recent Reviews
After paddling the SC-1 for three seasons, it is still my favorite boat. It is short, but not slow. The maneuverability is good, as you would expect - the skeg profile of the stern aids straight-line tracking while the pronounced chines (from the cockpit aft) allow the boat to carve lean turns fairly automatically. The forward part of the hull is narrow and Swede-form below the waterline, in spite of the blunt appearance of the bow. The wetted surface area is very low, so overall, the drag is surprisingly low - glide is impressive to everyone who has paddled it. I've loaned the boat to many people, and in particular women find the boat comfortable and easy to drive. I am not small, however, and I like it fine. I believe Brian tailors the F-1 to the paddler, which is a bonus.
My boat is 13'9" with a beam of about 23.5", and is quite stable at rest. For whatever reason, the boat is also comfortable in confused seas. This is the real merit of this boat for me, as I paddle in L.I. Sound and the Hudson, both of which are prone to swirling currents and really big boat wakes.
The max width occurs behind the cockpit so the hull does not really interfere with the paddle stroke, unusual for a short boat. The peaked fore deck is pretty high, which is nice for shedding waves and gives some space up front. The steep angle of the deck keeps the sheer away from your knuckles.
For me, the front of the cockpit is a little low and I may modify it someday. Some of my problem may be my seat - I have bought a new seat (Bumfortable), but it's not installed yet. However, I am an anomaly - most people with a sea kayak background find the cockpit roomy and prefer the normal pad seat.
In the end, I think the only thing you give up in a boat like this is some top-end speed. For me, this is not an issue, as I have little ambition to go fast. If I do, I paddle my Struer. Brian is a very talented designer, and the F-1 represents a significant amount of experience and experimentation to generate an advanced hull. The fact that it is hand-made may hide that to a certain extent, but don't be fooled. This boat is being made and enjoyed all over the world by better kayakers than me. In my opinion, it is the perfect answer to those who think a capable sea kayak has to be at least 17' long - it just isn't true.
Finally, no one should be dismayed by SOF construction, it is quite tough. Get a set of Spirit Line float bags and you'll be fine. I've paddled myself at flank speed up onto a rock in the middle of a reservoir in NJ, and had to knuckle-walk myself off. I only scratched the finish - no tears. Oyster shells haven't been a problem, but I'm careful around them. The only thing that scares me is hidden rebar at the shoreline, but that could hole a glass boat, for that matter. I give this boat a 10 out of 10 because it's everything it claims to be, plus I made it myself and why wouldn't I like it?
I've been using an EZ-Vee Plus for two years now with no problems. I bought it because one of my boats has no attachment points for front and rear tie-downs. From May - September, it sees continuous use, at least 3 times per week.
Here's some photos of the setup on a Mini Cooper:
The Mini factory bars remove completely in a couple minutes. I leave the EZ-Vee attached to the factory bars permanently, so the whole thing lifts off in one piece, which is very nice. I had to make custom attachments to mount it on the factory bars, which was not too hard.
If you had to remove the EZ-Vee from the bars, it would take a while as others have noted - there are 8 big Allen screws holding the EZ-Vee to the bars.
Addressing the issues raised above:
Bungees - the 4 that came with the rack have never failed. The bungees work very well to put the boat on the rack quickly on a windy day - no boats blowing away. That being said, I wrap a 9' NRS strap twice around the boat at the front and rear over the bungees - this takes about 2 minutes. But to be able to put the boat on the car, attach the bungees and then do the straps later is really nice.
The bungee issue is a non-issue - people talk as if you are required to use the bungees, which is silly. You don't have to use them if they make you nervous, and in my case they are a backup system to normal straps. This should not keep anyone from using the system.
Boat size - my EZ-Vee Plus holds all 3 of my boats - 14'1" x 25", 13'9" x 23" and 17' x 22" - so short fat boats are not a problem. (only one boat at a time, of course!)
Hull damage - hasn't happened yet. I have added pool noodles over the straight mounting bars and strapped them in place with zip ties, and replace them when they get worn. This seems to solve the issue of stress concentration.
In addition, the EZ-Vee itself acts as a suspension, reducing stress on the hull. The boat is attached to the ends of the carrier which are 8' apart. The carrier is connected to the factory bars which are about 3' apart. When the car bounces around, the whole rack system can flex up and down an inch or two, absorbing a lot of the vibration. For saddles that are connected directly to crossbars, that vibration is carried directly to the boat. Also, the Vee parts are movable, so you can set them at the bulkheads if you like (I don't bother).
I like the system (obviously) and will be adding a second one to the Mini this spring. It's pricey, but the fact that Thule has copied it (not very well, by the looks of it) should tell you that the idea is good.
OK, sales pitch over - and no, I don't work for Gray, but he is a nice guy to deal with.