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Name: drs

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In SE Texas where sit-on-tops are the norm for paddlers, performance touring boats are hard to find. While the Squamish wasn't my first choice, it was only kayak from Houston to Louisiana that fit my pocketbook and paddling preferences -- so I purchased after a test fit in the showroom and no demo paddle!

After paddling the Squamish the past two years from calm lakes to slight bay swells, I have been very pleased with my choice. It's light enough to load easily, long enough to track efficiently -- especially into the wind with the skeg down, and narrow enough for good speed and handling. No problem with weather cocking - my old Perception Spectrum was notorious for that. It's cargo capacity is smaller than the Spectrum (so I still use the Spectrum for overnight river trips).

I removed the thigh brace for a more comfortable fit -- I am 5'9"; 165 lbs. Most of my paddling is day trips on local creeks and rivers so the Squamish is an excellent choice; turning is easy, especially with slight edging. But I have no problem taking it into bigger water and bays. It handles swells up to 2 ft with ease and enjoyment -- especially running with the wind and "surfing" waves.

If you can still find a used Spectrum, buy it. I purchased my yellow, plastic Spectrum in 1999 and have logged many miles in it over the past ten years. Since then I have purchased a more efficient touring boat that of course tracks better, has much better speed, and turns better. However, I still return to the Spectrum when I want to run some river rapids and not worry about scraping and denting my more expensive boat. I also use the Spectrum for overnight trips -- the cavernous rear hatch swallows gear and I can stuff dry bags far up under the front deck.

This Spectrum should never be confused with a touring kayak; it can seem cumbersome compared to any narrower, longer boats. However, I've found tracking to be actually quite good for the hull shape; weather cocking is a problem and may demand over-paddling on one side (don't waste $$ on a rudder for this boat).

At 5'9" 165 lbs, I have lots of wiggle room and never feel cramped; in fact, compared to my 22" wide touring boat, when I return to the Spectrum I feel like I'm rattling around in it. This is still a far better overall boat than many of the recreational kayaks on the market and is just as stable and user friendly as any of them. So if you can find one, buy it -- it should be cheap and provide you with plenty of additional years of paddling fun.