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Name: dring

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This review of the Merganser 17 will be two parts. The first will be the construction. The second will be the kayak on the water.

Part 1:
The kit is very easy to follow and Eric from Shearwater Boats will answer emails and phone calls. I had never built a boat before. I have built remote control airplanes, finished models, made wooden pens, and built computers. The skills learned in other projects were helpful in building this boat. With that said the kayak had different issues, and I did have some times of indecision.

Sanding was the biggest part of this project. I bought a new sander my other 2 old ones wore out. They were very old, but there is very much sanding in a project like this.

The epoxy was very east to work with and the directions tell you how to thicken it and sand it and the like. I had never fiber glassed before, but now I use it to strengthen things I build or fix. It is not a brainy activity, but it is labor intensive.

I would recommend building a wood boat and not buying a pre-built one. I say this because I was a little afraid of building a wooden kayak so I almost bought one on ebay. I am really glad I did not do this. I have done some repairs on the boat and if I would not have built it I would not know how to do that.

The directions say 80 hours or so to build the boat. I would agree with this estimate. I may have taken a little longer due to it being my first time. It was relaxing for me to go out to my garage and build.

I did not make the garage perfectly dust free when I varnished my kayak. I cleaned up the garage and told people to stay out, but I did not make a dust free room. I wanted a kayak I could use, not a coffee table. It looks great, but I do see the flaws.

Part 2:
The Merganser 17 is my second kayak. I own an Old Town Adventure XL160. The Old town is a great kayak, but very heavy (#65) and wide (26"). The Old town does not tip. The Merganser 17 was a little different. The first 3 times I tried to get in the Merganser 17 I rolled it over by accident (went swimming). Once I got in it was east to paddle.

The Merganser 17 tracks very well. I do not have a skeg or rudder on this kayak. It does not weather cock much at all. It has a somewhat lower profile and I have not found weather cocking as much as of a problem as on the Old Town.

The Merganser cannot carry as much as my Old Town, but it can carry enough for a short week trip. I made the hatch covers stay in place with bungee cords which is one of the options. I did this so the deck would have a good look. The hatch has no straps over it or a knob on it. The problem that I am still perfecting is that this option does allow a small amount of water in.

I have had this kayak for about a year and a half now and nearly two full seasons. I have taken it out on Lake Michigan, down rivers on trips, and on smaller lakes. It performs well in all areas. It has to be leaned to turn well, but this is easily learned. I recently took the kayak down a river system that got a little shallow. The kayak took some had hits and scraps. I was upset at first them I realized I could sand and then varnish again. It looks better and was fun to work on again. Next spring I will be sanding it down to the fiberglass and then I will add another coat or two of epoxy, and then I will varnish again.

This company and this kayak are quality. First when the deck cord was not included in the kit I emailed Eric and soon I had a box in the mail with the deck cord. Secondly, all the holes for the stitching are pre-drilled. Let me tell you what a blessing this is. I did not have to decide how many hole to drill or where to drill them. I added a couple on my own, but what a blessing.

One grade can never describe a project. I will give this kayak a 9.5. What a fun project and great kayak to paddle.

What are you looking for? If you are looking for a 21" wide fast fiberglass kayak you are in the wrong area. If you are looking for a stable kayak that tracks well and is afordable this is a fine kayak. I fly fish and do photography from this kayak. I wanted a very stable kayak with little or no chance of tipping or rolling. I am 6'1" and 170#. I thought this kayak would be a bobber when it was just me and no gear, but I have been able to control this kayak very well in windy and calm conditions. This is my first kayak and my first summer of kayaking. I have used this kayak on Level I rapids and it has gone well. The plastic hull takes a beating and is very forgiving with a new kayaker. My kayak has some marks on the bottom but the integrity of the hull is not at risk. I have taken it on lake Michigan in 2 foot swells with a wind chop on top and it was a blast. The wind does make tracking a little more work, but I found that I have not needed a rudder yet. I have taken it on a trip on slower moving rivers for 45 miles. I averaged 4.5 miles per hour and that was with taking pictures and taking in God beautiful creation. This kayak performed well and that was with a full three day load. Even with me and all my gear I was still floating in 3 inches of water. This kayak is not a fiberglass or kevlar, it does not have a fancy name, but it does perform well for what it was made, and is very afordable, well made, and fun. I rated this kayak an 8 because I believe a 10 is a kayak that is awesome fast, costs $300, does not tip unlass you want it to, does not need a rudder unless you like them, can carry a ton, tracks and turns perfect, and weighs 30#. Basically, I am suggesting for my purposes this is a very nice kayak. God bless and happy kayaking.