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Name: brownmattei

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For our Central Oregon lakes and small rivers this is THE boat. We own several Eddylines and this is the "go-to" boat to introduce newbes to kayaking, or for us to just explore or day-trip. It's light, stable, comfortable, straight tracking but maneuverable, and confidence-inspiring (I think the word "seaworthy" is appropriate). Large enough to store a few clothes and food, small enough to carry on a compact car and fit in any garage. The thermoformed material is durable and construction quality is second to none. I'll give it a rating of 10 even though it doesn't have a dedicated cupholder (whine, whine).

Several years ago we bought a Skylark for my wife to use on the lakes and smooth stretches of the Deschutes River around Bend. We noticed that they were being used by a lot of women and figured it would be the right size for her (105 lbs.). She loved it, and later we bought a second one to use as a "loaner" for friends and visitors. Lately I've been using the second one for local outings because it's small, light, and can go on and off the car easily in a crowded parking lot. I was initially worried that I would be too heavy for it (170 lbs.), but discovered that it wasn't the case. I love the dry land portability, but even more the maneuverability, stability, and general sportiness of it. Yes, it's pretty short and reaches top speed quickly, but it glides well accelerates easily, turns on a dime, and is roomy enough for my 6 ft. frame and day equipment (read: food). As far as construction, material and craftsmanship are second to none. Oh, it's also the best looking small kayak out there. For small lakes and tame rivers you can't find a better boat. I'd rate it a 10 but I figure that nothing's perfect, although I can't think of anything I'd change on it (except maybe adding a cupholder).

If you want to purchase only one kayak that could do almost anything well, this is the one. I've had a Journey for several years now and have used it for everything from day trip pond paddling to multi-day open water (well, the lower Columbia River when it's blowing like stink). Its manners are impeccable and inspire confidence. As an example, last summer I went with a couple of guys on a three-day trip on the lower Columbia. It was windy (20knots+ at times) with swells of several feet (oh, during salmon season with powerboats racing to get to the best fishing holes and and freighters going up and downriver too). I started out in another kayak the same size but less stable and became overwhelmed (read-inexperienced) with the conditions. I traded kayaks with a more experienced kayaker who had borrowed my Journey for the trip, and all of a sudden the trip became enjoyable - riding over waves instead of through them, and feeling the stability as we crossed the river through the swells. It was like having an old friend again.

Everything that the previous reviewers said I agree with, so I won't go into those details. Eddylines are made in the good ol' USA and are top quality. I haven't seen anything near the price that compares. In summary: try it, you'll like it. It's a kayak that you don't outgrow.

Unfortunately I'd like to second many of the comments of the first reviewer. I was looking forward to trying out this new design, but was disappointed with it in several ways - the greatest being the stability. I wasn't bothered by the primary stability, but the tumblehome (beam at waterline being greater than beam at deck) created poor/nonexistent secondary stability. Not good. The other thing that bothered me was the funny bow wave it set up - sort of a gurgling splashy thing. I asked the rep if this was a wave piercing type of design, and why the bow was designed that way, but he was unable to answer.

After a year of play with this boat, I feel I’ve had enough experience that I can give some constructive feedback. I wanted a "hard" kayak (fiberglass or ABS) that was light, inexpensive, and for day trips or just a couple of hours on the Deschutes on the way home from work. I was attracted to it because of the cost, weight, and distributer (KayakPro, whose emphasis is on racing kayaks, but started the KayakTrek offshoot as a recreation-oriented line). I quickly found out that the next best product by anyone else was twice the price, so after reading some reviews and looking around a bit, contacted Gray and purchased the boat. He was more helpful that I had expected, answering all of my questions quickly and completely. I would not hesitate to purchase another kayak from him if the occasion arose. Now about the boat itself. I'm happy with it and would purchase it again, given my needs. Here are my initial overall impressions of it - the good, the bad, and the ugly - based on the last year of “time in the saddle”:
  • The boat is initially quite tender, but has good secondary stability. If you have kayaked before it should be no problem, but if you're a beginner it's a little disconcerting and takes getting used to. I had only been kayaking a short while prior to purchasing the boat, and even then only in a very stable recreation boat, so was a bit unnerved on my first trip. I’m much more comfortable with it now.
  • It's EASY to paddle and fast. It takes very little effort to get it moving. The bow wave is very quiet too. It rewards you for paddling correctly (like sitting up straight and twisting at the waist), but doesn’t really penalize you too much for just taking it easy.
  • It tracks very straight, although to the detriment of being maneuverable. It isn't a quick turning boat - you have to work at it. If you are an experienced kayaker and can edge through your turn, it helps. For lakes and quiet streams or rivers this is ideal. For rapids or constrained areas, look at the other more maneuverable kayak.
  • The seat is comfortable (for me anyway), and makes you sit up when paddling, like you're supposed to.
  • The cockpit is large enough to slip in and out of (I'm 6ft and with tight hamstrings, so need room for my knees). Lots of foot room too.
  • Storage areas seem adequate for day trips, but don't plan on an overnight without a support boat. There's separate floatation glassed in separately in the bow and stern.
  • The hull is smooth (good mold), but you get what you pay for with assembly quality, I'm afraid. There are a couple of "hard spots" where they glassed the bulkheads in without trimming them first, so the hull bumps out ever so slightly (we're talking 1/64th or so - enough to see, but not enough to make a difference in the water). The glass/kevlar tape used to bond the hull and deck is not quite as smooth as I would like, but it's a solid bond and, hey, for the price, you shouldn't expect perfection.
  • I initially thought the carrying handles were funky, but they make the kayak easy to carry, and I can lock the boat to the carrier rack on the car with a cable lock through them.
  • The boat feels as light as they claim. I have a Nissan Xterra, and am able to lift it on without help.
Before I purchased the boat I looked around for a spray skirt, and no one else makes one, so if you do get the Baja, spring for the spray skirt too. In the same vein, I got an adjustable Bending Branches paddle when I ordered the kayak. Unless you're sure about the paddle length you want, I'd suggest the adjustable length paddle. I'm finding that although I've been using 220-230 cm paddles on other kayaks, I've got this paddle down to 215 cm and am wondering if an even shorter one would be better. Each kayak seems to perform differently with various paddle lengths, and it seems like the Baja likes a shorter paddle.

Would I recommend it to someone else? In a minute, if their needs were the same as mine.

For what it was designed for, this boat is as good as it gets. It's my first kayak, so I wanted one that would be stable, handle well, store easily (leaned up against the garage wall), and that I could (literally) throw into the back of my pickup to hit the mountain lakes or the river through town on my way home from work. It does all of this well.

It tracks well and paddles easily, although the laws of physics limit speed. The cockpit is roomy, so neophytes like me are able to get comfortable without feeling claustrophobic. It also was tame enough that it got my wife interested in kayaking. I agree with a previous reviewer that it seems a little funny to have an access hatch to the stern when there's no bulkhead behind the seat, but what the heck, it looks cool...

My wife and I have other kayaks now, but will keep the Pamlico for friends or just to play around in. If I were rating it just as a beginner's boat, it would be a 10, but nothing is perfect...