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Anyway, I live just north of Chicago on Lake Michigan and have a 2000 model SP Pro Tankwell which I bought (as a sit on top) to handle both surf and offshore conditions in both warm and cold weather. To beat the small craft advisory for tonight, I took my usual quick-four-mile paddle this afternoon. Check NOAA, look at the water, leave upwind, return downwind, business as usual. I am careful. Also, I am careful. Usually, two-miles-and-return takes one to one-and-one-quarter hours depending on the wind.
A different story today, though. It was not the wind (I did expect 20-25 kts), it was the gusts that pushed the boat around 500 yds offshore. On the water I thought 'this is gusting 30 kts' but when I checked the NOAA station data just now (sta chii2) I see 35-40 kt gust data. Bottom line, on my return I had to move closer inshore than usual because the offshore wind was just too much. Needed lots of concentration, plus bracing to leeward!
Today, the yak stayed stable and under control. It needed more paddle effort and attention than usual. There really is a great benefit to a great hull. The hull, the hull, the hull. (What's that saying about 'location' in real estate?) That lovely stiff Scupper Pro hull is why I'm writing this review.
It astounds me to see weak hulls with multiple hatches and bulkheads on current polyethylene sit-in kayaks of 12 to 15 feet. I look at yaks racked for the summer where I launch, and I see brand-name hulls deformed at bulkheads. I really think that some yak designs are now created from the deck down, not the hull up.
Here is some free advice. First, get a good hull (be safe, control the boat). Second, set up your seat (or cockpit) to be comfortable for hours (see what yak fits you). Third, paddle and paddle and paddle (and get a good paddle for pete's sake!).
And regarding the hatch on this yak, I have only needed to touch up the trimlok-gasket-interface with a very little bit of devcon rubber adhesive on this old boat. (Haven't needed yet to replace, but it looks like Austin Kayak has ok trimloc in stock.) Remember that every hatch needs attention. Do you pay attention to oil changes in your car? Clean your boat regularly, and check hatches and seat and flotation and deck rigging when you clean!