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Name: kozmikarl

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Hatch covers don't shed water like a roof; they seal against water coming with great force from every direction. Theirs is a hard life and a big job. Valley Canoe makes great but short-lived hatch covers that cost a mint. I won't add to VCP hatch cover failure stories here, but I replaced 3 patched and gooed VCP covers this year with a set from Sea-Lect that seals beautifully, is easier to use and should last longer.

Mine are Performance grade, with a soft, pliable rim surrounding a rigid, domed center which scratches easily but shrugs off UV and crashing waves. They replace VCP exactly but other common sizes and different constructions are also available. I'm not sure what they cost normally because mine came from the NFCT auction, but I believe it's < VCP's. I also bought one in even-less-expensive Recreational grade, which is homogeneous (all one material) similar to VCP and original Kajaksport covers.

I wanted to keep my hatches from flooding. With the Sea-lects in place, after rolling repeatedly, not a drop had gotten by them. I never count on that degree of watertight, but it's impressive.

Two notes:
• these 2 grades float, but just barely. A 3rd grade (Classic) may not float. (It's hard to tell because the company is positively laconic about their products, even in their print catalog. Website and catalog simply say Injection Molded Polymer about all 3 builds; packaging says Black Inj Mld Nyl (as if they're charged by the letter) for the 2 I got.) In any case, unless you only paddle in swimming pools, don't neglect fastening covers to deck lines or hull.
• durability, both of the product and of the company, is unknown. The company distributes a range of good, useful, boat-related items, but we all know strong, balanced, high-quality companies that aren't around any more. The covers fit perfectly (which affects durability: stretched rubber deteriorates faster) and are apparently extremely well made.

My advice: if your hatch covers are cracking, try to find Sea-Lect replacements now.

I've had a Prism for several years and put it on the car at least as often as any of my other 6 boats. It's swell for swimming, diving, poking about ponds, anything that involves getting in and out, or off and back on. You can lie back and sleep on it. It's basically a dock you can take where you want, with adjustable footpegs and gargantuan hatches. It's no wonder so many people enjoy it. What I don't get is saying it's fast. It's fast compared to a real dock. It's molasses compared to a real kayak. That isn't criticism, it's physics. There's a lot of wettable surface under there, some of it quite rough.

This is a fine SOT with thoughtful features, those footpegs for instance, and robust midship carry handles, but what it's designed to do doesn't include going fast. Anyone burning up the water on a Prism must have one heck of a forward stroke.

Just a note on the previous review: the well for a 70P compass is exactly (by design?) the diameter of the Orca's base. In other words, the Suunto fits in there perfectly. View angle is a different matter. The Suunto spins at pretty high angles but is easier to read from above or broadside; at 45° you're looking through an unpolished distorting radius.

Soft chassis allows it to sit in a molded well, perch on a hatch cover or cling to a deck without scratching or slipping. The weakness of impermanent compasses is a lubber line that shifts if the lanyards go askew. A sticky soft base is meant to answer to that.

Most reviews here compare Impex (favorably) to less sophisticated boats so I'm going to reveal a big secret: there's not much difference between Impex and several similar marques. That isn't lukewarm praise. It's a terrific line with all the right features, intelligent design and seemingly excellent workmanship. Like Valley, like Necky, like (older) NDK, like CD, like P&H, like Boreal... The beautiful thing, though, is that Impex is made in Canada, distributed from NC. They make small hulls for slim paddlers, as do the Brits, but without the jaw-dropping exchange rate. Many North American boats are reasonable and available but built for bloated North Americans. They run from too big to ridiculously too big. There are exceptions that I would have jumped on if they had come up first, but it was a Montauk on craigslist, rather than an Avocet, Romany, Ellesmere, Chatham or Capella, so that's what came home.

Those are all topline boats. This is a topline boat. She won't win any races (at my mass that would take a pencil) but she's equivalent to the others with some extremely nice touches (carry handles! adorable! a locking loop! finally! bowed bulkheads! genius!), yet because of her modest price she's usually compared to boats nowhere close to her quality or performance. So let me just say this: She goes where you head her. (Equivalent to the others doesn't mean like the others. Montauk has quite a taut keel. Impex seems to think, and I agree, that with a waterline <4.5 m rocker isn't such an advantage.) She edges reasonably well, catches waves with aplomb, responds appropriately to the skeg but rarely needs it because the decks are low. She does everything well and has no discernible flaws. Best of all, she fits. I can get the Montauk down in the water where she belongs, even unladen, which is rare, and Montauk is not their least displacement. I'd also like to mention that while Impex offers a healthy range of sizes and styles, they do not offer a range of quality. They do not make plastic surrogates, they do not make cut-corner look-alikes. They make nothing but top-drawer, precisely designed, carefully engineered composite boats. If they make the shape you're looking for, I don't think you can do better.

They also offer wild color combinations. When you see mango yellow decks, burnt orange coaming and rails and a green hull, you can be pretty sure you're looking at an Impex.

I can't comment on J carriers because I don't use them, but perhaps I should. The design weakness with Thule is the square bars, which only becomes a problem on curved roofs, but as the roof curves so must cradles cant away from each other, reducing contact between boat hull and cradle to inside edges. The cradle faces are absurdly small to start with; this rotational deviation from level makes it even smaller. Couple that with Thule's comically inadequate détente angle fixing clamp (for holding the saddle in the shape of your boat hull) and for support you are probably better off using foam blocks. So J carriers may work better on a curved roof, if I can lift that high. I've seen some people use them for composite boats so it might be OK.

Don't get me wrong. I use Thule racks and locks and cradles and locking cable and straps… the whole kit. That's because security and convenience and bicycles and protecting the roof of my car are also important, and because I started with a used Thule rack, gradually accumulating a closet full of proprietary extrapolations and substitutions as needs changed. And it does work. It all works. It's just that every single bit of it is clumsily engineered and imprecisely manufactured, requiring brute force as well as wiggling and finagling to get it just right. Some parts fit loosely, some tightly, some are robust and some flimsy. Every change, every adjustment to a Thule rack is a project and a series of compromises. Admittedly, I change things around a lot, but as familiar as I've become with my rack, I still spend an inordinate amount of time getting all the parts straight and tight and solid before I reach for my boats.

If I had it to do over I would definitely get Yakima, which has different problems but at least it acts like the parts were all designed by the same team, and round bars are simply stronger.

Please, whatever you use, tie down the bow and stern. It doesn't matter how many times you haven't and nothing bad happened. It doesn't matter how little it shifts in the wind. It doesn't matter that you're 15 minutes from home and only driving on pavement. The point is that if a strap breaks you could easily kill someone in a following car. I read somewhere that no boat is ready to drive away until it has 6 lines on it: two each across the midsection, triangulated from the bow and triangulated from the stern. Take it to heart.

Also, poke holes in dead tennis balls and jam them on the ends of your bars. It will keep your passengers from clonking themselves, not just because they are softer and rounder than factory caps, they are bright. It's easy to lose track of exactly where black-on-black bar ends are in space, even when you're looking for them; it's hard to overlook glowing lime-green spheres. You'll have to replace them each year as they fade; remove the factory caps beforehand so you won't pull them off inside the tennis balls.