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Name: JamesCherry

Most Recent Reviews

First Impressions: I was very eager to test drive the Cooper. Its skin/frame system was very similar in size and shape to a skin-on-frame (SOF) kayak I'd built the year before and so needless to say, I had a certain level of expectation – the Cooper did not disappoint!

The Cooper performed as described and as advertised… quite the feat in today's exaggerated world of marketing hype. From entry to exit, the Cooper behaved smoothly and I was pleased to find its cruising "sweet spot" was a nice respectable pace. I haven't GPS'd it yet but in comparison to the multitude of other boats I've experienced in my lifetime, the Cooper was more than adequate – it was a good time.

System/Assembly:
How can a 16.5 foot boat be only 39 lbs? Let me rephrase that, "How can a 16.5 foot production-grade kayak be only 39 lbs and still provide years and years of service life?" As a product developer, I constantly run across similar customer needs i.e. make it quicker, faster, lighter and stronger…and make it cheaper too! The Cooper is a solid design made of quality components and clearly assembled to a high level of tolerance and standardization. This approach doesn't necessarily represent a high profit margin but it does guarantee a strong, loyal customer base.

My first time assembling the Cooper was less than perfect (I still took it out on the water anyway!) whereas the second assembly was significantly improved. This was more of a reflection on me and my urgency to hit the water. Specifically and as a system, the assembly is easy going and natural. I found myself working ahead of the instructions, making assumptions and for the most part, the correct assumptions. This reflects the intuitive nature of the design and once experienced, repeat performances no doubt improve dramatically.

Dis-assembly was unremarkable and if anything, it was a depressing event. I mean really, who wants to pack up and store away a Cooper? If I was to have any recommendations for Folbot it would be to include a few more photos in the instructions that correlate with the step-by-step assembly procedure. Perhaps add captions to the photos for guys like me who only look at the pictures.

Problems:
No problems found or identified in the design or delivered product worth mentioning. I hear of various nit-picks and find them to be rather nitpicky. However, I'm not so naïve as to think things don't happen and neither is Folbot. That takes me to the next category – customer service.

Customer Service:
What a wonderful world it would be if my telephone, cable TV, car, HVAC or any other aftercare service provider could be as good as Folbot's! Real people answer the phone – customers come first – simple solutions offered to solve complex needs.

Summary: OK, I'm done - two thumbs up - it's a keeper!

Argosy in Royalex by Wenonah – I’ve owned a Wenonah ultralite Prism for quite some time and have enjoyed it immensely however, it's no doubt limited to flatwater use. With a variety of moving water in the area I was looking for another solo in Royalex to hold up to scraps, rocks and general abuse to be expected in such an environment. After much investigation, I bought the Argosy and find I could not have made a better choice. The first six months I used it only on flatwater which it behaved admirably in both the kneeling and sitting position. I found it tracked well on flatwater using either a bent shaft or straight shaft paddle. It worked well with the "J" stroke, the "C" stroke, switching and even with a kayak paddle. It was a nice surprise to know that although I bought this boat for moving water, it handled quite well on the flatwater too. This spring I’ve been taking it down some of our local moving water places. The water’s been up a foot or so and the cfs numbers were running much higher than summer pool. The Argosy has been handling great whether loaded down or sitting empty and high.

Since purchasing I've added a Wenonah footbrace. When sitting in a canoe I like to have a footbrace as it allows one to wedge into the canoe and feel a part of the canoe much like kneeling does. Also since purchasing I've added a Kevlar skidplate which was more for assurance/confidence than anything else.

In closing I highly recommend the Argosy for those looking for a canoe to perform on both flat and moving water. If I was limited to having only one canoe it'd more than likely be the Argosy. By the way, the Argosy in Royalex isn't that heavy either. I have a full-size truck with camper shell that I have Yakima's on top. With all that height, I still have no problem getting the Argosy up and down by myself.

This is a 30-day followup to my previous post below. The Echo continues to be an outstanding kayak for flat water applications. I've had it in a variety of lakes and ponds and it serves me quite well. I can store three fishing poles in the front section of the kayak and a tackle box, backback and safety pack in the cockpit immediately behind the seat without having to put anything in the dry storage cavity. One thing to note is the advertised 50lb. weight is pretty stretched. I'd say it's more like 75 pounds and at 14 foot long, it's a bit ackward to muscle up on the truck. However, I use the Yakima boat loader to get it up by myself on my truck topper which makes it a much easier task. If I didn't have that nifty device I'd be a hurtin'.

I finally broke down and bought a kayak. In fact I bought two. One was a Dagger Echo 14.0 and the second was the WS Generation 2 Pungo 100. The DAgger floats smooth and straight plus, has a lot of room for my gear. The redesigned Pungo 100 tracks straight, turns great and generally responds very well. With the new hull shape doing a leaning turn is easy. However, the best part is the Phase 3 seat. All I can say is WoW! I can get twice the water time in the Pungo than the Echo due to that super seat. I highly suggest checking out the WS Phase 3 seat in the newly redesigned Pungo line.

After extensive research into the many rec kayaks out there I ended up buying the Dagger Echo 14.0. It's a bit longer than my target of 11-12' however, I'm glad I went for the additional 2 ft. I had to come to the realization that most of my kayaking will be on flat water or slow moving rivers. This kayak tracks very well with the drop down rudder and is quite faster than I've ever been in a kayak before. It is very stable and the seat has all the adjustments I was looking for on a kayak. My back is the first to go on me and if I can keep my back comfortable, I can easily double my float time. The large cockpit also allows for my ocassional squirming around, seat adjusting, etc. The cockpit is pretty large at about 55" long. This cockpit size allows me to easily insert a couple of fishing poles into the front cavity with very little imact on my imediate working space. Plus, one additional feature of the cockpit is the large accessible space immediately behind the seat. There is no rim to interfere with placing a small cooler, tackle box or dry bag. Of course this is in addition to the huge dry storage cavity in the stern. Overall I think I'm pretty well pleased with this 14.0 Echo. One other thing to note is that it is stated to be 50 lbs. yet, it carries more like 55 or more. So, I bought one of those little wheelie tripods things and it really made the difference.

I was bound and determined to buy a canoe this spring. I performed an extensive investigation into the variety of makes and models on the market today. I tried out several plastic, royalex, and aluminum canoes. I was certainly attracted to the sexy finishes and exotic materials used in modern canoes. While performing this investigation I also had to fully analyze what it was I was looking for in a canoe which as I understand it, is one of the key mistakes people make when buying a canoe. A fellow thinks he wants a canoe for whitewater but really the primary use is slow river and flatwater which by the way, is exactly what I needed to find.

While sorting through the many canoes, I wasn't concerned with price but rather selecting the most appropriate canoe for our uses. I kept coming back to the aluminum canoe based on its durability, design and overall outstanding performance characteristics. I visited many rental sites to find they either use aluminum or use plastic and if using plastic, they're thinking of going back to aluminum. I do know that those rental shops that use aluminum, have had their inventory for many, many years.

To make a long story short, I called the Marathon Boat company and talked to one of the managers. We talked canoes for a long time! I was very impressed with his knowledge and willingness to discuss his product and other customers’ products as well. Last week I drove 5 hours into the state of West Virginia to the only Grumman dealer in the state located in Ripley, WV. They had about five Grumman models to choose from, gave me a great price and I walked away with a sweet G1540C Lightweight 15'. It weighs in at about 59 pounds where my 15 year old son and I can easily manage it on and off my F-150 Ford with a topper/shell.

Today, we took it on its maiden voyage. What a beauty! It tracked well yet was easy to turn and we were also able to kick up some decent speed. It was quite stable with a nice blend of initial and secondary stability. Tomorrow morning we're getting up and taking it out on our favorite lake for some early morning bass fishing and some lake touring.

Based on its performance today, I would rate this canoe an 8/9 of 10. I take a point off for no portage thwart. I think this accessory should be standard issue and not an optional purchase.