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The Wye Islander is a classic British kayak. It was made by Hereford Glass Fibre Co. from 1980. Manufacturing and ownership moved to Maine in 1989. The Wye Islander is now the Sturgeon and made by Dragonworks Kayaks.
It looks like a smaller version of the Valley Etain, though actually that’s probably backwards, it’s more likely that the Etain is a larger version of the Wye Islander. This sounds like a cliché but the Wye Ialnder really is playful yet stable. It rides waves well, turns easily, but also tracks well.
My kayak was made in 1983. It spent most of its life in a boathouse in southern Germany. The owner before me gave it a lot of love, and action, and made a lot of renovations. He added larger hatches, a compass, and a skeg. The skeg cost a lot of storage but it helps a lot on windy days. The cockpit has a small opening (60 by 42cm) but larger than normal volume. At first it was tricky to get in and out but now I’ve got the hang of it. I do stay drier. In the old days many kayakers would store the wheels from their wagon in the open area behind the seat. My kayak still has the ordinal chimp pump to help empty the voluminous cockpit.
It is an old kayak. It’s good for a second kayak to play around with. I don’t go too far out in it but so far it’s handled all kinds of condition like the fine old man of the sea that it is.
I bought my sea cruiser new in 2015. I was looking for a kayak that would go straight, fast, and long without wearing me out. In this respect the boat lives up to its name.
The sea cruiser has a low profile and is excellent at staying on course no matter which way, or how hard, the wind is blowing. The low bow tends to plow straight through even small waves but the deck sheds the water quickly, and usually before it reaches me. It’s very stable and I’ve had no difficulty taking photos or even fishing.
The seat is comfortable but the air needs to be re-pumped every 30 minutes or so. This is done with three rubber hand squeeze pumps that have a tendency to hide within the spacious cockpit. The pumps also like to pop off and float away whenever I practice self-rescues. I have not yet managed a roll.
The skeg has been a challenge for me. I make a lot of sandy landings and the skeg gets stuck up with very little sand. The spring mechanism is not strong. Readjusting the skeg is a complicated process. The box for the skeg dial sometimes bothers me by pressing my knee. It leaked too but my dealer fixed that. I must say that Point 65 has been good about standing behind their product. I must also say that the boat also goes straight without the skeg down.
The rudder works fine as do the pedals. The sea cruiser does not turn on a dime, but if you like going straight it’s great. I bought it for distance kayaking. I’m not a strong paddler and this boat has allowed me to keep up with others on long days.