Pre-marital sex or extra marital sex and the Elie Strait 140xe.
I went to the Camillus Kayak demo days. I am not a rank novice, but many have way more experience than I do. One of the lessons I learned from my first kayak is that having pre-marital or extra marital sex, or trying before buying is one of the better ways to find an ideal match.
Well, having looked at my current boat and listening to what I liked doing and what kept me back, Kitt showed me 4 kayaks to try out. I took the Strait 140 out first. It fit me like a glove. I took it out for a short spin, it responded well and I was impressed by the comfort, something I lacked in my current boat (a 20-years old Boreal Muktuk carrying a Clearwater Design label). The Strait 140 responded well even though I was using a paddle of unknown length. Stability was good, both primary and secondary. I did not get the Strait 140 even close to its top speed but it felt good and glided effortlessly.
Back on shore, I tried out 3 more kayaks, but none reached the level of comfort of the Strait 140. Actually, I never tested them in the water, no point if they don’t feel right on land, the difference was that obvious.
I wanted the Strait 140xe though, as it has a rudder. I know, real men don’t need rudders. I did not have a rudder on my first two boats and learned to steer without rudder or skeg. But we do have wind and it is hard enough without having to also work extra for steering. So that’s what I got.
Today was her maiden voyage, on Otisco Lake. I started at the County Park. I know the area well enough, as it is relatively close to home. Put in was uneventful. I then spent some time adjusting my position. I found one drawback of the rudder: you cannot adjust the foot pegs while on the way. The back band is easy to adjust. The Strait 140xe tracked nicely, was very responsive, rudder in the up position. I saw a bird diving for a fish. The 140xe turned on a dime and I was able to follow the bird, saw it release its catch, grab it again then changing direction again, flying off with dinner. I had no problems following the birds direction. I then put the rudder down. Wow, steering got easy! A few weak wakes, a tiny bit of wind, nothing really to test under tough conditions. But it was fun to paddle it. I had no definitive plan or goal in mind, yet I paddled over 6 miles in just over 2 hours. No records were broken, but it was fun and exercise, what a perfect paddle ought to be. Not once did I feel uncomfortable, stability-wise, even when playing with my GPS and such.
Kitt said he really did not like the small day hatch, especially the screw on top. Well, I found that I’m no contortionist and had real trouble reaching it behind me. I also can’t turn all the way around to look at my stern. So for me, it has little use. Just a place for things I don’t need underhand, like wallet and car keys (both in a waterproof bag). Not a good place for spare batteries, radio or cell phone.
All in all, I’m very pleased with my purchase. I can see the Strait 140xe serving me well for the years ahead. And while demo day is only a single day, try out kayaks by renting or borrowing before buying, you know, that pre-nuptial/extra marital stuff.