Submitted: 11-06-2009 by DCF
After reading the reviews, and doing some homework, I purchased a Barracuda from Prijon. I am 6'2" and weigh 170lbs. I would consider myself a beginner paddler, with some experience. I paddle some lakes, but mostly I paddle on the exposed Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia. Have been doing so the entire summer about 4 times per week in a Point 65N Sea Cruiser that the ocean claimed. (long sad story).
Anyway, I shopped around and looked at several models and manufacturers, and kept coming back to the Barracuda.
It is a beautifully designed boat, comfortable, ample leg/foot room. Built well, sturdy and incredibly sleek. I had read about the "tippy" comments here and on some other sites, and could not fathom how this boat could be described as being so tippy. I was going to learn the hard way. Upon purchasing the barracuda my first stop was a lake. It was a calm cool late autumn day in Canada, and I wanted to see what she could do in a stable body of water. I should have known there was eventually going to be a problem, when she did not sit flat on the water unloaded, but would lean easily to one side or the other. I went out to see how we would do, and we did great.
This is a boat that will respond to your every thought. You don't actually have to move, just think it, and she will change. She was sleek, fast, and beautiful. The boat could edge so hard that the side of my spay skirt was under water. On flat water her primary stability was okay, secondary never felt like she settled in. She wanted to move from side to side, and never felt like she wanted to sit. She required CONSTANT supervision. A missed stroke and you felt as though you were going to go over. Once you understood that you have to work this boat, on flat water she would do whatever you asked.
Second Test, Open water. Calm seas less than 1 meter. Very smooth past the wave break. Again the boat did not sit flat on the water while loading. We went out empty, and she handled well. This boat is like having really long legs, and she responds to your hips/legs differently, and responds quickly without forgiveness. The smooth water went well, there was a slight breeze and the windage was minimal. The rudder worked well. She turned and twisted about as we went through some time of acclimation to one another. There was a general sense of uneasiness though. That tippy feeling was always there, but never had anything bad happen. We did not roll, and I did not swim, just that constant feeling, like when you lean to far back in a chair, and your not sure if it will fall over.
Test 3: Nightmare! Wind and some waves to about 2-3 meters. The boat could not figure this out. Windage was poor, and there was constant turn on the boat. We had issues. Adding this much motion to the body of water was a disaster. The rudder deployment line is actually behind you, I could not deploy the rudder without her wanting to go over. Just the simple act of reaching behind my center of gravity was too much. She is so fast that she surfs very well, but in a completely uncontrollable manner. We caught several waves, and were tossed all over the place. There was no primary or secondary stability to be found. She did not want to sit upright in the water. It was a very cold swim, and a very poor time to find out the bulkheads leaked. There was no possibility of self rescue, see earlier comments about the boat not sitting upright unloaded in the water, let alone in waves. I swam a very heavy boat back in.
I like to be out on the water. The weather here changes too quickly for this type of boat. If I was just doing lakes and/or was a better paddler, I may have learned this boat, but this was not for me. Being out on the water in this boat scared me, enough to return it for a different boat. She is fast, beautiful, responsive or tippy depending on how you want to say it as they both mean essentially the same thing.
This boat has okay primary stability on standing water, and non-existent on moving water. Her secondary stability on standing water is something to be amazed at, literally holding my sprayskirt underwater while paddling on that high of an edge, but once on moving water, she could not have been harder to control. I was torn about taking her back, and think that over time I might have grown into it, but to paddle alone on the ocean, I did not think she was stable enough for me to do this.
If you are looking at this boat, ask yourself a few quick questions: Are you an experienced paddler? Can you roll repeatedly? Do you want a boat that requires constant attention? If you answer no to any of these questions, you may want to rethink this boat.
I gave the boat a six, because it was a really bad time to find out the bulkheads leaked.