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I like the way the boat paddles and it is very rigid for a plastic boat. The problem is the skeg. It is very poorly designed, a constant source of trouble, and ineffective if the sea builds. I was so unhappy with the skeg that I went out and bought a Valley Aquanaut HV RM (the bulkheads leak). I loved my P&H glass boats, wish I could say the same about the Scorpio.
I give it a 9 out of 10 because the front day hatch isn't water tight P&H places a note in the hatch warning folks that it isn't designed as such.
After much research, I settled on the Scorpio. It has mostly met my requirements. Certainly getting it on edge is easy, and I can now practice turns without the need of a rudder. The tracking is somewhat light, with a tendency to wander, but that is the price of a quicker handling boat. A touch of skeg and it tracks straight and true.
Speaking of the skeg, I have mixed feelings about it. Having a skeg instead of a rudder has been an interesting educational process, adjusting the weathercocking with the adjustment slider. The design of the skeg (a rope skeg) is clever, and does eliminate jamming or kinking in the alternative wire cable skegs. And running aground with the skeg down is no worry.
However, the execution of this design leaves something to be desired. I got one of the original models where the skeg rope was actually a length of shock cord. When wet, this cord would lengthen, altering the adjustment of the skeg, and it would swell in diameter greatly increasing the friction of the adjuster. This became so bad that the device was almost useless when wet, only to correct when dry.
I was rather impressed with the solution P&H came up with. Any owners with the old cord can email P&H and request the skeg upgrade kit, which consists primarily of a thin, non-absorbent, ultra-low friction dyneema cord, and installation instructions. A tip for installation given by the MEC store was to use a section of fishing line to tie the new cord to, and feed it through the cord housing.
Tying the knot to secure the skeg adjuster is trickier than I hoped; I actually got it so tightly jammed that I couldn't undo it. However, once that was in place the skeg works exactly as intended, with no troubles.
Incidentally, Dyneema cord can be sourced in North America from arborist stores under the brand name "Fling-it". I tried this product as a substitute and it works well; knot positioning and untying is easier. Not quite as friction-free, but miles better than the original shock cord.
Another frustration is the knee/thigh braces. Although very comfortable, I found the bolts and brackets almost impossible to adjust. Fortunately, I like the stock position; excellent contact points.
The hatches are essentially dry, with the exception of the fourth hatch over the thighs. It leaks from the inside when water enters the cockpit during wet exits. Rolling the boat is easy.
Despite these hardware problems, I still love the performance of the boat. It handles much better than my old boat, and has allowed my skills to move forward. I wish P&H had got the skeg right from the beginning, but now I'm satisfied. I believe I'll be paddling the boat for the next five years before I go looking again for the next big thing.
Although it may not seem as fast as a lighter, longer composite boat, I wouldn't describe the Scorpio as slow or even sluggish for a plastic kayak. If I fall behind other paddlers on a longer paddle, it's because I'm tiring and my technique is off, but I won't blame the boat.
However, two things I still don't like are the leaky forward day/knee hatch and the skeg. Despite efforts to caulk the hatch housing, it still leaks when practicing wet exits and rescues.
The so-called "revolutionary" skeg system needs improvement. The skeg itself is flimsy, with more lateral play than I'd prefer, but fortunately you don't need much skeg to track well in conditions where you want to use it. As delivered, the original bungee cord used to lower or raise the skeg would swell over time, so that you could lower the skeg, but not always raise it. Other Scorpio and Cetus owners I know also noticed this soon after they bought their boats and paddled them for a spell. The remedy included substituting a thinner and different type of cord. So far, it has worked well on my wife's boat, but she hasn't paddled nearly as much as I have. On two recent paddles, I noticed that the boat was not handling well at all when I paddled in a strong outgoing tide and in cross currents and wind. Moreover, there was no difference in how it tracked whether the skeg was deployed or not.
The problem, I discovered, is that the skeg did not lower when I slid the mechanism back. Yet it raised fine when I slid it forward again. Meanwhile, until I'm able to fix or replace the system, I now lower and adjust the skeg by manually reaching under the stern and pulling it down after I put the boat into the water.
Since the Scorpio is among the highest priced plastic kayaks on the market, I think P&H needs to do a better job to address and remedy hatch and skeg issues that I've described. Otherwise, it's a great, dependable, and versatile kayak.
I'm about 6 foot tall, with a 31" inseam and weigh in at 205lbs. A smaller person (175lbs or less) might find the LV version of the Scorpio a better fit.
All in all, I would recommend this boat to anyone in my size range +- 20 lbs. Love this boat!!
Before my wife and I decided to buy P&H Scorpios (she has the LV version), we had demoed a variety of touring kayaks and were leaning toward the Wilderness Tempest, until we tried the Scorpio. After renting and paddling Scorpios for some two hours, we knew that these were the boats for us because we were both impressed not only by how they handled, but also because they seemed much better made than the other plastic kayaks we had tried.
Since I bought my Scorpio a month ago, I have paddled it on various parts of Narragansett and Buzzards Bays. but have not yet paddled on the ocean or tried the boat in the surf. The kayak is very nimble for it's length and responds quickly to edging and turns. It is stable in choppy seas and not phased by large boat wakes. Like other kayaks, it tends to weathercock when tides, currents, and wind are not in your favor, but using a little skeg puts the kayak right on track.
As I already stated, the P&H is a well-made kayak, but I don't believe that anything made by human hands is fully perfect, so the "9" rating is as good as you can expect from me. P&H's Corelite construction provides a plastic boat that is much stiffer that other plastic boats that I've paddled. It is also lighter: my full-sized Scorpio weighs just 55 lbs.
That said, the Scorpio is not without a few quirks. For example, it's "kink-free" skeg system seems to need further tweaking by the manufacturer. I have not yet experienced any problems with mine, but I know of both Scorpio and Cetus owners who have experienced difficulty with their skegs getting stuck while partially or fully deployed, and then they are unable to retract back into the hull. Fortunately, there is a fix to this problem..
P&H installs Kajaksport hatch covers on its kayaks, but the aft (i.e. the large rear hatch) hatch cover is difficult to fasten on the plastic boats because it appears to be a tad too tight. The cover "loosens" somewhat over time, I've been told, but until then, applying an appropriate lubricant and some dexterity seems to be the best way to ensure that the hatch cover goes on and stays on properly. Another hatch problem is with the small special hatch in front of the cockpit. It is a great idea and a great place to store a camera, sunscreen, or even a snack, but, as delivered, the hatch will leak if you plan to roll or practice wet exits, rescues, etc. P&H apparently used to caulk the seam, but now they've installed a gasket, which doesn't do the job, so someone will have to caulk the seam if you want to keep that hatch dry.
Despite these issues, my wife and I are very satisfied with our Scorpios. In addition to our satisfaction to the overall performance of the kayaks and the quality of the construction, we are most grateful for the advice and service of Samantha and Carl Ladd, proprietors of Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures in Westport, MA, where we purchased our Scorpios. On a very busy Saturday morning when the shop was full of customers, Carl took the time to lubricate the large rear hatches, caulk the small special front hatches on both our kayaks, as well as give us helpful pointers.
A great boat with great service--it doesn't get much better than that!
I was initially considering the Capella for my next step up in a sea kayak (currently paddle a Necky Manitou 13), but I might have to save a little longer and get a Scorpio. The Capella was my clear second choice among the kayaks I paddled, but the Scorpio was tops. Oh yeah, both of the P&H kayaks were poly models not composite or fiberglass.
I am 6í, 200lbs, size 11 shoe, 33Ē inseam and 34 waist. I paddle with a very high angle style and usually use a Mitchell Black Magic 215cm, Nigel Foster Hi-Pro 210cm or a Werner Cyprus 215cm paddle.
Max. Width 22Ē (behind the cockpit)
Max Deck Height 13.75Ē (at front of coaming)
Cockpit 31Ēx16.5Ē Inside Opening (I get 31.5Ē on the model in front of me)
Weight 55lbs (Feels right although I havenít put it on a scale)
Material 3 ply Corelite
Skeg spring released Foil P&H blade.
Outfitting and Ergonomics
The kayak comes with the classic P&H seat/backband. The backband is adjustable via strap secured with locking D-Rings. Thigh braces are modular and can be moved fore/aft under the coaming by loosening the set screws and sliding on their tracks about 3Ē total travel. Foot pegs are the standard P&H equipment on control rods that can be adjusted from the seated position. Upon sitting in the Scorpio my initial impression was that I found it very comfy. Thought I would need to pad out the sides a bit for rolling and that was borne out by my Day 1 observations. Higher deck than I am used to in my Impex Force 4 but scalloped front deck looks like it should allow for a close high angle stroke without impediment. Very easy entry and exit for my legs without striking the front coaming. Front Day Hatch is dry, easily reached and is sealed off from the cockpit area by a separate bulkhead that forms and follows the upper underside of the deck. The rivets attaching the deck box are recessed into the front deck keeping the surface clean. Deck box was thoughtfully placed and curved so as to not prove to be an impediment for my feet sliding in and out from their position of the foot pegs. Rear deck height is a bit tall at 10.5Ē (9Ē off the base of the seat)
Day 1 Paddle = Flat calm Hudson River. 2 mph flooding tidal current.
Getting into the kayak on flat water at the Hyde Park Landing the entry was simple with a straddle. The long cockpit opening made for a simple affair of swinging my legs over and in. Once in I noticed that the primary stability gave a very pleasant reassuring feel. With no forward speed heeling the kayak over to find the tipping points it came up on itís side more easily than itís cousin the Cetus but still had the feeling of increasing resistance nearing the breakover point at the end of secondary stability. For me this was at about a 65 degree heel to the boat. Moving out the kayak quickly accelerates and immediately made me wish I brought my GPS widget. This kayak feels fast! It seems to maintain a fast cruising speed near ĺ of it top end speed or at least as fast as I could push it. The deck scalloping seems to prevent whacking the sides of the boat with the paddle blade The kayak is narrower in front of the cockpit so it seemed to mesh well with my stroke. Iíll have to get more details next time out in flat conditions with the gps so as to get some more accurate numbers, but so far I like it.
Out in the mooring field now, letís see what it does around the buoys! Like itís Cetus cousin a slight sweep stroke to initiate a skidding turn while at speed, heeling the kayak to the outside of the turn ripped a turn measuring 16í in diameter. Ripped is the adjective I use for the sound of turbulence off the stern as it came whipping around wasnít a sound effect I was expecting. Well that was fun! Letís try to do that with an aggressive bow rudder and a cross bow rudder. Result = 13í turn diameter = FUN! I didnít try much with a carving turn so Iíll have to report on that later. Throughout these slalom like maneuvers what kept striking me was how well mannered the kayak was throughout and it seemed to be quite forgiving throughout all phases of the turn. Should prove to be interesting in rough water. Now to try with the skeg deployed. Mechanism is very smooth and adjustable by increments. The foil skeg had very little noticeable drag but made the kayak quite firm in itís tracking. Not hard enough that the skeg had to be withdrawn to turn but definitely felt itís presence. Forgot it was down and fell back into doing a skidding turn, wheeeeeee! Wait that was with the skeg down, what gives? Upon writing a note to P&H as to how that happened I received an email explaining that the foil skeg maintains a hard locked position by the forces of the water passing by on either side of the foil but when the kayak is heeled over and the stern is sliding to the side, there is flex in the system and the blade allows water to spill off more easily allowing the kayak to skid when heeled over even with the skeg deployed. Not the result I was expecting although I think I can visualize how it works.
Decided it was time to cool off and what curious to see if the higher back deck had any effect on a c to c roll or a sweep roll. Hanging upside down the outfitting allowed good firm contact as I moved into my set up. Trying a c to c roll first on my right side (Iím a righty) the kayak popped up with a crisp movement and didnít take any undue effort. I did shift over in the seat a bit so my guess at needing a bit of padding on the sides for better fit/power transfer was correct. Same side sweep roll same effect and the higher back deck didnít factor in either. I imagine that the Greenlandic crowd looking to do lay back rolls and other such underwater gymnastics might not be pleased but thatís not how this kayak was designed. Same style off-side rolls had the same performance but with the usual lesser coordination of my off-side made for a messy sweep roll.
Day 2 Paddle = 15-20mph sustained winds from the South on an ebbing tide resulting in 2-3í waves and whitecaps. South facing beach at Plum Point, New Windsor, NY at the Adirondack Mountain Club Paddlefest.
Less than ideal conditions for a class and demo settings but made for a lot of fun in pushing the Scorpio. Quick and efficient seal launch out through the breaking waves. Bow rode up and over 2í break with very little water over the front deck. I immediately noticed the very polite and reassuring primary stability even when turned abreast of the waves. I didnít have to work at staying upright. Maneuverability was excellent but also with plenty of speed to catch onto waves to surf. While on the wave face the Scorpio reacted well to low brace turns to go cut across the wave face. Wish the waves were bigger to get more room to try to do a 180 and switch into a backsurf but I had limited time. Weather cocking didnít seem to present itself but I was also playing within 50 yards of shore so I didnít have time to paddle for distance abeam of the wind and waves. Neither did I deploy the skeg as I was horsing around in the chop and not traveling. Landing back at the beach on the back face of a wave the Scopio was a snap to quickly hop out of due to the long cockpit opening, before the next wave washed up behind me. Throughout all the splashing and goofing around in the chop all 4 hatches stayed absolutely dry. Kajaksport hatches do work and stay put.
While I would like to put some distance on the kayak in mixed conditions, so far I find that the Scoprio fits into the top of the Sport Utility Kayak category allowing you to have speed, nimbleness, ruggedness and reliability in one very well thought out and put together package. This kayak should be on everyoneís Try Out list whoís thinking of a British Style sea kayak.
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