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It is really a neat little boat and before I bought it I never realized how relaxing kayaking could be. So this is my little input for the sport of kayaking.
~ Edwin Parrott - Regina, Saskatchewan
This boat is sturdy, yet relatively light and easy to paddle. The cockpit gives you plenty of room and the adjustable seats are plenty comfortable. We took these boats out in Sommes Sound on Mt Desert Island this past summer. The wind, waves and tide were much more than we had ever dealt with in the past. Much. More. Once we got out to where things got rough, I was worried about my wife. As it turns out she thought it was fun...until the trip back. Conditions were getting worse and she was getting scared. I now have to assume that despite our worries, the Breeze was ready for it. It was us who weren't. Because, even with now bigger waves hitting us from different sides, it didn't really seem to affect the boat, just our nerves. Still, after a couple of years with these, we will be adding the rudder this spring.
At this point the only bad things I can say about this boat are; you'll want the rudder if you want to keep from constantly adjusting your course. No front hatch means I have to keep my stuff in my wife's boat and paddle up to her to get it and vice-versa. Did I mention you'll want the rudder?
The problem is caused by the upward bow combined with small size of the boat. This creates a really small footprint on the water. The bow acts as a sail getting pushed by winds that causes the stern to waver. The sway of the stern in windy conditions forces the paddler to constantly make corrections, which is frustrating as it is tiring.
I also would not recommend this boat for a tall person. I am 5'11 with size 11 feet. My knees were never really comfortable on the kneepads and the boat is too narrow around the foot pegs for a person with big feet.
I kept the Breeze for less than a year before trading it in for a much better touring kayak. If after reading this review you are still considering Breeze, I STRONGLY recommended getting a rudder.
I was introduced to a 12' Current Designs Kestrel at a livery, the Kestrel ran very fast which led me to investigate their other products. The 12' Kestrel is a very fast plastic boat but the operator needs to be a solid paddler due to its tendency to drift. This is also why it is such a fast boat.
Back to my Breeze; runs good, faster than the Kestrel, tracks well, and turns like a 10' boat. I give it a 8 instead of a 9 because it only has a stern hatch with a flotation bag in the bow. An excellent kayak for the price!
I fell in love with the kayak immediately, and this season after some market research bought me a brand new Breeze. Took it out on Georgian Bay (Wasaga Beach) close to shore at first, tried it out in breaking waves and wind, practiced wet exit and so on - to get the feel for the boat and to see how far it could be pushed. It proved fairly easy to control - in fact, way easier than any canoe. It dealt with the numerous powerboats' wake easily (those guys never slow down for you, do they?), was nimble and maneuverable, and tracking was never an issue because of the smooth-working rudder.
Last week I took it out on a trip around Franklin Island with two more canoes in the group. It behaved very well, no complaints. The maximum load capacity (150 kg) is quite high for a kayak of this length. However, since there is no bow hatch, one is tempted for simplicity's sake to stuff all the gear into the rear compartment. Don't do this! The boat would be out of trim and it 'd be immediately noticeable, especially in following seas.
I also found out that I had to paddle harder than I expected to keep up with both canoes. Somehow I presumed a kayak would be faster than the canoes. But I cannot pass any judgment on Breeze's speed or efficiency since I am new to kayaking, and it is probably my paddling style that needs improving
On our way back to Snug Harbor we had to deal with 15...20-knot wind from the bay with it's accompanying 3-foot waves, whitecaps and all. Circling the island we had to first paddle into the wind, than take it broadside for a while, and finally paddle with the wind and waves following at 45-degree angle. The Breeze handled rough conditions easily and confidently, it never felt close to capsize and with the help of it's rudder was always manageable. I am thinking of replacing the rudder blade with a foil-shaped one of a larger size though, because I plan to add a sail rig to the kayak. The rear hitch did not leak, and the hull did not flex in waves.
Those were the Pros.
Now the Cons:
The thigh pads are but two pieces of crappy self-adhesive microcell foam, they started coming off in pieces on day two, and will have to be replaced with something more substantial. The cockpit trim is a joke: it is a U-cross-sectioned plastic strip which is simply and loosely pushed (no adhesive!) onto the cockpit edge; of course it won't stay on - one has to push it back on several times a day. The rudder is not a foil, just a cheap aluminum stamping.
But one cannot expect too much for the price of the boat. All the kayaks in this price range (Elie, Riot etc.) have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is always obvious where the manufacturer chose to cut cost. In case of Breeze the shortcuts are fairly innocent, I would certainly recommend this kayak.
The amount of conditions this boat and I went through were incredibly varied! She handled well for a 'yak with such a wide beam and short keel. I noticed that her tracking improved as you increased the weight, but the trade-off was you plowed more water as your waterline moved up. I most likely over-packed this champ, but she never gave me a moment's worry even in 34°F ambient air with 3 ft wind-driven chop!
She was very easy to surf when headed back into shore and handled cross-winds fairly well. I never installed the rudder on mine, and would agree with some of the other reviews that this 'yak will tell you if something is wrong with your stroke by pulling off center if you're not balanced.
The longest stretch I did with this kayak was a three-day trip to Blackstone Glacier, Whittier, AK. There was a mix of boats in our group and I was quite often in the front. She proved a bit harder to keep on pace with a tandem, but was good enough to maintain vocal communication.
Overall, this was a fantastic boat and one of the best purchases I've made. She handled very full seasons of kayaking in some of the best (glass) and worst (6 ft seas) that I ventured out in. I was confident enough in her stability to use her as a training bed for many novice kayakers. Even though I was tempted on occasion to trade her for a fiberglass or kevlar kayak, I always came back to my 'ol faithful!
I chose the CD Breeze over the CD Whistler since it is much more maneuverable with little loss in speed and storage. The tracking I found is very dependent on the paddling. Moving the center of weight a little, or pressing on one of the petals a little more than the other, or shifting the strokes even a little can affect the turning of the boat. I can keep the boat straight, but have to maintain vigilance on my style. I love its maneuverability, but it has a price.
So why did I buy the Breeze instead of the Whistler, especially since it has less cargo space with only one hatch in the rear, and 1 foot shorter? I will be day tripping over 90% of the time, so I felt the added space was not essential or even necessary. For the few longer trips I can use water proof bags stowed in the front. The $100 savings was not a critical factor since my total cost for an all gear package was in the range of $1700. Being a few pounds lighter did not seem to be much different for loading and unloading. The cruise speeds did not seem that different.
The main factors for going with the Breeze were: 1) greater comfort and 2) greater maneuverability. Even though the Breeze has less depth than the Whistler, it feels like it has more room for toes and knees and just seemed to fit my body better. The Petaluma River system has marshes with sloughs that are narrow so maneuverability became a major factor, especially after I saw a 17 foot racer get stuck trying to turn around. I decided short was better. The cruise speed is similar, but I gave up a lot on tracking and have to constantly correct and consciously maintain good paddling style or tend to drift off course. However, I can turn on a dime and move the kayak in a new direction with a single stroke without having to tip much. In this respect, the Breeze was superior to any boat over 12 feet.
I agree with other reviewers on the seat back. I have excellent posture and sit straight up and want a seat back that can be moved more forward for lumbar support.
As far as tracking goes, it seems to me that CD has hit on a good solution--they've provided a jam cleat where you can park the topside rudder cable and thus keep the dropped rudder in a constant position, so it behaves somewhat like a skeg to improve tracking. Alternately, you can leave the rudder cable alone if you just want to use the rudder normally or not at all. I personally don't find the tracking to be that bad even w/o the rudder, but I'm still something of a novice paddler, so perhaps not as demanding on this score as some more experienced folks.
I use my Breeze in intracoastal waters such as protected bays and sounds, and on flatwater rivers and bayous. It's a particularly good design for the twisty-turny, canopied rivers and bayous near my home in NW Florida. I could wish for a forward hatch instead of the flotation bag, but the stern hatch is adequate for day touring. I'd also like a more comfortable seat, though the seat back is close to being just right in height, padding, and adjustability.
That said, I enjoy my Breeze enormously, and, being a teacher (and thus without summer employment), I've paddled it almost every day since the end of the spring semester.
I have encountered no unusal problems with weather-cocking or tracking. The boat is exceptionally easy to paddle and glides beautifully.
As for handling out of the water, the boat is easier to handle that wider boats I have encountered. I can easily carry it by myself, and with another person it is a snap. Its weight is in the average range and so presents no unusual problems for those with realistic expectations.
The only minus is the seat, which is actually more comfortable than many boats, but not up to the standard of my Pungo. Before you buy one, try one out and compare it with several others. Boat appraisal is highly subjective.
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