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My go-to boats are my Emotion Bliss (a recreational boat designed for paddlers <150 lbs.), a Current Squall GTS (pre-2012 version, with the lower deck and more rocker), and a Yostwerks-designed Sea Otter R skin-on-frame Greenland. I love the Bliss for its light weight, short length, and super stability, but the wide-open cockpit and basic rec design are not safe for rough conditions.I love the Squall for its safety and handling, but it is too heavy for me to load by myself. I love the Greenland for its light weight and quick responsiveness, but I find it virtually impossible for me to re-enter in deep water because of its small cockpit (I can't roll due to my shoulder injury). I have been looking for a boat I can easily load that would handle well and be safe in windy conditions. I wanted it to be short, low-volume, and stable. I found the Piccolo.
This boat is everything I hoped it would be, only it's faster and more stable. The rudder works very nicely, but I have yet to be in a situation where I need it; the boat responds quickly to a lean or paddle sweep. I can drop one side clear up to the coaming without feeling the slightest loss of stability. It is amazingly quick and even paddles well without a paddle, using just my hands (I try to practice for any situation!). The deck is super low, which makes the boat handle like a dream in windy conditions. I moved the seat back a little to make room for my long legs, and it actually seems to have made it faster (perhaps because of the weight of my legs, and also my aggressive, forward paddling style). This boat is easier to cowboy rescue than anything else I have ever paddled. The low deck has very few nasty sticky-outy things to catch on, and the cockpit is just big enough for me to get my legs in easily.
This boat has been out of production for a number of years (WHY???), so if you find one for sale, be aware that the plastic has a limited lifetime left. Mine was very well-loved by a teenager, but I feel that on a cost-per-use basis, I will get my money's worth.
Be aware that this boat has no bulkheads. It needs to be paddled with float bags installed. I intend to use mine as a daytripper only, but speaking as a backpacker, I think it would be possible to camp with this kayak. The floatbags could be replaced with inflatable drybags. I have those in my Greenland and they work very well. The only other issue would be weight, keeping the boat in proper trim.
I can't recommend this boat highly enough for a smaller paddler who wants a kayak that fits. It may not be the best for long expeditions, but it does everything else very capably.
I weigh in at 164.4 and am 5'8" and sometimes my friends scoff at the little boat as I paddle it. However they rarely scoff after seeing it perform. As the owner of 11 sea kayaks it's one of my favorites. I have used it in just about every paddling environment - found it to be responsive and will heel well, rides a wave very well and has no problem on a carve down a wave face.
At 13'3" it's a keeper and a real shame it's no longer made. Over time some fading has shown but then again so have most boats as they grow older. Its lightweight and smart lines make this boat one for the records. I have actually used it on paddles overnight traveling extremely light, sleeping bag, bivy sack and heater meals tucked in a waterproof drybag. Used it for getting into tighter areas of the wetlands and actually deck mounted a camera.
It's a great little boat that gives a lot, weighs little and has provided me with some of my best paddling memories.
Although a sea kayak, we have used it on overnight and day river trips with my wife and I in the tandem canoe while my daughter paddled the Piccolo. She has paddled it on up to Class II water.
My daughter has also taken it out in the ocean and she had no difficulty handling the big swells out there.
All in all a very versatile boat for introducing kids to boating as it can be used in a variety of water and learning to paddle is a breeze as it tracks well and is very stable.
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