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Overall good kayak and plenty of space to store all my camping equipment, food, water.
Another reviewer mentioned secondary stability and turn-over point... I second that. It may be stable as all-get-out until you lean out over the side. Then you're going for a swim.
I picked an Ocean Kayak (can't recall which, sold it when I moved,) that had VASTLY better stability and resistance to roll-over.
I just got my 2008 Cobra Navigator XF from a private party sale. The boat came fairly well equipped with anchor trolley, anchor, rope, live bait bucket with pump, battery, case, charger. It was also rigged with what I guess are thigh straps, a fairly sturdy high back seat. The weight is supposed to be around 44 lbs, with a length of 12.6 Ft.
Loading: Not so bad for going solo, but a little awkward for me probably owing for my lack of experience. I carried it to the driveway by heisting one of the thigh straps over my shoulder. I used a Hobie, Quick Strap, soft carriers to attach to a naked roof of a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Getting alongside the car, I was able to lift it high enough to get the bow on the roof, then gently turned it over hull side up and swung the stern over and centered the load. I had pre-strapped the Quick Strap to the kayak before attempting to load it. In time, I think this will not be much of a problem, but I will invest in a set of kayak wheels or at least a padded four wheeled furniture dolly as I know I would tire easily going any distance.
Launched from a boat ramp without problem getting most of its length afloat before hopping on settling into the seat. First impression was it glided very smoothly and I was moving at a good pace within a few paddle strokes. It seemed to track fairly straight and hardly ever required a correctional stroke. The conditions were relatively mild but there were a lot of power boats at speed out in the middle of the bay. (Mission Bay San Diego, near the Hilton). It plowed right through the boat wakes and did not take on water. The front scuppers did allow a bit of water in the molded in foot holds but not enough to make it uncomfortable. The rear scuppers were plugged and made for a dry seat and tank well. The boat seemed fairly fast for its size almost as fast as the Tarpon 160 I had previously tried, but did require a bit more effort. I had a bit of aching in my thighs and felt it also in my upper body. I am assuming this will get better as I become a better paddler or at least I hope so. The Tarpon 160 did not tire me as near as much as this one did, but still it was bearable and I had paddled for about two hours straight.
Maneuverability: I was a little disappointed in its sluggish turns using sweep strokes. It would immediately turn, but required a few to make it around even 90 degrees. Using a rudder stroke, holding the paddle alongside the stern did cause a fairly pronounced veer to the same side. (using a feathered paddle). I learned that if I executed a wide sweep stroke immediately followed by a reverse sweep on the opposite side, it would turn in place but obviously lost all forward mobility and sort of stalled, which I guess is what it is supposed to do. (Remember, I am very new at this). I thought the Tarpon 160 turns easier and it is a good four foot longer!
Stability: Seems to have a great deal of initial stability and felt pretty solid although I did not really try anything really aggressive. Also I did not really crawl around much, but it felt stable enough that I felt as though I could access the forward A hatch and turn around enough to retrieve a bait from the live bait tank behind the seat (I did leave it at home this trip so I cant really say for sure).
Tracking: as mentioned above, this boat tracks straight and true, barely a trace of wobble unless I get more heavy handed on one side or the other. I am more of an upright paddler, reaching for the beginning stroke, keeping it very close to the hull. Pushing with the high arm while pulling the with the lower during the first third of the stroke with a fair amount of power (hope I am describing that right).
Wants: This boat needs adjustable foot pegs as the molded in ones limit you.
All in all, not bad at all for a 12.6 foot boat.
Mine is the "Recreational Model" with hatches and rod holders (the rod holders work perfectly for taping a 360-degree light to a piece of PVC for nighttime paddles!!). I like the new center carry-handles that flip out of the way while sitting! And after watching a friend lose his $500 camera when his kayak's rubber hatch lid popped open during a capsize - I REALLY appreciate the locking hatch toggles on the Cobra kayaks!! The front hatch is huge - I carry my disassembled boat cart in there!
I appreciate the stability of this kayak - I've paddled it many times during Michigan winters (even did a few mild whitewater runs); and stayed dry and comfortable. It's a cinch I don't want to risk a tipover when it's 20-degrees outside - so that's why I LOVE the Navigator!
the not so good
The scupper holes constantly let water into footwells, plugs solve the problem, but without them my feet stay wet. I can only imagine a heavier paddler would be worse. no side handles and strange rail shape make hoisting the boat difficult. (I added handles). weird shape to stern tankwell does not allow larger cooler. Taking waves sideways does produce some slap, and wet ride (so don't take waves sideways) no seat drain holes, water in this area will make for a wet okol'e (hawaiian for butt)
all in all this is the best yak I've owned. I am an avid paddler, and don't baby my equipment. All of the things that may not have been perfect for my needs were easily remedied with minimal work and $$$. I recommend the following add ons"
center handles for lifting (I made mine with pvc and nylon rope for $2)
reinforced bow and stern points (glued on rubber pads $4)
scupper plugs (I made mine from a wal-mart pool noodle $3)
I've paddled so many kayaks both in calm lake conditions, and rough huge seas in Hawaii and I would trust this yak in any conditions. I can easily log 6 hours in it and many miles before needing a stretch. Easy to maneuver in tight areas. the stability and tracking make it very user friendly for experts or novices alike. I love it. go get one for yourself.
This Yak tracks very well in calm water and in choppy conditions. My wife had one and was very happy on her first time out fishing. She said it was the best part of our camping trip! Very fast I kept up to a 9.9 dingy for 100 yards and did not get tired out! Never once did I feel like it would tip over.
Very light to transport I could pick up with one hand. 5'7" and 220 no problem. I will be buying 2 of these very soon.
The Navigator is easy to use, easy to get on and off, and very light weight. I have no problem transporting it in the 6' bed of my truck. On the water this is a safe & stable craft. I have crossed the wake of many large boats in a large bay on Cape Cod with no difficulty. It tracks and handles very well & is easy to use even for a novice like me. The hatches seal tightly and I never got a drop inside. On the negative side it lacks carrying handles. I made my own. Also I use the longer paddles due to the wide width. You can't go wrong with this boat.
The two scuppers just before the center hatch should be plugged as they appear to be more for structural support. Ocean Kayak Blue scupper plugs fit. Red for the tank well (below) if you need it.
The Maiden Voyage: I am 6'4 285lbs ± 33/34 inseam. 42" waist. I had plugged the high scuppers but I put about 2 inches of water in the tank well and near my feet. Making the hull air tight should help because it will increase the air volume under me but I also put scupper plugs in the tank well as soon as I got home. The kayak fit me perfectly. In a relaxed position my feet just touch the last foot rest.
Despite sitting a little lower in the water than expected, the ride is excellent. Hull speed is exceptable and is very easy to paddle at that speed. Trying to maintain speed above that is truly a workout. (A word about paddling skills and speed: We were 3 on the water. My friend who is nearly twice my age with far superior paddling experience was able to stay ahead of me, and smoke our buddy in a Carolina 14.5, in an 11 foot Explorer.)
Even after taking a few waves over the bow and the A hatch - the interior was bone dry.
I spent quite a bit of time shopping before choosing my first kayak. Some of the reasons I selected the Cobra Navigator include the fact that it is lightweight (only 44 lbs.), it has a large forward A-shaped hatch for internal storage, a tankwell for scuba equipment (or any other gear you choose) for external storage, and is nimble, stable, and quick. I might add that I've gotten a lot of compliments on the look and style of the boat, too.
If you are looking for a kayak that you can take on long trips across rough water, you'll want to look at a longer touring-type sit-inside boat. But if you are looking for a kayak that is versatile, stable, and just plain fun to paddle, consider the Cobra Navigator. In addition, I've found the Cobra Kayak company staff to be extremely professional and accommodating.
I'm 6', 210 pounds, with a 34" inseam. With my legs fully outstreched, I still had one footrest available. In my normal paddling position I had 2 positions available. Initial stability is great, but I had plenty of weight to submerse down to the "rocker" panels; lighter paddlers would need to try before they buy. I got mine with both hatches which I highly recommend - lots of storage for those overnighters and have not noticed any leakage yet. Boat is light weight and I can easily load and carry it by myself (see minuses below). I haven't surfed it yet, but when I do, I'll report the results.
MINUSES - No mid-ship hand holds for solo handling/loading (I plan on adding knee straps and will use those for handling as well. Seat holds small amount of water which doesn't drain which may become irritating on long trips, but hey, this is a SOT and I expect to get wet. Also, there are no tie-down loops on the front for packing stuff on the front deck, but these could easily be added if you plan on loading the full 450 pounds and need the space on top of the front hatch.
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