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I've paddled this boat for nearly 5 years now and if they would still make this boat I would buy the same one. Maybe Current Design is going to make this boat again, I just hope with Smartrack rudder. I love that.
I am a Sunfish, Laser, C-15 sailor and the ride this boat gives is almost like a rodeo bull ridin' event. There is an awesome awareness of calm control and she climbs nicely across the waves but directly off wind or directly down wind the difference between involuntary planing or surfing and not doing that create a challenge that feels real good but is scary and I guess that's why I love it so much.
All my wave playing from sailing in my blood makes me do some turns that this boat does so well from the wildly tipsy bull ride downwind to a perfectly controlled rapid turn back to windward and the awesome feeling of perfect control again. I think in my mind that I'm planing at speed in my sailing boat and come close to the rock-riprap bank then at the last moment I shoot up into the waves that I've been hurling around down wind and all terror ceases. I really should add ballast on those real windy days after reading the posts of you guys. And I have never been in an ocean with this boat. But when most people think its way too windy to paddle that's when this boat shines....I mean I only play in three foot waves but wow how exciting.
Lots of room for storage if you want a multiple night camper. I know that for what this boat is designed for I am not even using it for, The reason why I bought it about three years ago was it is extreme and it was made to catch and surf Pacific swells that similar boats might miss because its fast enough to catch more swells. So I reasoned that if the burly Pacific was its playground by design then I should be able to surf in on some smaller inland lakes and I do.
It is wild because in three foot waves and a wind gusting to 25 or 30 mph it lifts up off the water and does its own surfing. Obligatory paddling is a must. You turn downwind and bam you are already surfing. I do not know what this would mean to me in some taller waves but it is thrilling enough in the 3ft chargers I've paddled it any numerous days.
It is not boring.
It may be frightening to some because off wind it feels like the boat is on the very brink or edge of being out of control but it sails along dry cockpit even in 2-3 foot waves even with no sprayskirt.
But what has to be understood is this boat was built to meet a specific need as a fast, large capacity single for month long unsupported trips and for professional guides that need to keep up with customers in a double kayak.
In its element (fully loaded off-shore in open ocean swells) it's a rocket giving the paddler an e-ticket ride surfing down the swells with ease. In these conditions I have personally covered 100 kilometers in a Dawn to Dusk day. The other great advantage with the boat is in rough chop how dry the ride is if one removed the front toggle.
The downside of this boat though is trying to use this boat unloaded. On flat water the boat can be handled with ease and easily waterlines any other kayak of similar dimensions. In rough following seas though this boat is a real handful and requires the paddler to stay at pace with the swell and chop.
The other big issue is this is a big person boat and will easily overwhelm an average to small paddler's attempt to control it.
But, as has been alluded to in other reviews...it is not for a beginner. I was just that when I purchased mine. The salesman really didn't know anything about the boat (which I was unfortunately unaware of at the time) and he steered me in decidedly the wrong direction. I had so much initial difficulty staying upright that I called the factory for help. They clued me in that I had really gotten the wrong boat, but by that time I was in a practical sense stuck with it. Their advice to install about 50# of lead-shot ballast (two standard glass fiber bags of the stuff) in the very front of the rear cargo hold made the boat tolerable for my beginning skills...but still it could be a bit of a handfull. I have subsequently paddled it about 1000 miles give or take, and in the process become much more adept at "bracing" and leaning into turns, and all the rest of it. The one time I packed it with camping gear, the load made the handling much better. But even so, I have left the ballast in the boat (it is easily removeable should the need for maximum carrying capacity arise) because I still don't really trust it without it.
I love paddling, but I must say that my inital experience with this boat came close to souring me on the whole idea forever. I have spent much of my life on the water, having grown up on a lake, and I thought I knew all about boats, but the Expedition taught me to be a little more humble. I think any beginner would be well advised to stay away from this boat. It is true that it has a high degree of secondary stability (something that I have now learned enough to be able to take some advantage of), and that fact can save one's "bacon" given the right crucial circumstance; but generally speaking it usually takes an expert paddler to venture into the kind of situation where this characteristic can be taken proper advantage of in the first place.
There are kayaks, and there are kayaks, and I now know that there are kayaks that are even "tippier" than my Expedition, but not too many.
Not designed for playing in the surf... not that maneuverable... if you want to play, buy a British Boat like the Valley Avocet or the Current Designs Slipstream... I am waiting to try the new Current Designs British style Andromeda... large enough for expeditions and perhaps good in the surf. If I were going to go on a true expedition and cover lots of miles with lots of gear, the Expedition would be my choice. I repeat, this is not a beginner boat. Know how to roll and brace and lean before buying this boat.
Some things that can be improved are as follows: The cockpit is too large and if you can't roll it (it is easy to roll) or dump the water, it will take a while to pump out. Note- CD will move bulkheads for you on request though there is added cost. For the less experienced, an empty Expedition feels kind of unstable and tippy and is much less so when loaded. While not the perfect boat yet, bar none its the best Sea Kayak for me at present.
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