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In the past I've used the Sea Lion mostly on the slow Florida rivers and the 10,000 Islands. This time around I plan on more ocean and less river.
I used it for several week-long trips on the Chesapeake Bay and even used it to break ice up to 1/2" thick in the winter of 89'-90' on the Southern Chesapeake Bay. I was paddling my Sea Lion when I rescued an elderly couple from their burning house in January of 1990 in Virginia Beach. I was in a bit of a hurry to reach the shore when I saw the burning house. It tracked well and wasn't that hard to get moving quickly. It was easily beached on a muddy shore with lots of rocks and oyster shells.
Weight: It's "heavy". If you are a big guy who needs the capacity of a Sea Lion, healthy and strong enough to river trip, you should be able to lift it to whatever height you want to. A smaller person will likely have a problem. 7/10
Tripping: The Seal lion is rated at about 400lb so my 6' 265 (at the time) body could get in and I figured for 100 lb of gear, Tent, food, pfd, paddle, 1st aid, etc. It all adds up even when you use backpacking stuff. I have packed for 5 days with some extra stuff for the group, and wasn't out of room. I bought new neoprene hatch covers for it (125) and everything stays dry. So packability and max carrying weight 10/10.
Comfort: The seat back, for me, was awful. At a well used 50 years old, after a hour it felt like I had been hit with a sledge in the spine. A high backband solved that problem and I have done 30+ mile days on the river. Its a bit close in the foot area. Crocs are out as footgear, Sandles will hang up on the nuts from the cleats holding the rigging. I intend to reverse the screws this winter. The knee braces got pulled out. I could not use them because they compacted my thighs. (pole climber) I brace against the coaming with no trouble though. 3 bolts solved the thigh brace problem. So, in original config 3/10. 50 bucks plus shipping later and pull the thigh braces, 8/10.
Stability: Like I said, its my first kayak. At first the round bottom made it a bit nerve wracking. Once I got used to it, straight and level is easy and smooth. Initial stability 10/10. Secondary, I have a lot of upper arm and shoulder weight so when she wants to go up on edge, I have to watch it because she wants to go quick. This seems to be a learning curve for me and with bracing and a little more thinking about hip placement, I can bring her back. She is much more pleasant when there is a little weight in the back, but no one wants to run loaded all the time. My daughter, who weighs a lot less than half of me, and is 8 inches shorter, has taken it out empty with no problem. Probably because she isn't as top heavy. So 6/10 for me YMMV.
Steerability: The rudder really helps with tracking in the wind, but it will go straight if you are doing your part in calm times. If you have to make hard turns quickly, you will work for it. She ain't a WW kayak. I have made it through some rough stuff, and also got to swim. I wont say it is all the kayaks fault though. I have just started to get up on edge for turns and that seems to help where the water isn't pushing. I do use the rudder to help on hard turns to get through rock features though. Hard to call this, but I am going with a 7/10 because I think it operates like designed, but I am doing stuff that it really wasn't designed for.
Speed: It would probably go faster if there was a younger guy paddling. I can take my son in short distances in his Carolina, but over the long haul, 16 is different than 50. Its fast enough for me. BTW, it will wake surf better than the kids boat.
So overall, if you are a bigger guy, who wants to try a kayak and do some kayak camping, it would be hard to beat a used Sea Lion. If you want to take the family to the lake, my daughter who weighs a lot less than me finds the Sea Lion a better fit because the hull is narrow. Makes it eaiser for her to paddle correctly.
It's a great kayak for cruising around or for a long trip with gear. Do not try fishing with it like I did. It then becomes a balance game with a fish on your rod and you trying not to flip .as this is not a fishing/angler kayak. Tracks very well. Used, you should pay 250 to 350 in good condition . Overall I was happy with mine. An oldie, but goody.
The only 2 negatives I can say, is: yes it's a heavy boat, compared to many newer boats of similar size and performance. The other is the foam bulkheads are not very watertight and should not be trusted. This however can be fixed with some sealant. All and all a great boat when it was made and still a nice performer today.
While the boat is very heavy, I have been able to single handed load it on the top of the last three vehicles I have had. I may look for a fiberglass version in the future, it is a great boat.
I got a good deal on both of them for $1,600.00 with carbon fiber paddles and some safety gear (pumps, paddle float and tow line). The kayaks excel in these types of conditions. I am only a beginner paddler, but the confidence I have with the durable and seaworthy Perception Eclipse Sea Lion has not prevented me from exploring a major portion of the Channel Islands with them. The hatches have a soft neoprene cover with a hard polyethylene cover for durability. I am planning to take these kayaks for extended touring around the Channel Islands and Catalina.
They were the right purchase for me, since I was scared that if I hit a sea cave wall hard in an unexpected ocean swell I wouldn't worry about the kayak failing. I have not seen a single fiberglass kayak at the Channel Islands, I suspect because the conditions are so harsh (rocky coast). The rudder is an option that I rarely use because of kelp in ocean and because it slows you down somewhat. Ensure the ferry operators (Island Packers) pay particular attention to your rudders and put your kayaks on top. This will prevent rudder damage when other kayaks are loaded. Island Packers are friendly to kayakers and have done a good job at making the National Park accessible to public.
I am 6' 190lbs, my girlfriend is 5'4" 120 lbs., we both like the Perception Sea Lion Eclipse.
It has been about six or seven years (maybe more) since it was produced. The plastic ones are very old now, not suitable for putting stress on the plastic. If you find one and want to use it for calm water, it will work. If it is in a reasonable price range (under $300), then it may be a good purchase, but anything over that is excessive.
Good boat for learning in calm water, handles well, lots of stability. Not suitable in plastic for rough water or any situation where the kayak can be stressed. The plastic breaks down over time and these, along with Narpas, Kyooks, Chinooks, etc. are ready to be put out to pasture.
Spend a few bucks more and find a newer boat.
I'm 6'4" 210 lbs with a size 15 foot. I am comfortable using the rudder foot controls in bare feet, but have difficulty wearing sandals or shoes. Otherwise the factory thigh braces and other cockpit proportions are a perfect fit.
I have taken this boat out on lake Superior into 15 knot winds gusting up to 25 with 3-4 foot swells, and occasionally areas of reflection waves. I thought the boat was extremely stable, if not super fast. The tracking was fine, and the rudder controls after 15 years worked without a problem.
My boat is a little under outfitted. I have added lifelines on the far bow and stern. The hatch covers are held down with straps and clips rather than bungees. Worst of all the foam bulkheads have 2 large 6 inch slits in each of them. The bulkheads there fore are in no way waterproof. I bought some Aquaseal to seal them up with no problems to date.
The boat is certainly not a racer, but neither is it slow in my opinion. The plastic rudder controls are a little sticky, especially when you get some sand into them, but I've never had them jam or otherwise fail to work. Anyway, the boat tracks well and the rudder isn't needed on calm days. The storage space is great, although the foreward hatch opening seems like it could be a little bigger. The seat (plastic) is comfortable, and the cockpit is roomy enough for a bit of a small stretch if necessary.
I give it an 8 because it is heavier and slower than some composite/glass boats I've paddled. (It's also much tougher. Never had any oil canning in the hull.) If you don't have a pretty strong upper body, you'll have a hard time lifting this on/off your car's roof racks. Overall, a solid touring boat which I'll keep in my quiver for years to come. I do intend to get something a little shorter (I've had to paddle my Sea Lion backwards out of small creeks) and also a glass/kevlar boat for speed -finances permitting.
More specifically, the Sea Lion has high primary stability so it really shines for beginners. In addition, it rolls easilly and responds well to leans making it fun for the intermediate paddler as well. The only area where it is quite weak is surfing. It broches right away in the surf.
My Sea Lion is made of plastic which means it weighs a ton (I'm not sure of the weight but its somewhere around 65 to 70 pounds). This makes it real painful getting the boat on and off my car. It also causes it to accelerate a bit sluggishly. However, I have lots of fun taking it into shallow, rocky places that would seriously batter my composite or folding) boats. So there are disadvantages of a plastic boat, but its important to remember the advantages as well. My Sea Lion has taught me that I always need to have at least one plastic boat in my fleet.
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