I have paddled this boat for 7 years, just replaced it as my main ride with a PH Capella 166. I kept the Ookpik however because it is a lovely kayak. People tend to shun it as a recreational "toy" but IMO they are way off base. Extremely roomy and comfortable to paddle, I have no problem going on overnighters, plenty of storage for my large 4 person tent, food, stove, clothing,several wet bags, sleeping bag, 10 litres water, beer, and even firewood( bungeed to the rear deck) and the boat handles fine with all the added weight. It tracks very well and is quite fast for a small kayak. I have had it out in force 4-5 winds on St Margaret's Bay and felt very confident and safe, even with the bow slicing through and water running up the deck to the coaming.
It is easy to carry and load on the roof rack. The rudder is an added bonus although it is rarely if ever required as controlling this boat with leans and paddle strokes is very easy.I only use it when I feel lazy. The stability is excellent.
I took the PH out to compare the other day. It was dead calm so I didn't get to compare the sea keeping attributes but I did note that it seemed only marginally faster than the Ookpik under cruising speed.
I highly recommend this little gem.I recently traded a Pungo 14 for the Ookpik. What a difference! The Ookpik is like a small sea kayak that is as comfortable as a recreational kayak. The Ookpik tracks much better with very little weather cocking which was a terrible problem with the Pungo. The cockpit is still easy to get into for my 6 foot 1 inch 200+ pound frame, but has the added advantage of feeling like I have more control of the boat. I can easily fit my knees right under the cockpit rim and lean the boat to turns. The cockpit is very comfortable on trips of several hours (I just don't usually go more than 4 hours at a time). I upgraded the seat back to include Boreal's new comfort seat back so I have more support for my not-young back.
I bought the version with the rudder and am impressed with how easy it is to keep the kayak straight even in strong crosswinds and quartering waves. The rudder is smaller than many other rudders and allows easy turning with a sweep of the paddle, but keeps the kayak straight in the tough stuff.
The narrower width, 24 inches for the Ookpik as opposed to the 28 inches on the Pungo, does not make the kayak feel less stable. In fact, it has good initial and secondary stability. I have felt extremely safe even in some very windy and rough conditions. I expected that since it was 1 foot shorter than the Pungo that it might me slower, but it is just as fast as the Pungo, and I have no trouble keeping up with many other 16 foot kayaks.
The kayak is also one of the prettiest boats on the water. Mine is purple with a flawless finish. It has an upswept bow for riding through waves, forward and rear hatch covers, and plenty of deck rigging for gear. It is hard to believe that it is only 13 feet long because it feels like a much longer sea kayaks. I have paddled more than a dozen different kayaks and owned several, and this is the most fun, easiest to paddle and maneuver, easiest to car top, and overall the most enjoyable kayak I have ever paddled. This is a truly great kayak for flat water, smooth rivers, coastal shores and estuaries, class 1 & 2 whitewater, and is good on almost anything accept severe whitewater and long ocean crossing. Affordable, comfortable, enjoyable...it truly is a small sea kayak that fits people of all sizes. I don't rate anything a 10, so I give it a 9.The Ookpik is a nice cross between a cheaper Rec kayak and a light-touring kayak. It fit my needs perfectly. I hated using my Wilderness Solutions Sealution II XL (17 66 lbs) all the time due to its size and weight. My sons Acadia was too slow and wide (28). I was looking for a lighter shorter boat to use for my one-two hour bay tours. The Ookpik worked out very nicely. At 50 lbs its on and off the car in seconds. It has a nice high deck that allows my 61 frame to comfortably fit without taking my sneakers off. My thighs rest very nicely under the smooth rim of the cockpit providing good control for leaning and rolling. The upswept bow helps slice waves and wakes. And its thinner (24, 3 less than Acadia) profile and nice hull design make it rather fast for a rec boat.
On the water the Ookpik is very nice. Tracks well even with a quartering tailwind. Turns nicely, just a little knee for the lean, sweep the paddle and it turns on a dime. It is faster than any other 13 boat I have paddled. Initial stability is just right, the boat will lean several degrees either way with just the touch of a knee, but stays upright otherwise. Secondary stability comes in very strongly after that. The Ookpik comes in four trims, Basic with just a rear hatch and no bulkhead, Option 1 with rear bulkhead, Option 2 adds a front hatch and bulkhead, and Option 3 adds a rudder.
I bought the Basic with just rear hatch and no bulkhead. I will add some flotation since I do a lot of open water and my boat has no flotation, not even a foam plug to prevent it from sinking. It has a lot of volume fore and aft and will need flotation bags front and rear to keep afloat enough for a wet entry.
After using the Ookpik for a while now I think it will replace the Sealution II XL for anything short of a long open water paddle. At 13 and 50 lbs it will stay on the car most of the time looking for that elusive free moment to go paddle. It is highly recommended by me as a first boat, primary boat for the moderately serious, or as a second boat for someone with a larger sea kayak.