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Reviews for Merganser 16 Kayak by Shearwater


Rated: 8.4/10 Based On: 5 Reviews

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10-05-2007
Submitted by: AndrewSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have a Merganser 16.5 I completed this last January 07.
With the exception of weekend camping I have been using my Merganser as a day boat It does everything very good to excellent and seems to be limited performance wise to ones experience etc. I built it from plans as I'm good that way. Others not so inclined should at least get the wood kit. I would talk to Eric about the correct size for you as I think matching the size of the boat to the paddler is VERY important.

In any rough chop and high winds expect to get wet unless you go it slower. A good spray skirt with an implosion bar will keep you dry. Dress accordingly of course. I took mine out recently in high 20-35 knot winds (Small Boat Advisory) on the Indian River here in Florida. The chop was wind driven and 2 foot at the mouth of the turkey creek with a rough 2-3' fetch in the middle and smooth waved swells on the edges of 2+ feet at the mouth where it meets the Indian River. I stayed dry if I was smart about my course and tacked a bit and kept my speed down rather then plowing through. My Merganser has no rudder or skeg and I had trouble staying on course with quartering tail winds in these higher winds speeds with the weather-cocking toward the wind stopping once I was 90 degrees to the wind. Going 90 deg to wind was an up and down experience in the 2 foot swells and chop but I stayed dry and I felt fully in control. Into the wind there were no problems from 90 deg to zero. If you expect allot of rough marginal paddling I'd install a retractable skeg.

In moderate 10-15 knots or less and/or smooth conditions its a smooth dry fast ride and carved turns on the secondary are crisp. I am easily able to maintain 4-5 knots and can hold any course with well practiced corrective sweep every so often or other strokes used to advantage. The Merganser always answered. If your use to rudder turns carving a turn takes more radius especially at speed but is less drag and takes no extra effort to maintain momentum relative to rudder turns.

On winding streams and rivers the Merganser performs very well for me as long as I hold the speed in check relative to the conditions. It often wants to go faster then it should for the tight winding streams but responds well in up to a 4 knot current and I can sit all day facing up or down down stream holding position with very little effort doing so. The sharp exit at the stern allows this, plus allows me to paddle backward into the current effortlessly as long as I'm careful about my alignment to the current. Its fun leisurely paddling backward in open streams or waters when on a group trip all the while talking with my friends. Try that with a ruddered boat! Again ones experience sets the limit. Of course in very tight conditions a 12' or less yak will excel over the Merganser.

I don't have enough experience to evaluate my merganser fully in Surf conditions yet. I've Surfed the 2' wind driven waves in the river successfully with the Merganser accelerating well and I was able to use corrective rudder strokes etc to ride along at up to 7+ MPH according to my GPS but my one time ocean experience was not a good evaluation due to me not having a spray skirt at the time and the 4' waves were far bigger than I'd experienced previously and at that time I had no surfing experience. It felt tippier in the ocean and rode higher in the water perhaps due to the salt water buoyancy effect. Now that I've got a good skirt I'll be putting my helmet on and trying moderate ocean surf.

Lastly I've slowly been improving the fit of my merganser to my needs. I still need knee braces and have quickly discovered ever bit of fit and snugness added dramatically improves my ability to get the most from my Merganser. It keeps getting better and better as my abilities improve.

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06-30-2003
Submitted by: JoeSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I just finished my Merganser the other day. It's 16"6" and size and weight are great for me (5'7 140 lbs). It's very seaworthy in the chop from all the power craft and Puget Sound swells. It would probably feel pretty tippy to some, but feels rock solid when on edge.I made the entire boat from plans, with a cost of around $500 for everything including the paddle. It draws a lot of comments and was well worth the winter evenings in the basement.
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06-11-2003
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     6/03, just came back from the beach at Assateague, I'm satisfied with it's wave handling attributes. When making the Merganser I allowed the ends to get more pinched than they should, which might be controlled if there was a temporary bulkhead used to help position the deck and hull panels in the ends during construction, or I followed directions. All it took was a couple moments surfing forwards and backwards into a broach to see that the balance was right, a smooth carving accelleration. That balance being cg, rocker and distributed volume (flare, fore/aft). It's interesting how fore/aft volume rocker and flare can correspond to the two axis the paddlers body moves in, torso rotation and hip movement. On the next construction I'm considering removing some of the entry in the bottom panels to reduce the resistance of the bow to turning. For my 190lbs it's a bit tippy but very quick to accelerate. We'll see how it is in high winds next chance I get but so far it's a good choice where efficiency/speed with adequate control is more the preference than immediate maneuverability.
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07-05-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Waves, second time around. I'm pleasantly surprised, had a chance to paddle around conflicted 1' waves and occasional 2' waves from wakes coming off the Naval Academys patrol boats. The Merganser has a good balance of above waterline volume in the bow and aft volume, ie. the bow doesn't bury, I'm sure in bigger waves it could disappear but I should be looking at 17 for me and not the 16 anyway. It would take until the end of summer to come up with a satisfactory review but there's enough from this one to warrant making a 17 for me at 190lbs. Eric has a 17W (23"wide) that would probably appeal to beggining paddlers compared to the regular 17 (22"wide).
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06-28-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Finally finished this little sea kayak from a partial kit cut plywood only for $375 since I had misc. amounts of glass and epoxy around. 16'x21", fourpanel hull (hard-chine), four panel deck, slightly British looking from a distance with the upturned ends. With my weight, 190lbs, the boat is pretty much maxed out for day use. I gave it a quick spin in 15mph+ winds and little 6" waves. Slight weathercocking easily corrected, this is a nice predictable handling slippery hull shape. Not quite as maneuverable as an Arctic Tern 14, more so than a Chesapeake 16, faster than both. I'll get back on handling in bigger waves when I find some, it looks like a low boat in the way a Caribou is to the water, except with a bit more foot room forward. This ones for a friend on the west coast so it's a bit overbuilt with doubled layers of 4oz s-glass on the hull and doubled 4oz e-glass on the deck, single and double layers of 4oz s-glass on the interior as needed. I don't know how much it weighs, 42lbs maybe. With my weight in that little breeze it felt like 25mph wind wouldn't be much of a problem, there's something nice about being "in" the water with smaller boats when it's windy. Directions are good, read them, nothing out of the ordinary if a person has built a s&g kayak before.
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