With any new boat, there’s a period of adjustment involved. It takes time to figure out the capabilities of a kayak, how it handles in different situations, how it feels empty and loaded, the balance between speed and maneuverability. Most of the time, it’s not about the boat as much as it is about the paddler and the way that the boat and the operator work together. Paddling a kayak is not like the experience you might get in a rowboat or a sailboat, after all. A kayak is worn, like a piece of clothing almost, and it’s important to get the fit just right. The only way to get a handle on the situation is to spend time in the kayak, put the miles under the hull.
I took out the Seaward Quest x3 the other day for a few hours. (It’s ironic, but with all the expedition prep that’s going on lately, paddling is the one thing there never seems to be enough time for.) Conditions were good, flat water with strong current in the Tacoma Narrows and over to Vashon Island. I spent some time in the rip of of Point Defiance, first letting the converging currents buffet the boat and push me in different directions, then paddling across the eddy lines, getting a feel for the way the keel cut through the water. The rest of the time was spent in metronomic pace, getting used to the speed of the craft and the ease of travel.
It’s a fast boat. It doesn’t take long to figure that out. Even so, at 19 feet long, it’s surprisingly responsive and carves a turn easily. In terms of what it can carry, well, it can hold a lot of gear. I’ll be teaching a 3-day class next week before we head north, putting it through a more realistic test of what it’s going to see in Alaska but I have no doubt that it will perform splendidly. I am looking forward to every stroke.