Sir Adam wrote: . . . I really look forward to seeing how well it performs on moving water. . .
OK, so I’m impatient. I got tired waiting for an on-river review of the Storm Chaser. So I bought one, and I’m writing the #*+%^& review myself!
First, please understand I’m NOT a C-1er -- I'm an old open-boater. I was looking for adventure in my life, so I decided to try the transition to a C-1. (My wife suggested shuffleboard at the Seniors’ Center, but I stuck to my guns.)
Problem was, being used to a big OC-1, I always felt ‘uncomfortable’ in a little ex-kayak. (OK, ‘scared shirtless’ if you insist.)
But then I read about the Storm Chaser: “Crazy stable,” someone said. 27.75” wide, the specs said.
So I ordered one. I got an extra layer of Kevlar built into the hull, and an extra layer of s-glass in the deck. (I’ve been known to paddle obliviously onto rocks.) I got mine in bright yellow, so it will show up when floating upside down in the river. And I got it without outfitting, because I’m a cheap SOB.
Throughout the entire process of ordering, building, and delivering, Chris at River Elf took better care of me than my ol’ mom would have. His personal attention to every detail – not only in the build, but also in the business dealings -- was outstanding, fair, and considerate. The only glitch was there was no hot coffee waiting for me when I picked up the boat at the FEDEX terminal in Everett, WA.
After a couple of pool sessions to tweak the home-made outfitting job, and to practise rolling (EASY!), I finally took it to the river – a heinous Class II+ stream, which has been known to frighten kindergarten kids and old ladies in rubber duckies.
The first test came walking to the put-in. At 37 pounds, complete with air-bags, foam bulkhead, ankle blocks, saddle, and thigh-straps with stainless aircraft buckles, the Storm Chaser was a dream to carry. There was four inches of snow on the path to the put-in, and, being good Canadians, we tobogganed down in our boats. The Storm Chaser was clearly superior to all other boats in the party, sliding faster and further by far.
On the river – instant confidence! With minimal whimpering, I stuffed that Elf into every hole, wave, and eddy I could find. It featured a silky smooth transition from edge to edge, and the secondary stability, as Adam noted, was rock solid. Heading downstream, the Storm Chaser laughed at big wave-trains, and ignored boils and squirrely eddy lines. To answer John’s question, my saddle is 6”, and there was no problem with stability at that height.
Compared to my current OC-1, an Option, (Yes, I know, it’s like comparing an orange to a banana,) the Storm Chaser tracked easier, yet wasn’t difficult to turn. It was quicker by far to accelerate, and much faster in cruise mode. I gleefully attained mid-stream surf waves I’d never caught before in the OC-1. And although the Storm Chaser ain’t a playboat, and has no sharp chines for carving, it was an easy boat to control on a wave – not at all sluggish.
Best of all, at the end of the trip, no one ragged on me for paddling a boat called an “Elf.” But everyone wanted to swap boats for the carry out.
The Storm Chaser, as mentioned, isn’t designed as a playboat. I don’t know about its steep creeking ability, cuz I haven’t tried it. But as a general river-runner, especially in big squirrely water, and over long portages, I doubt there’s an equal on the market.
We’re certainly very happy together after two dates. It now shares my bed, while the wife has moved to the garage.
No shuffleboard for this C-1er!