James McBeath 28/02/2011 | Posted in Journey, Recreational/Touring
The Jackson crew just spent a great week in Florida hitting the Everglade coastal region for some adventure and came away elated with our experience. Thanks to the Port of the Islands Resort in Naples, we were within arms reach of a long list of amazing destinations; both interior to the famed Everglades and to the open sea. To some of our paddlers, this trip was their first time in a trek kayak! With the unique tides, thousands of islands as well as elements like wind, waves and wildlife, not exactly the best place to start 😉 BUT, with a couple Journey’s in hand, our beginners found things FAR easier than expected!
With good bit of experience with us in trek we headed out to the glades with George and Lauren, two absolute beginners to test our teaching skills and see how the Journey facilitates early learning. Along for the ride was our Kayak Fishing guru, Drew Gregory as well as our local dealer, Jory Pearson of Florida Paddlesports (www.floridapaddlesports.com) . A super shout out goes to Jory who made sure our meandering amongst the thousands of islands was less daunting than it needed to be!
The first thing we noted was the cockpit size. The Journey is a touch bigger in cockpit size. Its 36 inches long, 19+ wide… what that ment for George and Lauren was it was VERY easy getting in. We put in on docks, so the idea of trying to slide down, fold knees awkwardly in and then dropping in via a tight cockpit would have made comfort and balance an immediate factor in this first phase. You can basically fit anyone in these boats and all they have to do is slide in. Aiding your decent into the boat is the fact that the back band is adjustable… AKA, you aren’t getting stuck trying to make it over a fixed, high backed, seat; again, another little detail that makes the Journey easy to get in to.
Once in, the padding was super comfy. Your butt rests on technology Jackson has developed for the trials and tribulations of whitewater, so the materials, techniques and methodolgy put into the building of the cockpit area results in durability and comfort. Comfort being AGAIN key to a learner’s experience.
We kept skirts off of George and Lauren as per their request, but never did they feel unstable! We cruised the mangrove channels, out into the bays, brought them through tidal currents and chased mating sting rays all day and neither of them worried at all about stability! Thoughts may have started with “oh oh, I’m in a new boat” but within minutes were in the “wow, look at the birds” phase! Comfortable, dry and stable!
A lot of the stability had to do with hull design, but I’d like a special mention to go out to the folks who designed the Smart Rudder System. Wow. I’ve taught a few people to paddle trek before, but they all had to put up with the standard rudder systems. Systems that behave much like those old VW Beetle cars … you know the ones… with a peddle (like the VW clutch) that you had to push from your hip down to change directions. This created a balance challenge that more often than not scared the crap outta newby’s as it shifted their balance violently from one side to another. The Journey’s Smart Rudder System is a simple peddle above the foot brace… push it an inch or so in and it engages the rudder. A quick lesson on paddle placement and edge turns and both our guiney pigs were cruising the channels. Believe me, getting stuck under a mangrove tree in these narrow channels is very discouraging! With George and Lauren’s ability to immediatly handle tight turns this frustration was eliminated… along with the scariness of being unstable in a turn!
I mentioned the hull design… well, again thinking that our whitewater experience comes in handy sometimes, the Journey turns on a dime compared to others of it’s class! Our unique ‘rocker’ and hull shape seems to bring that turn around much faster. Again a frustration for many beginners is the inability to see where you want to go and get there fast. Add turnability to the incredible speed to this boat and you have a craft that behaves much more like an advanced boat in performance with the ease of an entry level boat. Jory and I will be heading out to bigger waters later to really test the advanced performance… stay tuned for that!
Signing off from Florida!