Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Venture Easky 15 LV

I am by no means an expert on boat handling and design.  I have only ever truly paddled one boat so I can not really compare it with other boats.  I am fairly new to kayaking so can only write about my experiences I have had with this boat, which I hope will be of help to others new to the world of sea kayaking.

This is my Easky 15 LV by Venture Kayaks.  It has been described by the makers as 'a touring kayak that thinks it's a sea kayak'.  Back in September 2009 I was looking for a boat to take out on the sea for day paddles along my local coastline, nothing to serious.  The more I read about sea kayaking the more I grew to understand boat design etc.  With a low budget and a lot of kit to get I whittled it down to three boats that would suite my needs.  These were the Dagger Blackwater 14, Perception Carolina 14 and of course the Easky 15 all around the £600 mark.  All three boats are classed as 'touring boats' which essentially is a cheap version of a sea kayak which is aimed more at gentler paddling.

Testing the Dagger Blackwater

I have the low volume version because I'm small built.  The outfitting in this boat is good with a comfy seat and high backrest.  The backrest is adjustable and has a flip top to enable a higher back support for more relaxed paddling position.  I have never used this flip top design as you can not wear a spray deck at the same time.  There are bow and stern bulkheads with decent size hatches for multi day paddles.  The footrests are adjustable as well as knee supports.  The deck lines on the front are well positioned but I have added additional lines to the stern. The is a hollow on top of the deck for a day hatch to be added, basically a plastic version of a deck bag with a rubber hatch like cover.  Unfortunately this does not come with the boat and is an additional £30.  My boat is fitted with a drop down skeg but there is an option for a rudder or neither.  The boat comes in a range of colours but I opted for 'lava red'.  There is also the availability to fit two flush mounted fishing rod holders to the rear of the seat.


This boat tracks really well, in fact a bit to well.  I rarely use the full length of the skeg, only letting it out a touch in very strong winds or for a bit of support.  As a compromise for its good tracking however the boat does not turn easily.  To be honest I didn't really notice until I tried out a few decent sea kayaks.  A good edge and a sweep stroke with see you turn well however after comparing it to P&H Scorpio I realise how hard it was.  The boat is really stable and is great for the beginner.  Trying to edge the boat is a little tricky and the secondary stability is not so good.  In the surf the bow tends to dive unlike some of the other boats in the same class.  So much so that even launching off a beach with a slight slope causes an unstable entry.  Poor turning, secondary stability and the tendency to dive make it a struggle in rough conditions.  I find it an easy boat to roll and have seen people who have never been in a long boat before roll it with ease.  Being the longer than the other two boats it is quite fast.  I can easily keep up an average speed of 3-4 knots without tidal assistance, which is about average for a sea boat.  I have knocked this boat around a bit and it seems tough enough.  I tested the Dagger Blackwater side by side with this boat and felt the Easky to be more responsive.  The Blackwater does provide a little more stability though if that's what your looking for.

It has sounded like all I have done is put this boat down but it is easy to criticise when you compare it to a £2,000 sea boat.  This boat is perfect for the beginner in calm sheltered conditions.  It is a little tricky in big water, however I have paddled this boat in all sorts of sea states and still come out the other end, just.  When I look back on where this boat has taken me over the past 15 month I'm quite proud of it.  With my experience growing and aspirations to paddle longer trips and bigger waters I am looking to spend a lot more and buy a top of the range sea boat.  I find that I want to improve my paddling in rougher conditions but feel a little held back with this boat.  If all you want to do is go out in calm weather, take it for day trips or long weekends touring the coast then this boat is all you need.  If you intend to get serious with your paddling then I suggest stretching your budget a little further.  There are some really nice sea boats around the £900 mark, and a little more again can get a top of the range plastic boat around £1200.

I have tested most of the P&H and Valley range of glass and plastic sea boats, which in turn has spoiled me and made me realise the performance of a top quality boat.  Hopefully I will have a new boat within the next 12 months but I still intend to keep this boat knocking about. 

10/10 for the beginner but for further aspirations spend a bit more.

Used since September 2009.  Date 11 January 2010.

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