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Sea Kayaker Magazine Review of Pygmy Coho Oct. 1998 Issue:

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Pygmy Note: The magazine's editors choose expert, anonymous paddlers to test commercially available sea kayaks. Their goal is to give their readers objective opinions and detailed data on performance. Here is the body of their review:

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 [Reviewers: VS 5’2" 160-pound female. Day trip winds to 10 knots flat water to light chop KB 6’2", 210-pound male. Day trip in light variable breeze to 10 knots. Boat wakes to 2 1/2 feet in open water and breaking over a shallow bottom. KW 6’2" 200-pound male. Day trips, from calms seas to light chop with winds to 10 knots.]

The Coho is a stitch-and-glue kit boat. The multi-chine kayak has "nice sleek lines, and the beauty of a wooden boat can never be matched by an all fiberglass boat. This boat will turn heads on the water, the beach and on the car top" (VS). "The beveled deck is a fantastic feature which really helps make the stroke more comfortable" (KW).
Weighing in at under 40 pounds, the Coho is "super easy to get up on my shoulder and carry around" (VS). " I am amazed by how easy it is to solo carry this boat and load it onto the car top" (KW). The Coho tested had no toggles for a tandem carry.
This particular Coho had bungies laced through padeyes forward and aft of the cockpit. There were no bungies for carrying a spare paddle and no grab line on the perimeter of the deck-both features that the builder could add. "The cockpit is quite large, with plenty of room for me to lift one leg out first" (KW). VS also found the opening easy to get in and out of, while KB thought it was "too long and wide to afford me a secure fit. In order to maintain knee-to-deck contact I had to paddle with my legs widely splayed. An owner-builder could probably install thigh braces to make a comfortable and secure keyhole cockpit."
The seat is a self-inflating Therma-rest pad velcroed to the hull. It is "comfortable enough, [but] a boat like this really begs for the builder to build a custom seat out of closed-cell foam" (KW).
The back rest is a padded band that for KW was "simple [but] more comfortable than the most expensive aftermarket back rests I have seen."
The adjustable foot braces "provided solid support for paddle strokes, bracing and edging the hull" (KB). The Coho tested had no rudder and, in the conditions encountered, none of the reviewers felt that the boat needed one.
"The Coho has a little bit of light initial stability, but nothing that feels tippy" (VS). Its "secondary stability is outstanding. The boat is very easy to set up on edge, while providing plenty of secure support even for extreme amounts of edge" (KW).
The Coho "carves [turns] nicely, though it doesn’t quite have the sense of digging in to the [turn] that I prefer. Still, the boat is beautifully responsive" (VS). KW "had a little trouble turning the boat until I got used to the moderate amount of edge required, and then I had no trouble making fast corrections to my course." The Coho "tracks quite well and doesn’t have to be constantly driven onto a course" (VS).
In winds to 10 knots, KB and KW noted only a slight tendency to weathercock, but it was easily corrected by edging. VS noted the Coho was well balanced on all points in a 10-knot wind.
KW thought the Coho was "quite fast." It "picks up speed quickly. This boat is not going to wear out the paddler on a long day’s cruising" (VS). KB "didn’t have any trouble catching power-boat wakes [up to 2 1/2 feet]. Once on a wave it was easy to continue surfing in a straight line, but the Coho didn’t lend itself to maneuvering much to play on the wave face."
VS noted that on a "fairly large power-boat wake there was nothing to indicate that the boat had any unpleasant tendency to throw water in a paddler’s face." But for KW, the strap securing the forward hatch "can break up the smooth flow over the front of the bow and throw some spray whenever the bow plunges in steep chop."
KB had difficulty rolling the Coho because the knee braces didn’t fit him properly. For KW, rolling was "a snap, provided a secure fit in the cockpit." While practicing reentry rescues, KW noted that the aft bungies worked well for setting up a paddle float-the ridge on the aft deck was low enough that it "did not hinder solid bracing on the paddle float." KW thought the coaming aft "seemed a little higher than necessary and tended to catch on my life vest attachments." For KB the cockpit opening was easy to reenter.
The Coho has plenty of room for gear: two or three weeks worth, according to KB. Nylon straps and tightening levers hold the pressed wooden hatches onto neoprene gaskets. The system "seemed unnecessarily fussy" and allowed some leakage, "two to four cups in each compartment after a long rolling and reentry session" (KW). The mahogany plywood bulkheads are glassed in place and are secure and watertight.
While KB would like to see better thigh bracing and a simple hatch closure system, he thought the Coho provided "seaworthy, serviceable performance for a paddler my size. It’s not playful, but it tracks well, and edges and maneuvers reliably, securely and predictably. KW "really liked this boat. The good handling for its length combined with its quickness and beauty send it to the top of my ratings for an expedition-style kayak." While noting that beginning paddlers should learn to edge the Coho to turn it, KW thought "it would be a good training boat for advanced beginners on up." "Of all of the boats I have reviewed, the Coho is my hands-down favorite," wrote VS, "the combination of light weight and superb handling make this a wonderful boat. It is a good-tracking cruising boat I would recommend to anyone, whether novice or an experienced paddler. While it may be a little light in initial stability for some novices, I think it is well worth adjusting to because it is such a well-mannered boat overall.

 

Coho – Designer’s Response
Thank you for reviewing our new Coho. I was thrilled that your reviewers liked the boat so much. There is nothing as beautiful as a wooden kayak. Especially when it is combined with ultra-light weight and superb performance.
KW loved the Coho’s unique new beveled deck. It gives you the maximum foot room for the lowest sheer height. Your test paddlers ranged in height from 5’2" to 6’2"—all experienced the ease of stroking close to the hull without banging there knuckles.
A closed-cell foam seat with hip pads, knee braces, and full thigh braces are available from us. One of the advantages of building a Pygmy kayak is that the builder can outfit it to fit their leg length and weight. One size never fits all.
I took the same Coho your reviewers tested on a 2-month paddle last summer. Even with waves washing over my hatches I experienced no leakage. That is our customer feedback as well. My guess is your reviewers needed to tighten the hatch webbing, which easily adjusts.
Your test paddlers thought the Coho good for avid beginners. At our shop, highly skilled test paddlers arrive to try out many of our 13 kit boats. They almost always choose the Coho. Nearly half of the novice paddlers select her as well.
I spent intense weeks on the computer CAD design of this boat, followed by construction of 3 prototypes. I refined the Coho’s lines and handling until she reached my concept of that sweet balance of tracking and turning, with good edging. When one of your reviewers sent her "to the top of my ratings for expedition-style kayak" and another states that "Of all of the boats I have reviewed, the Coho is my hands down favorite", I feel like all that work was worth it.
Thanks for the great review. Thanks for offering the paddling public anonymous expert opinions and statistics.
--John Lockwood

Text as appeared in Sea Kayaker Magazine, the Editors & Anonymous Expert Paddlers, Oct. 1998 issue.

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