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Sea Kayaker Magazine Review of Pygmy Golden Eye Std.

 

and Osprey Std. Kayaks, Dec. 1996 Issue

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Pygmy Note: The Osprey-Standard is identical to our GoldenEye-Standard kayak beneath the waterline, and so an objective review of the GoldenEye-Standard that appeared in Sea Kayaker magazine in the December, 1996 issue also applies to our Osprey-Standard. 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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VS 5'2", 160 pound female. Day trip, wind under 5 knots, water rippled with occasional boat wakes.
TB 5'6", 140-pound female. Day trip in winds to 20 knots and waves 2 to 3 feet. Carried about 20 pounds of gear.
DA 6'1", 175-pound male. Day trips in conditions from flat calm to 20-knot winds and 2 1/2- to 3-foot chop and whitecaps. Paddles empty and with 95-pound load.


The GoldenEye is sold as a set of plans. Its construction is stitch-and glue plywood. In the particular kayak we reviewed the construction was of "excellent quality" (DA). "Though the hull is built up of mutiple chines, the chines are soft and almost give the sense of a curved hull" (VS). The GoldenEye tested did not have a rudder, bulkheads or hatches, though all are available as options.
"The boat is very light weight and easy to shoulder carry, load and unload. Its relatively short length makes it easy to move around" (TB). DA would have added some padding to the section of the cockpit that rests on his shoulder to make the inside edge of the coaming a more comfortable point of contact. There is a carrying toggle secured to a hole in the bow, but neither toggle nor a provision for one in the stern, an omission that would make an assisted carry of a loaded boat awkward.
The cockpit is "large and roomy" (DA) and "very easy to get in and out of " (TB). Even DA, at 6'1", could get his legs in and out while seated. The peaked deck provides plenty of foot room.
The seat is a Therm-a-Rest pad attached to the hull with strips of Velcro; all of our reviewers found it comfortable, though TB noted that the pad, along with the large cockpit, made for a "very loose-feeling boat." The back rest is a curved panel of plastic with foam padding. It was comfortable and provided "excellent back support" (DA). Foam glued under the deck provided thigh bracing. For VS they were "perfectly placed," for DA "adequate" and for TB placed too far apart to get a solid grip. The solid Keepers foot braces were set slightly too far forward for VS and TB. For shorter paddlers the tracks should be mounted farther aft.
"The deck fittings seem useful and sell-placed" (VS). DA occasionally tripped his paddle on the pad eyes of the forward deck lines. Mounting them a bit more inboard would solve the problem. There is a bungie on the foredeck for paddle storage.
The GoldenEye has good stability. "In terms of paddling 'feel' one of the most comfortable boats I have ever paddled...I felt secure in it immediately" (VS). Of the secondary stability, TB wrote, "the stability holds fairly far out, as you can lean the boat over quite a ways and it will still right itself."
The GoldenEye tracks well: "does not take a lot of effort to keep it in a straight line" (VS). VS also thought the GoldenEye turned well, but for TB and DA, the tracking stiffness was at the expense of turning ability. "Not a boat I would use to carve turns. With better padding [for fit] it would probably be more responsive" (TB). DA could get the boat to carve turns by getting the GoldenEye well up on edge, but with a load aboard the GoldenEye takes a lot of effort to edge for turning.
"The boat is quick and responsive. It accelerated and held speed with little effort" (DA). When unloaded, the GoldenEye gave all of our reviewers a sense of easy, effortless paddling, perhaps because of its light weight. "The day of my test I paddled over ten miles and I felt like I had hardly done any work" (VS).
"The boat doesn't throw a lot of spray. It rides high out of the water and [has a]drier-than-usual deck" (DA). "The peaked decks shed water very quickly" (VS).
On small waves and wakes "the boat turned easily [on the crests of waves] to catch a wave and the behavior was steady and predictable" (DA). On steeper stuff, TB reported "quartering waves from the rear tend to cause the boat to broach in the trough of the wave, as the bow tends to bury. The waves I was in were fairly steep, however. Waves farther apart might prove less of a problem."
"The boat held a variety of courses in the wind with little effort. I noticed no excessive weathercocking . In the wind conditions I encountered it just went where I pointed it (DA).
The GoldenEye tested had neither bulkheads nor hatches (available as options). For flotation, this particular GoldenEye would rely upon float bags and a sea sock. The open hull made loading very easy. DA suggested small hatches in the ends of the boat would make moving gear in and out of the ends easier, but a length of light line tied to the first bag in would serve the same purpose.
"The roomy cockpit, light weight, and the fairly strong stability would be appealing to most novice paddlers, and the low price might also make it a good choice for a second boat for folks who want to increase the size of their fleet so they can bring friends" (TB). This is a fine cruising, fishing, and general use boat for a larger and intermediate level paddler. Its comfort and sea handling characteristics are excellent. It is light, simple and does everything well" (DA). " it is so light, so comfortable and handles just beautifully" (VS).


Design Response by John Lockwood
I am gratified that your reviewers liked the GoldenEye so well. They put her to the test with two of them paddling in 20-knot winds and 3-foot whitecaps. Their positive reports reflect our experience that the GoldenEye is a great touring boat. She will carry plenty of gear and handle wind and waves. Her wood-core glass-encapsulated hull makes her strong and rugged. I, as a designer, am particularly proud of the fact that she is one of the easiest boats on the market to paddle without a rudder or with her rudder up.
Like all round-hulled kayaks, the GoldenEye gains some advantage by leaning on turns. The GoldenEye has neither the hard chine of our Queen Charlotte line of sea kayaks (reviewed SK, summer 1994) nor the sharp bilge of some fiberglass boats that carve turns. However, her rounded hull shape, combined with her very light weight (37 pounds) is one of the reasons why all of your reviewers commented on how effortlessly she paddled.
The discussion of where the thigh braces were placed is somewhat moot. Our manual describes how to install foam braces to fit the kit builder's own body. Note that VS at 5'2" and DA at 6'1" both thought the GoldenEye an excellent boat. The hip and thigh braces simply need customizing to fit people of such differing heights....
This kayak is fun to construct, eminently seaworthy, and economical--a great value.

--Sea Kayaker Magazine, the Editors & Anonymous Expert Paddlers, Dec. 1996 issue.

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