As for the paint job, well it's probably the only time you'll ever look it in such detail, in the months to come that nice shiny finish will soon be scratched and matted up all over with sand, gravel, fish guts and who knows what! But for the meantime it's absolutely pristine, which means that faults tend to show up more. Stealth are known for their sometimes wild and wacky colour schemes dreamt up by customers from all over the globe, which is great, but the more complicated and exotic the colour scheme, the more likely you'll see the odd error.
My 575 is white tipped with red. Pretty simple, but even this proved a bit difficult for the gel coat finishers at Stealth. One side the lines don't quite meet up at the binding strip and on another they meet up but one isn't straight. The bonding strip is also a bit wobbly on the edges and still spotted with the release agent from the mould, giving it a slightly ragged appearance. This is a shame, as the kayak is generally finished quite well and the fittings look good quality.
|You might find some raggedy edges and |
the odd line that veers off from the vertical.
As I say, the paint job will soon be scuffed, scratched and generally look a mess, so it's not really a big deal. It's just those first impressions. ;-)
What else? Well, laying it on the world's smallest lawn gave me chance to go over some options on where to put stuff. Certainly the front hatch is cavernous, really enormous, and everything could just go in there. The South Africans seem to put their fish straight in the hatch, but I prefer to use a cool bag to store my catch so I can keep it really cold with freezer blocks. When I freeze mackerel, I like to see the colours still on them! A cool bag does restrict access to the space further up and below:
But you don't need access to it all the time, you can just keep a small opening and slide the fish in there, keeping your tackle boxes in front.
Perhaps my biggest surprise are two factors that reflect the kayak's designers live in a warm water environment with sandy beaches. First, the Pro Fisha 575 has a permanent rudder, making it difficult to drag up rocky or shingle beaches using the front end handle. Stealth provide a "drag" handle, but that's not something you want to use if you're on rough ground as it just scrapes the side of the yak.
If you've already fitted your rudder, and you want to adjust your feeting position before you get on the water, you need to find somewhere with soft sand so that you don't risk buckling the rudder as the entire weight of you plus yak will be on it. Best to get your foot rests in the right place before you put the rudder on.
And speaking of feeting position, we come to the second feature that seems pretty typical of SA kayaks: tiny little footwells, suitable for bare feet or at best feet wearing just neoprene. Most UK guys paddle in cold water for most of the year, and if you're wearing boots on top of dry socks (i.e. from a dry suit, so a size up from your normal boot size) then you probably won't fit them into the Pro Fisha footwells. Bit annoying, as we don't all launch or land onto sandy beaches. Where I fish it can often be sharp barnacled rock edges on the shoreline. Not great for glass yaks, but even worse for neoprene socks. You need boots in these places, but my Orvis wading boots don't fit so I'm in the market for some new footwear. This seems to have been something that the Dorado 2 has addressed specifically, though the footwells are still pretty narrow in that boat too from what I hear. If you're a big guy, try your footwear out first in someone else's!
That's it for my first impressions. What really counts is it's performance on the water. If it's fast, comfortable and handles rough water, that will do for me. All other considerations are secondary!
But now I have it, the question is where do you put a six metre kayak? It'll have to go up the back wall like my Scupper Pro did, but this is over a metre longer... Imagine the neighbours fear and delight when they saw nearly six metres of kayak arrive ready to go up against our gable!
First thing is to get it on the wall, note the rubber fenders on the gable to protect the yak:
Next is to get the sophisticated and fully patented Vertical Yak Lifting End Protection Unit in place:
Then carefully lift it into position, nose down in the fully patented protection unit with one end resting on a wall buttress, and attach the pulley:
From outside it looks even more ridiculous. Remember the nose is about a foot from the corner of the house...
Next step is too walk along the kayak, holding it above your head, until it rears vertically up against the wall. I think you can forgive me if there are no photos of this part! Bit jittery the first time, but in the twinkle of an eye the job is done.
Coming next will be an on-the-water first impressions, stay subscribed for the updates!