This week I picked up my new Impex Assateague. I have been paddling a demo boat from Expedition Kayaks and I made the decision to take one of the last ones in stock. It is one of the few boats available designed for large paddlers. I’m 6’1″ and 240lb. My initial impressions of the Assateague were very promising. I paddled one for a day at Bateman’s Bay and was impressed with the secondary stability and remarked that my skill set seemed to improve. Actually, I already had those skills, it’s just my Eco Bezhig was holding me back because of its very poor secondary stability.
My new boat is beautiful. The gelcoat is very thick and the finish is superb. Every fitting is perfectly attached and the decklines are thick and strong. Bungees are almost as thick as the decklines and don’t appear as though they’ll break for some time. Inside the cockpit, the thigh braces are comfortable and perfectly positioned. Footposts are strong and easy to adjust. The seat is impressively comfortable and the ratchets behind make it easy to adjust for a perfect fit. This is a far cry from the molded seat of the Eco Bezhig which seems comfortable at first but soon reveals its shortcomings.
In short, it is hard to find a flaw in the Assateague as far as its physical construction is concerned. You’d be hard pressed to find a superior boat. At the Expedition Kayaks warehouse I was shown a boat with 2 years of wear and tear with no scratch penetrating the gelcoat. Early versions had one or two issues with leakage from the cargo hatch coamings but this has now been corrected. The new version even has extra stiffening in the hull to prevent flexing in the hull.
In the water, the boat shines. I wanted to go rudderless so my skills would improve and I’ve aready mentioned the improvement in edging and bracing I got just by changing boats. The Assateague edges just fine. It goes over smoothly and reaches a stable point where you can just hang. It actually takes some effort to go all the way over so recovering a spill with a brace is a breeze. Compare the Eco which is harder to go over to an edge but once done keeps going until you’re in the drink. The waterline of the Assateague is slightly shorter because it has greater rocker and I think this makes it slightly slower on a long haul. This greater rocker makes it a far superior handler of rough condition. On Saturday, we paddled in a northerly wind twisting to nor’ west that blew the lake up and gave us a quatering sea on our return. The Assateague was incredible stable and I only lost my control once or twice with no ill effect. I found it hard to adjust onto waves but I know this is due to my skill rather than the boat. As I build up trust I will be easily able to edge into and off waves without a rudder. I also found that using only partial skeg rather than full on gave me enormous variation in handling so being able to trim resistance to the water is fabulous.
On a following sea I’ve had mixed results. It needs larger volume waves to push along than the Eco which is brilliant riding swell and surf. I will get used to this and the early results in the demo lead me to believe the boat is no slouch. I did catch and hold a large wave in Broken Bay that gave me a good ride for a few hundred meters. I also had trouble keeping up with Mirage paddlers in my klan but once again this could be me but some other reviewers, who love the boat, say it’s not a fast ride.
Overall, I think this is the boat for me for the future. I am keeping the Eco as it is great in the surf but from now on the Assateague is my boat of choice. If you’re a big bloke looking for the right boat, check this one out. Here’s what some other paddlers have said: