Mariner Kayaks is Matt and Cam Broze, sometimes referred to in kayaking circles as the Broze Brothers. We have been kayaking since the mid 1970s'. Since 1980 it has been our passion to design and sell the best sea kayaks in the world. Each model (Mariner, Escape, Sprite, Mariner XL, Coaster, Mariner II, Express, Mariner MAX, and Elan) has sold well, but more important to us, each has also become a favorite among expert kayakers.
Mariner Kayaks has no dealers. Cam and I prefer to deal directly with the paddlers who will be using our kayaks. We get to know them better and it keeps us in touch with our customers needs, but mostly it is much more fun. While this has many benefits it also creates a few problems. Most significant: how can you discover that you will be happier with one of our kayaks than with one you can see, touch and maybe test paddle at a local store? This is a difficult problem for us because as our local customers know we strongly encourage head to head comparisons among kayaks. If you can't come here or haven't met a customer near you, about the best we can do is offer testimonials from happy customers and a policy that allows you to return the kayak if after testing it you're not completely satisfied you bought the best kayak for you. On the positive side: if we sold Mariner kayaks through dealers the price would likely be higher. Only one perfectionistic kayak builder with years of experience vacuum-bagging makes each and every Mariner completely himself. If we were to expand and sell Mariner kayaks through many dealers he would likely have to take on several employees with all those attendant nightmares and the quality problems that inevitably results from the communication problems and lack of a caring attitude that wage-slave employees are more prone to exhibit.
By dealing direct you get advice from the designers on which models would be the best kayak for you. (After we learn about a customers needs, we occasionally surprise them by suggesting a competitor's kayak,one that we don't even sell, may be more suitable for them than any kayak we make. We then direct them to one or more competitors who handle that kayak and where they can go to try it out. By dealing directly with us you get a custom kayak, outfitted with just the options you want, in a wide choice of colors. You get top quality materials and meticulous construction from a single craftsman as well as the performance that results from our extensive research and testing (and our passion to make the best).
Before we make "improvements" we have tested the new system for some time. Problems are rare because we don't change something just to make it cheaper. One result is that the resale value of a well used Mariner is usually higher than the price the original customer paid for it new. Obviously, inflation has played a role in that along with our long lasting construction and great reputation, but few other items hold their value nearly this well.
We do our best to keep our kayaks trouble free. We depend almost exclusively on "word of mouth" advertising so quality and our reputation are extremely important to us. We carefully wrap and ship each kayak ourselves. If you call you will most likely get Cam or I on the phone.I have test paddled over 1000 different sea kayaks (that is not a typo--one thousand). I keep detailed records. I time the kayaks: spun in place (360 degrees) and turning at cruising speed (180 degrees)--both while tilting the kayak and while keeping it level--the leaned tests are done with and without the rudder. For many kayaks top speed was also timed. Many were also tested for handling in wind and waves. There is nothing like testing to destroy preconceived notions. This testing has forced me to reformulate or modify my theories about hull design many times. By now I can usually look at a kayak and predict its performance and handling characteristics quite well. However, I test the prediction if I can because when my predictions are wrong I then get to indulge my passion in trying to understand why that particular kayak didn't fit my (just outdated) theories. This testing has revealed that a lot of what is considered common knowledge about kayak hull design is either wrong or is only applicable in certain cases. (One example is "longer is faster". If you've "learned" this somewhere feel free to call us and ask why this often isn't the case--or click on FAQ here or the sidebar.)
As you might guess all this testing has had an influence on our kayak designs and is one reason Mariner hulls are noticeably different from most sea kayak designs. Another reason our hulls are so unique is that we find paddling in extreme conditions challenging fun so our kayaks must excel in rough conditions to satisfy us. The result: one January at the annual "Surf Pummel" on the Washington coast there were upwards of thirty kayakers who came to play in the winter surf. Seven besides ourselves paddled sea kayaks, six of those seven paddled Mariners. Another result: of the first four paddlers (in three parties) that we are aware of that paddled all of the exposed Pacific Ocean coastline between Seattle and Glacier Bay, Alaska, three used Mariner IIs, and the other paddled an original Mariner.
Early on some of our competitors made up reasons to criticize our radical designs without even ever being in one, ("hard chines will flip you over in currents or surf", etc.). Now years and a small army of our ecstatic customers later, several of them have begun to copy aspects of our designs, including the hard chines. Some even adding multiple hard chines (which might help the kayaks strength and stiffness some but won't improve the handling nearly as much as a single hard chine). While copying has often improved their designs some, unless the reasons behind the design are well understood and the designer has thoroughly tested a prototype of the new kayak, an "improvement" in one area can often create problems in another. A sophisticated design solves problems without creating new ones. Attempts to copy a well respected design often pale when compared to the original that was designed after extensive research, test paddling, prototype modifications, and the understanding that comes from paddling many different designs in a variety of conditions. For example, the "Sportee" is an imitation designed to look like and trade upon our Coaster's reputation. To the untrained eye it looks like a Coaster yet it handles poorly, weatherhelming in sidewinds and broaching suddenly in following seas. The Sportee is also noticeably slower and doesn't track as well. What bothers us most about this "sincerest form of flattery" is that those who have tried the imposter often won't try any kayak that looks similar. One shopper told me he liked the Sportee least of the six kayaks he had just rented to test. He had been looking for a small sporty kayak but I practically had to beg him to give our Coaster a try, "just to humor me and see if you can notice any differences at all between it and the Sportee". He tried it and ordered his Coaster within the hour. Please don't judge any of our kayaks because you tried one that looks like (or were told by a salesperson "it's just like") a Mariner.
Typically in this business a kayak is conceived and designed; a full size plug is built from wood strips; the wood plug is faired, painted and smoothed; and two clamshell like fiberglass mold halves are laid-up over the plug; the molds are "popped" off the plug and polished; the deck and hull of the kayak are laid up inside the molds, "popped" out and seamed together (or seamed together and "popped" in some cases). The design is then paddled--for the first time. Whatever the outcome, even if the kayak is a total dog, the designer will probably be happy (with all the labor one has invested in the project already it is hard to remain objective). It is unlikely that the designer will then improve the design because then the time-consuming hard work part begins all over again. We didn't do it that way, even with our first kayak. Even after months of research we still didn't have as much faith in our design abilities as most first time designers apparently do, so we decided to test our design before we put too much work into it. We built a rough plug and waterproofed it so it could be paddled. We began testing, and changing, and testing, and changing, and testing etc. etc. This continued until, extremely pleased with the results, we were confident enough to put in the months of unpaid labor it took to fair and smooth that first plug to our perfectionist standards. Nine months later we were the proud parents of the first Mariner.
The original Mariner not only performed beyond what we had been hoping for but was an immediate success with other paddlers as well. Among narrow beamed sea cruising kayaks the original Mariner set the standard for cargo capacity, paddling ease and sweet handling in difficult conditions. It didn't hurt our sales that Cam's artistic talents had made the Mariner visually beautiful. The lines were so attractive that often we had to talk smaller paddlers out of buying one even though they had their heart set on getting one and checkbook in hand. At 18" 5" long it was just not a suitable kayak for them in a strong wind.
In order to quit turning away customers and supply more than just large experts with Mariner performance, we analyzed the needs of paddlers of different size, weight, strength, ability and purpose and created several entirely new designs to meet those needs.
Optimizing performance for several subsets of paddlers is the reason we have so many distinctively different looking models. When we ran a retail store we took this a step further by selling other kayaks if they were better suited to the needs or pocketbook of some paddlers than our own. Having already paddled and made notes on most of the sea kayak choices available, I knew which ones had the characteristics that were important to experienced paddlers and that we could wholeheartedly promote to suitable paddlers. We were careful in our selections to offer the best or the best value and tried to avoid kayaks or other gear that would cause our customers problems. Because we stand behind everything we sell, if a customer has a problem we have a problem as well. We prefer happy customers to fixing problems.
Although much more confident in our design skills today, we learned the value of testing the plug and fine tuning the hull to get just the performance we wanted. We have tested and modified every model many times before we finally fair and finish the plug and make a mold over it. This fine tuning of a well-conceived design is probably the major factor contributing to our present reputation among expert kayakers.
We don't just want you to know your Mariner is the best. We want you to feel that your Mariner is just right when you paddle. To further that end, beyond the variety of hull designs and our help in picking the right model for you, we offer several seat options, your choice of bulkhead locations (or none), several different hatches (or none), and other flotation systems. There are over a dozen stock colors to choose from and custom colors are available. Not only do we have hulls with the optimum design for your size and purpose, but your kayak can be custom outfitted with the options and colors you choose. If you are not sure what you need we will be happy to help. We can spell out the pros and cons of each choice (even color). You will be surprised to find we don't promote expensive options and lay-ups. We favor keeping a kayak simple and trouble free. We do however, suggest a relatively expensive graphite paddle. Nobody we know who has one would choose to paddle with anything else.
We provide detailed manuals on our website. We want you to become an expert, safety-conscious paddler (after all you will be our representative out there). One manual covers general safety concerns [See MARINER KAYAKS "SEA KAYAK SAFETY" MANUAL], another presents what we have tested and found to be the best sea kayak rescues [See MARINER KAYAKS "KAYAK RESCUES THAT WORK" MANUAL], including a detailed description of the outrigger paddle float rescue. We invented, refined, and promoted the paddle float rescue (Mariner Self-Rescue) back in 1981. Now that it is widely used we are often appalled at the poor technique taught in many classes, texts, and videos [See MARINER RESCUE FLOAT PLUS DIRECTIONS for detailed instructions to using a paddle float]. Our rescue manual describes in detail how to best practice and perform the rescues that we've found work in the widest variety of kayaks and conditions. Another manual covers how to use all the unique features of Mariner kayaks, right down to how to tie all the knots we use and how to secure it on your car [See MARINER KAYAKS MANUAL]. The fourth manual goes in to detail on paddling skills, from a beginners first few tentative strokes to useful techniques you won't find in any other kayaking text available today. The paddling guide describes the best ways to handle difficult conditions and rough water in your Mariner [See MARINER OWNER'S PADDLING GUIDE]. If you would like hard copies of these manuals feel free to make one copy of each (for personal use only) off the web.
In Sea Kayakers Spring '87 issue our Mariner XL was reviewed. The Summer '94 issue has a review of our Coaster. The December '95 issue reviews our Mariner Max and the April '99 issue reviews our Elan (and because the Express has essentially the same hull, most of the Elan review--except fit--applies to it as well). Sea Kayaker has given us permission to post these reviews on the web. You can also access them from the "Reviews:" pickbox on the sidebar.
It frustrates us to talk to someone who has purchased a kayak unsuited to them (especially when there were better choices available, often in the same paddling shop where they bought the unsuitable one). Feel free to call us and ask our opinion about the suitability of any kayak that interests you, even if its used, a kit, or you are designing it yourself, and have no intention of ever buying a kayak from us. One of us has probably paddled it, looked it over closely and can tell you its pros and cons. If we can help you in making a good choice (or build a better kayak for yourself) you will probably join the ranks of our "word of mouth" sales force and our time helping you will have been well invested.
If you get the chance try one of our kayaks even if you aren't in the market for a new kayak. We are confident that, like most experienced paddlers, you will find our kayak's handling and paddling characteristics to be almost magical. The next time "kayak designs" come up in conversation it's likely you will become our promoter even if you have successfully resisted owning one yourself. We couldn't buy that kind of advertising if we wanted to.
Please feel free to phone us with your design questions. We love technical questions, after all we get to talk about our passion. We believe you won't find nearly the same level of expertise anywhere else and you will appreciate finally getting explanations that make sense. If you haven't yet received a clear answer to your hardest questions about any aspect of sea kayaking please give us a call and let us try.
Our favorite customers are those that have spent months or even years looking at and testing every kayak they can. Not only does the final choice often come down to a decision between two of our models (which helps our egos), but we know they will have no doubt that their choice was the best because they tried the rest. A happy, knowledgeable customer doing a friend a favor by suggesting they come to us to look for a kayak is a much more convincing salesperson for us than money can buy. It must be working because we are busy keeping up with orders year round with only one small ad if any (in Sea Kayaker magazine). We maintain this ad mainly so that those who have heard about Mariner Kayaks from our "word of mouth" sales force can find us.
P.S. Thank you for your interest in Mariner Kayaks. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at our store. Note: at the present time we do not answer involved E-mail questions (except maybe in FAQ). We find a two-way conversation on the phone is a much more efficient way for us to pinpoint just what you want to know (and how much detail you would like). If your e-mail question can be answered in a sentence or two we will likely respond by e-mail. If you also include your phone number and the best times to reach you along with the question we may call you if that seems more efficient (or if we need more information to respond the best we can).
The best times to call are 10AM to Midnight (Pacific Time) any day of the week. If no answer leave a message and one of us will get back to you as soon as possible. (206)367-2831
Ó 2007 Mariner Kayaks