The paddling public writes:

7/23/2010 e-mail
The projected wind direction changed for the worst and its strength increased considerably. Nothing extreme, but I'd guess 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph.......paddling the Express was a joy. I took a longer path than everyone else, intentionally following the shore so that I was in the swells from where waves were pushed up by shallow water. I was being hit with both the wind and swells on the beam. The Express tracked so well that when I needed a bit of course correction a slight  lean on the downwind chine combined with a normal stroke turned the kayak back on course. There was little weather cocking or lee cocking tendency--never been in a kayak that felt so neutral to a strong beam wind. I've always felt a bit uneasy in choppy beam sea conditions, yet here I was paddling in the strongest beam seas on the bay that day and not even thinking of changing course and turning partially into the wind. I've never felt more comfortable and secure in beam seas and wind as I did in the Express yesterday. I also reached the far beach before most others in spite of deliberately taking a longer course.
D. N., CT

9/10/2009 e-mail 
Thanks, Matt .....
Through your help and advice I was able to find exactly what I needed.  I really appreciate your assistance. 
This is not the first time I've come to you for help, and I just want to say that it is so rare to find a business owner who is so willingly helpful to his clientele, even though I had only purchased my kayak used and on the opposite side of the continent from you. Your attention to detail and customer service are something that 99% of the other businesses in this country could learn from.
Thank you again.
G. M., ??

Matt responded:
Even more remarkable, we retired several years ago. We no longer have any incentive to keep our kayak owners happy so they will feel confident sending their friends to us. Old habits are hard to break I guess. Actually, kayakers in general and our customers in particular have treated us very well and we like to return the favor. We always dealt directly with the end user and that helps create a bond between us, especially because we were the kayak's designers as well as being the retailer. What other business can you think of that has only had one bad check in 29 years. The check was for about $25 so that comes out to about a $1 a year.

8/8/2009 e-mail
Clearly it is time for another kayak (in addition to the Mariner II and the Mariner Max that I already own) and I have located a Mariner Express for sale in Woodway WA . ...... Want to take some kayak surfing classes this summer and this seems like a good choice. Of course at some point I will find a Coaster in either burnt orange or that awesome red of yours!
Was at the Atlantic Kayak Symposium a couple of weeks back and the folks that knew kayaks spent a lot of time looking over the Mariner II. Not sure the British guys were that impressed (LOL!) but got quite a bit of interest from the racing crowd. On the last day of instruction we were boats (mostly British style) with the 20 and 30 somethings paddling them. I could push ahead at will and watch them struggle to stay in the lead. As I am 50 now it was sort of fun to watch them sweat...I was not even breathing and could have gone on much longer. The sea sock was also a big hit. In the evenings I pulled out my sea sock and rinsed it off. Rinsed the outside and was done. I take good care of my boats. All the others were still busy get the rocks and sand out as I was driving off...
Love my Mariner boats. Thanks Matt.
N. K. D., US Army

1/11/07 e-mail 
Dear Matt and Cam ,
It has been a long time since your trip up to Anchorage for the
Alaska Pacific University Kayak Symposium.  Since that time my  Mariner II has seen many miles of wonderful service.  I DO LOVE THAT  KAYAK!!!!!  I am convinced it is the best yak in the world.  On a recent trip to Seattle, I dropped by to say hi only to discover you had shut your doors.  I was saddened.  I hope you will continue to make boats even if it is in limited numbers.  You build the best boats on the planet that are designed for real paddlers.
M. H., Eagle River, AK

Most of a 7/7/06 e-mail from O. P.
By the way, I was on a three day trip with my Express to Lummi, Clark, Matia, Sucia, and Patos islands this past weekend.  On the crossing from Clark to Matia we had 15 kt wind and 2-3 ft following seas.  My friend, who has a Mariner II, and I were able to negotiate the crossing quite well, and no trouble with broaching or windcocking.  When we reached Matia a group of kayakers who arrived a little before we did mentioned how the were constantly broaching even though they had rudders.  Our 50 miles during last weekend was exciting without being out of control. I've owned my Express for over a year now and am quite amazed how well its handled all kinds of conditions.
O. P., WA

12/18/06 e-mail from J. M.  
Some years back a paddling acquaintance bought an Express after trying the Coaster that I owned at the time but finding it too small for his liking. He was so pleased with his Express that he talked his brother into getting one. I talked to Rick today and even though he paddles but seldom these days, he tells me that he will never sell the Express, even if he uses it just once a year. But his brother Billie, who doesn't seem to have a great interest in paddling, may be another story. So, who knows, I may end up with an Express one of these days. Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to put my name on your "hopefuls" list, just in case.

12/20/06 e-mail from J. M.
I talked with Rick about the possibility of his brother Billie maybe selling his Express. To the contrary, Billie got married since he bought the boat and his wife likes the Express so much that she would like to have the slightly lower volume version, the Elan. They especially like the Express because of its versatility; it can handle gnarly stuff with aplomb but they also enjoy gunkholing up the narrow, twisty tidal creeks running into the South Jersey bays and find that the Express, with its high degree of maneuverability, does very well in that environment as well [That's what I liked about my Coaster, it was so versatile].
J. M., NJ

9/4/2006 e-mail about the Mariner II
I've had a II since 1989. It's had many miles, been repaired and re-gelcoated and I've looked for (and bought) newer boats. Last month, I took the II out again in nasty wind and chop and....Please add me to the hopefuls list for a new II, particularly in Kevlar with sliding seat and bulkheads.
It's still the best!
J. C., Porter, Maine

Part of an 11/4/2005 e-mail about his Elan
Many thanks, especially for building a boat that was able to withstand steady winds of 30-35 knots and gusts to 45 during a one-hour paddle back from the Rio Grande .
M. E. Santa Fe, NM

6/9/2005 e-mail
Subject: Worlds Best Boat 
Every time I take my new Mariner II out I love it even more. Last week I paddled out to platform Edith (23 miles round trip). This was a training paddle for our annual Catalina crossing and circumnavigation. We (5 paddlers) decided to paddle back as fast as possible. In a 15 knot cross wind, 6 foot swell, and breaking waves I landed 20 minutes before the next paddler. The rudder and skeg boys were blown away. This boat is so much better then anything I've ever paddled.
I wish you weren't going to retire. I should have ordered a Coaster. 
Thanks for building my boat,

11/23/2004 e-mail
Just read about your decision to retire. It will be sad to say goodbye to an institution like the two of you. But 21 years have passed since we cruised among sea lions off Vancouver Island. So I congratulate you on your decision to give priority to your own free time while you can enjoy it the way you deserve.
Yesterday I took my XL out for a rough-weather workout with the hard core of BodÝ Kayak Club, lanterns lit and jackets and sprayskirts strapped tight.
We have a couple of kayaks to spare if you ever travel the Norwegian coast.
F. J., Bodo, Norway

11/23/2004 e-mail
Hi Matt and Cam

I just saw the announcement about retiring on your website. I have only owned three commercially made kayaks in the last 35 years and all three were Mariners. My current boat is a Mariner II and I readily endorse everything you have said about your boats - they are simply the best. I want to say thanks for the boats and, although our interaction has been minimal, I want to thank you for your response to my request for a light boat and making me such a superb kayak. It will outlive me I'm sure, but until then I know I will enjoy it and be safe on the water. Thanks again and enjoy your retirement. 
R. M., Vancouver, BC

11/23/2004 e-mail
Hard to believe the Mariner XL I have is 20 years old.  It is still the star of the show when I go on outings with my kayak club. I took your advice when I ordered and left rudder, hatches and bulkheads off. A few years ago, during a cold, boring winter I did install a rudder kit.  You were right. The rudder is of no advantage and I plan on removing it this winter and doing some fiberglass repair. Your footbraces and straps did convert to excellent rudder pedals though. Anyway, congratulations on a successful career and best wishes for a successful retirement. 
R. P., Kansas City, MO

Parts of a 9/28/2004 e-mail
Hi Matt and Cam ,
Was showing another boater your web site this evening, and thought I would say hello, hope you are well and busy.
You made a Coaster for me when I came out there from Colorado in the early '90's......your Coaster still is my favorite hull design, the boat closest to my heart.  I paddle it on reservoirs from time to time, when there are club paddlefests here, and it always is a revelation for people who have never had the pleasure of seeing such a boat and how it handles....... 
People who have kayaked on rivers for decades are always surprised by the Coaster.  But I am not surprised, and I will never forget the delight of first paddling your demo model on Lake Union ........    
But every once in a while, I will say to an experienced boater, "Take a look at the most beautiful, responsive kayak hull ever designed," and no one after seeing and paddling the Coaster has disagreed yet.  As Porsche used to say, "Coaster....there is no substitute."
Best wishes to you.                                                   
B. H., Denver, CO

1/27/2004 e-mail
Dear Matt and Cam ,
I bought my Mariner XL from you in 1986.  On an outing with a local kayak club with virtually all of the paddlers in recently produced boats it was clear the Mariner was the star of the show.  Most were surprised that my boat was nearly 18 years old. 
I've only made one mistake with this boat.  During a frigid winter a few years ago I ordered and installed a rudder kit.  You are of course correct in that a rudder is totally unnecessary on the Mariner XL.
R. P., Kansas City , MO

10/2/2003 e-mail
Just wanted to let you know that I'm very very happy with my new Express. I must admit I was vaguely worried that it wouldn't live up to my very high expectations of it, since I'd only tried it out on Lake Union in very calm conditions before buying (though I had used a Mariner II, an XL and a Coaster in various quite sea conditions over years).  But I took the Express out to Clayoquot Sound last weekend and paddled in some modest swells and chop, and a good broadside wind, out towards Lennard Light on the west side. Absolutely fantastic, especially compared with my old Icefloe, and even when compared with our Feathercraft K1 (a boat that I also like very very much). The Express doesn't seem to care about the wind and it surfs the swells beautifully. 
It also rolls like a dream, probably as much due to the very comfortable foam seat and secure knee braces than anything else. The very light weight of the Kevlar/Graphite layup I chose also makes it a superb rolling-practice boat. 
Perhaps the best testimonial comes from my sweetheart, who has a much more objective viewpoint (i.e. no bias for or against your boats in advance, since she is not such a gearhead as I am).  She tried the boat yesterday and commented that it is the first kayak she has felt really in control of and "didn't miss having a rudder whatsoever".
In short, THANKS.
E. S.,
, WA

Most of a 9/25/2003 e-mail from a buyer of a used Max
From the first day I paddled it I was impressed with how it responds so well to being put on an edge. Itís smooth, linear, and predictable as you shift your body weight or press lightly with a knee to accomplish a turn. Used to having to ďheaveĒ my knee to find an edge that would actually turn other boats, I nearly rotated the Max over with that kind of violent behavior! Instead, I now find that a much gentler, more relaxed pressure from either knee is all thatís needed to put the Max on a progressive edge so that I can turn quickly in the direction that I want. Edging the Max is very satisfying; itís extremely predictable, sending clear signals when Iím approaching over-rotating it. This responsiveness also helps tremendously when completing a roll Ė I find the Max a much easier boat to roll than my previous kayaks Ė mostly because it responds so well to my knee pressure. As big as the Max is, itís surprisingly agile and responsive. 

Ah, now the rudder ďthingĒ. Iíve read your web pages Ė theyíre persuasive but I donít buy it all. However, I absolutely buy the notion that any paddler needs to develop basic kayak maneuvering skills and should not rely 100% on a rudder to direct the boat. So, buying a rudderless boat was a big step for me. I can usually count the number of times Iíve had a rudder in the water on the fingers on one hand per year Ė but when Iíve needed it, I felt like I REALLY needed it. Not having it even as seldom-used option made me nervous. So far, I have to say that the Max is the best-tracking boat Iíve ever paddled. It is not prone to weather-cocking, even in moderate (5 Ė 20 kt) winds and although it will eventually tend to weather-cock in stronger winds, the boat can be simply corrected with the appropriate paddling skills. Likewise, I find the Max will tend to follow or ďsurfĒ momentarily with a wave approaching from the side but then immediately resumes its original direction once the wave has passed. This predictable behavior makes the Max a pleasure to paddle in the wind, as Iím spending much less time and energy using corrective sweep strokes Ė which, while effective, can be very tiring on long trips. So far at least, the Max has indeed rendered a rudder unnecessary. Am I fully convinced of the rightness of a rudderless boat? Not yet Ė but give me more time in those really ĎtrickyĒ situations, Iím working on it! 
Now nearly 3 years old, this Max is standing up well. The shell doesnít seem to mind getting ďslammedĒ by the occasional deep wave trough and of course, it has some predictable bottom scratches as I run the boat up onto rocky beaches or discover the odd boulder lurking just below the water line. But overall, the boatís fit and finish is commendable and testament to how well it was made in the first place.  Thanks for making such a pleasurable kayak; itís been a joy to own and use.

Most of two e-mails from July 2003
......On a trip in that area last summer we encountered breaking 6 footers during a six mile crossing at the mouth of Black Bay .  A month later, some friends paddled 15 foot swell after a massive overnight thunder storm. The area is very rarely paddled and the only other people we ever encounter are the occasional large sailboat or powerboat. 
I had hoped the Max would give me a little more stability than my Mariner II in those types of conditions.  It certainly met and even exceeded my
Our weather this year was more benign, but we did have several days of decent conditions that allowed me to get a get a good feel for the Max:  4 foot following seas that surfed us 26 miles one day; 3-4 foot reflectives along miles of cliffs; 3 foot swell in near-zero visibility fog; a day paddling into 3 footers and a moderate headwind.  As promised, the Max doesn't weathercock and maintains a "gyroscopic" stability in steep waves.  It is amazing in following seas, naturally resisting broaching and easily carving a leaned turn back down the wave if a broach does start to occur. The Max was definitely slower than the Mariner II,
cruising at 4 to 4.5 knots compared with the Mariner II's 5+. In calm conditions I had to work to keep up  with my friend's Current Designs GTS (a long, fast cruiser). The Max's speed seemed to be about on-par with my other friend's Romany Explorer. In conditions, though, the Max was seemed to pull ahead. The high bouyancy bow rode up over the waves, rather than punching through them. The sliding seat allowed me to fine tune my trim to the conditions without having to drag a rudder or skeg. In those conditions I was both faster and more stable than my companions' GTS or Romany Explorer.........
I am currently the only SKOAC member paddling Mariner s.  Most expert paddlers in the club paddle Brit boats, Romany Explorers being the favorite. They have traditionally been suspicious of boat designs from the Northwest, because of its reputation for rudder-controlled boats. These folks have been pretty impressed with my Mariners though. The sporty performance, rudderless design, HUGE cargo capacity and VASTLY SUPERIOR CONSTRUCTION (especially compared to the Brit boats) have forced them to change their thinking. Several members, myself included, are especially intrigued about the Coaster for early and late season paddling on Superior . Like BASK, SKOAC may soon have our own "Coaster Appreciation Society". 
Thanks again for two great boats and beyond-top-notch
customer service.  
B. H., Minneapolis, MN

Thanks for the detailed response regarding the relative speeds of the Max, II, Romany and GTS. I hate to admit it, but the other variable in the equation is that I had not done as much paddling this season as my buddies and was not in the same condition. 
I am surprised that the Max is so nearly as fast as the
Mariner II.  The II is so sleek it sometimes seems to be propelling itself.  I suppose that once I've had a chance to paddle my Max and II in the same conditions, I will have a better feel for their similarities/differences. 
As I mentioned, several of our club's expert paddlers love their Romany Explorers with an almost religious fervor.  They admit the Romany is no speed demon (especially compared to our club's Current Designs Extremes and, of course, my Mariner II), but Romany paddlers rave about the way their boats handle in rough conditions.  Looking at the hull of the Romany, I can see many similarities to Mariner 's design - hard chines, pronounced keel, etc.  However, they still rely on a skeg to control weathercocking, slowing them down even more. 
The other major problem with the Romany (and many other Brit boats, it seems) is crappy workmanship.  The hatches are not reinforced well and tend to leak after a few years of use.  We compared the 7" VCP hatch on my
Mariner II to the identical hatch on the Romany.  As you well know, my Mariner II's hatch is reinforced with a dozen or more screws.  The Romany has only two.  Some of my friends have built up their Romany hatches, adding as many screws as I have on the Mariner
I am a big guy (6'3", 230 lbs.)  If I had been small enough to fit into a Romany I may never have discovered
Mariner s.  Fortunately for me, I was forced to look beyond the Romany in my search for my "perfect boat" and eventually landed on your cyber doorstep.  I did briefly consider the Aquila , a larger Brit boat.  By then, though, I had been reading your web-site and was intrigued by your whole design philosophy. 
In conclusion, I can say that dealing with you (and
Cam ) has been a refreshing pleasure.  In this day of mega corporations, one rarely sees an industry leader choosing to stay small and in such close contact with customers (including answering your own phone).  I go out of my way to relay my positive experiences with you to other paddlers.  
Feel free to use any of my comments on your web site.  You can also count on me stopping in to say "hello" the next time I am in Seattle .  
B. H., Minneapolis, MN

7/1//2003 e-mail
Thanks again for a great boat!  I paddled my Max into 6 - 8 foot swells off of Marblehead , Massachusetts last weekend.  She performed beautifully.  I felt secure and in control the whole time.  Following seas were fun because I could easily stay on course; I never had to fight to keep from broaching.  And I am so happy with the sliding seat.  Just a small adjustment and the boat is tuned for the conditions.
B. B., Arlington, MA

From a link on a mid-west outfitter's website
Mariner Kayaks
Although this is a commercial, manufacturer's website, it's not like anything else out there -- and so, for that matter, are Mariner's kayaks or the two guys that build them, Matt and Cam Broze. The "manuals" sections of the website are extensive, and will take you a while to read and longer to digest -- this is, in fact, the best handbook on sea kayaking online, although parts of it are slanted toward Mariner owners, which, admittedly, you might find yourself lusting to become. Even the long, detailed section on the design history of the boats is fascinating. The site is highly recommended.

From 12/4/2002 e-mail about his new Elan
Picked up the boat yesterday (it arrived late the night before, but we
had a snowstorm). Enjoyed the very artistic and effective packaging! Decided I could live with the color. Got it down to the Charles River as fast as I could, and hopped in. Initial verdict--magnificent! The quality of construction is superb. The deck line layout is totally intelligent. Though very light, it feels strong, with almost no flex to the glass when picking it up or cinching it onto the car. The fore deck is nice and low (I'll add about an inch and a half of foam, not three inches). The aft deck is absolutely fine for layback rolls--that extra space behind the seat back is superb. Sprayskirt fits me perfectly. The boat handles wonderfully. It carves turns so well that simply tilting your head from one side to another is enough to start a turn. It seemed silly to take it out on flat water, however--its shape seems to beg for waves and surf. Can't wait to get out on the ocean, within a few days, I hope. I don't know how you managed to give it both very high initial and secondary stability, but you did.........
All the best,
S. G., Belmont, MA

Much of a 12/13/2002 e-mail from the above paddler
I've been out four times now, in wind, small waves, and--at last--in water
clean enough to roll in. So now I can honestly say that your Elan is a magical mystery boat.
How? How is it possible to have very high initial stability (at least to me--I'm used to racing boats and Nigel Foster boats, so I'm maybe not a good judge) as well as very very high secondary stability, AND still have a boat that is incredibly easy to roll? When I was considering buying it I was put off by the aft deck height, assuming it would make ultra-easy hand rolls impossible. In fact, however, I can do all my hand rolls just perfectly. (Three cheers for Mariner Kayaks!) I don't sense the "edge" that I expected when rolling, as a consequence of high stability. Instead, the boat seems to spin right around quite smoothly. So I am in seventh heaven, and I'm also being forced to revise my notion that aft deck height alone is the greatest obstacle to smooth rolls. I do suspect that I couldn't do as many rolls in a minute with this boat as one with a lower deck, but that's just like an ice-skater spinning faster when pulling her arms in closer to the axis of rotation. Rolling the Mariner feels slow but sure. 
I call the primary stability high because I have to really lunge myself
over in order to capsize the boat (like Maligiaq in John Heath's tape, when they put him in a big plastic rec boat, and he can't capsize). I call the secondary stability high because I can balance brace within the secondary stability, i.e. even lying flat back on the water I feel righting force from the hull, rather than capsizing force. 
The boat's behavior in wind and small waves is exemplary. I feel only the
slightest weathercocking in beam waves and wind, and none elsewhere. I love the way the hard chines kick in when you really get it on its edge and turn it. 
S. G., Belmont, MA

8/10/2002 on a kayaking BB
I've been paddling Mariner kayaks for over twenty years. First an original Mariner, then and XL and for the past few years a Mariner II. I can't say enough nice things about them. Very fast, very manouverable, no need for a skeg or rudder whatsoever, very neutral in virtually all sea states. And in case anyone is wondering - the answer is no - I have no connection with or business interest in Mariner kayaks. They do what the Broze brothers claim. They are very well designed and very well made boats. 
R. M., Vancouver, BC

10/29/2002 e-mail answer to a request on the BASK Buzz for info on the Express for a big paddler that the author forwarded to us.  
Before getting an Express I asked for input from BASK and never heard a discouraging word. Iíve had my Express since March and I love it too. Itís fast, maneuverable in a very controlled way and tracks great. What I like best about the Express is the worse conditions get the better the Express is. Recently I was paddling with a group off Palos Verdes in So Cal (where I live) when the afternoon wind and chop kicked up heavier than usual. I had been paddling in the center to rear of the pack as usual (lazy). As conditions got rougher I found myself paddling in the front of the pack with the guy who is typically way out in front of any group he paddles with. I attribute that to the Mariner design. 
I didnít get the sliding seat (against Mattís advice) and am having second thoughts about it. I got the foam seat figuring I could still move it forward or aft depending on the trim I wanted. You can do that but you have to do it (except with great difficulty for me) before you launch.  With the sliding seat you can slide forward on a paddle into the wind and slide back for better tracking when you turn around paddling with trailing wind and seas.  On the other hand Iíve found since I started arranging my foam seat further aft the Express still handles great.  I believe it would handle great with the hanging seat too.  The sliding seat offers you the ability to keep the trim at an optimal level at any time in any conditions.  The choice seems to be between a great handing kayak and an even greater handling kayak.  Another advantage of the sliding seat for longer legged paddlers like me is the ability to push the seat back before landing on a steep beach so you can jump out quickly before sliding back into the surf.   The Mariner web site goes into detail on the Mariner design philosophy, why they make their design choices and how that choice affects the kayaking experience.   From the infinitely adaptable deck rigging system to the way the high volume bow keep the spray away when paddling into a wind I get the sense every aspect of the kayaking experience has been given thoughtful consideration when Iím paddling my Express. 

When I called Mariners, every time we talked on the phone I found Matt infinitely patient and willing to answer all of my questions. I read all of the Mariner web info before purchasing and have found nothing inconsistent in what they say about their kayaks and my experience with the Express. 

Good Luck
R. S., Palos Verde, CA

8/15/2002 e-mail 
Re. the Express. I have been very happy with the boat in all respects. It is my most responsive kayak out of 12, so I use it in nearly all of my classes. The boat does not weathercock in the up to 25 knot winds I have had it in and is easy to control in all conditions. The design of this hull is really
special or the combination of turning and tracking would seem impossible.
Vienna, VA

5/1/2002 e-mail 
Iíve had the Express out seven of the ten days since I got it (and the days not over). Because of your web site and the comments I solicited on web lists my expectations were very high.  I have not been disappointed. The Express has lived up to every characteristic described on your web site I am capable of exposing.  I have had a chance to paddle in 3 to 4 foot seas, 15 to 20 knot winds and at every angle to the wind with no trouble keeping my course.  I chose the Express for its maneuverability. The kayak gives you a sense of confident control. It goes where you want it to go.    Paddling into the wind I was amazed at how dry it was, much dryer than Iím used to. I
donít have a roll but practicing braces I have extended over the water at lower angles than ever before.
On my way back from Laguna Sunday I beached to check
out a newly opened visitors center along Crystal Cove State Beach . I had no trouble landing through the surf riding the back of a just broken two-foot wave onto the beach. As I talked with the volunteer manning the visitors center the surf picked up. It was now three and four-foot shore break somewhat softened by the effects of an onshore wind. Having had a fairly long streak of well-timed and uneventful beach launches I was lulled into forgetting to secure my hat.  o make a long story short I lost my hat smashing through the soup of a four-foot wave that broke a few feet in front of me. I was able to go back and retrieve it only after being pummeled by several more waves. I never felt like I didnít have control of the situation even when being swept backwards towards the beach bracing into three feet of soup. I could have avoided all the drama by just beaching again and eventually that is what I did but I was having too much fun trying to get the cap without getting out of my kayak. The Express is a better kayak than I am a kayaker. 
Iím having a blast learning how to take advantage of what it can do. Thanks for a great kayak and thanks again for all of
your help getting to know it.
R. S., Palos Verde, CA

From a PADDLEWISE discussion 12/2001 about if a sea kayak can turn without initiating it with a paddle stroke or rudder (used with authors' written permissions).
ÖÖ..Now, if your kayak has just enough keel so that the boat tracks well and doesn't weathercock when held flat, AND if that keel virtually disappears when the boat is edged, well then you have a boat that initiates and carves
turns all by itself. You probably also have a Mariner kayak, since so few other designs 
behave thusly... AND you definitely have a kayak which absolutely does not need a prone-to-break-or-jam, cut-you-up-in-the-surf, spongy-foot-bracing, destroy-the-beautiful-lines, mechanical-contraption called a RUDDER!  ;-
K.W. Seattle, WA

>According to Matt , Mariner kayaks turn by being edged alone. No initiation required. Something about the asymmetric shape of the hull. Tilt right and the hull turns left and visa versa.<<
They do, they really do!  It's the craziest (but one of the neatest) things I've ever felt. I borrowed a buddy's Mariner Max this summer, and simply paddled in a dead-straight line. Lift the right knee, turn to the left.  Drop the knee, and heading straight again (on a new course). Lift the left knee, and turn back onto the original heading. All without a single paddle stroke. It was also surprisingly
maneuverable, leanable, and edge-able for a 23" wide boat. I could also hand roll it, which surprised me.
S. B., Kalispell, MT 

4/27/2001 e-mail 
Hey guys -
A buddy and I bought a couple of Express boats from you last year.  They're awesome, well above my expectations without ever having paddled one prior to the purchase.  I thought I'd send you some photos of how we're using the boats - this recent batch is from some rock gardening we did off of Tomales Point, just north of Point Reyes on the Northern California coast.
Burke C., Emerald Hills , CA

2/12/2001 trip report about traversing breakers
But we have trump cards up our deck. Not only do our paddles charm their way through the frenzy, but Jay's and my new Mariner kayaks slice and dice that funny water like a midnight infomercial. And at no added cost, the glassed cockpits stay as dry as a fine Rhine wine. Call now, operators are waiting.
J. B., San Francisco, CA

1/5/2001 e-mail
Matt :
Just wanted to thank you for all the coordination in delivering the kayak(s). Mike and Steve both picked up their boats on the 30th of December.
I was a bit jealous and surprised with both of them as both are new paddlers and both are their FIRST kayak purchases!
Boy, I wish I would have purchased a Mariner for my first kayak...I have really enjoyed the tight cockpit feel, and the responsiveness I get. Following seas are not a problem anymore, I enjoyed riding the waves all the way home the other night as opposed to fighting them with corrective strokes. The new Lightning paddle is very smooth, very small amount of dripping, and enters/exits the water cleanly. I'm in heaven, and paddling has never been as pleasurable.
Thanks again for all the help, I really enjoy my new Express.
David .J., San Francisco , CA

4/28/2000 found on rec.boat.paddle
During the previous year I paddled a Mariner Express (Extra-Low-Profile), almost exclusively.  It has no rudder and no skeg. It's a total dream to paddle -- in surf, rock gardens, wind (doesn't "head up"), huge tide rips, glassy calm water -- whatever. I never felt the need for a rudder. I have never paddled with a rudder, except on short jaunts in borrowed boats. Never wanted one. Still don't.

4/28/2000 e-mail
Hello Matt and Cam !  Seven years ago I purchased a used Mariner I in Anchorage, Alaska from a fellow who had used it to paddle the Aleutian chain of Islands.  I then used the boat for two summers paddling throughout Prince William Sound, Yakitat Bay, Glacier Bay, and Misty Fjords.  The boat was then shipped down here where I paddled around Puget Sound quite a bit.  Last year, in a pinch, I sold the boat to a fellow who was planning to paddle the Baja Peninsula with it.  One fine boat that has seen the better part of the North American Coastline!  I'm anxious to purchase another kayak soon, and the Mariner is the only one I will consider!  Thank you for an excellent boat.

4/18/2000 e-mail
Matt and Cam ,
Just wanted to say how nice it was to see you when I was there in Seattle early July. I finally got out on the water for some extended time this summer and am remarking all over what a wonderful boat the Express is. Still trying to sell my old Mariner II so I can get a new ultra-light one.
Best Regards,
M.A. Boston, MA

Most of an e-mail received 11/1/99
Matt and Cam,
I was out kayaking Saturday on a gorgeous 80 degree day, enjoying being on the water and the "feel" of my kayak, and then I realized that I have not corresponded with you after I purchased by Elan in May of this year.
I am very happy to report that I love my kayak, just as you predicted!  At 5'3", 125#, I previously have felt like I was paddling my bathtub, but I feel very "one with my kayak" with my Elan.  Even though it was my impression that there were very few Mariner kayaks in the East, I have received many compliments on my Mariner kayak.   One Saturday this summer, I was trying to beat the impending thunderstorm that was approaching and hurriedly tying my kayak to the top of my car while trying to hold it down from the increasing winds.  A man and woman, kayakers obviously, ran over to me and I thought "Great, someone to help."  Instead, they looked enviously at my kayak and asked, "Is that a Mariner kayak?"  I said yes, it was an Elan.   They said, "We thought so.  We wish we had one."  And then they took off, apparently to take care of their kayak before the storm came.  I took this exchange as a compliment!
Thanks for everything.  I am extremely pleased with my purchase and your reputation has progressed to this part of the US.
---J. F., Durham, NC

Discussing secondary stability on a bulletin board, 8/12/99
"It is best to forget theory and measure experientially by leaning different boats. In particular, try any Mariner boat and compare it to any boat of beam similar to the particular Mariner you are testing. The Mariner will have moderate initial stability but phenomenal secondary."
---Gerald F., San Diego, CA

From a letter dated 7/25/99
"From what I have seen (and paddled), your boats are head and shoulders above all else available. Do not hesitate to give my name, home phone, or email address to anyone that wants an opinion on Mariner boats."
---Edward Z., Perkasie, PA

Parts of an E-mail received 7/17/99
"I am also an Express owner edging toward the purchase of a MAX,....Since I may not have said it to you or Cam in conversation, the Express is a superb boat and the contribution of you two to kayaking and kayak design is simply inestimable. I will be in touch with you in the not-to-distant future and hope to be able to place an order this winter.
My Best"
---Bob S., Berkeley, CA

Parts of an E-mail received 6/28/99
In December of 1986 I took delivery of an early custom built Mariner II from a shop located in an old house in Seattle. I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours visiting with Matt and Cam Broze on a winter afternoon. I lived, still do, in Kalispell, MT, and planned to use the boat on Flathead Lake. In the mid 80s there were no sea kayaks to be found in this area. Now you see them everywhere. Most are either fancied up versions with rudders, or the cheaper plastic models. I've paddled my rudderless craft (mine has a sliding seat, a feature which I have found very useful) with others and see no disadvantage whatever, and actually believe that a well designed boat without a rudder is far preferable. I find myself in the vast minority around here. Oh well, their loss. I've taken good care of it and, except for a few dings and scratches, it looks much the same as it did 14 years ago. I'm sure I'll be using it for the duration.....no need to replace, certainly not for the purpose of an upgrade. Thanks for building me a great boat many years ago.

An old but satisfied customer,"
---Robert A., Kalispell, MT

E-mail received 6/16/99:
"Subject: Great Boat
I wanted to let you know that the Max was all I had hoped it would be. I took it out on Sunday for a short paddle, and it was great. I particularly liked the ease with which I could lean it over and put the cockpit rim in the water and still feel safe. This was what I liked about the XL that I paddled years ago. That re-designed bow is enough to give other boats a bad case of  'bow envy' as well. 
Despite trying the sliding seat on the lawn before going out I had a struggle or two, but I re-read the instructions when I came back and it will go better next time.
The seat and cockpit are wonderfully comfortable. 
Compared to my Polaris the narrowness of the boat makes a good stroke a lot easier.
It is a delight to paddle and I look forward to my first paddle in rougher conditions."
---Ralph M., Lynnwood, WA

"I recently attended (the) kayak symposium in Traverse City, Michigan. While there I had the chance to paddle about 15 different kayaks . . . As far as I am concerned your Mariner II beats the whole bunch, including the English boats one hears so much about. The Mariner II is more comfortable, gives a drier ride, has MUCH better workmanship, is more maneuverable when leaned and tracks better. It is an all around better boat. Cannot believe anyone who has tried the Mariner would still want to paddle anything else."
---George B., Ravenden Springs, AR

"I'm writing to let you know how absolutely delighted I am with my new Coaster . . . I'm extremely pleased with its performance in all sorts of conditions, including stiff headwinds, choppy reflected waves and ocean swell. I'm especially enamored of the way it handles broadside waves and following seas . . . I also enjoy the fact that it's fast and maneuverable enough that I can easily keep up with bigger and stronger paddlers than myself, on extended cruises . . . I can't think of a more perfect boat for a small person who wants sea kayaking to be fun! P.S. Thanks also for your cheerfully given help and advice. You might like to know that this boat now has a name, Mik-Shrok, an Eskimo word meaning: small is sufficient."
---Susan T., Seattle WA

"It is light as you promised and handles wonderfully . . . I have used Nordkapp and think your Mariner II is much better. The boat is very fast . . . Your knowledge in designing a kayak is unbeatable. You have built me the best kayak in the world."
---Dr. Pentti T., Lexington KY

". . . very pleased with its performance. In 30 mph lake winds the Mariner II tracks straight regardless of your course. I'm also pleased in how easily it can be rolled."
---John D., Cody WY

"After seeing the performance of these seven different kayaks through approximately 500 miles of Aleutian paddling there is no doubt in my mind (or George's) that your Mariner is one of, if not THE finest ocean kayak in existence. It outperformed all the other boats and impressed me so much so much that I'm selling the Icefloe and would like to buy a Mariner."
---Burrel T., Anchorage AK

"Thank you for your letter of March 7th. After reading your comments on the Umnak "Icefloe", I couldn't see how it could be that bad. All the other literature I'd read was to the Icefloe's favor. Anyway I purchased the Icefloe early in March and am dumping it as soon as possible. (I know, I can hear your "I told you so" from here.) You were definitely right. . . I would like to know what the Escape would cost delivered to New York."
---Gerard G., Bay Shore NY

"Just a brief note of thanks for a great boat! The Escape has surpassed my expectations. Whether it was dead calm on the Great South Bay, or coming through the Fire Island Inlet on a running tide with the wind howling, the Escape handled extremely well. Compared to what I was paddling, there is no comparison!"
---Gerard G., Bay Shore NY

The following appeared in the ANorAK journal
"COASTER . . . is a bit strange for a sea kayak as it is only 13'4" in length. . . it is quick . . . very maneuverable, and it surfs almost as well as a surf ski. The designer claims it is a good storm boat, and I think this was proved at the Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Show at Berkeley Island Park in September. On the day of the show we had a full scale Nor'easter blowing, with winds gusting over 25 knots and waves well over 3 feet rolling across the bay. As I had only taken delivery of the boat a few weeks before, I wanted other opinions on the different little boat. So I tried to get a number of experienced paddlers to take her out into the worst of the wind and waves beyond the protection of the bulkhead.
". . . all agreed that the boat performed very well. It gets on a wave easily and requires little purchase on the short hull so it turns into the wind very well. The bow has an extreme amount of volume so it does not pearl readily. . . It is an excellent storm boat."
". . . While the boat seems to love big waves and high wind, it shines equally well on the still waters of the winding salt marshes. Back on the salt creeks it almost seems that you could will the boat around the turns. Its size and maneuverable hull are at home in tight quarters."
---Patrick F., Lanoka Harbor NJ

"The Mariner paddles like a dream. In fact sometimes when I'm looking at crabs or starfish it goes too fast with just a light stroke. And I wouldn't trade my sliding seat for anything!"
---Nolan W., Sooke BC

"I'm writing to let you know that I'm EXTREMELY pleased with that Mariner. The more I paddle it the more I seem to enjoy it. I really appreciate the sliding seat and long cockpit -- I find the rear position most comforting in a heavy following sea.
"I was amazed at how much volume the Mariner has for gear storage in spite of its relative narrowness.
"All in all -- I've got to admit -- you guys did a super job. Thanks."
---Wade W., Port Townsend WA

"We spent time in Baja, along the southern Pacific coast, and on the Caribbean with two of your Mariner kayaks. I had no previous experience with ocean kayaking but found the boats performed excellently and beyond expectations. Hope all is going well for you in your business. With such a high quality product with such potential I don't see how you can miss."
---Michael B., Aptos CA

"Dear Matt and Cam,
I figured it was about time I sent you a note expressing my satisfaction with the Coaster. I've owned the boat for about 8 months now, have been paddling it constantly (2-3 days a week on the average) and it has surpassed all my expectations. Most of what I have to say here won't be news to you but you may wish to pass this on to prospective customers.
The Coaster is an ingenious design. It is well built and strong (mine is a heavy-duty lay-up and seems to be bomb-proof, so far). It tracks well yet turns easily and definitely does not need a rudder (it's kind of a kick to watch someone else screwing around with a bent or broken rudder after one ride in the surf). I do most of my paddling along the exposed coast of Northern California and have found that the boat handles nicely in all sorts of gnarly conditions, including 25 knot winds, large confused seas, reflecting waves, breakers, etc. It is great for exploring sea caves and ocean rock gardens due to its maneuverability and short length. The Coaster is extremely easy to roll--much easier than other sea kayaks I have paddled--and for my part I consider this a great safety feature. Also this boat is very fast considering its length. I have had no trouble keeping up with other paddlers (who are as strong or stronger than I am) in longer boats.
Best of all, the Coaster surfs like a demon! The high volume bow resists pearling (I've managed a couple of endos in a steep shore break but could easily have prevented them) so you can scream down the face of a wave that would be a nightmare to someone in a long sea kayak. The bow also rises up and over waves easily when paddling out through the surf zone. One great asset of the shorter boat is the thrill of powering out over a steep wave just before it breaks and going completely airborne. I've found that I use a lot of "body English" to maneuver the Coaster while surfing or on a following sea. It's hard to explain, but by leaning the boat appropriately, combined with a stern rudder stroke or sweep, the boat is extremely responsive. Experimentation yields all sorts of rewards and I'm sure I haven't come close to realizing the full potential of the Coaster yet.
Although I haven't used the Coaster on an extended voyage, I have used it for several overnighters and found that a substantial amount of gear could be stored... For anyone with backpacking experience and a travel-light attitude, there is no reason this boat couldn't be used for longer trips. It would be a definite asset wherever surf is encountered.
I really can't come up with anything negative to say about the Coaster. It's true that you can't stuff 300 pounds of gear and the kitchen sink in this boat and it is not really a racing boat (most sea kayaks aren't) but I don't consider these as drawbacks. So, in conclusion, I would say this is a great all-around kayak for paddling just about anywhere (I haven't mentioned large rivers but I suspect it would be great for such places). For the wild exposed coastline with reefs, caves, rock gardens, and surf zones, the Coaster is unsurpassed! Thanks for a great kayak.
Very truly yours,"
---John Lull, El Granada, CA

Note from Matt and Cam: John Lull’s "Surf Kayaking Fundamentals" video is by far the best kayak instructional video we have seen when it comes to clearly providing accurate, well proven information and techniques. His new "Kayaking Ocean Rock Gardens--A Tsunami Ranger Guide" video is full of wild action and it is well populated with Coasters in their element. That's John and his Coaster on the video's cover going "over the falls" on a ocean wash-over rock. John wrote the above letter in 1988. What follows is an excerpt from a letter he wrote when he sent us the "Rock Gardens" video in 1998.

"By the way, I keep expecting to see someone build a boat in the same class with the Coaster (it hasn't happened yet!). You'd think that in ten years, someone else would figure it out---I guess they just don't get it."
---John Lull, El Granada, CA

Dear Broze Brothers:
I have been composing testimonials to the two of you for the last 1.5 years as I have paddled blissfully in my Coaster (No. 325) along the California coast. Swell. surf, and sea caves and it is always a joy. What a fine craft you have made! My sister owns Coaster No. 326 and she also concurs with my opinion. I am enclosing some e-mail banter shared between some Bay Area Sea Kayakers recently. Though you might enjoy it. Thanks for your commitment to boats, books, and safety in the wonderful world of sea kayaking.
---Alicia B., Your devoted fan, Gilroy, CA

>Has anyone paddled a Looksha IVS and or a Dagger Meridian? Have anything to say about them pro or con, especially with regard to rough water or surf conditions? Other short boat reviews?
>(in peril of succumbing to Coasteritis)

"LISA: don't fight it -GET THE COASTER!!! I have loved every minute in that boat! I am not a surfer but it handles like a dream in rough water, tracks very well (Do not get a Sportee unless your budget allows for nothing else) and it is a fine craft. Every time I am in the boat, I write my testimonials to Mariner. Can so many Baskers be wrong?"

I'll share Alicia's recommendation to you. I shopped till I dropped to avoid getting another Coaster for the BASK fleet.
When I was finally backed into it (after hours of debate, paddle test driving, etc., and the Mariner folks refused to sell me any other boat considering my small size), I couldn't be happier.
For conditions in this area, Coasters rule. I've never heard anyone complain (about the Coaster anyway)."

The following is from a letter in the Atlantic Coastal Kayaker:

"Found the Perfect Boat
I enjoyed the article by John Meyers, "In Search of the Perfect Boat," (April 1998, ACK) very much. I have owned three plastic, four hard shell and built four plywood boats and now own a Mariner Express. Now that I have had the "perfect boat" for four years, I can't help but pontificate on the matter.
The Express is perfect for coastal paddling, beach landings and rough water. I was quite surprised to find out for the first time that I wasn't locked into side surfing after broaching on a breaking wave. Imagine this: bracing into a wave, surfing sideways, white stuff and foam climbing all around closing out peripheral vision, fraction of a second later I can see and I'm shooting straight towards the beach! This never happened with previous long boats. The Express has lots of volume in the bow, no sharp edges in the ends. Therefore, it doesn't present much for the conflicting water to grab onto. In other words, it is very maneuverable but in a much more controllable manner than a boat that simply has lots of rocker. For your weight, I think it might have more volume than necessary for unladen paddling. I weigh 175 pounds and think it is just right, with room for more.
Check out Mariners other boat that is similar to the Express. I don't remember the name (note: its name is Elan). It has less volume/freeboard and about the same length. Now that boat with extra Kevlar, sliding seat, sea sock or bulkheads, and your favorite color is THE BOAT.
---Lee G., Annapolis, MD

The following appeared on the Northeast Paddler's Message Board:

"Rating: 10
I have been paddling the Mariner Express frequently for three months now. I have had it out in all sorts of weather and I love this boat. Like all Mariners this boat has no rudder and doesn't need one. It tracks well, leans and turns exceptionally well, and does not weathercock. I use the foam seat and the lumbar pad (very comfortable) rather than the Mariner sliding seat. The Express is so maneuverable that weight-shifting is not really needed.
I have also paddled a Mariner II on many trips. It is a bigger, faster boat, and I like it almost as much as the Express, but the Express is such a joy to paddle in rough water and so easy to move at normal cruising speeds that it is definitely my favorite."
---Nick. L., Seattle, WA

"I can guarantee you that paddling a Mariner across a 10 knot wind and chop with no weather helming was bizarre after almost 3000 hours in strongly weather helming boats.
"Carol really liked the boat. She has been looking at Eddyline, PWS, Nordkapp, Icefloe, and would now definitely pick the Mariner.
"Would you guys build me another one? For my money you have done a really good job at the whole thing."
---George P., Seward AK

"Dear Matt and Cam:
I am writing to express my gratitude for the Mariner II I purchased from you a little over a year ago.
I had made quite a number of drives from Seattle, each time with my long list of 25 to 30 questions about rudders, self rescue techniques and apparatus, control surfaces of kayak hulls, optional kayak fittings, and paddling techniques. I believe I must have met with Matt for close to 35 hours before I decided upon the Mariner II. I am still amazed at his patience with my endless questions, and his honesty of response. Needless to say I was also making numerous trips to the NWOC, renting various models of kayaks and gaining my own experience with them as well as testing out the numerous ideas and insights I gained from my readings and discussions with Matt. It was quite a journey for me, starting with the images of paddling in a Nordkapp, moving to a Selkie, on to the Icefloe, Wind Dancer, Sea Otter, etc. Then actually trying them all out according to the technical kayak performance evaluation check sheet I had obtained from Matt at the West Coast Sea Kayaking Symposium three years ago. It was a two year journey of sea kayak exploration before I finally picked up my new Mariner II in December 1987.
I couldn't be happier! Each time I go out I am more thrilled and satisfied with the Mariner II. I just love the subtle change of direction when I lift my hip to bring a hard chine in to action. It works extraordinary well in cross winds or currents and waves to track in the desired direction. And wow! The straight tracking with the integral rudder hull design! I keep pulling away from my paddling partners with rudder boats, because of the Mariner II's reduced resistance and very noticeable paddling ease. It is so paddler friendly, that even beginners (after I have given them a little instruction in how to change their body position and paddling strokes) find themselves unexpectedly pulling ahead of the others in the party in just a few blocks. Just after completing the WKC course I leisurely paddled from the Arboretum in Seattle to Seward Park and back - 16 miles - with several breaks and a rest at the Park. To my surprise, when I returned to the Arboretum only four hours had gone by! We all have found surfing a delight and quartering seas as well as beam seas (and winds) handled very nicely. I will admit initial stability is responsive, but I love it because, as I said above, just an easy subtle hip lift is enough to correct for mild winds or currents (whereas with other boats sometimes a strained unnatural hip lift and weight shift are needed to maintain the correction). One of my fondest memories is my first encounter with three foot waves near Whidbey Island as I rounded the point south of Mutiny Bay. I was expecting some difficulty, but I was ecstatic with the Mariner II's remarkable dynamic stability in such conditions. I seemed to ride within and on the waves like a sea gull napping after lunch. So comfortable.... My friend in another boat would not go into those head seas and turn and ride the following seas until we switched and he was enjoying the Mariner II. I have even taken pictures while among six foot Lake Chelan waves! Of course, the deck rigging and self rescue set up is unmentionably well designed: I've found no other boat as adept for the rear deck carry, or Mariner self rescue (paddle float). My only complaint is that my friends don't want to give my boat back after they are in it for awhile.
Thanks again, and I'll see you soon when I come in to order a Coaster, my second boat.
With Gratitude,"
---Norm K., Seattle, WA

"It handles like a dream. Even complete beginners (never in a kayak before) have paddled my boat and had no trouble in 2-3 foot swells and 2 foot surf. The waves and swells on the lake are closely spaced and steep and I really feel secure in the Escape, much more so than in a whitewater boat on the same water.
"I love to go out in surf. I like the way the bow rides up over the waves. The sliding seat is really great. Even a novice like me can tell the difference it makes. Great feature! "Thanks for such a great boat!"
---Tim K., Homewood IL

"Except for 3 days since June 1 we've had 20-25 knot coastal and 25-30 knot channel winds. The Mariner and Escape have been great. Both boats handle following seas & down wind conditions so well I think I could fall asleep and not get into trouble. I really like the big cockpits and sliding seat . . ."
---Mike H., Kauai HI

"I've become pretty attached to my Escape!! Even in rough water the kayaks handled with ease and comfort. I never experienced any feelings of uneasiness at maneuvering in rough water, in fact, I found it exciting and really gained respect for the boats.
"I like the amount of storage space that it has and how easy it is to load. Also I did some experimenting with the sliding seat and found out how advantageous it is in different conditions
"Thanks again for having my Escape ready in time to take on this vacation. It was a nice trip to break in both myself and my kayak to the fun and excitement of touring."
---Laurie L., Salem OR

"This is just a note to tell you we have found our Escapes everything we hoped for and more. Each time we are out (and that has been 2-3 times a week over the past 2 months) we discover some new way in which the boat has been ingeniously thought out. Thanks again for your attention to detail, your willingness to share information and your fair dealings. I think your boats are a tremendous contribution to the sport of kayaking."
---Bob D., Seattle WA

"I'm just flat-out AMAZED at the speed and ease with which I'm now able to get around, regardless of wind, current, or tide!! There are several cruising kayaks here in town. Now that I've paddled my Escape and compared it to the others firsthand, I'm more than satisfied I bought the best possible kayak available."
---Kent W., Cordova AK

"But what makes me appreciate my Escape more than any other reason is when I get into other kayaks. They just don't have that magical blending of features present in your design. Things about the Escape that I sometimes take for granted are in actual fact rare treasures in the world of sea kayaking."
---Robert S., Mill Valley CA

"My Sprite is a year old. It has been in the water every month of the year, at least once a week March - November. A lot of 6 - 8 hour paddles. Even a true III rapids on a wide river with a wing dam + about 1/4 mile of large rocks. An outstanding all around boat."
---Bob Z., Yardley PA

"I love my Sprite! Thanks for a great design, it was the perfect one for me as you suggested. I've had many compliments . . ."
---Leighton W., Cocoa FL

"Dear Matt and Cam,
This letter is well overdue, but I did want to write and let you know how pleased I am with my Mariner XL. The boat arrived in perfect condition, and it is beautifully constructed and detailed. I think the best way to describe its performance is balanced. It is very comfortable on-center, leans easily (aided by the supportive seat and secure knee braces) and seems to be less edgy than my white-water boat. The reservoir I paddle in has powerboat wakes large enough to surf on, but I can put the paddle down and ignore them. Speed does not seem to be sacrificed to stability, as the boat will run much faster than I have the endurance to maintain.
Coming from white-water paddling, I have experienced a revelation. This boat tracks. It will run due straight no matter how easily or how hard you paddle. I can go great distances without the need for any correcting strokes. All this makes the XL's turning ability even more surprising. An inside high brace does almost nothing, but lean the boat hard to the outside (very easy to do) and you can carve a 90-degree turn in only a few boat lengths. I have run up narrow, twisty canals without the need for a single steering stroke. Just lift a knee and the XL will carve (not skid) around the short radius turns. While cruising, a slight angulation of your hips is all that is necessary for course corrections due to wind and waves. And best of all I never have to break my paddling rhythm with a sweep stroke or a hard pull on one side.
I'm sure you are both well aware of these characteristics of the XL, but I just wanted to let you know that I also believe a kayak should be paddled and not ruddered, and the XL demonstrates just how well a boat designed with this objective can work. Given my very limited opportunity to test paddle ocean kayaks, I certainly appreciate the dedication that went into the design of the XL and the time you both spent with me discussing the relative merits of not only the different Mariner models, but also the design and construction of competing models.
One final note, Having spent a number of seasons with a 15-oz. composite canoe paddle, I couldn't be more pleased with my Kevlar-blade Lightning. I don't think it is possible to overstate the benefits of low paddle weight, especially low swing weight in a kayak paddle.
I see from the Canoe Buyer's Guide that you have gotten your new model, the Express, into production. Could you please send me a brochure on the Express as I am very interested in what you've been up to on the design front.
Again, thank you for all your help and for an outstanding kayak.
Drew L., Fort Collins, CO

"Dear Matt and Cam:
Here are my standard-length foot braces that you traded me for the extra-long ones. Thanks, they are just what I needed for my size 14 feet!
I finally got a chance to take the XL on a real trip. Went to the Johnstone Strait area to see Orcas. The boat performed beautifully. It is very comfortable and roomy. I have to admit, I’m now glad you talked me out of bulkheads, hatches and a rudder. I have to admit, I was skeptical, since I’ve always had these features on previously owned boats. After paddling with a friend in a double bulkheaded, ruddered Arluk, I could see the benefits of your design. The boat took much less time to load--just slide my gear bags in and I’m ready to go. No need to pack everything into tiny little stuff bags to squeeze through hatch openings.
I really didn’t need a rudder on the trip. Even with funky wind/current combinations, all it ever took to keep on course was an occasional extra paddle stroke one side or another. It is fun to steer by leaning the boat over. One benefit of not using a rudder is that my line doesn’t get tangled while trolling for salmon.
Finally, I like the sliding seat and smaller cockpit arrangement. I haven’t yet mastered seat adjustment for various paddling conditions (except for following seas), yet I found it easy to trim the boat to compensate for fore-aft weight distribution (amazing how much more tents and tarps weigh when soaking wet, eh?) The cockpit makes for good knee bracing and rolls are a snap (I tried rolling in the warm waters of Banks Lake not Blackfish Sound!)
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for your help and advice. Keep it up. The Mariner XL is a great boat!
---Mike T.