We have a soft spot in our hearts for all things Seattle, having spent our early lives in and around the area. Rain? Check. Coffee? Check. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains? Double check. REI? Swoon.
One Saturday this summer we found ourselves wandering around our local REI. We drifted over to the kayaks and noticed that there was one for sale that was 9.5’ long. Hey, we said to each other, this would be perfect on the boat! We talked to a sales person who gave us the finer points of kayaks and was expounding on the merits of a 16 foot ocean going beauty. We explained that we couldn’t have something that length since we wanted to put it on the rear side rails of our boat (which happen to be 9 feet long). He was incredulous that we actually live on a sailboat and insisted on seeing pictures. His respect level went up and he pulled down the display model of the Perception Conduit 9.5.
We looked at how easy the foot pedals are to adjust, discussed the fact that it is made in the USA (yay!), how light it is (35 lbs!), how nicely it would fit on the rail, options for mounting to the rail, types of paddles, etc. We hemmed. We hawed. We looked at inflatable options and modular options (modulars come in three or more pieces and must be stored separately, which is very impractical for us). I suggested that we take a little break to grab a drink and a bite to eat since we had skipped lunch in our kayak-stalking fervor. I have found that alcohol definitely helps my decision-making process.
After a very late lunch at Red Robin (another Seattle institution!) and just enough beer to make us smarter than usual, we went back to REI and purchased two Conduit Perception 9.5 kayaks, two paddles, and two kayak mounting systems that are intended for garage walls. We had to take a mini safety course (always paddle with a buddy, always wear a PFD, always carry a whistle…) before they would take our money.
We considered buying a fancy roof-rack system but, luckily, the beer had worn off by then because that would have cost as much as the kayaks themselves. Instead we did the budget-conscious thing and shoved them in the back of the truck. We made it home after only a minor mishap where one of them tried to slide out the back while we were on the NJ Turnpike.
We absolutely love them and have used them often this summer. While they don’t track as easily as a 16 foot ocean kayak they do respectably well. They are stable, comfortable, and take us where we want to go. We can paddle through chop and mid-sized swells with ease.
It is easy to step into them off the dock or off the back of the boat (be sure to step in to the middle!), easy to get out of them, and easy to pull them out of the water back on to the boat.
They are mounted on either side of the aft rail and actually act as spray skirts when we sail.
Our mounting system involves a plank of decking that has been sawn to the appropriate lengths, some u-bolts, and some bungee cords. The wall mounts that we purchased screw in to the decking planks and everything is secure and happy!
It’s been joked that no one can miss us when we are out on the water. We are ok with that.