Marissa - of the Sea

posted Aug 10, 2016, 12:55 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Sep 3, 2016, 7:43 AM ]

What if there were a touring sea kayak that performed better than almost any other sea kayak in various sea conditions, but needed neither skeg nor rudder? That would really cut down on my repair kit and also simplify off season maintenance! The high performance I would have to grow into. What if that mythical kayak fit me! Of course, that couldn't be a reality ,,, or could it?

Yet once upon a recent time there was a company that produced such kayaks. This was Mariner Kayaks in the Seattle area, operated by Matt and Cam Broze, They 'retired' around 2005, but more or less continue to maintain their web site. Their tough yet superbly crafted kayaks rarely turn up on the used kayak market. Typically, they have no internal bulkheads and required float bags and might benefit from using a sea sock. People accustomed to float bags and the like would be pleased, but I prefer bulkheads and 'waterproof' hatches (perhaps I am misguided). So I never really considered such a kayak, even when one of those rare boats showed up used.

Recently I came across a Mariner Express that had been refurbished (and from my viewpoint) updated, by the inimitable John Abercrombie. No modifications had been made to the hull, of course, but more modern 'waterproof' hatches and bulkheads had been incorporated, even a day hatch. In fact, John has made a habit of overhauling kayaks, including various Mariners. So, overcome by kayak lust, I contacted John. I actually knew him from a visit to Victoria BC, where he graciously gave my wife and I a kayak tour some years ago. At that time I saw one of his 'home made' kayaks, which looked like something from a sophisticated and careful kayak producer. But here is my Mariner Express:

Photo by John Abercrombie

I believe I was the first to respond to his for sale ad, In any case, we quickly closed the deal. Here I am in North Idaho and the kayak is in Victoria. Fortunately, good friends will pick it up and transport it to Nanaimo. There I will pick it up in a month plus, on our way to kayak from our base lodge – Discovery Islands Lodge on Quadra Island.

So the story must be continued. Does the kayak live up to my expectations? Is it really any better than my well beloved (now abandoned) Bianca, a Boréal Design Ellesmere? Can I sell Bianca to a good home? Will the Mariner Express like its name – Marissa (of the sea)?