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|Assembly and Portability|
The Pouch single is not as hard to assemble as I would have suspected of a boat without air sponsons and a tight fitting skin. Perhaps, I have improved my ability in dealing with such conditions using some of the principles of assembly preached in the last issue (Folding Kayaker, March/April 1994).
Whatever the reason, I was able to get assembly below 20 minutes within the second try. My guess is that this boat is a 15 minute job for someone who has owned one a while and figured out how to beat the sticking points in its assembly process. It would be hard to get it any faster than that for several reasons. One, the skin is tight, so you still need to be exact in slipping the frame halves into position (although my tips in the last issue should help here). Second, the coaming setup is a pain in the butt. The two-layer of coaming is not the trouble. What slows you down are the four loose wingnuts. It is easy to drop one (keep some spares handy in case a wingnut gets lost in the grass or down a crack in a dock). When assembling the boat, you have to keep tightening them in staggered rotation around the coaming sides much as you would wheel bolts when changing a tire.
The company, however, has made an improvement that is also now included into the Eureka double. Both now have honest-to-goodness rodholders incorporated into the crossribs. These do a good job of holding stringers in place so that they don’t shift around on you when you are trying to slip frame halves into the hull or working around the middle rib. This is one of the points that Peter raised and got factory attention. The Eureka 1, at just 46 pounds or so, is a very easy boat to carry when assembled. It also is easy to carry in its bags although they lack any foam or cushioning in the carrying straps. The bag's canvas material is medium weight and the two bags (one for the frame long pieces, the other for the hull and ribs) are just a bit over 20 lbs each, i.e. not much of a burden.
|On The Water|
The Eureka 1 is a full-sized single, the same length as the Klepper Aerius I with three inches less beam. The general feel is like that of the Aerius I because of a similar open cockpit, and about the same coaming height (the Pouch is a bit lower). Onlookers usually comment on how good the Pouch looks on the water. Its length, narrow beam, and sharp upswept coaming helps draw such admiration for its looks.
Eureka double is such a fast boat, I expected the single version to also
be very fast. Surprisingly, it isn’t. Its speed is on par with others
such as the Aerius I and the Raid 1 (earlier version since I haven’t tested
the new, non-fish form one yet). It does paddle easily, however. And it
gets to cruising speeds pretty quickly because of its lightness and the
ease of reaching the water with your paddle blade. Tracking is somewhat
better than in the Aerius I, which tends to turn into wind, waves and
wake. But it is not as straight running as the Feathercraft K-1. The Pouch
single is very easy to lean on its side, so you will be able to make quick,
leaned turns. The Pouch’s tracking vs. maneuverability seems in reasonable
Despite the lack of air sponsons and a fairly narrow beam for a foldable (slightly over 25 inches), the Pouch single is surprisingly stable. You feel quite secure in it. It is not at all tippy in its initial stability. You never sense that you have to be ready to throw a paddle brace stroke to keep yourself from going over.
Final or secondary stability is, of course, not that of foldables with sponsons. Sponsoned-foldables seem to have an invisible hand ready to push a boat upright when leaned excessively. But the Pouch does have the other critical advantage of foldables, i.e. hard chines and slight concave pockets along their length as water pressure pushes the soft sides slightly inward. These pockets tend to give the Pouch greater final stability than you would find in a comparable-width hardshell.
The combination of reasonable tracking, maneuverability, and stability make the Pouch a good, seaworthy boat. It has a very solid, non-vulnerable feel out on open water.
I think the Pouch Eureka 1 will make many paddlers happy. It is a modestly priced full-sized single boat with some of the performance characteristics of like-sized, more expensive foldables. Lightweight, not too hard to assemble. Not bad. You seem to get a lot of boat for the money.
The workmanship on Pouches is not that of Feathercraft, Klepper, and Nautiraid. Looking at the last two companies, which also make wooden-frame foldables, the Pouch’s frame is not of the same caliber. It does use what seems to be the same grade plywoods and ash as do the other two companies, at least, in general specs. But varnishing looks to be on the light side in Pouch models. Finish of the wood appears rougher in spots. Construction also seem to be a bit lighter than for the others. Kleppers have full floor boards. Pouch does not, like Nautiraid. But Nautiraid's floors, nevertheless, appear to be beefier than Pouch's. I don't want to harp on such details. I just want you to know why some boats cost more than others.
The only available spraydeck option is so-so. It is similar to the Klepper touring spraydeck setup. Neither are really up to being hit by dumping waves. Such decks should be considered as rain covers rather than as serious means of keeping big water out.