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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:47 pm 
I am contemplating kayaking in Baja this winter, probably the Lorento to La Paz route. My skills are at an intermediate level. I am considering buying the Fujitu 500 kayak. For the price, it seems very appealing--at least on paper. I was curious of the opinions of others regarding the capability of this kayak to do such a trip. The baggage capability seems sufficient. I am more worried about seaworthiness. I have no intention of kayaking very rough water, but in Baja I may find myself in that situation. The other obvious candidate is the Feathercraft K1. Are the two kayaks really that different in terms of performance and sea worthiness?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. . .


PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:24 pm 
For trips like this, there is no reason not to take K1 if you can afford it. This is 10 or 12 days. Rough water in the afternoon is almost guaranteed. You will have to carry fresh water, probably 20 or 30 liters. If your Spanish is perfect and you can ask local fishermen nicely, not feeling uncomfortable with this, then you can take chances with 10 liters. K1 has slightly better payload capacity, and slightly more room in wider hull, makes it easier to load and unload. With 30 liters and paddler's weight 160-180 lbs K1 will be close to its weight limit, and Fujita with narrower hull must have lower payload (and dealer's specs say so too). If you will ever plan a longer yet trip in Baja or other places with limited fresh water supply, say, 3 weeks, then you'll appreciate higher payload of K1 even more.
I recall some complains on TAD small cockpit of Fujita. Some people here have Fujitas - they could tell more.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:29 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
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Feathercraft does have a significantly longer presence in the North American market, and is a tested source of spare parts and repair.

Michael Edelman Webmaster

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:02 am 
I should add that buying a Fujitu appears to be no easy matter. The U.S. dealership is apparently changing hands, and the Canadian dealership has not returned my phone messages or emails. If no one even wants to sell you one, who will be there if there is a problem?

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:10 pm 
econaut wrote:
I should add that buying a Fujitu appears to be no easy matter. The U.S. dealership is apparently changing hands, and the Canadian dealership has not returned my phone messages or emails.

I'm sure, for financial reasons. One can't make any good money importing only one product line, when the market is that narrow. Canadian Folbot dealer went out of business after a year, US Pouch dealer wasn't doing too well either, FC dealer is still out there (moved from WA to CO), but they sell a lot of other brand accessories too, and they are a small operation. Out of 3 Klepper US dealers one had to quit and start making his own boats :-) (not bad ones), another one is hard to contact, so there is basically just one now.

Manufacturers don;'t leave dealers enough margin - and US/Yen rate has been variating wildly in the last 5 years, twice going up from 100 Yen/$US to 120 Yen /$US and dropping down again to 100, while gradually sliding down by 10% over 5 years. But not as bad as $US/$CAN, - $CAN has weakened a little lately, but still 30% or 40% more expensive than in late 90s-early 00s. With US being Feathercraft largest market, FC must be experiencing difficult times. But they have a long presence and top reputation, so customers are still coming.

There were 2 people on this forum that owned Fujita 480 - one was happy, another one not. It is closer in size to Kahuna or Cooper than to K1, but the price is $3,150 - way higher than Cooper. F500 is closer to K1 in size (the price is $3,350 - much lower than K1), and plywood and composite rods are right material for salt water, too bad the business didn't pick up. I don't remember very negative reviews of either 500 or 480 - in fact, I remember more of them about Cooper (not only about the first batch), - largely outnumbered by positive reports, though. But with Cooper's price over $1000 cheaper than F480 (after you consider Cooper's hull strips and sprayskirt) - you know... Also, Folbot can (and did) maintain extremely fast and flexible customer service, - thing physically impossible with imported boats. When Folbot eventually comes up with something as big and rigid as K1 (but not like Yukon, not that kind of "big"), they will win over a lot of K1 prospective buyers. So, - write to the current Folbot CEO, whoever he is now ;-) ...

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:00 pm 
I would be one of the happy Fujita owners. Econaut, the boat should do the job for you for the trip you have in mind. I paddle regularly in San Francisco Bay and have found the boat to completely seaworthy - I've felt confident in the boat's abilities to handle larger water and so far the only limiting factor has been my skills - I don't surf or do much rock gardening. Nearly six years ago I was looking for a K1 alternative at a more attractive price. Cooper was the only other choice and at the time it had some problems, now well documented and mostly fixed. I would stay with the Fujita today as it is a much stronger boat (unless you offered me a free Wisper - which would be a great second boat for day tripping).

You get what you pay for and there are a couple of downsides to the Fujita compared to the K1. Mainly, the K1 is a drier ride and is stiffer, perhaps stronger,
than the Fujita and the skin is made of better (more costly) materials. On the flip side, the Fujita is lighter and easier to assemble.

Mike Palmer is indeed looking for someone to take over the business - I spoke with him several weeks ago. He's now doing climbing gym flooring systems, perhaps more financially rewarding than semi-obscure Japanese folding kayaks. Hopefully someone will take up the call and run with it. I even consider it for about ten minutes... Mike's current contact info is: or 425-268-8604 (cell).

I've got a good number of posts on this site on my 480 - pretty much all I know about the boat. Happy to answer any questions you may have.

Happy Paddling!

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:03 pm 
I like my 500. It handles really well in all types of water. The frame is great. The PVC skin is strong enough for tripping. (I once got stuck / hung up on a submerged tree in a lake. It was a sharp pointy branch that i could feel poking the hull. I though i was going to puncture the hull -- but after i got unstuck, and went ashore, i checked the hull for damage. Not even a scuff mark!)
The sea sock works well to keep water out of the boat.

Downsides of the boat: Cockpit might not fit a large person.
Assembly takes an hour (bag to paddling)

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:58 pm 
Assembling time doesn't matter for multiday trips that Econaut is planning, - but I think he's bought a K1 after some hesitations. This price is mind-boggling...

PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:06 pm 
Yes, I bought the K1 despite the price. I concluded that buying a Fujitu from a North American dealer was impossible. Thanks for all the input though. . .

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:29 pm 
Well, you will always be able sell your K1, unlike the Fujita -- which are not as well known.

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