Folding Kayaks Forum

To buy or not to buy
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Author:  Selkie [ Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:03 am ]
Post subject:  To buy or not to buy

That is the question.

It seems I could finally choose to purchase a FC Wisper, a boat I have had a huge crush on for many years.


Would this be at all sensible given the lack of clarity as to what is happening with FC and the risk of no replacement parts if the current contraction of the business is followed by complete closure? The signs are worrying, a major dealer closing down, many models discontinued and those that aren't mostly out of stock and no production expected in the near future...

While I'd hope any damage to the skin would be minor and repaired at home, frame parts are really quite vulnerable and I can't see that there is any alternative for repair or replacement, customers are totally dependent on the company?

I'd really appreciate any cool-headed thoughts, thank you!

Author:  Jake [ Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

The Wisper is a lovely boat and a fine swimmer, too, as I discovered after paddling one in the company of Ken Fink, FC dealer emeritus. My reasons for deciding against the Wisper in favor of the Kurrent 2.0 came down to weight and assembly. The Wisper weighs 38 pounds, the Kurrent weighs 31. It took Ken, a very experienced Feathercraft paddler over 45 minutes under a hot Florida sun to assemble the Wisper. To be fair, it was a new, never-before-put-together boat and the skin, having never been stretched, was very tight. Still, save the late, lamented Aironaut, there is not a Feathercraft boat that I would call "easy to assemble". Another vote for the Kurrent was the cockpit size. My first folder, a K-Light, had the standard cockpit which I found just a bit short. The slightly longer cockpit of the Kurrent, even with the forward rib that Jeremiah mentions, still allows a bit of room to stretch one's knees. Now, if it came down to having only one boat to use during the winter in Florida and in New Jersey the remainder of the year, I'd likely have chosen the Wisper as a "do everything boat". With the application of white-knuckle self-discipline, I've cut the fleet to just two boats. At least for today.

Author:  Jake [ Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

As to the future of Feathercraft, I don't think that it's about to fold its tent in the dark of night and quietly disappear. Folding kayak production has always been a small niche market resistant to expansion and FC occupies a high quality, expensive part of that niche. I think that there are people who are willing to spend more for what they perceive as the highest quality which, in itself, will help Feathercraft remain extant. If Doug Simson decides to retire, I'm sure that the business would be taken over by competent, dedicated people who are most likely making Feathercraft boats while I type this post.

Author:  Selkie [ Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

I hope your right.

Do I need to be so concerned though, am I being unimaginative in thinking that a boat would become unusable if a critical piece were broken and there is no FC repair or replacement available? It seems unlikely another company could whip up a cross-rib...?

Author:  gbellware [ Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy


I agree with Jake and, in addition, if you take reasonable care of the kayak it will outlive you. I would have no reservations about buying the Wisper.


Author:  Selkie [ Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

Thanks. I am putting all my eggs in one kayak if I go ahead, and I can only justify it if the cost is spread over a v-e-r-y V-E--R-Y l-o-n-g period, so what you say about the longevity of a FC is reassuring!

Author:  Selkie [ Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

I am in correspondence about what appears to be a very very nice 2nd hand boat, does anyone have any advice about buying overseas from a private individual? All seems credible but then I suppose a scammer would!

Author:  ChrisO [ Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy


I have successfully purchased three folding kayaks abroad. All were purchased in Germany and shipped to the US.
A few points:
1. For the purchase itself, be realistic in that you are buying used goods based on a description and photo's. Allow for some needed maintenance or minor repairs.
2. Make sure that the seller's photo's show both the fully assembled kayak, as well as the bare frame.
3. Do not overpay for an in production folder. Remember, there is no warranty and assume at least normal wear and tear.
4. Get a clear handle on shipping methods and costs. Some sellers are better than others in locating the best and least costly shipping. Generally, items under 120cm (4 ft) in length are much less expensive to ship since these can go by regular post. Check latest policies on this!
5. Payment.... I strongly prefer using Paypal or a credit card, since you then have a recourse if the kayak does not arrive etc.
6. Assess your risk tolerance for buying remotely and sight unseen, consider all of the above! I tend to be more relaxed when spending smaller amounts, less so when asked to spend large sums...

Lastly, I recommend giving the seller a call to discuss details, and at the same time get a bit of a reading on them!


Author:  Selkie [ Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: To buy or not to buy

Thank you Chris, thats is all great advice and particularly the final suggestion - I really am kicking myself that I didn't even consider speaking to the person! That would be so much more revealing than email correspondence. Sheesh.

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