by Jim Weller
I got an Oru Beach as soon as they became available and have been having a blast with her all summer. She’s been in ponds, lakes, bayous, even the Mississippi River, and has handled them all with ease. And due to her quick and simple set-up, the Beach has become my go-to exercise machine for doing laps at my local park. I look forward to many years of similar fun.
My main local wilderness area is Bayou Sara near its confluence with the Mississippi River. This year, the River came up very early and stayed high for an unusually long time, so for the first half of summer, I could paddle around in the flooded jungle to either side.
Then the River dropped quickly to normal levels, confining me to the main channels. But this also made for interesting sight-seeing, such as scaring alligators off the mud banks (you can’t see the alligators here, but you can see their tracks left on the bar to the right).
Besides the alligators, Bayou Sara is home to many huge garfish who don’t seem to like visitors. They often jump and splash near boats to show their displeasure.
While it’s no problem fishing from the Beach, I’d rather not catch one of these monsters while in a light kayak so I don’t fish in Bayou Sara. Pond-sized bream and bass are what I go for in the Beach.
When the River is low, the only way to get into Bayou Sara is to launch into the Mississippi itself. Down where I live, the Mississippi is big and powerful, and full of large barge tows kicking up huge wakes. But as long as you stay fairly close to the bank, you’ll be safe from the strong current and the Beach bobs over the wakes no problem.
In both high and low water, Bayou Sara is full of sharp snags from submerged branches. However, the solid and durable Oru hull material shrugs these off no problem. I wouldn’t trust an inflatable or skin-on-frame folding boat in these waters.
But apart from such adventures, my Beach gets most of her mileage in the pond of my local park, where I go a couple times a week for exercise. The Beach’s quick assembly makes it easy to fit such trips into a busy schedule. Besides, if you’re going to paddle miles up an alligator-infested bayou in Louisiana heat, you need to be in good training beforehand.
I was attracted to the Beach primarily because of her open top, which avoids the internal heating of enclosed kayaks, a big issue where I live. However, I was initially worried the boat would accumulate water through the top. It turns out, though, that the vast majority of paddle drips land on the forward deck and what little goes inside stays under the floorboard. It takes about ten miles before you notice any accumulation.
All in all, I really love my Beach. She’s a great general-purpose boat for flatwater sight-seeing, exercising, and light fishing. Her paddling characteristics are excellent and she’s very maneuverable. She’s also quite cool and comfortable even in the worst of a tropical summer, and you have easy access to lots of gear. There’s even room for a small child or dog. And on top of all this, the Beach folds up for convenient transport and storage. I highly recommend this boat.