The NDK Explorer LV was about the only boat when it came out that at least tried to fit smaller paddlers. But volume was the same as regular Explorer, they just lowered the deck and made a keyhole version of an ocean cockpit.
So with me in it l was pushing too much volume, and given that it is already a loose bow design a portion of the bow was not really seated in the water. Loose got looser. In wind l had to do the same as in the Romany now, load the bow a bit to make it behave. 5 ft 4 inches, at the time 125 pounds. Add 10 or 12 pounds now but 17 years too. Shoe size ontne small side, 6.5 USA then and my feet spread to 7 since.
Boats since then that say LV have tended to have hulls tuned for lighter paddlers, not just resized cockpit. From NDK the Pilgrim and now the Echo, but across all manufacturers.
The hallmark of the Explorer and it’s kin the Romany, as well as Tiderace and any boat with Allen’s hand in it, is a boat with tremendous generosity for mistakes. The damned boats will be on their sides and still give you a moment to recover. I have been in that position multiple times and managed not to capsize. Much as l would love to claim great skill, what really happened was the boat gave me a smidge of time others would not have.
The same generosity makes them easy rollers, you can screw up some in the upper half of the roll but the boat will still try to give it to you. After a couple of years of failure, l got my roll within a month of having the Exploder.
I use my husband’s Romany as my safety boat now for paddling solo in Maine. Even with my roll currently in quite shaky condition, with the virus and other things l didn’t have the focus this season, one way or another l can get back into the boat. If l go over in the first place, which is possible but takes a lot of mistake in judgement.
All that said, the hull is slow and that wandering bow can be great to maneuver as well as a bit to control depending on what you want it to do and conditions. But it remains one of the all time solid boats to handle anything and get you home safe.
A coach we knew said he liked it because, if he had students out and they were having trouble, he could switch boats with him in his Explorer and the student would make it home.
Everyone has forgotten about it over here, but my husband had a Valley Aquanaut and found it had similar generosity. Just a much stiffer boat, you have to fully edge the boat not just kinda sorta like you can get away with in the Explorer/Romany.
Now one thing that has to be mentioned, for many years there were running jokes about the quality of the NDK boats. The were hand laid, chopped strand glass. Some felt the chopped strand was a weak layup. Just about everyone hoped they got a boat that had been completed BEFORE the guys went to lunch at a pub across the way from the factory. My Explorer was a B+ quality and you still don’t want to look too closely at the hull cut where the cockpit coaming goes in. My husband had to heat the rear of the coaming in the Romany so it was high enough to get a skirt in w/o a fight.
This is all past history, different process etc with NDSK. But someone is going to mention it if l don’t. Just be aware that for many years the quality that people got Explorers for was their behavior on the water, not the layup details. Valley by and large managed more consistent build quality during that era.