I’m thinking of adding one to my fleet. Have had only 12 miles on light ocean swell with one. Seemed fast, weather cocky, tender primary, good secondary, easy turning and very comfortable cockpit. Does anyone have more experience to retell, particularly in following seas, large ones and surfing. Any experience recalled would be helpful.
My wife brought an Ellesmere with her to Juneau. It was instrumental in our meeting and that is probably the best I can say about the kayak from a touring perspective. It was a challenge in confused seas and somewhat worthless in heavy following seas. It wanted to spin on the tops of waves, desperately reaching toward the direction of the wind. She reduced the impact of that problem by packing the shotgun in the bow – not an easy task given the small hatch, but made possible by just using the pistol grip and leaving the folding stock at home. That extra weight helped.
It is a fun boat but I would be cautious about using it for extended touring, because of the lack of space and the challenge of paddling in rough water. Our longest trip was packed for 12 days, but as usual only took 6. She replaced it with my Explorer and now uses a Solstice SS for the longer trips we take in Southeast Alaska.
My experience was different
I found the Ellesmere a dream to control in following seas. Much easier than my other boat at the time, an Eddyline Falcon 18. All it took was a small amount of edging and the boat went where I wanted. I never had to use the skeg. I never paddled it in serious confused water, so cannot comment on that.
Had one, thought I loved it…
liked it less as time went on. For me it was an easy roller and handled everything well except the end of the day when I just wanted to get home an eat. Never failed when out on salty water, the wind was from over and behind my shoulder (whatever you call that) and I spent as much energy with correcting strokes as I did forward. I had no skeg.
It did seem to get lost a bit in the confused seas of an inlet more so than my current ride.
Weather cocking wasn’t so much an issue when I was fresh. As for surfing, I can’t say I am proficient enough at it to say but can say it was a blast. Following seas would push it off to the right or left but again ok the first half of the day.
Someone just said something to me about “paddler input”. Could be it was more me than the boat design but I have found my Explorer does almost everything better than the Ellesmere and I don’t have to use the skeg.
Popular boat in Ontario
There are quite a few here in Ontario with lots of happy owners. I’ve paddled an early one with the ocean cockpit for eleven years now and think it’s just fine in rough water but other than my Pintail I don’t have much seat time in other boats so I’ve not got a lot to compare it too.I moved the front bulkhead back 12 inches so the carrying capacity is reasonable…it’s been my camping boat for years. Whether you like the
handling or not is personal preference but two positive comments are the comfort of the molded fibreglass seat and the quality of the layup.
Mine is a carbon kevlar layup and after years of frequent use ,mostly heavily loaded with camping gear
it has not developed any stress cracks in the gelcoat. There are lots of good boats out there not made by VCP or NDK.
You’ll just have to test it yourself as much as possible and see if it’s the boat for you.
I’m no expert at kayaking and would consider myself an average paddler. I thought I would respond to this post as I’ve had a very positive experience so far with my Ellesmere (3 years) and in following seas I have found the Ellesmere fast (to keep up with the surf) and responsive. I’ve found at higher speeds it will plane over the water surface rather than plough like a couple other kayaks I have tried. It is prone to weather cocking though but a bit of skeg generally corrects that. There might be some issue with having enough weight in the boat (I’m 190lbs) for its more ideal responsiveness. Hope that helps.