Day boat vs. Expedition Boat?????

I currently have a Dagger Meridian (16 foot Romany copy). I love the boat but want a similar handling boat in a longer/faster version. I generally only do day paddles, but like to paddle fast and want a fast boat with lots of glide. I like to paddle in rough water, but am in the Army and soon will probably be moving to an area where I will have to paddle lakes most of the time. Another reason for wanting a faster boat.

I am thinking of getting a Valley Aquanaut (an “expedition boat”) as it seems to fill this bill well. Keeping both boats is not an affordable option for me unfortunately, and I am pretty set on a British style boat with soft edge chines.

But…I notice that a lot of people advocate having both a day boat AND an expedition boat. This implies that people prefer to paddle the shorter day boat more than the longer boat and only have the longer boat to support longer trips etc. It seems to indicate that the longer boat for them is stricly a niche boat.

What do you prefer for general use? A shorter 16 foot boat or a longer 17-18 foot boat for general use?

I know this is a subjective question, but just wanted to hear some opinions.

Again, I really like my 16 foot boat, but I think I might be happier with something faster (or maybe not…)

I guess another question might be about how noticeable the difference in speed would be between the two boats.

thanks for your help


How about a Chatham-18 ?
I have never paddled one, but I have raced neck and neck with several at different times and they seem real fast, and talking to the guys who have them, they would never trade them for anything else.



If only one boat…

– Last Updated: Dec-08-05 6:48 AM EST –

We had the expedition boats as our only boat until we each got a 16' boat this summer. That is because the expedition boat represented our most significant need and was most flexible. While the expedition boats could be used for both expedition and day paddles, 16' boats wouldn't have done it for us for camping.

If you crave speed, you will be happier for most of your paddling with a boat like the Aquanaut than the Meridian, so that'd be fine as your only boat. The only reason I'd offer to try to hang onto the Meridian as well is that, if you really love yours, it might be hard to replace. Or, if you want to do so down the road you can add a Romany or an Avocet.

My husband has the Aquanaut - great handling boat, carves turns real nicely, as well as fast - it's a nice choice. A friend of ours has the Chatham 18, and has said that she feels the Aquanaut is better mannered than her boat is in conditions.

Chatham 18
That’s my boat! I do love it. I find it to be a pretty fast boat. It is my first boat, so I don’t have a lot of things to compare it with, but I did a lot of club paddles this summer. Even with my inexperience, I usually found myself one of the faster paddlers in the crowd in that boat. It handles wonderfully, it’s been a great boat to learn in. I have yet to do any overnights in it, it’s been a day trip boat so far. There is definitely room for a lot of gear though.

Matt Ain’t A Big Guy… Too much Volume
Go get the the new Nordkapp LV (NoKrap), or OI, Got water length and not as much volume.

Doesn’t really sound like you want “expedition volume.” Just more length for speed. Why mess with extra volume that will just mess you up on windy days?

If you really want speed, why not get one of the faster racing like boats? Since you think you’ll be on a lake, these will be probably perfect for a fast pace paddle/workout, without as much worry about capsizes.



– Last Updated: Dec-08-05 7:42 AM EST –

My brother in law just got a Swift Saranac. He's in upstate New York, and since we are both pansies, decided not to go out paddling while I was up there at Thanksgiving, we just sat in the garage and stared at his new 14 foot Kevlar Saranac. (Boat lust is even better when you can share the experience with another addict.)I'm real curious to see it in the water now, it looks like a fast boat to my inexperienced eye. That yak must be all waterline! The keel runs all the way to the stern. My Chatham has about a foot above the water line at either end, this thing seems designed to have nothing above the water. I'm really looking forward to paddling with him in it in the spring. As I say, haven't seen it in the water, but it looks like a fast little boat, pretty too. Perfect for paddling up there on Ontario and the Finger Lakes. Probably a lot smaller than what your looking for though. Just another possibility.

If you are still headed to Redstone Arsenal, keep the 16 footer FOR NOW…the lake areas around here are large, and the Tennessee River is navigable, but there is only so much of that you can do before you’ve done it all(Boredom)…however, there are large areas of Backwater in National Wildlife Refuges and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)lands, where the longer boat is less manuverable…

Keep the 16 footer for now, you can change boats later; I’m doing quite nicely with a 14.5 Carolina on these waters, 20 mile days are easy down stream, on the lakes proper I can do 15 to 17 with little effort…your 16 should suffice.

Great comments…
Lots of good information here so far. Thanks. Sing is right…I am not a really big guy—5’8 and about 180. I guess that does play a factor.

I have looked into the Chatham 18, but have heard from about your friends boat (I think I exchanged emails with your husband on this subject) and am not sure how well it would fare in rough waters when I do get the opportunity to paddle in conditions.

I have to say though that I am pretty well set on a British style boat. They are what I really like. I know there are faster ones…QCC, Epic, etc. but I just like the feel and handling of the British style boats. My short list really is the Aquanaut, Chatham 18 maybe, and maybe the NKD Explorer or Nordkapp. Like Sing said though, I don’t really need all the volume, really just the speed. Even if I do take some trips, I am a UL backpacker so I think I can cram a week’s worth of stuff into vitrually any boat.

Good points about Redstone…I am not sure that I will be going there or not. Hopefully I will know soon. I may also end up going to the Detroit area in which case I could paddle the Great Lakes. This would definitely give the opportunity to paddle in some rough conditions and provide some long distance paddling opportunities. So the type of paddling that I will do in the future is highly questionable. I think that the 16 foot boat would be great for rivers etc, but I think I would probably be better off with a plastic 16 foot boat as opposed to a glass one like mine.

Thanks for all the info, and please don’t let me stop you.


06 Aquanauts
If you want rotomold, next year Valley has a LV and HV model in Aquanaut, lighter weight also.

And a RM Nordkapp as well.

And 3 sizes in the Aquanaut composites.

The Chatham is a very nice kayak, I’ve paddled all three versions numerous times including a prototype of the Chatham 18 prior to its release. Very nice indeed. If you want a British kayak that is really fast though, you may want to also test paddle a couple of the Nigel Foster kayaks (British boats now being built in Canada by Seawrd Kayaks). Try out the Legend and the Silhoutte. Both handle very nicely. The Legend is smoking fast and very manoeverable. The Silhoutte is a touch faster (with a lighter paddler especially) and a little straighter runing. Both are exceptional kayaks. As much as I still love the Chatham 18’, I would have to say that overall, I like the Fosters a touch more.

Cheers…Joe O’

Longer “day” boats

Many people use the longer (~18 foot) Aquanauts and Explorers as day boats. So there really is no reason you can’t do that as well. These longer boat won’t be quite as sporty but they are fine as day boats.

Unless one are racing or have a requirement (or desire) to go long distances, I’m not really sure why there’s such a “need for speed”.

I know many competent paddlers who use short boats, even for long trips. (I use my 16 foot Romany for 5 day trips.)

Many people who buy “expedition” boats are enamored of the “romance” of long kayak trips but never actually go on the sorts of trips that require an expedition boats.

The Aquanaut is a very nice boat and appears to be faster than the NDK Explorer (also a nice boat).

You might be quite satisfied with your Meridian (yet another nice boat).

The need for speed…
Good point about speed. I have made several posts over the last year about “fast” boats. Some have made critical comments assuming that I am just a poor paddler looking for equipment to compensate for lack of ability…on the contrary.

When I paddle I enjoy pushing myself as hard as I can. I do it as a workout…just one that is a lot of fun. When you push yourself hard, it is nice to reap the benefits of your efforts by going fast.

Furthermore, I love the feeling of gliding fast over the water. When on flat water I will often paddle close to shore so as to be able to see just how fast I am sliding through the water.

Everyone paddles for different reasons, and everyone enjoys different aspects of the sport. I enjoy going fast and pushing myself hard (among other things of course).

Other people enjoy tooling along slowly and just kind of “hanging out” on the water. It drives me nuts to paddle with groups like this. I respect their interests and preferences, but mine are different.

I did not take your comment as being argumentative or anything, just wanted to explain myself.

I am not looking for an expedition boat for any reason other than speed. I just refer to them as such because I have seen many people say that they have a “day boat” such as a Romany/Avocet AND and “expedition” boat such as an Exlporer/ Naut. The fact that so many people seem to like to have both has just made me wonder why they hold onto the shorter boats and if maybe there is something that I am overlooking.



Ease and play
I consider my Aquanaut my main boat. If I were forced to have only one boat, it would be the ‘naut.

I have an Elite layup Romany as my day/play boat. This boat is more than 1.5’ shorter and about 10 pounds lighter than my Aquanaut. This makes the Romany much easier to haul around and is a real blessing for winter pool sessions.

The Romany is also very playful and amazingly forgiving. On the downside it is sluggish, rather low volume and has those tiny NDK (KajakSport) round hatches.

If I am going to be camping, paddling for long duration/distance, or with a fast pod, I take the Aquanaut. I also prefer the 'naut’s handling of big seas. However, the Romany is much better for surfing.

As far as speed - Thusfar the fastest Brit style boats (least resistance above 4.5 knots) tested by Sea Kayaker Magazine are: Azul Sultan, Nigel Foster Legend, Valley Aquanaut and Boreal Ellesmere.

Specialized boats
Hey Matt,

I have a P&H Quest for camping, a Pintail for playing in lumpy water/surving, and about to buy an Impex Outer Island for fast day tripping and learning more Greenland rolls. You have a great all round boat in the Meridian (basically a Romany hull with a slightly different deck configuration). You can go to something longer like the Aquanaut (better than the Explorer if speed is your goal), but it will still be more boat than you need for day trips. You might want to look at keeping the Meridian for fooling around in places where a shorter looser boat is an advantage (poking around in swamps etc.) and for camping, and get one of the more specialized boats like the OI for paddling fast in a straight line. Best, John

Throw a wider net!
I’m having trouble putting your description of how you paddle (I’d describe myself very much the same way) together with what you like paddle.

Your comments say it all. You like to push it and cruise, will likely be on mid to moderate inland waters, want more spped for your effort, and don’t need a rough water playboat. This says a lot about what boats would work, and it doesn’t say it with a particularly British accent to me.

I like Romany’s (and Meridian I assume) for play/rescue/roll stuff - but would not want to do the sort of paddling I picture from your comments in one for very long.

I’m just used to a more efficient hull for cruising and I’m now spoiled because of it. Spoiled enough that I’m trying to build a longer, narrower, and lower volume boat.

Maybe I just read too much of myself in your paddling description? Maybe you’re not doing 12-18 miles non-stop in a few hours as a typical solo day paddle. You never said what speed you’re doing as the shore rolls by, or how long you hold that pace, so only general ranges of suggestions are possible.

Many fine boats have been mentioned - but none one of them that really stands out for ticking off the miles on some relatively quiet body of water as the shore rolls past at a good aerobic pace.

Sure, you can get a workout in any boat. Sure, there are relatively fast British Sea Kayaks. There is also are also a LOT of other options.

Before the anti-QCC crowd kicks in - I’m not about to launch into a one sided advert for QCC or talk down Brit boats. I am going to suggest you consider other boats that include kayaks the Q700/EPIC 18/and CD Stratus - which are also good all around boats and fine in the textured stuff. You will gain speed - and not lose good handling characteristics. Have you spent any time in any of these? Talked to peole that have? They are more similar then different when compared to something of similar dimensions like an Aquanaut, Legend, etc. (Do I smell smoke?)

Since you’re not a novice, why not look at kicking it up another notch above those and considering something like a West Side Boat Shop EFT, or something from SRS, or Nelo? Back on the Brit side - maybe the 18’ version of the Rapier? There are a lot of choices that are a little longer, lighter, and faster than typical sea kayaks.

Or you could go full out and go with something like a T-bolt, Vampire, the longer Rapier…

Of course, as already mentioned - you’d probably be fine sticking with what you already have too.

Impex Force 4
See you on the water,

(I’ll be the one in the yellow Force)


Artisan Millenium

– Last Updated: Dec-08-05 2:22 PM EST –

I don't have much experience in mine yet. But prior to getting it, I did quite a bit of research on it.

No doubt, the Artisan is fast, that I can attest to. Reviews I've read say it's a great expedition boat, handles big water well and all in all a great touring boat.

I bought mine used. Boat looks like new. Bought it without trying it out. Been out twice in it so far and I'm extremely pleased so far with its handling and feel.

review here:

photos here:


Well put, Greyak
Indeed if speed is your biggest concern, Greyak has listed the fastest sea kayaks available.

The last I checked, THE fastest sea kayak (least resistance above 4.5 knots) Sea Kayaker has tested is the Epic Endurance 18.

Despite what some have said, you CAN feel the difference. I can feel my Romany hit the wall much harder and sooner than my Aquanaut. I can feel the greater resistance of the big bow wake in the Romany when I’m cranking.

I would guess that the same is true if one compares the Aquanaut with an Epic Endurance or QCC600/700.

Each model has its own personality. Your Meridian is a very nice boat. It is responsive and maneuverable. A trade-off is that it is not as efficient at higher speeds. Every boat is a combination of trade-offs. Each seeks to balance these in a different way.

Some rankings of speed


Your decision
I think you should decide what kind of paddling you do most and then choose a boat.

If you are happy with your Meridian (AKA Romany) but want something longer why don’t you try the bigger brother Explorer?

But then again if you plan on paddling lakes most of the times a really fast boat might be your best choice. If this is the case QCC 700, Epic, VCP Rapier or CD Stratus should be in your list.

I, like you, can only afford one boat and paddle a VCP Nordkapp, excellent boat for camping/expeditions but too big as a day boat. Can’t have everything :wink: