Explorer and Romany, experiences, etc?

I’ve had my Romany for about a year now and I really like it.

I’ve done my BCU training in it, had it in surf and in calm water, paddled it in freshwater rivers in Florida over the winter, the Gulf before the spill, lakes - all kinds of stuff.

I am interested in doing more camping and paddling and have an opportunity to pick up a used Explorer for a reasonable price. I could probably camp with the Romany, but I like my comforts and they fit a lot better in the Explorer.

This summer I’m doing some driving and paddling, from Georgia to New England to visit friends, paddle the Boston outer harbor and the Chesapeake on the way home. I may also end up in the Charles a little bit with a friend who is a novice.

Romany or Explorer for this trip? I could bring both, but that seems pretty extreme on my Ford Focus for 3K miles!


I have both an ExplorerLV and a RomanyLV (and now an AvocetLV), and I’d recommend bringing the Romany for our waters.

I’ve found the RomanyLV to be a more than satisfactory ride for everything around here, especially rocks, surfing and the occasional tidal race. I’ve also paddled it in the Triangle, where it just shines.

The only drawback is if you’re going to camp – I don’t, so I can’t give you any feedback on that – but I know people who do out of their Romanys and do fine.

Paddled Romany round Vancouver Island
Plenty of room

There are folks who use a Romany for everything. As you know, it is a blast to paddle. I paddle my Romany more than any of my other boats.

If you feel that your Romany cannot comfortably hold all the gear and weight you want to carry, then an Explorer is a good choice. I tend to use my Aquanaut for camping and long journeying and my Nordkapp LV for easily keeping pace with faster pods - especially in lumpy seas.

If you find the Romany is overly burdened by the weight you intend to carry (it can get logey when over loaded), then maybe consider another boat. otherwise your Romany should be fine. You may also find that an Explorer feels a lot less responsive than the Romany.


I won’t be camping on this trip, I’ll be driving from Georgia to New Hampshire and utilizing the network of guest rooms in friend’s houses!

So I’ll only be carrying safety equipment, snacks and fluids, and spare clothes. That all tucks inside the Romany with room to spare.

The only reason I was thinking about the Explorer as opposed to the Romany, was during a long outer harbor paddle in Boston and that the Explorer was better suited for long paddles.

Wil, I would be interested in hearing your comparison between the romany and aquanaut as far as performance goes.

Wil, I would be interested in hearing your comparison between the romany and aquanaut as far as performance goes.

The theoretical advantage of higher cruising speed with the longer boat might be deceiving. At 3-3.5kn, the Romany just might have a bit less resistance than the Explorer. The advantage of the Explorer would likely only be felt if you consistently maintain a speed over about 4-4.5kn.

And if you load a boat down with multi-day gear, most people are unlikely to go beyond that 3-3.5kn range. The biggest advantage of the Explorer would be in storage capacity.

Look at the pictures of the trip some friends of mine did. One was in an Explorer, another in an Explorer LV, and one was in a Romany (white boat with red seam line). The person in the Romany did not have any problem at all keeping up! And, btw, the other two paddlers are extremely fit.



Dead On Advice
As someone whose nickname was (and still is at times) Turtlewoman and who has spent a lot $$$ doing forward stroke training, I agree with Otterslide.

I don’t know how big or small you are, but one of the differences between the Romany and the Explorer is the mass you’ll be pushing through the water. While I’m far from one of the Little People, I was urged by various coaches to get myself something smaller than my 17’6" ExplorerLV because I would be pushing a lot less boat. Granted, my ExLV is one of the heftier girls, but I found my speed and handling increased with the 16’ RomanyLV. While my speed increase was not as much as it is with the AvocetLV, which has a slightly different hull design, I was definitely paddling more efficiently in the Romany as opposed to the Explorer.

The Romany’s rep is that it is slow and in some ways it is. However, I’ve paddled Boston Harbor, done some long hauls on the Maine coast, and recently did yet another circumnavigation (12NM) Cranes Beach in Ipswich, MA. I kept up with my fellow paddlers without too many snide remarks about having Turtle Woman along for the trip.

I’d bring your Romany north with you. Surely it needs a lobster dinner and a beer from one of our local and excellent breweries:).

Romany - Aquanaut
Two very different boats, thought each ultimately is descended from the Pintail.

The Aquanaut is unflappable in seas - especially beam or quartering. Compared to a Romany it has better glide and is more directionally stable - it takes a good lean to turn well. The hull is more rounded and slightly veed so the primary and secondary stability is not as clearly defined as the Romany with its squarish hull section. That being said, the Aquanaut is fairly confidence inspiring though not as forgiving as the Romany. The Romany surfs easier and sits on a standing wave with little effort. The Aquanaut is not a play boat. It is the least playful of my 4 sea kayaks (Romany, Nordkapp LV, Elaho DS, and 'naut). The Aquanaut can maintain good speed over distance and is the best mannered boat I’ve paddled in conditions.

also helpful!
I bought my son a used Aquanaut Club and some kit for his college graduation present last year.

He actually picked it over a trip to NYC or Vegas (both of which were cheaper, smart boy) and after a year of nagging me to take him out into the waves, he had his first rough water experience last weekend.

He did pretty well, managing to handroll in the shallow, confused water and I’m glad his boat is a good pick for him.

Great answer!
Thanks Otterslide and DCM, good explanation.

I know which boat to bring North! That’ll be fun.

Otterslide - Your Vancouver paddling pics are great! Thanks for the link. Next summer I’ll be out west visiting family and friends. Hmmm.

DCM - so how can I find some folks to paddle with up there?

I can’t figure out exactly where the very active sea kayaking community is online. The Boston Sea Kayak Club website has no real activity. Is there a meetup group? Howabout Northshore Paddlers?

NSPN/Sea Coast Paddlers
I believe I saw your post about paddling on NSPN today. While I’m a member of this group, I don’t routinely paddle with them. If someone posts a paddle in response to your inquiry then you’re golden (unfortunately, you can’t post a paddle unless you’re a paid member; annual dues are $15 for a family (I think), less if it’s just you.) However, NSPN is pretty active this time of year, so if you’re able to check the message board, you’ll be bound to find something to go on. Non-members are always welcome.

SeaCoast Paddlers is a meet-up group in NH. They do lots of paddles and are very welcoming. I don’t have the info right here but I can PM you with it.

Try it out but don’t jump without trying
I own an Explorer LV and have paddled a Romany LV. For camping, the Explorer will definitely hold more gear. But since you’re not camping, I don’t think there’d be much advantage with the longer boat, so why buy it unless you want the greater cargo capacity.

It may or may not be “faster.” It takes more to get it up to speed, though it holds pretty well once there. But this isn’t a boat with great glide when unloaded, and neither was the Romany. With camping gear, it glides longer–but it also takes more effort to get it going in the first place.

If “fast” is what you want, see if someone’ll let you try a Nordkapp LV. It’s not for short people. On me, the thigh braces were way too far forward. But even just getting going, this boat had a nice slick glide. I noticed that someone else quickly capsized in it; at my size/weight, it wasn’t tippy. Too bad I couldn’t get good contact in the cockpit. If you’re taller and longer-legged, you might like it.

My Romany S has 314 liters of volume
and the Explorer HV has 319. I know there is more packing room in the Explorer, but there is not much difference in volume between the two. I also have an Aquanaut (LV RM) and a Nordkapp. I agree very much with WilsoJ2, the difference being I am the next size up in these boats. IMO the Aquanaut does not recieve the acclaim that it deserves. An amazing boat in terms of dependability. My Surf has huge compartments, I cannot speak for the standard size. Bill

"the acclaim that it deserves"
I have been fascinated that the Aquanaut does not have the regard on this side of the pond that it seems to have in the UK. I’ve had mine for 7 years and still find it a fabulous boat. I did all of my BCU 3* & 4* training in my 'naut. Though my Nordlow is sexier and my Romany easier to throw around, the Aquanaut is simply a great boat, especially in challenging seas.