First Boat - Layup Advice?

I’m getting ready to buy my first boat.

I’m new around here. I would describe myself as a beginner, but I’ve taken a few classes now where we went over the different strokes, leaning, bracing, etc. No rolling or rescues yet (missed the last rescue class of the season). I’ve been renting plastic rec barges all summer, and now I want to get my own boat that I can grow into and practice some of the intermediate skills we learned in class. Stats: 34, 5’10", 150lbs.

Today I demoed: Avocet, Aquanaut, Romany, Romany Explorer, and Nordkapp. Of the 5, I liked the Romany, Romany Exp, and Nordkapp.

One of the things I have to decide is what kind of layup to order. I’ve read that the lighter layups are easier to cartop and carry around, but don’t ride as well in the water (too light?) or repair as easily. Does anyone have some first-hand experience paddling different layup versions of the same model who can comment on this?

Thanks in advance!


Go back and carry the boats you like around by yourself… That may help you with your decision…

You only pay the premium once, but you have to carry that boat around for years…

to carry that boat around for years
Hefting the boats is wise, though there are ways to deal with heavier boats. The two NDK boats you like are very different boats in that the Romany is a 16’ day/play boat and the Romany Explorer is a 17.5’ expedition boat. Both a very good boats, but somewhat different in their best uses.

Common wisdom is that any NDK layup other than the standard is not reliable. I have an Elite layup Romany, and love the boat and its lightness. However, I believe it to be relatively fragile for a Brit boat.

Valley has changed their layups over the past year. I have a few year old Aquanaut in ProLite layup and I love the boat. It is very resiliant, however it is NOT light. Valley’s newer layups should be very good and are lighter. The Nordkapp LV I demoed this summer seemed no heavier than a similar lenght North American boat.

A light but strong boat is a joy :wink:

lighter layups
I don’t think the lightest layups are anything but good for most US paddlers. The British boats were traditionally much heavier because they land on rocky coastlines in surf, and the boats get an intense beating. We have lots more sandy beaches over here to land on. If you’re playing in rock gardens, the heavy layups might be a good idea. But for general purpose sea kayaking, the heavier layups won’t make the boat ride better in the water at all–lighter boats tend to be more responsive. And you’re more likely to use a lighter boat. My friend with her heavy layup Romany explorer always has such a struggle getting the damn boat on her car, so she often can’t get her act together to come out and kayak.

Go for the lighter boat if possible–you’ll probably get a lot more use out of it.

Thanks for the thoughts everyone. The Romany they had was in the elite layup; the others were standard glass. It felt noticeably lighter than the similarly-sized Avocet.

I’m partial to “as light as possible”, since I need to move it around by myself and don’t want it to sit unused in my garage. Luckily, my paddling goals do not currently include landing on rocky shores, playing in rock gardens, or any other rock-related paddling experiences :slight_smile:

Thanks again!


Get the Romany
It is a ball of fun of a boat!

I’m guessing that my Elite Romany weighs abut 40 or so pounds. It is a joy to just throw it on the car and go to a put-in. It is even more of a joy at the end of a paddle when tired.

You’ll also find that the Romany is a great boat for showing friends how enjoyable and friendly a well designed boat can be even for novices.

I love putting rec boat and barge paddlers in my Romany and watching them smile as they play with the boat.

NDK layup?
From what I could figure out from their web site… The Elite lay up is achieved by leaving out at least 8 lbs. of gelcoat and part of the keel strip.

Ya think?

Yeah, the Romany felt much lighter than the others. Have you had any issues with damage or anything due to the lighter build? Slightly OT, one thing I’ve always wondered about the Romany is pronunciation. Is it ROMAN-EE or RO-MAIN-EE?

Also wilsoj2, you mentioned you demoed the Nordkapp LV. I have been considering this boat but they don’t have one to demo. Does it handle like the normal-sized version?



Nordkapp LV

– Last Updated: Aug-28-06 9:12 AM EST –

I demo’d and ordered an LV. in the Ultra lay up, they guaranteed me it would be under 44 lbs. It is not as stable as the others you mentioned but at your weight it would be much better choice than the full size Nord. It is a little larger fit than the Avocet in the thighs but still on the smaller side.
It is said to be an intermediate to advanced boat but a dedicated beginner should be OK with it given a little time in the seat. It is a blast to paddle...

It is a different hull than the Nord. shorter with more rocker, handles closer to the Avocet than the Nord. IMHO

I’ve heard both ROE-MANEE and ROM-ANEE from long time paddlers of the boat. The one person I know who is personal friends with Nigel Dennis seems to pronounce it ROM-anee and informs me the boat is named for Nigel’s daughter.

As far as my Elite layup Romany: I have some spider cracking and the gel coat is noticably thinner than on my Aquanaut. I’m not sure I would pay $3100 for the boat, but I got a very good deal on the boat, and find it very worthwhile.

The Nordkapp LV is much more active in the water than a Romany with less solid feeling stability points. However, it is a very fun boat. If I were to buy a new 17+ foot boat right now, it could quite easily be a 'kapp LV. I am not fond of the regular Nordkapp but like the LV a lot. You are too light for regular 'kapp unless you plan on always paddling it loaded.

The Nordkapp LV is not as forgiving as the Romany or Explorer and would not be as reasurring as a person’s first real boat. It is high enough volume to use for camping and expeditions yet not so big as to be a pain unloaded.

All of the boats you are considering are very good boats. Among those you’ve listed, if I were thinking of one boat that would be comfortable as a day/play boat and for camping etc…, it would be the Nordkapp LV. If you are not concerned with camping (or are a backpacker) and want a boat that will support your skills development, nothing beats a Romany.

What are the consequences of…
… being “too light” for the boat? Not enough hull in the water to handle as designed? Capsize more easily?

You both are in agreement that I would not be a good fit for the Nordkapp (I don’t plan to paddle with gear). Thanks a lot for the advice. 44 lbs is very inviting, but I’m concerned about buying one un-paddled because it sounds like the LV handles much differently than the boats I liked. I really wish someone around here had one I could try.

ROM-anee, check – thanks :slight_smile:


Nordkapp - Nordkapp LV
If the regular 'kapp did not feel overly tender to you, then you should be fine in the LV. I find the LV both better mannered and more fun than the full size ‘kapp.

I’m 6’ 170 pounds and feel like the regular Nordkapp is skittering on top of the water when I paddle it. I also find the decks too high in the Nordkapp. (BTW what Valley is currently calling simply “Nordkapp” is the H2O version of the Jubilee. There have been many Nordkapp variations. I believe four or five versions are still available.)

There is another aspect of getting a Nordkapp… you’ll have a NORDKAPP!