From Romany to Explorer?

For 13 years I’ve been very pleased with the Romany but now, at 5’8" and 190, (still fit in the boat just fine) have been thinking of getting an Explorer. Anyone else made a like move and what can be expected? More speed, similar handling? (I also carry about 15 extra lbs. of gear in the boat).

Sorry, just my $0.02. I find the romany livelier than the ex. The ex is a great tripping boat but it’s not my first choice to play in.

Going bigger
The explorer will hold speed better, especially for that much payload. It is plenty manueverable, but less so than the Romany. More stable, less exciting. Less deflected by the wind. A great, do-everything boat, better for multi-days than the Romany.

Is hands down the best boat Ive ever owned. Also own a TideRace Xplore. To be honest the TideRace is not paddled all that much anymore. I will defer to others about speed, but my understanding is length alone does not make a boat faster, in fact may be slower. I dont do any camping but paddlers I know can carry a weeks worth of gear in their Romany if you pack like a backpacker. I have a very limited time in the Explorer but I did not find it as playful as the Romany. I`m sure sure that is because the Explorer is a foot and a half longer.

Looks like the Romany has more rocker towards the back end than an Explorer. It handles differently and not just due to length. I’ve had my Explorer HV for years and I still love it, but recently lost a fair amount of weight and now it feels ‘big’ on day trips. I’m looking at a Romany as an addition.

So, the correct answer is “both”.

Good question…Actually.

– Last Updated: Jul-08-10 6:24 AM EST –

This is actually a good question and I am going to have to agree and disagree with the other posters.

i have owned several Explorers, a Romany, and a couple of the Romany Surfs.

most of my comments about the Romany are based on the Romany Surf which has just a slightly different hull design than the standard Romany. The central volume of the boat extends a bit more fore and aft of center, the bottome is a little flatter and the chines a little harder in my opinion than those of the standard Romany.

They are both great boats. on calm water the Romany is certainly more fun, but in rough conditions i think it depends.

I think that your weight also has an impact. you are at about the max recommended weight for the Romany (according to nigel dennis himself from a conversation i had with him....I am about the same weight as you are at about 195).

In tidal currents or for rock gardening i prefer the Romany. it is much easier to maneuver in these conditions and the added rocker is helpful for surfing standing waves.

For just about all other rough water conditions though I prefer the Explorer.

i find its stability profile a bit different and prefer it in rough water. This may be more a comparison with the Romany S though because of its harder and grabbier chines.

i find the Explorer much better in high winds and chop.

i find it has much more directional stability in rough water and stays on track better without getting pushed around as much.

i also prefer it for surfing in the surf zone. i find it is easier to catch waves and broaches a bit less. it also just has a nice smooth feel in such conditions.

Those are my opinions and i am about the same size as you.

in flat water the Explorer is a bit faster than the Romany but you have to put in a slight bit more effort so it is a trade-off in some ways.

So I think that for just playing around in flat water and maneuvering for fun, rock gardens, tide races, or river currents the Romany is better.

For all else the Explorer is better.

My opionion is based on a looootttt of testing and comparison in various conditions.

one caveat though...I really need to do more work with the Romany in the surf. I have not had enough time with it there to really make a good comparison but from the times I have used it I have found it harder to catch waves than the Explorer. Also may not have the super bouyancy in the bow of the Explorer that resists pearling on steep waves. I think that performance of one vs. the other in the surf may also depend on the size and steepness of the waves. One attribute to the Romany in the Surf though is the faster speed with which you can turn it to avoid getting side surfed by an unexpected breaker or to turn towards shore so you can catch that big one rolling in.


No other opinions on this???
Curious to hear what others think. I figured I would get a lot of disagreement on my last post.

you have got to be kidding
the two boats are very similar. romany has more rocker and it is shorter. draw your own conclusions. two stable tubs one spins more. both probably leak in the skeg area. :slight_smile:

me too
I’ve got a RomanyS and I’ve got an Explorer. Just looking at them in the boat shed (the Explorer is one shelf higher) you can see the differences in the hull shape with the Romany having much more rocker as part of the different hull profile and a much more upturned bow and stern.

When I paddle them I find the Romany much more playful and responsive for tight turns and edging in rough water and surf.

I mostly mess around Tybee Island in the Triangle.

For distance, you cannot beat the Explorer. It takes a little longer to get up to speed and forces me to rotate and use my best forward stroke, but when she is moving, she just flies with very little effort.

Interestingly enough, I see more Explorers used for play in real big water like in the “This is the Sea” series.

I bought the Explorer for loaded long self supported (carry all your water!) touring.

there is no question
that the Romany has more rocker. That is sort of a given in that it is a shorter play boat.

It is the effect of the shorter rocker that is more significant, and the effect of the differently shaped Chines.

I have paddled in the Triangle several times and it is a blast.

Personally I think I would feel more comfortable in teh Explorer there than in the Romany. The Romany would be a hoot to paddle there though, but on a really big day the Explorer would be more confidence inspring for me.

Interesting test is to paddle both boats through the triangle and feel the effect of the different amounts of rocker on tracking.

I find the Explorer tracks in rough water a lot better and the Romany gets pushed around a lot.

I never found tracking to be an issue with sea kayaks in flat water, but i do think it is an issue in confused and rough water

I’d be curious to hear your opinions of the two boats paddling them back to back through the Triangle. That is an ideal test bed for rough water performance.

And agreed…I too have noticed that there are more Explorers in the TITS videos than Romanys. Many will say that is irrelevant but I disagree. Many of those paddlers are sponsored by NDK but they are not made to paddle Explorers vice the Romany.

Just my opinions.

I like the Explorer better for rough water and surfing myself which I think is probably contrary to what most would expect.


I may disagree but
those opinions are based on your personal experience, so who am I to do so? I think your post is a perfect illustration why seat time is more valuable than any input from a discussion forum (not to say the input here isn’t useful).

I value other’s opinions of boats (opinions founded on a good amount of seat time and critical assessment in various conditions) as I find that they may have picked up on nuances of the boat that I did not or that I did but just could not put my finger on.

Sometimes the opinions of others helps you to focus your attention to a particular aspect of the boat or may help to supplement some of the impressions or experience you may have had with it.

For instance I loved the Valley Aquanaut but only paddled it a few times in surf. When I did I found the bow to pearl…but I’m not sure if that was a fluke based on a limited amount of experience and a few really steep waves, but if I read posts from a lot of others who said the same it might help to validate that to me.

Or like perhaps I found the Greenlander Pro just not to feel quite right in beam seas and not to feel smooth and fluid in such conditions but just couldn’t quite figure out what it was and then I read some reviews where someone says that the hard chines and slab sides are a bit grabby in beam seas…then it helps.

Just some expamples.

I like reading boat reviews for these reasons and like to share my thoughts about boats and read others’ feedback.


I started in the Romany
So I really do like it for pretty much anything the Triangle has thrown at me so far in the last year.

I’ve also done all my BCU training and rough water work in it, so it may just be a matter of familiarity.

As far as the Explorer goes for big stuff, one of my instructors, Marsha who owns SKG, was telling me about following Justine through these 20 foot swells in Wales. Marsha was paddling a Pilgrim Expedition, but most everyone else was paddling Explorers.

Makes sense to me - big water, big stable boat, smaller bumpy water, smaller nimble boat. I’m not looking for 20 foot swells anytime soon though. That seems like the ocean equiv of class IV+!

Again, everyone’s mileage (knots) may vary and the NDK boats are the only performance long boats I’ve paddled (excluding my son’s Valley Aquanaut Club) but I can see/feel the advantages of both.

I think if I could only have one boat, I’d probably just have the Romany.

what did Marsha say
about the pilgrim?!

oh yes - it’s helpful

– Last Updated: Jul-14-10 11:18 AM EST –

But the real-life experiences are so variable.
My friends look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them the aquanaut feels like a tank to me!

It's something that I think is pretty unique to kayaking and canoeing. Compare to cars, where handling dynamics don't change nearly as much based on the user's size, and consistent choices can be made based on ability.

seat time
Seat time is what tells you what works for you… But I like hearing other people’s experiences especially when several different boats are involved.

I’m probably not the greatest resource since most of my paddling has only been in one boat, but knowing thab boat vs. what others say about it compared to another boat is a big help.

Physical differences
make a big difference, as well as experience. None of us are the same. To me, my Artisan, that I’ve paddled for nearly 5 years is a perfect fit for me. Yet, put a heavier person in it and the dynamics of the boat will change, likewise, a lighter person would have the boat feel differently than it does for me. Height will have an impact as well.

The key is, you need to paddle the boat to get a feel for it. Asking other peoples opinions just won’t cut it.