I am at a point where I want to be learning more technical stuff with kayaking…various rolls and braces…while still have a comfortable ride. I will mainly be using this on the Finger lakes (can be quite choppy, white caps, wind etc.) but I’d love to also be able to take this on vacation along the coast line (i.e. Maine) and play in the surf etc. I want something that is sleek and fast if I want to do a day trip along the coast or up the lake, and yet responsive for those play situations. I’m looking at the Impex Force 4…also noticed the Explorer is a popular boat…I was hoping for some feedback from folks who have paddled these or other boats…just for a few opinions.
A Romany is not a sleek fast boat. It is a very capable and responsive boat which is often used as a day boat. The Explorer is the longer slightly less rockered version which is faster and capable of holding everything you might ever wish to carry.
At 17.5' the Explorer is 'expedition' length. At 16' the Romany is 'day boat' length. If you don't need the hauling ability of an over 17' long boat, shorter boats are often more fun.
The Force boats are closer in design intent to the Explorer than the Romany. Though they seem closest to the Aquanaut of any Brit boats I've paddled. These are long boats with very good glide and excellent rough water capabilities.
get what you’ll use it for 80%-90%
be honest with yourself. If you want a maneuverable kayak because 80% of the time you’re meandering then get a maneuverable kayak. If you paddle point to point 80% of the time,get a firmer tracking hull. If you’re not sure,it won’t matter.
Sleek and fast and play
In the category of boats you are looking at, they'll all do an amount of this. And handle any conditions fine. However, the boats that most people consider to be the most playful are the 16' boats, like the Romany, and the ones that tend to do sleek better are the 17 ft plus boats like the Impex Force 4 and the Explorer. The Force boats are probably a little faster on measured hull speed, but not the fastest out there. For example, the Aquanaut keeps coming in high on his count.
As for skills, both the Force boats and Romany-based hulls are extremely friendly to skills - you'd be hard pressed to find any better out there.
We spend three weeks on the coast in Maine each year these days, and can vouch for what you are looking at as handling that very well. For lake stuff, a 16' Romany would be on the slower side but probably more fun.
You may be best off doing some traveling to just get into these boats. One option some take to get fun and traveling as well is to get into a boat that is slightly smaller than optimal for them on expedition criteria, for example someone who would ;normally use a Force 4 getting a Force 3. But you really have to try the boat out to get a sense if that'd work for you.
I’ve never paddled one but it seems to be in the sweet spot for a lot of folks.
in the sweet spot for a lot of folks
The Aquanaut is a very nice boat.
Slightly lower volume than an Explorer with lower decks and a longer narrower waterline. Faster than your average Brit touring boat, the 'naut takes more of a lean to turn than more rockered kin.
The Aquanaut is more demanding than an Explorer yet its manners in snotty seas are unsurpassed. I know even die hard Explorer acolytes who are very favorably impressed when they experience an Aquanaut in challanging conditions.
At the level of Explorer, Force 4, Aquanaut, Nordkapp LV, Cetus, etc... it comes down to personalities. All of these boats are capable of handling anything the paddler is up to attempting. Each feels a bit different. Try as many as possible to get a sense of which ones suit you best.
Play with a Force 4
So has anyone had much experience “playing” with a Force 4? I got a brief chance to paddle one and it seemed like it could be pretty manueverable when edged…but I’m still learning to work boats with the body, and I haven’t gotten a chance to try out the Romany or Explorers. I did like the Force 4 more than other boats I’ve tried thus far…
Play with a Force 4
I’ve had limited time in a Force 4 but it did not strike me as a playful boat in the manner of a Romany or Avocet.
In some ways it felt closer to my Aquanaut than most other boats I’ve paddled.
The boat is very maneuverable when edged, and it doesn’t have to be edged much. More easily turned than my previous Caribou in this regard, and easier to keep going straight, as it takes less to straighten it out after the stern starts skidding one way or the other. You really find out quickly if you aren’t putting the same effort into strokes on each side, and are quickly rewarded when you do. For most of my paddling which is calm-water straight-ahead getting-somewhere paddling on the Hudson, I like it better, and I’m pretty sure it’s giving me close to a .5 mph better average over distance. It really encourages pushing-yourself fitness-type paddling, less speed wall felt building above 5mph or so compared to the 'bou.
On the other hand, in boat wakes or waves higher than a foot coming from angles astern, it feels much more like it wants to broach than the Caribou. I’ve not had it out in such conditions more than a few times but I sure don’t feel yet like I know how I’d keep it from doing it. Edging on flat water is one thing, edging in this sort of stuff takes some skill I guess. You just feel the waves “working” the hull a lot, pushing you off course. I assume this is due to the waterline length and minimal rocker.
So I guess I’d have to say I don’t consider it very playful, at my level of ability anyway. The Caribou seemed much more poised and comfortable in such stuff.
Can’t compare it to any other boats, since these are the only two I’ve paddled.
Come out and play
Want to take out the Forces? Have all three available to play on July 7th.
Drop me a line if you’re in the Hyde Park, NY area.
See you on the water,
Hyde Park, NY