Island Kayaks Expedition????

Okay I am going to start some talk about this boat…hopefully. Would love to hear from others with experience with this boat. It is very different from any other I have paddled…

I recently picked one up at a price that I could not pass up.

I looked at the lines of the boat I decided to buy it without paddling it given its promising lines and some of the comments I had previously hear about the boat.

And yes…it is not a British made boat!!! For those of you who think I am overly biased…

So I have gotten it out a few times and am almost perplexed by this kayak.

It is so much different from any other I have paddled. It is extraorinarily unique.

I have not paddled it as much as I would like in order to give it a truly informed review but I do have some initial reactions.

First, it is unbelievably maneuverable. Almost too much so. More than most 16 foot boats. It is almost uncanny. I think it may be the result of the center of turning being placed so far forward that the stern just slides incessantly once motion is begun.

I have actually found that with this boat you have to apply correction strokes in advance in order to STOP the boat from turning. Very odd and unlike any boat I have paddled.

Also very skeg dependant as a result. Not a positive attribute but it is what it is. The boat does not counteract weather cocking especially well by edging alone and seems to require strong corrective strokes without the skeg. With the skeg deployed though it seems to do okay.

Speed…the boat seems to be pretty darn fast. I have only gotten it out a few times with the GPS and is hard for me to get a good read on its speed with GPS given that each time there has been a little bit of wind or current. But from what I can tell it seems to be be quite fast for a touring boat. Certainly is faster than the Explorer, may be faster than the Greenlander Pro and Aquanaunt as well. Seems very smooth and effortless to paddle.

Secondary stability on the boat is almost excessive. It is very high. This also makes the boat pop right up when rolling. It kicks in fairly early so it makes edging the boat deeply hard, but you don’t really need to.

Turning the boat requires littld edge and just a sweep. It actually will turn sharply with a sweep and either inside or outside edging. The bow rudder becomes obsolete with this boat because the boat will turn so quickly and sharply with only a sweep. The bow rudder actually slows it down. Again, the challenge with this boat is to get it to STOP TURNING. Much like a whitewater boat if you were to initiate turning momentum and then stop paddling the boat will actually spin out! I find that when turning you have to edge hard in the opposite direction and apply a firm bow rudder in order to stop the boat’s turning momentum when it is on your desired course and then continue to follow up with more edging and corrective strokes.

All the maneuverability is kind of fun for messing around, but seems to be a bit excessive. Not sure what the intent of the boat designer was in making a sea kayak this maneuverable to where you actually have to work to get it to stop turning. Maybe this will become more of an attribute when the boat it fully loaded for a trip. I suspect it may.

On that note, the boat also has large hatches and lots of volume for tripping. Lots. A good amount more than an Explorer or Aquanaut.

Performance in wind and waves: I have gotten it out twice on 20-25mph wind days. Only briefly each time. Was able to turn the boat into the wind with no issues (no bow rudder required). Maintaining a course in any direction was possible with the skeg. Surfed wind waves okay but a little squirrely without the skeg down all the way. Cut across and through the waves very smoothly and efficiently. Was fast in the textured water.

Surfing Standing Waves: okay here is where the boat shined! I live on a river which gets good current and standing waves when the dam releases. I got it out surfing in some fast current and small waves. It surfed better than any other boat I have paddled.

Its length helped it to get on the wave, and its super fast maneuverability kept it on the wave. In ferrying over to the wave, once on top a small sweep whipped the boat around so that I could surf the wave. Really fast to turn on top of the wave. Then surfing it was great. Keeping it straight was effortless, and then when it did get slightly off course it came back on course easily where other boats would have been too far off course to bring back. You know the feeling…when no matter how hard you rudder and pry on the stern it just aint gonna happen. Not so with this boat.

So this is a very interesting boat. It really is. Unlike any other I have paddled and I have owned a lot of different kayaks.

Anyone else have experience or thoughts about it?


it is not a British made boat!!!
However, it is Brit designed boat by a company (and designer) based in the UK, though manufacture was Sri Lanka. In that way it is as much a Brit boat as the TideRace boats and more than the Foster boats (as Nigel lives in the US).

You might contact Steve Maynard as he had a few Island boats and used an Expedition for some coaching (he used on at Downeast a couple or so of years ago.)

I understand this tonic is 10 years old. During the pandemic 4/2020 I was in need of a Kayak as i had left my Explorer 500 miles away at sons house St Pete FLA. Found a used Islands Kayak Expedition year 2000 through and drove to Eufaula AL to pick up. Yes i too paid a price i am embarrassed to say how little i paid for. Love the boat and it is my favorite for day paddles. Still use the Explorer for Expeditions. Boat was a little squirrely at first, but within 5 minutes it has been true love.

Every time some one sees the noat they stop me and ask about the kayak.

Safe paddling to all.