island kayaks--need opinions please

Does anyone have any input on the quality and paddleing pros and cons of Island Kayaks Expedition model. I know they are built in Sri Landka but cannot find any independent reviews. Thanks!

Steve Maynard
British designed Sri Lankan made, Steve and Melissa Maynard have an Expedition LV and a Qaarsut and seem to like them a lot.

They are well designed boats which are also well made.

The last word I heard was Island is no longer in business.

No longer in business
Still in business but not importing to USA.

Some may find it a little difficult to make it go straight but it was designed to be maneuverable so what do you expect. Generally good to paddle (surf and rock garden especially), well built and bargin prices for the last few in USA from what I hear.

We have them…
First, a disclaimer, I’m part owner of a kayak business and sell Island boats, so I’m a bit biased (Virginia Sea Kayak Center,

Island Kayaks are still in business, but were hit pretty hard by the Tsunami a few years ago when workers were rebuilding the fishing fleet and homes in Sri Lanka, instead of producing kayaks. They are back up to speed, but the US distribution is still lagging behind. This means there are very few Island Kayaks available for sale in the US (we have five boats left at the closeout prices) and I’m not aware of any immediate plans to bring more to the States in the near future.

The boats are very well made with several unique features, including an offset skeg that allows more storage room in the aft hatch. They have a substantial amount of rocker and little keel for an 18-foot boat, which makes them very maneuverable. This can be a challenge for beginning paddlers, but once you get used to the boat, you’ll find you can move it around effortlessly.

The hull design lends itself well to a little skeg deployed for super-straight tracking, even in low/no wind conditions. I’ve found it’s a great boat for people moving up in their skills, as well as for instructors, guides or even as a second boat for playing in the rough water. It handles flat water just fine, but again, I recommend using the skeg to assist in tracking. We’ve sold four of them in the past few weeks with great feedback.

Hope this helps. - Tom

New owner here

– Last Updated: Sep-04-07 2:35 PM EST –

I purchased an Expedition (not LV) about two months ago and have paddled it a dozen or so times since then. I have had it in the ocean for a surf zone strategies class, on the tidal James in 1 to 2 foot chop, with the other paddles on my home lake here in Central Virginia. Also have done some rescue practice with it.

I am 6'0, 205 and the regular volume fits me very well. While not riding high out of the water empty, I am confident that even fully loaded it will ride high enough. With the agressive rocker, the boat likes to move around. The first time I paddled it, I remember feeling like even small inputs would cause the boat to overreact in that direction. With just a little seat time, that feeling went away. There is no doubt however that it is a responsive boat - it loves to turn and that is one of the characteristics that I love about it.

I rarely use the skeg, even on flat water with a little wind. I have not had it out on flatwater with significant wind yet. My forward stroke leaves a lot to be desired, but don't feel that I use that many more corrective strokes than in other seakayaks that I have paddled. I do find that I use my lower body extensively to control the movement of the boat through edging. This is good, but am now trying to work on keeping a quiter hull - in the Expedition I tend to switch from edge to edge more than I would like. Putting the skeg down really transforms the boat. In comparison to without the skeg it really locks in. Have found that if I use the skeg, I tend to deploy it just slightly and it gives a good compromise feel.

The boat has tons of storage, especially up front with the relatively high fore deck. The front, rear and day hatch openings are all larger than most other boats I have paddled. I can even fit my helmet through the day hatch opening. Because of the formed in seat pan that actually creates a secondary bulkhead, the day hatch is quite large. I really like the formed in seat as it makes emptying the cockpit after rolling practice quite easy. The backband is the one aspect of the boat that I don't like - not supportive, difficult to adjust and doesn't want to stay adjusted when I do. Luckily, that will be easy to swap out.

The boat rolls like a charm. Since getting my mechanics down, it takes very little effort to come up. Very forgiving and the lower rear deck helps with layback positions. Even after a lengthy roll practice, the front and rear bulkheads remain completely dry. My day hatch gets a little water in it - maybe a cup's worth. I need to get the release film off the hatch cover and see if that helps. Also need to check where the skeg linkage runs through to see if that is the entry point. If I'm just out paddling, even with a few rolls thrown in there is only a very small amount of water - a few tablespoons.

Probably more than you wanted to know, but this was my first chance to really record my thoughts about the Expedition. I'm not an expert, but build quality appears quite good and it is a very pretty design. I feel very lucky to have gotten a nice glass boat at such a reasonable price. Good luck in your shopping.

Island Kayaks - from the horse’s mouth!
I had read that Island Kayaks lost its distributor but not that it was out of business. So I emailed Gavin Major aka Island Kayaks to get the facts and this was his response: “I love rumours. We are producing and have just shipped our second containerto the UK. We are developing links elsewhere but so far nothing to the

states which is a pity. Now we produce the Expedition, Expedition LV, The Qaarsut 5.0 (with retractable skeg) and the Qaarsut 5.5 The Newt mold is getting polished up again because I have some orders from the UK and we are developing two new boats this winter. So you are in the

special position to comment as you wish on these rumours as you have it

straight from the horses mouth (actually I am not sure I like that analogy!)

Julie I am just delighted people are still talking about us but thanks for the kind wishes. Boats is what I do and have no plans to change that in the

foreseeable future.”

It just gives you a perspective on the kayak market, the difficulties faced by small operations.

island kayak
thanks to all of you. great to hear they are still in biz. i’m looking forward to my next demo this week and will porbably be a new owner afterwards. thanks again…