Well many of you may have followed my obsession with looking for the perfect boat….lots of questions, lots of comments on different boats and recently a couple of reviews that sparked a lot of conversation.

I feel a need to explain myself…

Some have questioned why such an obsession over equipment. Others have criticized saying that all this time spent talking about boats could have been spent on the water.

I have a much different perspective.

My quest for the “perfect boat” (which is much like the search for the Holy Grail in that you’ll never find one that is truly perfect) has been a pleasure that has enriched my paddling experience, taught me tons about boat design and its impact on handling characteristics, helped me to improve my skills by matching appropriate boats to my current skill level, and has helped me refine my tastes as so what traits I need in a boat. Furthermore, it has helped me to see for myself that certain things that others here have said (Salty in particular) are true…like the fact that speed among touring boats is not significantly different and really is not the most important trait by any means. Lastly, I think that it has really helped me develop a better feel and awareness for the boat I am in, and develop a better sense of feel for the water….perhaps one of the most important aspects of being a good paddler and something you can’t develop except through experience.

Many have said that you can’t choose a boat without having paddled several first….true, but only partially so in my opinion. I believe that you can’t really get a feel of a boat and decide whether its for you until you OWN IT for a while.

In the last few years I have had a Dagger Meridian, Valley Aquanaut, NDK Greenlander Pro, Valley Avocet, Romany, Explorer, and now a Nordkapp LV… yep that’s a lot of boats…and yes I probably do have a problem (my wife says I do). All but one were bought used though so buying and selling them was not much of a loss for me as used boats can be bought much more inexpensively and sold for about the same, thus giving me the opportunity to have owned so many.

From my experience, you can’t really develop a good feel for a boat and a good assessment until after you paddled it for about a month or so. This is the only way you can really develop a feel for the boat that allows you to use it to its maximum potential, and to experiment with various outfitting, etc to get the boat to fit just right, and to have the chance to use it in a variety of conditions to get a true assessment of its characterisitics. Really a month is even rather short.

From having owned so many different boats has really helped me a lot as a paddler. It’s been a lot of fun and I have learned so much.

I fully understand now that there is no perfect boat. They are all good in my opinion (all the ones I have owned have been)…they are just different. They have different personalities and different characterisitics. You need to determine just what characteristics are right for you and the conditions you will use it in. You can only really find this through trying out different ones.

How will a wine connoisseur truly know what traits he prefers in a fine wine unless he has tried many different wines and learned to distinguish among their traits and detmermine what combination of traits he prefers……and has he not learned a lot about wines in doing so?

Along the way my skills have improved. Much of that was a result of paddling all the time, reading, watching videos, and constantly practicing different strokes and techniques….some of it was due to using different boats.

The Meridian was a very maneuverable boat that was great for a novice since it was so easy to use. The Aquanaut really taught me to be confident in big seas and rough water. The Greenlander Pro helped me to really get a better feel for edging and its affect when surfing, etc. The Avocet helped to to learn all the BCU three star strokes…much easier in that boat than in my longer Aquanaut. I then could apply all those strokes proficiently in longer boats. The Greenlander Pro helped me to develop a strong side slip and a stronger roll since it is a hard boat to get to go sideways and requires a bit more powerful hipsnap than my previous boats. The Explorer helped to refine all of my strokes since it was a bit harder to maneuver than the shorter boats, but still responded to strokes and techniques in a text book fashion, and it also really helped to be become a better surfer given that it was so easy to catch and stay on waves with this boat and easy to keep upright even when surfing in really big waves.

So, having the chance to use so many boats at so many different phases of learning and development for me as a paddler has really helped me in my opinion. Could I have done it in just one boat? Sure…but perhaps not as quickly as I did in the many boats I have owned.

I currently have a Nordkapp LV that so far I like a lot (although I have only had it about a month so I have not really had enough time to get a truly thorough evaluation in all conditions.

So far though I think it feels like a boat that has the traits I am looking for and one that will help me to continue to grow and improve as a paddler…which is just what I am looking for.

So while many may still not agree with such a quest, perhaps this may somewhat explain the value it has. For me it has been great. I encourage others to do the same. Used boats are relatively cheap. Buy one, paddle it, and then decide. If it’s not all that you are looking for (which the realm of the possible) then find something else and sell the one you have. You may eventually find a boat you really like that you will be much happier with and you may learn and grow a lot along the way.

The only real way to choose between …
boats is to own both and try them back and forth. I did that with my Eddyline Falcon 18 and my QCC 700x. I ended up selling the Eddyline. Not because it was a bad boat. It is actually a great boat. But for my paddling style and what I wanted to do the QCC was better. If I had to give up the QCC and go back to the Eddyline it would be no problem. The real difference between boats at this level is quite small and easily adjusted to. If my Eddyline had had a skeg I would have kept it. But I didn’t want to give up having a glass boat just for the skeg. So, you are right. There is no perfect boat. There are many very good boats. And I would say that there is probably no reason beyond personal idiosyncrasy for choosing one rather than another.

step up
Sounds like you’ve progressed to the point you can start solo canoeing. Congrates!

You’ve progressed alright
but can you say it in less words.

I’m going to bed.

less words…
Sorry, a passionate subject for me mixed with a few good beers in the evening can sometimes result in such a continuous stream of ideas…

Here is the bottom line:

I know there is now perfect boat, but having owned lots of boats in a quest for the ‘perfect’ one FOR ME has been a pleasure for me that has helped me learn a lot about boats, and improve as a paddler. Also has helped me to improve more quickly by having the appropriate boat for my skill level at any given point and by paddling boats with different strengths I could exploit to enhance and speed my learning.


Besides accelerating your skills, it sounds like you’ve arrived at a place of beautiful simplicity and frugality.

How come you never tried a Keowee ?


In less jest…
Being a boat junkie, for no small reason because skills increase and can handle a new toy, is hardly unusual on this board. I suffer from the same. I have two perfectly lovely sea kayaks, but probably would have a real acquisition urge if I got into one of the newer boats that are sized for me from TideRace or Point65. My reasons for doing so would be a mix of pragmatic reasons and wanting a more challenging boat to serve those purposes - really not particularly different from what you (Matt) have enunciated. If I find that I like playboating this spring I’ll have the same problem with WW boats, it’ll just be cheaper, and a canoe is already under research.

It’s the length and depth of the response - I think most have accepted that any boat will have places where it is perfect and others where it may be far less than perfect. But when the reviews get really in-depth it gets hard to tell how much of your response is something that others would find in the same boat, and how much is something that is specific to your own paddling in terms of size, skill strengths and weaknesses etc.

Seriously, it’s great that you’ve been able to have seat time in these boats. And what hasn’t been mentioned is that you have to be doing some bodacious research and checking around to be able to transit thru them like you have. That’s all good stuff.

I like bowler1’s threads.

Call it what you will, but the truth is
you’re just having fun.


Sounding like the
beginnings of a group hug…

Get a surf kayak Matt, and it will all make sense. God, and can just imagine the essays on fin profiles!!! :slight_smile:

I just want to paddle and be on the

– Last Updated: Dec-06-07 9:40 AM EST –

water. I have a good boat and a good paddle. I don't know all the advanced strokes and techniques and I don't care. I don't care if another boat may be slightly better in certain conditions or if I can edge one a little more. I don't care.

I've paddled hundreds of miles per year in my few years of paddling and I've gotten better, faster and more confident. Owning ten boats would not necessarily be more enjoyable; it would make me feel guilty that some were gathering dust in the garage. I'm not certain that owning many boats would have made me a better paddler. I just want to paddle.

However, I do understand your fixation. I will most likely purchase another boat sometime in the future and other paddles (already ordered a GP).

Have fun with your analyses but I hope you are able to paddle as much as you desire and don't get writer's cramp.

Matt - my brother-of-the-cloth…
Guys like you and me - we get dissed by many, scorned by some, laughed about by others…

I have owned, in the past three years:

Outer Island

NDK Greenlander (oc)

Explorer LV

Arctic Hawk

Nordkapp Jubilee


Like you, I have had some of these for as little as 3 months, yet others for as much as a year, but have enjoyed foaming, customizing, paddling, and loving every minute in each one.

Our ability to commit to buying each boat instead of driving 2 hours to a retailer to do regular ‘test paddles’ in a flat pond is, IMHO, a much better way to learn about the boat, our paddling needs and wants, and still get that junkie high from owning a new boat! lol

I have my eye on two more now, as I know now I want to stay with hard chines/small cockpit/light weight - so will be picking up an Anas Acuta for playing and a BBK Aral for cruising.

Such is the life of the OCD_yakker…formerly known as Prince --er-- slovrien!!

Ya gotta love this sport!

Matt’s Grail Quest…
I am impressed with the amount of time Matt spends in boats. I know he is not retired and not independantly wealthy. I appreciate the thought and analysis he puts into his observations about boats.

I am amazed at how well he turns boats (I can’t honestly say flumoxed as I bought 6 and sold 5 whitewater boats over the past 1.5 years - selling each boat for what I paid).

At this time I am mostly concerned for the viability of his marriage.

you should start a blog
Lots of good info you have from your experiences. I would read it!

Good for marriage
Keeping him out of bars and women, that is.

At least he uses paragraphs
Geez, if it’s too much to read, skip over it and maybe read it some other time.

the perfect boat eh?
we’ll after many years of buying kayaks I think you and God will have to build your own to get close to perfect but you can buy close and then do the mods…and hopefully very soon I’ll link to a pic of this process…assuming my contacts in South Carolina are close on this project…hint hint hint BrazilBrazil—also know in some circles as BrokeBackBrazil…now I’m rushing to get a flame retardent suit on :slight_smile: