This is a follow up to a post I made a few weeks ago asking about the NDK Explorer…
I have had the Explorer now for about a month and wanted to give some feedback on it.
The boat is a solid all-arounder and good in conditions. I have had it on flat water, in wind and in surf and in large clapotis.
Not the fastest boat, but ample speed combined with very good tracking on flat water and conditions.
Stability: a bit more stable than I would prefer. Secondary kicks in earlier than I would prefer as well—prior to dipping the cockpit coaming in the water.
Handling is quite good. Could turn a little faster though and could respond better to a bow rudder. My Aquaunaut was a bit better handling in my opinion.
Where the Explorer does quite well for me though is with surfing. First, the bow is really buoyant and really resists pearling under. My Aquanaut’s pearled in too much on steep waves (which is why I prefer the Explorer). Catches waves easily and the hull really seems to want to surf even on small wind waves. The other thing I have found to be unique about this boat is its resistance to broaching. Seems that it tracks much straighter on a wave than any other boat I have used. Makes staying on the wave a lot easier. Back surfing this boat is incredibly easy and stable as well.
On short wind waves I found that the bow wandered a bit, but with the skeg down it tracked like on rails and surfed the windwaves with outstanding speed….hit about 10 mph surfing with a 20 mph wind at my back on a portion of the bay with fairly short fetch.
Overall this is a very solid boat. It’s not what I would describe as an exhilarating boat to paddle and I am not awed by it, but it is a very solid rough water boat that surfs quite well. Very confidence inspring. I plan to keep it for now. I feel confident that I could paddle in just about any conditions with this boat with confidence which is one of the reasons I want to keep it. I can only get to the coast every couple of weeks or so and if the winds or waves really kick up I will not feel at all hesitant about going out. This is especially good for me since I often paddle solo.
The trade-off is in playfulness / livliness. I would very much like to have a more lively boat like the Nordkapp LV, but for now I think this boat is probably more practical for me, and as mentioned above you can’t beat the way it surfs.
I plan to keep this as a surf / rough water boat, and keep my Greenlander Pro for flatwater and distance paddling. I think they make a good combination.
This is a follow up to a post I made a few weeks ago asking about the NDK Explorer…
Nice critique. It is always good to hear well thought out reviews. I am kind of looking around for similar boats myself. The great thing about your review is that it is realistic. Not like some of the " it’s the best boat ever" reviews.
Thanks for the write up, Matt.
Are you saying the Aquanaut turns better for you than the Explorer? I was a little surprised by that.
“Could turn a little faster though and could respond better to a bow rudder. My Aquanaut was a bit better handling in my opinion.”
Explorer vs. Aquanaut…
Well, it’s been a while since I owned the Aquanaut. I sold it several months ago so I am only going off memory and not a back to back comparison; however, the Aquanaut may have been more maneuverable. I seem to remember it responding better to subtle edging / shifting of one’s weight. Also believe it did better on a low brace turn.
I think the Aquanaut may have been better in the following: maneuverability, speed, secondary stability, rough water performance, and overall just a more playful feel to it. I really liked the feel of that boat in rough water where it seemed to come alive. Explorer feels a bit more muted in these conditions….not necessarily more confidence inspring, just more muted.
I find the Explorer better in the following: easier to roll (although both are easy to roll), better at surfing/less broaching/better in following seas, bow does not pearl, boat is lighter, and I prefer the boat’s fit and comfort—better cockpit and thigh braces for me. May also be a bit more neutral in winds. Also is a bit easier to maintain paddling on edge.
Both boats are good, but for me the bow pearling issue is the deciding factor. I really do not like a boat that requires me to lean way back to prevent the bow from pearling under. Enders are not fun to me……especially in shallow water.
This is especially an issue for me since I like to surf, but is also an issue when paddling in really big following seas.
Here’s the deal…you are comparing mini vans, which is cool, if that’s what does it for ya.
But, I think it’s time for you to get a high performance surf specific kayak and get your eye’s opened! I guarantee you will be blown away and will become a surf crazed freak. Your mini vans will collect dust and you’ll look back and laugh.
Now, mini vans are cool and they allow us all to tour and see cool places etc. And, in the absence of surf allow us to play around in rough water, surf swell and wind waves yada yada…
OK, but they are all fairly similar in that class so it’s kinda mundane. They are cool for sure, but you are ready to move on when it comes to surf kayaking!!!
I’m not critical of your passion, just want you to see the light about what kayak surfing is all about! None of these 16-18 foot pigs surf “well”. They are coastal touring kayaks.
Sing, please help me here…
16-18 foot pigs cannot surf like 7-9 foot, sleek dolphin like surf craft. We mentioned it before on Matt’s “what’s this boat like in the surf” threads. But here it goes again.
Watch any number of the video shot and posted on you tube of surf kayaks and tell me you can do that in an Explorer. I have an Explorer, love it, but the idea of getting out of bed and saying, Gee I think I’ll take the Explorer out to the beach and surf it, while my surf boat stands in the corner just does not happen. You can pick up a used IC or HP boat from boatertalk for under a grand. You will thank us for this advice when you do. C’mon Matt, summer is half over. Sell one of the mini vans and get with the times.
Cool videos. Pretty good moves. Not much better than I can do in my Explorer though. While I can’t do quite as well as those guys in their short boats, I can do nearly as well…close enough not to warrant buying a short boat.
Okay, just kidding.
True about the surf boats. No arguments here.
Truth is I sort of like mini-vans and am trying to perfect the ability to handle the mini-van through the slalom course.
In all seriousness, I do like to surf and I like to paddle fast on flat water. Many have said I should get a surf boat and a surf ski; however, I really do like paddling a sea kayak. I am also somewhat afraid that I will no longer like my sea kayaks if I paddle a surf ski and a surf boat.
I like to surf, but I also just like going out and playing in the rough water around the surf zone, in the clapotis, etc. It’s not just about surfing for me. It’s about rough water paddling as a whole. Surfing is just one aspect.
Maybe someday I will get a true surf boat. It certainly looks like a blast. May also get a surf ski some day. For now though my desire is to learn to master the ability to paddle a true sea kayak under all conditions and to paddle it fast and far.
one boat does most theory
i’m with you Bowler. while i have a river kayak, and currently live near a large surf beach, i can’t see having a surf specific kayak. in stead i’ve ordered a Romany S. why? so that i can have one, highly playful, more so than my already playful Impex kayak, kayak that i can surf ocean waves with, play in rock gardens, etc, and push my limits in. and yes plain old surfing. i watch some river kayak s in the surf zone, and they suck. i can get out there in a sea kayak and have just as good rides, and get back out much faster and move around. if i could fit in one, i’d definitely love to try a surf specific kayak, but right now, i still find a playful sea kayak so fun, so practical for all sorts of water, including flat water free style type stuff, that it makes complete sense to me. is this going to provide the same feeling of surfing a proper surf kayak? of course not, but it’s still a wack of fun, and a challenge, and i can still use this boat for lots of other paddling, including putting friends in. a good trade off.
I get what you are saying, but this is clearly a case of not knowing what you don't know. A Romany is a great all round coastal touring kayak. But what would be wrong with experimenting with a surf kayak. Touring boats are very limited surf craft...very limited.
Clearly Bowler is a decent paddler with good skills. I think folk like dogmaticus and myself simply see a guy who needs to break out from the "Brit" sea kayak cult and experience some real performance.
I see you are from BC. Please do not show up at Jordan River or Sombrio with your Romany. The surfers will wax your windshield.
You too...stop the limited thinking for goodness sake. By all means wax on and on about your beloved displacement hulled 55 lb. slug, but for goodness sake get a used surf kayak and get on with surfing.. Jeez..
I bet Dennis could get you guys to drink poisoned Kool Aid!:) All in fun..
Could get them to drind Kool-Aid?
Are you sure you meant to say “could”? That suggests a possible future event and perhaps you are referring to an event that has occurred?
I’d add two things
I’m just selling an Aquanaut - the Explorer replaces it. Two important items for me:
- I can plunk my butt in the Explorer and then pull my legs in - skinned my shins in the Aqua (tall geezer here).
- In the Explorer, I can drop a butt cheek and the thing will turn. The 'Naut just keeps going straight!
at Jordan river
i was thinking of showing up this winter, and side broaching through the surf zone with the boardies, all the while blowing my whistle and waving my arms to clear out of the way.
actually, i’ve only been there twice, both with sea kayakers and in my own, and there wasn’t even boardies there, only other paddlers…
i won’t ever buy a surf kayak, but would like to try one, if i could get my legs into one. surf kayaking is very rare out here.
No it’s not…
One of the best in the world goes there often…but not on bad days. If there were no boardies it was a bad day. Never… Always and Never are two words we should Always remember Never to say.
especially when it comes to boats…
Drop a butt cheek
I drop a butt cheek in an Explorer and the boat doesn’t notice. I drop a butt cheek in my Aquanaut and the boat edges.
The 'naut takes a lean to turn, the Explorer does not. The ‘naut has impeccable rough water manners. Though the Explorer surfs better (apologies to Salty and sing) and is a more stable rescue platform.
I’m a bit smaller (6’, 175-180) than you and find the Explorer too high volume and staid. Though I wish my Aquanaut had the keyhole of my Romany
If you’d like a boat with the speed of an Aquanaut, good manners, high primary like an Explorer, easy to turn and with a roomy cockpit, try a Cetus!
You’re missing out
Matt, I used to think just the same way you are thinking. My Gulfstream or the Legend that I paddle now are both fun boats in the surf BUT
I just picked up an amazing deal on a brand new (but manufactured in 1999) Seda Crest. Although this boat is really more a “creaker”, it’s a lot of fun in the surf. I’m still learning how to handle it.
It’s much more maneuverable than a 17 or 18 foot boat. Rolling is different too. Last roll I did wound up as a 1 1/2er. I came up so hard that I went over on the other side before I could get my paddle there to brace.
I agre that the long boats are fun in the surf, but the surf boats are even more fun.
I’m surprised to hear that "the Aquanaut
keeps going straight".
I find it extremely maneuverable and it will turn if I breath heavy on one side. Perhaps the LV in plastic is easier to turn or maybe it is my 150 lb. frame which seems to make the boat sit relatively high on the water.
The standard Aquanaut is a bit of a tracker. It does take a decent lean to turn, but takes very little effort to lean in my experience.
Matt and JBV,
you guys need to get with the times. Surfing a sea kayak, well, still fun, but it really sucks compared to a surf kayak. Even river boats suck compared to surf kayaks. Take this from a Kool Aid drinking BCU member. I love coastal touring, river bashing and surf kayaking. I prefer the proper tool for the job. Although a sea kayak is not a complete waste of time in the surf, it is when compared to a surf boat.
JBV, you say no one has one where you surf. Who cares, are you a domesticated farm animal or a surfer? Get out there and lead.
Surfing a proper wave ski or surf kayak gives you MUCH greater control on a break. As you bulldoze an 18 foot path to the beach, do so while considering other water users and the image of paddlers by other water users. I can surf a surf boat, whereas being surfed in a sea boat is not going to endear paddlers to the other water users very likely.
One more thing: Nigel produced a composite surf boat called the Verso. So it’s ok, you can buy a proper surf boat with his blessing.