NDK Explorer???

Well, I feel kind of stupid asking for opinions on this boat since it is probably one of the most well-known and classic sea kayaks, but I’ll ask.

Limited demo opportunities here. I paddled an Explorer briefly and liked it. I also really like the Romany quite a bit and have spent a few days on the water with one.

After all my quest for a speedy boat, I may be choosing to go “back” to an old classic. I think that Salty may be right in that speed is not so important and their is not much difference among most British boats anyway.

I am considering the Explorer as perhaps my only boat…have had a 16 foot play boat in the past (Avocet) and a long boat (Greenlander Pro and an Aquanaut).

I think that one thing that the Explorer may have that other 18 footers may have is good surfing ability in a long boat. I very much enjoy kayak surfing and it seems like the Explorer has enough of an upswept bow to make it good at surfing without pearling like other long boats. Also think it would have some extra speed that might make catching waves a bit easier. Lastly, it may be more appropriate for my weight (190 pounds) than the 16 footers.

I am looking for a lively and fun long boat that will surf, do well in rough water, and that is manueverable / responds well to bow rudders, hanging draws, etc. Seems like this might fit that bill nicely.

I will add that I had an Aquanaut for about a year and really liked it, but found it a bit boring on flat water. It had a bit too much stability / secondary that kicked in earlier than I would like. From my brief paddling experience in the Explorer it does not seem to share these attributes and feels a bit more “playful” for a long boat.

What do you think about this boat as an all-arounder? Specifically how do you feel about it as a surf boat / playboat (since this is the spot where most long boats are lacking)?

I may end up getting an Explorer as an all arounder, or am thinking about getting one in addition to a Romany as a play boat.



Try a Nord LV!
Perfect for your weight. and very playful…

Mixed review
The Explorer is legendary for it’s rough water performance and forgiveness of mistakes. It’s easy to roll, can be padded to fit most average to large people, and handles exceptionally well full of camping gear.

It is, however, slow on flat water, heavy, and a good percentage of them are defective in one way or several (Mostly leaks and faulty layups). A good one is a keeper, but I’ve seen many many shoddily built ones. We have an Explorer LV in our fleet, and luckily, it’s a keeper.

If Seaward or Current Designs built it with their heavy duty layups and quality specs, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand, IMO.

The Romany is a very good surfer, and a great all-around playboat. Same quality and weight gripes apply.

Inspect it to the point of being a PITA before you buy. You’ll be glad you did.


If I could have only one
sea kayak it would be an Explorer. I do not own one because I have a few kayaks that I use for different conditions, but if I could only have one, the Explorer would be it.

Nordkapp LV
Agreed on that one. I have not paddled one before but it seems like exactly what I am looking for; however, my budget is more towards the used category. No way you will find one of them used for quite some time.

I would like to paddle one though. If I found that it was just the greatest thing since sliced bread (which is a distinct possibility) then I might get one. Before I go and buy a new boat though I would definitely want to be sure about it. At least with used ones I can buy and sell them pretty quick without losing much money (which is what has allowed me to own so many boats and be so picky as you probably can tell that I am).

True about the Explorer not being particularly speedy from my understanding. However, speed is becoming less of a requirement for me. I have found that differences in speed are not as significant as one might think. Furthermore, I generally cruise about about 4.5 knotts on flat water. I’m not sure how much difference there is among boats at this speed.


Used Explorer
Peter Beerman – Tuesday, 8 May 2007, at 12:36 p.m.

NDK Explorer, “British Racing Green” over white, yellow rim, compass, minicell seat, rope skeg, used but kept in garage. Includes all of the following accessories: cockpit cover, neoprene sprayskirt, Farmer John wet suit, roof pads, tie down straps, greenland and traditional paddles.


West Hartford CT

Yeah except
CD boats have a habit of coming apart at the seams when things don’t go right. Good construction?


Ed and I surf our explorers all the time, both here in Virginia Beach and regular trips to Tybee Island. The folks at Sea Kayak Georgia do the same. It’s a great do-anything boat and I find it excels in the surf.

As an instructor I find it has plenty of flat water speed and also let’s me move around the students as needed. I have yet to find it boring on the water.

Ed has a used explorer elite for sale in Virginia Beach (http://www.virginiaseakayakcenter.com/images/photos/explorer_for_sale.jpg, $2,100), and we have several new models available. You may even be able to talk Ed into a demo in the surf.

My .02 worth.

Used Nordkapp LV
I think I saw one at Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte MI http://www.riversidekayak.com/About/Specials/index.htm

Sorry - here’s the link
go to


and to Classifieds

great boat. all around, very proficient. very rugged.

there have been some QC issues…recently boats have been getting here in better shape but you do need to inspect the boat you buy…coamings can be too low to the deck, etc. take the time to give the boat the once over.

the explorer is not the fastest boat but you have to ask yourself what you want the boat for and does this matter? are you going to be pushing hard ALL the time and so every knot counts? if it does, this is probably not the boat for you.

it excels in rough water.

for surfing, note that all sea kayaks will purl and you need to get some time in the saddle to prevent it with regularity and in this regard, the explorer is no different.

if you are looking for a surf specific long boat, try a romany surf…it is shorter, has a more defined chine and the volume was carried a bit farther astern than in romany…it surfs well.

I especially like CD’s plastic hull/deck
extrusion and plastic bulkheads. Those are really indicators of prime quality and design perigee. Ya, sign me up. A bargain at twice the price.

“If Seaward or Current Designs built it with their heavy duty layups and quality specs, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand, IMO.”


Haven’t seen that
My CD has been bashed on a jetty, and bounced off a number of rocks, and other than some minor repairs, it’s fine after 9 years of heavy use.

It doesn’t leak, either. Very few NDK owners can say that.

As a former composites prototyper, I know a thing or two about layups. Vacuum-bagged cloth is the way to go. Chopped-strand mat and too much resin isn’t as strong pound for pound. NDK claims it makes for localized damage in failure situations, and it does do that much. However, a little kevlar is superior, because it won’t hole as easily. I saw a Kevlar Necky get imploded on a roof rack (Bow line wrapped aroung front tire of the owner’s car and…), and it was fairly easily repairable. An Explorer would have broken in two.

May be that since they moved production to Wenonah’s US facility that quality has sufferred?

Rigid bulkheads are all bad, IMO. The stiffer they are, the worse they are. They create stress points on the hull and deck, and impede the natural flexing of the hull. Ever wonder why spider cracks develop around the bulkheads on a lot of boats with glass bulkheads? Valley boats used to have a big issue with that. Since they modernized their production process, I’ve heard a lot of positive comments, but it remains to be seen if they’ve solved the spider cracking issue.

The ABS bulkheads are more flexible, but still not optimal. 3" foam ones are best, because they function just as well as any other in a flooding situation, and allow the hull and deck to flex in unison.

I’ve had boats with all 3 types of bulkheads, and have never had an issue with any of them leaking in any situaton. All three are overkill for 99% of paddlers. They just have to hold back water occasionally and reliably.

what the other guys said
only louder

ndk explorer
I have both an Explorer as a faster, long-trip boat, and a Valley Avocet as a day/play boat. I like them both, but if I could only have one, it would be the explorer.

I think of it as the perfect compromise in a rough-water expedition boat: very neutral in wind, enough storage capacity for 2 weeks with careful packing (I was a backpacker first), comfortable enough in surf. (A 16 foot boat will always be more fun in surf and rock gardens than an 18-footer. I find it fast enough that I don’t feel slow or have trouble keeping up, although there are certainly faster boats out there, and I used to own one. But those all involve compromise rough-water handling, storage, manuverability, etc.

There are a number of other boats with similar design concepts (T170, Island Expedition, etc.) and when I got the explorer, it came down to a matter of feel. I just liked the explorer more.

I bought my explorer from a friend, and had already seen lots of use. It’s been very solid. Unlike some, I really like the heavy layup, because it gives me confidence when I whack a rock on day 7 of a 14 day trip. Mine has been patched multiple times adn the hatches are still dry.

The only problematic area has been the skeg. If I had it to do again, I’d get one without a skeg. I very seldom need it, and it’s been high-maintenenace and eats up some storage space.

have you tried the new x boat? It’s awesome. A new british company out of wales is making them it is like the explorer only better.

In some men I’ve heard it regrows hair.

Best? Are you serious…
Wayne? ; )

I know few people with foam bulkheads over a couple of years old that don’t leak or have sealing problems. 3" foam eats from 6-9 inches of linear space in the kayak. A bud had a 45 minute swim when he kicked his out after a trashing in the surf. Resulting cleo’s needle was a real PIA to deal with. You may like them best, but they are a long way from best by any stretch of the imagination.

Plastic bulkheads are lightweight. They have similar leak issues to foam. You cannot use either for a footrest as they are too wimpy. Welded plastic bulkheads found on Valley boats can be used as a footrest.

I’ve had problems with extruded hull to deck joinery. Not a fan. There is no upside to the consumer over glass tape, except maybe cost. Sideswipe a big ol rock and try replacing it. Will not be cheap.

Of the seven kayaks with glass bulkheads I’ve owned, none presented a problem at all. I still have no spiderweb cracks in either Valley or NDK where bulkheads are placed. I can pad the bulkhead

and use it as a footrest and hang a footpump off it. I don’t have leak issues, however, they can happen.



– Last Updated: Jul-02-07 4:07 PM EST –

Good one :)

There is a lot of mythology about the Romany and the Explorer. They are great designs, no question, but they're not what some owners claim them to be. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

My better half bought hers recently, partly out of peer pressure, and partly because her Silhouette unnerved her a little in rough water, and she wanted a dedicated rough water boat to complement the Silhouette. Someone told her that the Explorer LV was a "Great boat for women", and the die was cast. She demoed one for a month, and almost didn't buy one as a result --- it leaked in both hatches, the coaming was unevenly spaced from the deck, and the skeg didn't work (I repaired and lubricated it as a return courtesy for letting her borrow it for so long). However, she did say it made her more confident in rough water, so when the time came, we inspected the new one for 45 minutes before deciding it was OK.

Her observations after paddling one for the last 3 months is probably the most objective I've heard: "It's a very good boat in big water, but it's not the magic bullet I was led to believe it to be".

She thinks her Arluk 1.9 is better in big conditions, and would use that if the cockpit weren't too big for her. I don't like rudders, so the Arluk is now for sale.

I’d never use a bulkhead for anything other than holding back water. Not a good practice, IMO.

My 9 year old ABS bulkheads have seen many thousands of miles, many bumps and scrapes, lots of flooded cockpits, and they still don’t leak. My old boat with foam bukheads never leaked. And even if they do, it’s easy to re-seal them anyway.

All bulkhead types fail occasionally, and they’re all easy to fix. I tend to keep boats for a very long time, so I look way down the road when I buy for things that can cause problems.

This is another one of those “Rudder vs Skeg” issues — everyone has their holy grail.

But I do agree that welded plastic bulkheads, especially in a plastic boat, are great.