ndk/foster/ws kayak help

Hi all,

Ive read through a lot of paddle.net website reviews and forum posts but im looking for a little more help. Im looking for a kayak to do long distance ocean touring(2 weeks to a month) that I can also be comfortable to take out daily in the ocean (exercise, distance, photography, occasional light fishing).

Right now I am considering the WS Tempest 170, the NDK Explorer and the Foster Legend. I am 160Ibs spread evenly, 6 foot, ~32 inseam, and size 11 foot. I have paddled all three and feel fairly comfortable in all of them. My primary choice would be the NDK explorer, but the wait time for one, and dissociation between the US based consumer and UK production is too far great. The Tempest has very ‘similar’ performance to a newer kayaker like myself, but the seat feels supremely comfortable. The Foster Legend is a kayak I just got to try, fast, roomy, but odd initial stability as others have stated, something I could grow into. I wanted to try Impex but the dealer is just too far away.

Im honestly just at a point where I dont know which way to go. If I could just find a good NDK locally Id go that way first, but thats not an option. Throw me a few bones here.



get a krueger
dreamcatcher and be done with it…just plan on waiting a bit for you order.

it would help to know where you live?
my boat of choice for long distance expeditions is an NDK Explorer. i’ve never paddled a boat that came close to it in ocean performance when loaded or empty on local rivers … it’s one of the most balanced, all 'round boats i’ve ever paddled.

i’m a big fan of Nigel Foster and i’ve paddled several of his boats. i wanted to love them. i didn’t. they paddle very well, but i found the seat just too uncomfortable for me.

personally, i wouldn’t put the WS boats in the same category as either of the Nigel boats but that’s just me.

i’d get the NDK if it were my choice.

Can you find used?
Just a thought - if you are interested in looking around at used boats you may find it easier to connect with any of the three boats than if you go new. For shooting photos, I’d guess the primary stability of the Explorer would be make your life easier than the Legend - don’t know where the Tempest fits in that range. Last I knew, the Explorer had about the highest primary stability of any boats with equivalent secondary to the Explorer.

just curious?
>>personally, i wouldn’t put the WS boats in the same category as either of the Nigel boats but that’s just me.

Is it because it wasn’t designed by a “Nigel” or a “Brit”?

I have no issues keeping up with paddlers in Nigel boats, and I seem to be able to paddle where they do with just as much pazazz, in my Tempest.



NDK Explorer vs Silhouette vs Tempest

These are all great all-round boats. I have paddled the Explorer and Tempest. I haven’t paddled the NF Legend, but I have owned the Silhouette, its smaller volumed and narrower beamed sister.

As many will tell you, it is hard to go wrong with the NDK Explorer and I will not disagree with this that assessment.

The Foster boats will require more of your attention than either of the other two choices.

My personal favorite is the Tempest (165 pro) with some qualifications. For my full review see:


At your size you can probably paddle either the 165 or 170. Do you need the capacity of the 170 for longer voyages or would the day boat size of the 165 be adequate?

My biggest issue with the Tempest is Wildy’s proprietary hatch system.

Safe paddling,


sorry steve …
i know you’re a WS guy and perhaps i shouldn’t denegrate them here with you reading about my feelings … but i’ve paddled them, had others paddle them in class, led trips with others paddling them and so on. i didn’t like the Tempest at all and found in a group of paddlers, the folks paddling the tempest had much more difficulty holding a course in the wind then those paddling an Explorer.

once, i had to attach a tow rope to a struggling woman in a Tempest 170 to keep her on course. she had that rudder down, was sweep stroking her brains out, but kept getting blow around.

it’s got nothing to do with ‘brit’. i don’t like Fosters boats at all though i did try to.

Here’s a suggestion out of left field. If you do not know how to roll and have not done the coastal kayaking you mention, and are concerned about warranty/customer service I’d suggest looking at a QCC400.

No it’s not a sexy sea kayak with three black hatches but you are more likely to get a boat that provides the stability you are looking for while you develop the skills to do all those things. And if you’re looking at a new kayak it’ll be close to $700cheaper than the other ones.

If you know how to roll and are familiar with surf/waves/wind then put this suggestion in the circular file.

My $.02 is that if the activity is new to you that by the time you develop the skills to utilize those other boats for that huge range of activities that you are more likely to get exactly the boat you want without having to ask because you’ll know.

what about them? is this with the plastic boat or the composite one?

I agree…but
for any camping trip the hatches just don’t keep the water out. The QCC400 was my first boat and it was amazing for camping spacewise, but my hatches were always wet (this was before I knew how to roll). I also quickly grew out of it; within a year I bought my Sirius and never paddled the 400 again (though I really missed the volume). I do wish I’d listened to Phil when I bought my first kayak and gone for the 600.

I’m in full agreement with their customer service and price.



– Last Updated: Feb-12-06 12:33 PM EST –

Does the QCC mentioned test out as having higher primary and/or secondary stability than the Explorer in stuff like Sea Kayaker's tests? (OOPS - forget that - wrong model)

The only boat of the lot to which I can attest on hatch dryness is the Explorer. Bone dry - in fact I wish my rear oval hatch on the Vela behaved as well.

Boat choice
Hi Greg,

Normally, I don’t get involved in this type of discussion, but it seems like your inquiry is genuine and the amount of subjectivity on this forum is really a disservice to you.

First of all, I have owned an Explorer and presently paddle a Tempest. I have spent a great deal of time in a Legend as well. All three are good boats, but have distinctly different charactaristics. When you consider “balance” you must consider both above the water and below the water. A boat that is balanced below the water will be less effected by water movement as in current and waves, Whereas a boat that is balanced above the waterline will be less effected by wind.

The way to discover this quality in a boat is to paddle the boat unloaded abeam to the wind. Stop the boat. A boat that is perfectly balanced above the waterline should turn into the wind when you lean forward and away from the wind when you lean back. To test the balance below the waterline paddle the boat in moving water, i.e. current, surf or wind waves. A boat balanced below thw waterline will behave the same way backwards as forwards.

People often mention rough water performance, but fail to distinguish between comfort and performance. You can feel comfortable in rough water while sacrificing the ability to manouver the boat and vice a versa.

So it is important that you seriously consider what conditions you are planning to paddle in before selecting the boat as all of the three are good boats.

My own observations for the three are as follows;

The Romany Explorer feels the most stable and because of the lowered back deck is by far the easiest to roll. This same quality of lowered back deck changes its above water line balance and as a result it has more tendency to turn into the weather in the wind.

The Lengend is a hard chine boat and as a result it carves turns beautifully and predictibly without the tendency to skid like softer chine boats. It is the faster of the three. The hatches are the easiest the use and completely waterproof. The “initial” stability is a result of the rounded keel and is much less pronounced when the boat is loaded. If this initial stability issue is the only barrier to purchasing the Legend then I would recommend considering the Riot Aura which is an almost identical hull and deck shape with a vee keel that almost entirely eliminates this initial stability issue.

The Tempest is the most balanced of the three both above the waterline and below. It performs the best of the three in surf, current and wind. It is slower than the Legend but faster than the Explorer. The seat is by far the most comfortable. The hatches are the least waterproof, however and you must keep cargo in dry bags.

Keep in mind that these are my opinions resulting from many years of paddling primarily on the US west coast.

Good luck in your decision and happy paddling.


I’d retrofit the hatches
Just looking at the one I bought and how the edges of the hatch waffle around I’d consider retrofitting the kind of hatch latches I’ve put on wood boats with flush hatches,horizontal rotating tabs that press down on the hatch. Using straps on such a big hatch requires a LOT of pressure on the strap buckles that gets divided back down on the large surface area of the gasket. In other words you have to work really hard to connect the hatch but the gasket isn’t pressed hard down in some areas.

Putting ‘dogs’ around the hatch can put a solid mechanical latch evenly and exactly where it’s needed.

I’ll report back when the water warms up.

pretty unique
in all my travels I have yet to hear that the T was THAT nasty to anyone.

If the woman in the 170 was smallish and/or un-trained I can imagine a little squirrly-ness but “sweep stoking her brains out” with her rudder (???) down? all the T’s I have seen had skegs.



seems Sea Kayaker mag sure liked her!


Is that the Tempest appeals to the person who wants that type of maneuverability and has the skill to utilize it. If the paddler doesn’t and isn’t on the big side they’re going be all over the place,especially in wind as the amount of boat in the air compared to whats in the water is substantial.

If one didn’t have the Tempest right in front of them to purchase I’d wait until WS got their production glitches ironed out before ordering one.

Don’t forget fit
Paddled the Explorer & the Tempest 170. Because I fit the Tempest better I have more control and am better able to deal with alot of the things mentioned in the posts. Try before you buy and would recommend you see if you can make a connection to the boat.

subjective opinions

– Last Updated: Feb-12-06 1:49 PM EST –

While your objective descriptions of your experience are not a disservice I wonder if the dynamic balance you speak of in the T-170 will be utilized by someone seeking a fishing and photography platform if they weigh 160lbs and are just beginning to learn how to brace let alone roll?

One of the attributes that paddlers like about those three boats is the relatively low freeboard/aft coaming height. When someone is fishing/photographing they might be popping the sprayskirt a lot which doesn't exactly jive with the design intention of paddling with skirt on.

pls reread my note above…
it specified the Tempest 165 Pro = composite.

My cited review will tell you all you need to know about my problems with the hatch system.

YMMV, but I know of other composite Tempest users that have had similar hatch cover problems.

Safe paddling,


skeg …
yup … sorry, i mis-spoke. it DID have a skeg and not a rudder.

I am almost exactly your size
I am 6’, 165 pounds with size 11 feet.

My experience is that the Explorer is the most forgiving of any expedition kayak I have paddled. It is a boat that you don’t have to think about while at sea. It is a common boat of choice for coaches and their students. Few boats are as confidence inspiring for both novices and advanced paddlers.

The best way to avoid the long wait and the wildly varying build quality of NDK is to buy used.

I have paddled a Legend. It is a fast boat that carves exceedingly well. The Riot Aura (nee Azul Sultan) is a very similar boat that is even faster. Both the Legend and the Aura/Sultan have primary stabilities that feel much lighter than the Explorer.

My one opprotunity to paddle a Tempest 170 Pro was at GOMSKS in 2004. Unfortunately I saw that boat sink before I could paddle it. I was later informed that the forward bulkhead had not been installed in order to allow for custom placement.