NDK Quality?

This summer, I’ve decided to get more serious about looking for a second boat to complement my Force – something more manueverable, good in surf and ocean conditions, but not to the point of being a liability in keeping up with other strong paddlers.

Anyways, one of the boats that I’m considering is a Romany. However, I recall reading a number of negative comments regarding NDK quality control (poor layups, skeg issues, etc). Are there any owners of relatively new NDK boats that can speak to whether this is still the case?

Is 2008 recent enough?
I picked up my Explorer LV two summers ago. The kayak is sealed well (no leaks) and has no functional problems. The Kari-tek skeg has always worked perfectly. Weight is as expected for a glass boat of this size, not more and not less.

It does have some cosmetic issues, most notably the rough and sloppy cut of the cockpit hole. Also lots of sharp glass pokies around the interior at the bulkhead edges that I sanded down. The BH themselves appear to be cut to the standard of “close enough for government work.”

Biggest problem I had concerned lack of attention to custom order specs. NDK moved my front BH farther forward instead of farther back! Geez. Not a quality issue per se, but it does raise questions. Funny part is that even with this goof, the span from seat to front BH is still a few inches less than in an American kayak!

Just bought a new Romany Surf and can
find nothing wrong anywhere with the boat which frankly I find amazing because I think that NDK has the worst quality in the business. Their designs are excellent and the quality is acceptable to me. I found some water in my aft compartment tonight after a rougher 13 mile paddle. I will get to the bottom of that soon. Look over ANY boat you want to buy carefully and negotiate anything you find wrong with it. There is practically nothing that can’t be fixed on these boats, it is just at what cost plus your hassle and any potential impact on future value if the repair is noticeable. Good luck. Bill

NDK quality
when it’s good it’s oh so good

when it’s bad it’s awful

Nigel Dennis is quite notorious for hiring low wage unskilled teens to build his boats, and the “Friday” boats with the extra gel coat or voids in the skeg box are semi-legendary as are the crooked or sharply edged coamings. Premature crazing and cracking in gel coat at no extra charge. Those quaintly British lumpy seams that wobble like a prostitute’s legs after a particularly strenuous weekend.

Rumors here and there that he is modernizing his processes, and might be flirting w. vacuum infusion, as VCP is now doing w. its kevlar and ultra kev layups.

The proofs are yet to be seen here.

In the meantime, as with any new kayak,stay on buyer beware status… inspect, don’t expect.

Be very rigorous while inspecting, and keep up a good rapport w. your dealer. Have the patience & the stones to send it back if need be. Consider buying a boat in stock that has cured a bit more and can be inspected in detail.

NDK Quality
I have owned a lot of NDKs…3 explorers, 1 explorer HV, a Posedion, a Romany Surf, 2 Greenlander Pros, and a Romany. I think that’s all of them…so that is a total of 9.

These 9 different boats were of various vintages.

I had not significant issues with any of them.

I have heard of lots of quality issues with NDK but I woudl say that my sample is pretty random and large enough to suggest that their quality issues may not be so terrible.


I’ve owned two…
One perfect Romany,one absolute crap Greenlander. Oh, and the Explorer LV whose arrival got delayed for so long that I finally took a Nordkapp instead. Best move I ever made. No more NDKs for me…ever…there are too many better boats out there to settle for them.

To me
NDK quality is a oxymoron like government worker. Why take the chance? A lot of top notch boats out there. Look elsewhere. In this day and age of sea-kayaks no reason to put up with quality control issues. I have my own business, if I don`t keep up with my competitors I get passed by. Same thing with kayaks manufacturers.

Oxymoron? NM

NDK Quality issues. Need advice!!
This was a topic I was expecting to discuss a long time ago. I am about to buy a new boat and as the original post I’ve heard a lot about quality issues with NDK kayaks. I’m thinking about an Explorer LV. I don’t have the possibility to demo a boat. In Chile we don’t have demo boats, it’s “you want it, you buy it”. My question are, Has the quality of the boats improved? Does anyone own a 2009 or a 2010 NDK to comment about quality issues? Please I need advice. My second choice is a P&H Cetus LV, which I know building quality is top notch.

Thanks in advance and greetings from Chile

but you are an admitted boat whore who changes his fleet as often as the better groomed among us changes our underwear… have you actually owned an NDK for, say, 5 years or more?

Pls. take the question as spirited debate not pointed attack because I share your inquisitive nature about trying different boats and evaluating their design/performance, and enjoy your posts.

My point being: As bad as some NDKs come out of the shipping tubes, w. others some significant flaws show up later. There are more gel coat crazes and cracks, and more significant premature stress wear, in NDK boats than I have ever seen in boats of comparable age by Valley, P&H, North Shore, just to name the British competition.

Nigel Dennis has wonderful designs. When he builds them right they are a thing of beauty. He is a modern giant of the sport. Then sometimes he seems not to care about the boats that are his legacy.

Then there are dumb things like not setting the rear of the coaming properly so that even my friend w. small strong hands(competitive bike rider) can’t fit fingers under the coaming to attach the skirt. Seriously, it takes them minutes to do so. Just about every other mfgr seems to get this right, and many even goes further w. a cutaway channel on either side of the back coaming for maximum manoeuvring space.

That is one small but significant example. It’s just a sad joke. Who is inspecting his boats? No paddler, let alone a human w. common sense, would OK such a boat for sale.

Sounds like you’d be the authority here. I’ve owned an Explorer for over six years and aside from a few finish issues previously mentioned, it is built like a tank. Gelcoat is still free of cracks. I like to compare the NDK QC issue with automobile QC issues - you never hear from the people who are satisfied, they just quietly buy another model from the same company.

Your boats were probably all built on a Monday morning - I don’t think the pubs stay open late on Sundays!

Built like a tank
On one outing, I paddled at a lake close to 10,000 ft altitude. The hatches were burped for that elevation at the time. When I drove home that day and stopped to buy gas someplace about 4,000 ft lower, the entire rear deck was severely sucked in–not just the two rear hatch covers.

NDK had drilled a vent hole in the front BH so that one was unaffected. They had also drilled a vent hole in the BH between day and rear compartments but not the slanted one in the cockpit.

My stomach dropped; I thought I had trashed my new boat. I opened the day hatch, and everything popped right out. For a while I was worried about gel coat cracking or even glass cracking, but when I checked there was nothing.

I wonder how many kayaks could take that kind of severe vacuum test?

no dramatic change
It sounds like “caveat emptor” is still the watchword with these boats, which is no doubt good practice with any new boat. Still, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that comes with a reputation for consistent quality. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by my Impex, which, with the exception of some normal wear-and-tear items (and a snapped rear toggle on the second day), is very well constructed and absolutely bombproof.

One of the reasons I was asking was that I’ve been considering signing up for the Rough Water Symposium in June, and noticed they had a 10% discount for NDK boats purchased and delivered on-site. Coming from the DC metro area, it would be, at best, inconvenient to have to deal with quality control issues with a dealer in Maine.

Cetus LV
Sercov - at the risk of derailing this thread, I can tell you that the Cetus LV is an absolutely splendid boat. I’ve demo-ed it twice and came away very impressed. Perhaps even more tellingly, I spent all of last week with two ACA Instructor Trainers who usually paddle Explorers, but were in Cetus LVs because the paddle shop they work for is now pushing P&H pretty hard, and that’s likely what they’ll be using for teaching over the summer. They were both raving about how great the Cetus was, and I remember one of them mentioning how it was going to be hard to go back to the Explorer.

I love my Force, but honestly, if it was stolen tomorrow, there’s not much question in my mind that I’d pick up a Cetus LV as my all-around tourer.

Own two; no issues
I own two NDKs – an ExplorerLV (built 2005)and a RomanyLV (built 2003) – and have had no problems with either. The Romany has been paddled the most and nothing has developed over the past 4 years that I’ve owned (and abused)it.

I don’t deny that there are better built boats out there, nor am I about to say that NDKs don’t have their “issues” as I have friends who have had some problems with their Explorers. But I also don’t think that blanket statements should be made about the quality of boats either, unless one has actually been to the plant, seen the kayaks being manufactured, whether by guys who’ve been making them for years or teen agers who’ve left school for work at the legal age of 16 in the UK, or given the employees a breathalizer test post lunch.

As for other kayaks being problem free, there ain’t no such animal.My husband’s since-been-sold boat had major, major wear on the hull – you could see through it – after 2 years of use not to mention constantly leaking hatch covers, and the rep from the company was totally useless as far as addressing the problem. The other day I was changing the lay out of the bungees on my brand new AvocetLV and noticed that the finish work on the deck fittings was fairly sloppy. While my husband has a new CetusLV (2009) and has had no skeg issues, evidently the 2009 models did, but P&H has rectified the matter in the 2010 model and has fixed at no charge skeg problems from boats made in the previous year.

Again, I’m not defending NDK as I’ve seen some pretty poor examples of their manufacturing, although the QC has improved. However, they also stand by their product and will – or they have in the past – replace or repair the defective boat.

And yes, no one should have to have to go through what can be a major inconvenience when the boat shouldn’t have had the issue from the get go, but at least NDK, along with both Valley and P&H, stan by their product.

The most important things CAN’T be fixed

– Last Updated: May-06-10 12:38 PM EST –

...at least not after the fact. Those would be the poor quality materials used in the construction, the antiquated construction methods and the lack of skill or concern for quality of the the workers building the boats. These things need to be rectified at the factory, since one the boat is built, you're stuck with whatever you get.

Inspect all kayaks carefully

– Last Updated: May-06-10 12:43 PM EST –

NDK isn't the only one that's had manufacturing problems.

My dealer told me I could reject the boat at no penalty. I had called before going to pick up the boat (it was 1000 miles away) and knew of the BH placement mistake. If I had driven there and found it unsatisfactory, I could still reject it at no penalty other than having made the trip there.

Inspect carefully, and choose a dealer who will back you up rather than take the easy way out.

It’s all about percentages

– Last Updated: May-06-10 12:46 PM EST –

When you consider the relatively small number of boats NDK builds compared to the rather large number of complaints, what does that tell you? Would you rather buy from a company with a 5% defect rate or 50%? I don't claim to know what NDKs actual defect rate is, but anecdotal evidence indicates that historically it's been much higher than the rest of the industry.

“delivered on-site” sounds nice…
…unless you’re stuck with whatever they deliver. Will there be extra boats available in case some have problems?

It seems the me that the really telling thing is that one even needs to raise such concerns. I can’t think of any other manufacturer where that would be the case.

The dealers have kept NDK afloat…
…no pun intended. Reputable dealers stand behind their customers like yours did and they’ve done a good job of mitigating the damage that NDK inflicts upon itself and potential buyers. If it wasn’t for people like them who are willing to make bad boats right, NDK would have died years ago.