NDK Romany S; Standard or Elite Lay up?

Cockpit Rim
I don’t get it, website says “With the fiberglass cockpit rim a cheaper nylon spray deck can be used.”

There are alot of good rm boats out there with molded rims. What am I missing with the NDK’s?

Different design
Nigels keyholes are quite unique, and they provide an excellent fit for many. In composite I really like them. I have not paddled a poly version yet, but have seen them at his factory. I think it comes down to tooling off of established designs / molds, and retaining the fit. To do as Valley and others have done(very well) he’d have to change the deck design and tool accordingly.

Yeah, I think it presents a challenge, but I think he’ll sort it out.

In defense of Mr. Dennis, I believe he has done a tremendous amount for the sport, and wishes the best for everyone in the business. One of the most gracious men I’ve ever met in kayaking and life in general. His record of expedition support is unmatched, and though his craft may be quite crude relative to others, they have stood the test rather well I’d say.

I have the greatest respect
I have the greatest respect for what Nigel Dennis has contributed to sea kayaking - including the design of the Romany (with a big nod to Aled Williams)and Explorer.

I am not criticizing Nigel Dennis as a paddler, coach, human being or father. What everyone knows and I am simply noting is that the QC in the manufacture of his boats has often left a lot to be desired.

Being a great paddler and bloke has little to do with a long history of inattention to detail and quality control in the kayaks that bear his name.

Different approach is all
Unlike many kayakers who coddle their craft, folk like Nigel know what abuse the boats will take. Careful attention to aesthetics isn’t considered as a coastal expeditioner will beat the hell out of his / her boat and refrfresh it regularly. So, basic, sound construction is the approach. Not unlike commercial aluminum boats…no frills. Overall structure rules.

Pro sea paddlers abuse their boats and could care less about a minor cosmetic flaw. I think that’s who he builds for, but agree with you that that hurts his sales with the average consumer, especially US.

plastic Romany S
at the moment, it is only the S that comes in plastic. the one i saw was a real disappointment relative to a Valley plastic boat. foam bulkheads, wobbly hatch rims, and single layer poly, totally unlike the quality that comes with the Valley.

Not talking cosmetic flaws

– Last Updated: Oct-01-08 9:09 AM EST –

With all due respect. The issues with NDK boats have often been beyond cosmetic.

I know the official line is that all the flaws in NDK boats are cosmetic. However I've personally seen otherwise.

Unless you consider coamings coming loose from decks, compartments filling with water, coamings set too low to accept sprayskirts, large gaps between hull and deck, etc... 'cosmetic flaws'.

I love my Romany and recommend Explorers regularly. I've drank a lot of the Kool-aid, but not so much to assert there have only been cosmetic issues with NDK boats.

fair enough
and I have seen issues with all brands.

NDK Standard vs. Elite
The only reason to go with the Elite is if you are physically unable to lift the Standard. As previously stated, the Standard will hold up much better for landing and launching, collisions and rescue work. I have three Standard lay-up NDKs (2 Explorers and a Triton) and these boats can take some serious abuse.

I agree with Wilsoj2 that quality issues have, at times, gone significantly and frustratingly beyond the cosmetic. Having said that, I believe the QC on Nigel’s boats is currently better than it has ever been. Nonetheless, I take the good with the bad and am willing to risk some repair time to own one of the best designed boats on the planet.

Loving NDK boats

– Last Updated: Oct-01-08 12:44 PM EST –

I love my Explorer LV, though I regularly try out boats to see what is out there in a 16', low volume boat that would serve as a better rescue platform for big guys than my Vela and still be nicely quick. (So far the Capella 161 has been the closest.) Over 17' is a lot to haul around for a day paddle. But after having pulled precariously placed people out from rocks and getting booted around in surprise conditions, that boring old Explorer does a fantastic job of getting me, or others if needed, home without fuss or muss.

But that's not the biggest reason I'd never let go of the Expl LV unless I was no longer paddling. This boat was an experimental layup that is halfway between the current Elite and the standard one. It has proven to be quite robust while still keeping the weight down, and is in the words of the guy who arranged the deal a B+ boat for NDK. There is a very slight waviness typical of hand-laid boats, and the cut of the deck around the coaming looks like someone had just come back from the pub, but it has taken hits without problems and had bone dry hatches since day one.

If this was a boat from many other manufacturers, including the Brit guys, I could risk selling it on the chance I could later get another like it. But it's an NDK boat - and there is little or no chance that I could get this boat replicated in terms of its features (if anyone could even find records of how it made) and its quality.

We have two NDK boats, and I would hardly turn down another. We certainly love them. But with the QC stuff, NDK can be tough love.

however, I’ve seen more NDK boats on expeditions than any other brand.

And on those not seen?

– Last Updated: Oct-01-08 3:15 PM EST –

Please, this is not a comment about the design or quality of NDK boats. However, I suspect the expeditions most people "see" via films, DVDs, websites, and articles are most often those done by sponsored paddlers. These are often NDK sponsored and NDK is entitled to the press and accolades it gets for being generous and supportive. Aside from these sponsored (NDK or not) folks, I suspect there are all kinds of people doing all kinds of extended trips in all kinds of boats which are "under the radar screen". So many boats out there are "up to the job". Some that one would never expect to be.

For example, someone just did the outer coast of Vancouver in a SOF.

Nigel is generous

– Last Updated: Oct-01-08 3:18 PM EST –

NDK boats are not only well suited to expeditions, but Nigel is very supportive of such endeavors and provides boats to more paddlers than any other manufacturer.

Agreed all have some issues…but

– Last Updated: Oct-01-08 3:18 PM EST –

NDK's consistency and quality of build has not approached P&H or Valley in my span of awareness of such things.

However, I have also been told that Nigel will replace any truly defective boat with very little hassle.

“like someone had just come back from…
…the pub”

Yeah, that kind of sums it up. My LV has some slight waviness also, which does not bother me as long as the boat goes as it should. Also some gouges around the coaming area. I know that I’ll put my own marks on it (heck, I already have, doing just day trips) and these things are cosmetic.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out why a custom order to move the front BH closer to the paddler ended up being moved in the other direction! My dealer said she worded the spec 3 ways so that he could not possibly get confused (e.g., “This is for a very short paddler”). I wonder if the customer’s order does not have all the specs transferred to the one that is referenced when building the boat. Or, as you said, it’s an after-effect of lunch at the pub. When I told someone that I had bought an NDK, he exclaimed, “You know they drink beer during the workday!”

Gotta say, though, that getting a custom-placed BH is not possible with many manufacturers. I give credit to NDK for still doing these. (I was lucky in that even though they put mine farther FORWARD instead of backward, it’s still closer to me–and provides more bow storage–than a standard American boat of similar size.)

Valley still custom places bulkheads

– Last Updated: Oct-03-08 1:04 AM EST –

Valley not only still custom places forward bulkheads at no charge but provides beautifully cut foam to brace on. My first Valley boat, ordered in 2003, had custom placed bulkhead and Tom Bergh cut the foam block. My Nordkapp LV made this year came from Valley with two 2" thick beautifully cut bulkhead blocks (I wanted the bulkhead custom placed but far enough forward so that friends who are 4" taller than me could paddle the boat.)

I would guess that P&H custom places bulkheads? It seems the standard for the Brit sea kayak manufactures.

In her Explorer LV Celia not only had her forward bulkhead custom placed but also the one between the day and rear compartments - as she found she could not reach the far end of the day compartment from the cockpit in the boat she demoed.

I was told the Wilderness Systems will ship a boat with the froward bulkhead not installed to allow for the outfitter/dealer to custom place it.

A friend tried to get custom placed forward bulkhead in her Chatham 18 and was told it was not possible because it would compromise the integrity of the layup - as a result she has what seems to be 2' forward of her footpegs.

Your friend was given bullshit info.
Necky has since moved the bulkhead aft. It was a tooling error.

It was 4 or so years ago
I believe it was 2004. When I inquired about it I was also told due to the nature of the layup, it was not possible to custom place the bulkhead. Unfortunately, I no longer remember the source - though my recollection is that it was someone from Necky, not a local dealer.

The main problem is when practicing rescues there is an awful lot of water to drain from the cockpit so the boat weighs a ton when pulling across ones foredeck to empty it.

However, the layup is beautiful!

Whoever said that was mistaken. Absolutely nothing to do with lay-up. The designers never intended for the BH to be so far foreward. Problem was corrected.

sounds like many chefs in the kitchen
nuthins perfect.

Romany S RM
OK, I demo’ed a Romany S RM today for about 4 hours. It was triple layer plastic (like P&H or Valley), not single. The outfitter (Barrier Island Kayaks, NC) told me the plastic hulls are manufactured by Valley to NDK specs.

I found the fiberglass seat very comfortable with a low back, but some paddlers might want to add a back band. The bulkheads are thick foam. The hatch covers are very secure and didn’t leak.

The Romany tracked, handled and turned great. Stability was great, both primary and secondary. I never had to use the skeg because it tracked so well. It was a pretty calm day on the NC coast so I didn’t have to deal with any significant wind, but I took it out in some choppy waves for a while and that was fun. It really handled well in the heavier surf.

The size seemed to fit me perfectly, and I’m about 5’11" tall and 195 lbs. My only complaint was that the foot rests were very difficult to adjust, and I don’t think you could adjust them while in the boat.