NDK Romany - Which size?

I’ve become very interested in the NDK Romany for use in Colorado’s rivers and reservoirs, and would like to have a fair idea of which version would fit me.

They say that the Romany Surf has deck modifications to allow for size 11/12 feet. Mine are size 11. So is this to say that I wouldn’t fit in the Romany/Romany Classic?

Unfortunately, the NDK page states that the Romany Surf has “a wider cockpit than any other British made fibreglass sea kayak”. I’m a skinny guy. I could use a bit of foot room for my size 11s but I’m only 170 pounds.

I’d love to hear how the Romany/Romany Classic fits larger feet and how the Romany Surf fits narrower waists. FWIW: I’m 5’11 170, 32" inseam, size 11 feet.

My husband has size 11 feet

– Last Updated: Jun-06-12 12:53 PM EST –

and a Romany, regular. It's a little tight but he is OK as long as he doesn't try heavier shoes like the mukluks. The basic NRS paddling kickers are OK. Your inseam is not an issue.

That said, can you sit in one of these? The Romany in general has more affirmative (bigger) thigh braces than many other boats, so for example I can roll and manage a regular Romany fine even though I am a bit under volume for it and the cockpit is bigger than I need. It is just harder for me to push in a forward paddling situation than i need because of the volume issue.

The Romany surf is well tuned for moving or more active water, we've seen people playing in surf with these boats and, for a day boat sized sea kayak, NDK really got this right. They are obviously enjoying themselves.

But... if I recall correctly the Surf also has a cockpit rim that is not part of the mold. It is a plastic rim that is welded to the deck. If you are thinking WW use with the rivers part, you may want to get some feedback on how well that has held up in hard use.

Standard Romany
The “regular” Romany (i.e. what NDK now refers to as the Romany Classic) would probably fit you best. I have the regular Romany, and I have size 12 feet. I wear standard NRS neoprene water shoes when I paddle it. I’m about the same height as you (6’) and a bit heavier (190).

Regarding the Romany Surf, it’s a bit confusing because there are two models: one fiberglass and one plastic. I’ve been in both and while the plastic version fit me well, the fiberglass version felt too large – I couldn’t get good contact with the thigh braces in a stock setup due to the knee bulges. Someone explained that this is due to the plastic version turning out a bit smaller due to shrinkage when the poly boats come out of the mold. I have no validation of that as the definitive cause, but I definitely noticed a difference in fit.

In terms of performance, however, I confess that I don’t notice any appreciable difference between the regular Romany and the surf. I’ve paddled both in rough water and they seem to respond about the same. Maybe a difference would be more noticeable if paddled back-to-back (which I haven’t done), but overall both are playful, lively, fun boats. In terms of the best overall day-boat sea kayak design I’ve ever paddled, I give it to the Romany hands-down. Particularly if you want to paddle moving/rough water. The Romany will take good care of you.

In terms of the cockpit rim, Celia, are you referring to the plastic version of the surf? I believe that the cockpit rim is fiberglass, not plastic. But it’s definitely something to be aware of, regardless of which version you end up with. The rim on my Romany wasn’t properly glassed in and it ended up cracking and breaking after sustained use. I haven’t seen another instance of this, but, well, let’s just say that NDK boats have a reputation for “teething” issues. Feel free to read up on that on your own – I am not going to ignite that debate again here.

I may have materials backwards

– Last Updated: Jun-07-12 6:59 AM EST –

I have seen a couple of Romany Surf boats, sitting on the beach at the Narrows so I got a good look, that had a different material for the coaming than the deck. You are probably correct about what the materials were - it's been a while.

As to durability - we have had very good luck with durability on both our Romany Elite layup and my halfway-to-Elite layup Explorer LV. Have dropped both boats on unfriendly surfaces, I have done very inelegant jobs replacing the gel coat here and there, used a little McNett spider crack stuff where I chose a bad angle to let a loaded Explorer sit on rocks, and most of our boats got their first keel strip this last winter/fall. Everything has held up and just keeps on ticking. The Romany has a minor leak in the rear that we haven't been able to nail down but it is not enough to go crazy about, and the Explorer is still bone dry.

That said, I am aware that people have had less good luck. But even great companies can get messed up by unscrupulous dealers, so it matters to look at the history of any boat.

We have a heck of a story about a boat by a very reputable manufacturer that got returned three times and caused the company to put out not one but two new replacement boats, due to a combination of an unscrupulous dealer and a boat with fatal layup flaws. This thing was like the proverbial bad egg - we saw it the day it got returned to the first (honest) dealer because we happened to be paddling out of there that day. We (unknowingly) bought it a few months later as a used boat from another dealer. We soon realized that there was a serious problem, and found out that it had gone to a lot where the expectation had been it'd be kept in the demo fleet and used until it disintegrated. Instead dealer number 2 covered up the flaws with a layer of gel coat and resold as clean used. We dealt with the manufacturer, who made good on it with a new boat, and figured that it was finished with. But three months later the same boat showed up at a class we were in at a training four states away, complete with a small rigging change that we'd made. It was starting to disintegrate again, turns out dealer number 2 had again resold this thing for the same used price as before without disclosing its problems or history.

We later spotted an ad indicating that it was up for sale again from dealer number 2, but with a hugely reduced price and an admission that it was a boat that either needed or had taken heavy repairs. Apparently the guy at the training took our story and the boat back to the dealer and they gave him a different used boat on the spot. He may have been a lawyer.

So - point is - it really is the individual boat. Kayak manufacturers usually will make good on problems.

I own a NDK Poseidon (same hull as Surf with different deck). I have owned an Explorer and a Romany Elite. My feet are size 13 and I paddle with my feet pointed somewhat forward while wearing the NRS paddling sox that have a thin sole.

The Romany was a very tight for foot room, even with thinest paddling boots and toes pointed some. The Explorer and the Poseidon are somewhat better, but not real spacious. The Poseidon cockpit is quite wide and would be too wide for you unless you padded it out quite a bit. I would love a Poseidon (Surf) hull with the Explorer cockpit rim.


Variations on Romany
Romany LV (will definitely be tight)

Romany (maybe)

Romany Surf


Romany HV

Was there also a Romany XL?

Then there was the prototype Pilgrim labeled “Romany LV” that I paddled; must’ve been before somebody came up with the Pilgrim name.

The original Explorer was named Romany Explorer, I think.

Hey, this is fun.