NF Legend contrasted with ND Explorer

there aren’t any really new reviews of these boats and i’m wondering if anyone has any critical observations of these 2 and how they are similar and how are different. NF claims that the Legend is a very dry ride. is this your experience? is there an area where the Legend has some popularity? it is extremely scarce anywhere in Canada as far as i’ve seen…

Legend Faster

– Last Updated: May-18-05 12:15 AM EST –

But I didn't have it in enough mess to tell how wet a ride it was compared to my boat. Posted by Celia

Quite different
The Legend is a very fast boat with little rocker and hard chines. It has a longer narrower waterline than the Explorer. It is somewhat higher decked (therefore probably dryer ride) and requires confident lean to turn well.

The Explorer has significant rocker and is quite responsive for a 17’6" boat. It turns with little lean. It is much slower than the Legend, but is reknown for its handling in rough water.

there are a few dealers in Canada eh!

– Last Updated: May-18-05 8:02 AM EST –

Go here:

The legend is really a completely different hull and experience to an explorer.

The explorer is a steady predictable moderately fast kayak of medium-high volume. It will get you where you need to go in style, but it is not as fun to edge, and carve turns with as the foster kayak with it's round bottom and hard chines. The legend has less rocker in it too so it should be a little faster.

I really like both actually but would prefer a legend if it was my only kayak for a variety of reasons.

1. Quality of Build (do a search on NDK quality) here you will see innumerable posts on chopped matte strand glass build.
2. Larger hatches to pack from.
3. Skeg control from seaward is better than the NDK Drop skeg that they can't seem to get right.
4. The hull performance from the legend is quite good, speed and maneuverability combined.
5. Weight, a legend in glass from seaward should be about 55 lbs, where as a romany explorer is probably closer to 70lbs in glass.

That said the romany is a great, fun, kayak to paddle with a subtle hint of rocker that has it's own appeal to the enthusiast. I would always take one as a rental, but never to own.

I’d take both!
Not sure what it really means by a ‘dry’ ride: I’m always getting wet! But the legend deck is certainly higher. No big deal at all: with my minimal rolling repetoire, It rolls as well as most of the boats I’ve tried (uh, maybe that’s why I’m getting wet…hmmm)

I love the Legend: definately does need good edging to get it to turn, but there are a few strokes which make it easy to pivot. Cuts through the water, not quite as fast as the Azul Sultan it replaced.

The Explorer is much more stable and will turn on a dime - doesn’t necessarily need the edge to get it turning quickly. Great for surfing (so is the Legend - but that needs a bit more finesse - or hard work!) and rolling - has a low back deck.

The Nigel Foster boats have a following (dances like an angel), but so do the Nigel Dennis boats (Romany, Explorer, Greenlander): definately good in the rough stuff. The quality on my Legend is outstanding (as I have seen on all of the Nigel Foster boats), but the Nigel Dennis ones I would say are just OK (no detriment to performance or functionality) - wouldn’t put me off buying one, though. Skegs are different, as mentioned. I can take em or leave em: they don’t get much of a workout.

The NDK boats seem to be available in a wide variety of colors - my girlfriend has just bought a rather striking white over red Romany. I also saw an nicely colored 3-piece Explorer Green over Green with white trim. The Foster boats seem to be available with minimal color range - but I suppose you could order one from seaward (but I’m guessing that’ll be extra, but NDK doesn’t charge for wacky color schemes, I believe).

If I could have 2 boats, it’d be the Legend and the Explorer (and maybe a wooden greenland style boat, and maybe…)

Weight of Explorer Etc
They are coming in lighter, especially w/ the Elite layup. However, the heavier ones have enough gel coat to handle serously bad crashes. That’s the trade-off.

(I know no one believes this) My somewhat custom(early) version of the Elite layup for my Explorer LV is distinctly lighter than my husband’s Pro-Lite Aquanaut, which means it is coming in at around 45 pounds.

MIKCO also kindly installed a Valley skeg (rope skeg) before the boat left their place, which has been solid and easy. Also easier to pull out and repair if need be than the NDK one.

One note though - the NDK backbands need immediate substitution with something better, like Bomber Gear or IR. Theirs are fancy but too soft - a guaranteed backache. Foster boats have a remarkably simple but hugely comfortable (for me anyway) backband.

keep it coming
good input thanks. Kwikle, there are many dealers but very few takers. Canada generally, with much fewer people, fewer fanatics and lower incomes means much fewer interesting boats in general. you could probably count on both hands the number of Valley boats owned in Canada, and they all would have come through the US. most Canadians stick to CD, and other well known brands due to availability and the other reasons mentioned. Foster boats, and the Brits are hugely expensive here and i think there is only 1 distributor of NDK and they are out of Newfoundland! even in the kayak mecca of the west coast these boats are rare. MEC has been distributing P&H for a couple years but i highly doubt they will sell anything other than the poly Capella.

not a bad thing or judgemental, but not great for the handful of us who would like more exposure to the composite high performance Brit style boats.

Forgot about the backbands
The Nigel Foster one looks like a horrible piece of plastic with a miserable bit of foam padding, but is actually very comfortable (or, specifically, I don’t notice it at all).

The NDK one, on the other hand is crap: it moves around too much (as opposed to just enough), looks comfortable but isn’t (for me, anyway).

The weights are comparable, I felt. The Elite layup though makes it significantly lighter. The hull flexes a little bit more, though, but not detrimentally so (I replaced the Yakima hully rollers - they buckled the hull too much - this is on a Romany, I’d think the Explorer would be the same in that case).

Maybe off topic
but there is a Canadian built boat that has similar characteristics: the Boreal Ellesmer. I have a NDK Romany and an Explorer and recently got an Ellesmer. Form my brief experience in the Ellesmere (I got it in Dec. and left for Hawaii shortly afterward)I thought it performed like a cross between the Ledgend and the Explorer. A little less primary than the Explorer, faster, responded to edging better because of the chine, etc.

Nigel Dennis Greenlander Pro
Handles alot like the Foster boats IMO. The Dennis skeg is a pain but you can find really good deals on used Greenlanders. I have a Romany and a Greenlander Pro. They were both used basically boats of oppurtunity (great deals). That being said, if there was ever a Celebrity Death Match between the 2 Nigels, I would be rooting for Nigel Foster all the way.

Ellesmere - Legend
The Ellesmere is a very nice boat. It is also pretty fast (not quite as fast as a Legend or Sultan but about the same as an Aquanaut which makes it notably faster than an Explorer).

I found the Ellesmere felt quite different to me than a Legend. As a matter of fact the Ellesmere feels quite diferent from any other boat I’ve paddled. Not a bad trait, the Ellesmere was just about the last boat on my short list before I bought my Aquanaut.

I’ve paddled an Ellesmere in some pretty real seas on Champlain and some very confused chop on Lake George. The boat is absolutely fun and confident. It carves a turn with ease and grace. The reverse hard chine seems to work very nicely.

The only issue seems to be its tendency to crab (slide sideways in beam winds). That is probably the main reason to use the skeg.

It is also available with either keyhole or ocean cockpit.

The fun pod seat is a feature about which people feel varyingly.

What they said…
and then some. I owned an Explorer for over a year, and wish I had held on to it. The Legend was on my short list prior to my Explorer purchase, neck and neck in fact. I actually tested the Legend more prior to the purchase. My take is that the Legend is noticeably faster. It felt initially a bit nervous, rocking quickly from edge to edge, hard chines. I quickly acclimated to that, and felt it gave the boat a bit of personality; it felt ‘ready’ to edge. The build quality was better than the NDK in terms of finish, although aside from a broken seat, my NDK was a good one, hatches dry as a bone-can’t say that about my QCC700. The Explorer sold me on its fit, and reputation for nasty weather handling. It didn’t disappoint-it seemed unfazed by the worst you could throw at it, and literally scoffed at headwinds. I had the VCP slider skeg, and aside from it encroaching a bit on my left knee, after padding it out a bit, it worked flawlessly. The Explorer is a known quantity, a benign handler and an extremely stable and predictable platform-it’s no accident that so many guides and instructors paddle them. They give very linear feedback approaching the limits on edge, and pick up the slightest swell, surfing well. The Legend felt a little grabby in the chop when edging, but if you committed to a lean, it would carve around as if on rails-great fun to paddle. I’d give a definite nod to the NDK for rolling; its low back deck allowed easy laybacks, and it popped up effortlessly every time. I totally agree with the backbands-I jettisoned the POC stock NDK band immediately, replacing it with an IR band and relocating the bungees. Even so, the bb has a tendency to rotate down. As noted once before, I believe the NDK seat setup to be some sort of cruel Brit weight loss method; if you can pinch more an inch, you’ll certainly get pinched here. Still have the scars to prove it. The boats seemed pretty similar in weight-the Legend was the Watermark (?) boat marketed by Walden-I understand the more current ones are significantly lighter. My first race with the Explorer was the 19 mile Run of the Charles. 6 portages-oof. Tons of chopped strand mat and buckets of resin in that baby. Before I sold the Explorer, I bid on the Legends that came up on E Bay when the warehouses were liquidated, reasoning that if it was so difficult to make up my mind initially, I should have one of each. In retrospect, I suspect that the boats are probably close enough that one or the other would hang on the straps most of the time. Still curious which I would have preferred more though. Hard to go wrong with either.

I can relax a bit in my explorer

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 5:44 PM EST –

while I repack a tow rope with both hands if the water is small. In even a moderate ripple in a legend with both hands off my paddle I would capsize and be rolling it up. That is why I bought a shadow instead. Both the explorer and the legend roll well, my shadow is way faster than my explorer and the legend is faster than the shadow.

I have owned both
and still own the NDK Explorer.

My observations…

-I am 6’2" 200-210 lbs. The Legend was too large for me. If I were to have kept it I would have needed to pad it out with some fairly thick minicell foam. The Explorer cockpit fits quite tightly. The cockpit coaming feels like it grips my thighs well (which is how I like a kayak to fit). Kayak fit is a very individual thing and both kayaks are significantly different in regards to the cockpit. I don’t remember the measurements, but if you measure from the inside top deck to the bottom of the cockpit you will find a few inches difference between the two boats.

-I had some accidental capsizes in the Legend in flat water and was more likely rolled in surf. The Legend initially impressed me with how it handled “with a high performance attitude”. My initial response to the Explorer was “boring and predictable”. But, I have found that I feel very confident in conditions that would have previously had me trying to get to safety.

-After owning the Legend, Silhouette, and a P&H Capella the Explorer is my kayak. I don’t think I will ever own any other kayak.

-It would be really beneficial to try both boats out yourself, in waves and confused seas if possible. They are both excellent kayaks.

-hope this helps.

There’s nothing like a Valley boat…

– Last Updated: May-20-05 2:14 PM EST –

If you have the opportunity, you should try Valley boats. The model most competitive with and Explorer or Legend is the Aquanaut.

The Aquanaut feels quite different than either of the others. It is notably faster than an Explorer - it has a longer narrower waterline. The Naut has lower decks than either a Legend or Explorer. It is a fully soft chined boat. (The Legend is hard edge hard chine, the Explorer is soft edge hard chine - or as NDK terms it 'modified hard chine.') The Aquanaut's transition from primary to secondary is seamless.

The Aquanaut has lighter primary than an Explorer but more solid than a Legend. It requires a lean to turn well, but is so easy to lean as to be effortless.

All three (Explorer, Legend, Aquanaut) are confident in challenging conditions and are excellent overall boats. You can't go wrong with any of them and your choice can come down to personal preference.

i think this is a fairly accurate
representation of the kayak, but keep in mind, depending on your approach to paddling, having to be focused on the kayak and not kayaking certainly isn’t the best situation to be in. But if you give the legend enough time when you get used to it. I’m sure you might come to love it. of course there is no saying the same couldn’t be true of the explorer or an aquanaut. If I had to choose, I’d still pick the legend, but I like foster’s boats. The explorer I think is lower volume than the aquanaut and also has more rocker in it, which is great for a boat of it’s length, I would keep the QC in mind and try both.

You should be able to find a Foster dealer in northern ontario, if not in manitoba. If there is no dealer near by, give Seaward a shout I bet that you would have no trouble getting one shipped to you if you decide to pick one up. Or you could try one of the dealers in Southern Ont. That’s where I purchased mine, they are not exactly hot sellers, so they might be willing to ship one to you.

I noticed that you have an Seaward Ascente, I don’t know if this helps but I switched from an Ascente to a Legend and couldn’t be happier. The Legend is just a lot more fun all round.

thanks all
great input. i no longer have the Ascente so will update the profile. i will certainly endeavour to paddle the Legend (though i have spent 10 min in 1 before) and the Aquanaut as well.

appreciate it folks.