Since it has been such a widely discussed boat, I wanted to share my initial impressions of my new Nordkapp LV. I have had it for about two weeks or so now and have paddled it on both flat water and on choppy water on windy days up to 30 mph.
I still do not have enough seat time in the boat, and have to give it a much more thorough testing next time I can get it to the coast and get it out in the surf.
So far though I am impressed. At first I did not like the boat very much, but after making some adjustments and getting the boat to fit me and taking some time to get a feel for the boat it is really growing on me. I think this may be the boat I have been looking for.
The boat is lively, extremely maneuverable, fast and efficient. It is the only 17.5 foot sea kayak I have paddled that feels more like a 16 footer. I would liken it to an Avocet, but with greater length and speed.
This is one of the things I really like about this boat. It has somewhat light (but adequate) primary stability, and surprisingly good secondary stability. Despite other reviews I have read, I find it to have noticeable wall of secondary stability that is quite sufficient. I think that the low primary stability makes the secondary stability much more distinct and noticeable.
The combination of low primary and good secondary make the boat very easy to put up on edge. I find the balance point to occur right about when the deck lines are in the water and the cockpit is nearly at water level. Very nice.
At first I did not care for the fit; however, I have gotten used to it and now like it. The deck is fairly low and as a result it puts you in a bit more of a straight-legged position than with other boats such as my Explorer. This took me a while to get used to, but I now somewhat like it because I barely need to raise my knee to contact the deck when maneuvering. I find the seat to be quite comfortable as well. I have to say though that I had to remove the stock seat pad. I found it made the boat too tight. I sit directly on the plastic seat and find it to be quite comfortable. I also removed the stock hip pads…way too tight. I find the boat fits me find without any hip paddling at all (5’8, 195 pounds).
Quality appears to be very high with this boat. This finish is smooth and highly polished. The seam line is clean. Layup appears good. The rear hatch leaks a little though. The boat It only leaks a little but it is a bit disappointing. The boat weighs in at 55 pounds with hatches which is pretty close to the factory specs (a pleasure to carry compared to my 65 pound Explorer).
The boat accelerates quickly and feels to have excellent speed (I have not been able to confirm its speed but I would estimate that it holds about 5 knots for me at an exercise pace). It paddles very efficiently and effortlessly at touring speeds. It is almost effortless to paddle at a 3-4 knot speed. Additionally, unlike other kayaks I have paddled, it does not seem to hit the wall. It feels as if it still has speed left in it if you are able to do the work to push the boat. It feels very sleek and smooth in the water.
Additionally, I find the forward portion of the hull to be narrow enough, and the deck to be low enough to prevent me from scraping my knuckles on the deck with my high angle stroke (which I occasionally do with my Explorer…really hurts when you scrape a knuckle on a deck line fitting).
This is what makes this boat unique for its length. It is remarkably maneuverable and responsive. Spinning the boat around 180+ degrees with a bow rudder in very quick and effortless. Additionally the boat responds quite well to sweep strokes. With a little body English under the deck you can easily spin the boat around with a firm sweep stroke. This is particularly noticeable in lumpy water where you can easily spin the boat around with a properly timed sweep stroke when on top of a wave. As Valley claims, it is an easy boat to “throw around” in rough water, in that regard it feels a lot like my Avocet felt—easy to muscle and throw around in rough water. Furthermore, I find the boat to be easy to turn up into the wind with sweep strokes alone, and without having to apply a bow rudder or cross bow rudder, even in winds in the 20-30mph range.
Additionally, the boat is easy to spin around on the spot by using sculling / reverse sweeps, and it also maneuvers very easily when paddling in reverse / doing reverse figures of 8.
The boat yaws a little with each stroke when paddling forward, but it is not excessive. It tracks fairly well overall, but not as stiffly as other boats of this length. In my limited experience in this boat on moderately lumpy water the boat seems to be reasonably easy to maintain a course in any direction despite winds. It has a slight tendency to weather cock but seems to be easy to overcome with technique or by employing the skeg.
A very easy boat to roll. Comes up easily enough that you may need to be ready to brace on the opposite side upon coming up so that you don’t “window shade” the boat.
ROUGH WATER PERFORMANCE:
This is where I really need to do more work with this boat. I think it will do well though given its attributes and its reputation. In the choppy conditions in which I have had it, the boat seems to be playful, maneuverable, and have a desire to surf easily. Surfing on wind waves is fun and the boat responds quickly to edging and slight knee pressure when on the face of a wave, combined with a stern rudder or low brace. In wind waves the bow did plunge a few times, but not deeply—it just sort of skimmed just under the surface of the water. I am not sure how the bow would do in steep surf waves.
The LV does not have the capacity of other true “expedition boats” but it seems to have adequate capacity for shorter trips if you are a frugal packer. I packed up my basic gear I would take for a multi-day trip to include food and clothing and it all fit fairly well. I don’t think anyone would have a problem fitting their gear, but how much food and water they would need for an extended trip may be the limiting factor; however I would estimate that for all but very long trips this boat should be sufficient for most.
I am exited by this boat. I think I am going to stick with it and make it my single boat for all use. I like a longer boat and really like that this one provides all the attributes of a long boat with the maneuverability and playfulness of a shorter boat like the Avocet or Romany. I think that the boat will be great for all day paddles as it is so efficient to paddle, and is effortless to edge and maneuver. Unlike other long boats, a bow rudder seems to put absolutely no strain on your body. The boat responds well to edging and to a slight raise of the knee. I think this boat is capable of a high level of performance and believe that it will help a good paddler to become an even better one.
Since it has been such a widely discussed boat, I wanted to share my initial impressions of my new Nordkapp LV. I have had it for about two weeks or so now and have paddled it on both flat water and on choppy water on windy days up to 30 mph.
" think I am going to stick with it and make it my single boat for all use"
what about the EXplorer???
back burner time?
NIce review, B1.
I am considering this boat also, and I know schizopak got one not too long ago, and I think Wenley I. paddles one, and grayhawk (who is right up there on my paddle-with list since he lives in the Keys) loves his, so it is making a splash. If I get it, may get the sectional.
Wondering if you have tried any self rescues yet... scrambles, for instance. With the low primary stability you mention, plus the tendency to "window shade" (I like your term), I wonder if it'll feel like riding a greased pig at the county fair when one tries to remount, particualrly in waves.
Thanks again for the review as I am still learning about this boat.
Nordlow… & secondary stability…
Another thoughtful review, thank you.
The paddlers off Scotland noted: "as you edge the Nordkapp LV it just keeps going over smoothly until sploosh. There is no warning when you are just about at the limit of secondary stability."
Alex noted: "...it doesn’t lock in on edge as strongly as many other kayaks. Rather, it quickly transitions from on edge to capsize..."
Thusfar I have not found a 'hang point' as the boat heels - unlike my Aquanaut, Romany or Elaho.
I think it would be valuable to detail for readers your evolving perception of the 'kapp LV's secondary stability.
Nordlow and CG Factor,
Had my LV nearly a year now and it took some time to make friends, glad you’re sticking with it.
As far as secondary, body type may play a roll I’m 5’11" 185 (also skinny legs)and with the hips pads installed I have plenty of room. I can just get the seam in the water without bracing before I’m swimming and with very little notice.
I just returned from the most strenuous paddle I have had to date. Only 11 miles but into a strong headwind and into that nasty shallow water chop. I was fully loaded and we could only average 2 MPH and that was with the tide. Two boats had to quit along the way and we sent the rangers out to check on them. At least the air and water temps were warm.
The LV kept my attention in the bigger stuff but was great (no bracing). In those conditions and at that speed I could outrun the Epic 18s that were with me…
My body hurts all over… I’m too old for this…
-The Explorer: yeah…I love the Explorer and this is a hard choice, but I can only afford to keep one boat. I don’t have a lot of seat time in the Nordkapp but I think it is what I was looking for…a boat that is somewhat like the Explorer, but more lively with a bit less stability. If I could I would keep both boats and use the Explorer for really big condtiions and for trips…but I can’t really afford to keep both. I would give it some more time, but I have someone interested in the Ex;orer…decision tim.
I have been thinking about getting an LV for a very long time. It just sounded like a boat I would like. When I found a used one it was eating away at me. I just had to get it and give it a shot. Wouldn’t ever know until I tried it for at least a couple of weeks.
-Rescues: I have not tried any. It may be a little hard to do the cowboy scramble. My opinion on self rescues though is that strong rolling and bracking prevent the need for self-rescue. Should your roll rail the oonditions are probably too big for a cowboy scramble anyway. The re-enter and roll is the only self rescue that I ever practice and my personal optinion is that it is the only one you really need (others may disagree).
-Secondary stability: This is an intersting point with this boat. My opinions on this factor have changed.
As Jim can tell you (we have been discussin this boat by email) I did not like the Nordkapp when I first got it. I really did not like the fit, which does affect everything. I also found the boat to have very low secondary. I then removed the stock seat pad and found that it helped; however, I only paddled it this way for the last 30 minutes of my first paddle so I did not get a feel for it.
I then decided that I wanted to try to get myself lower in the boat to make the fit a bit less tight. I took out the stock seat and put in a Valley foam seat. I paddled it like this a few times and ultimately did not like it. I did not like the way the thigh braces hit me and the secondary was very poor. I decided to sell the boat.
To sell the boat I figured I would have to put the factory seat back in so I did so this weekend. I could not resist trying the boat out again before selling it.
I made some adjustments to slide myself foward just a bit in the boat by moving the pegs and the backband.
This made all the difference. The boat felt much more comfortable and the stability profile was much different than with the foam seat.
Despite what you might guess, the foam seat made the secondary stabily much worse.
Paddling the boat this weekend with the factory seat and slightly changed position in the boat I found the boat to have a completely different stability profile.
I was amazed when I found that the boat had good seconary stability…not only because it had not had it with the foam seat but also because I knew that from other reviews that this boat was “not supposed to” have good secondary.
To my amazement the secondary felt really good. I did feel a “wall” to lean against. To me if felt very noticeable. More so than with the Explorer whose primary and sedondary kind of blend together.
With the Nordkapp I was able to put the boat on edge easily b/c of the low primary and hold it there quite securely with the good secondary.
Paddling for a couple of hours doing deeply edged turns with sweeps, bow rudders and stern ruddres, I never felt the need to apply even a light brace.
Just to confirm the boat’s secondary stability I sat stationary in the boat and put the boat on edge and edged it past its balance point. First, I found that it was unnatural for me to do so and required a conscious effort to get it to want to tip. Second, I found that I really did not have to even apply a brace per se. Just having the paddle in contact with the water and doing a light hip flick was enough.
I am somewhat dumbfounded as to the secondary stability of the boat given my initial impressions and the reviews I have read.
Furthermore, I don’t find the boat to be too tippy. I recently had eye surgery (still not seeing great which is why there are probably so many typos here) and I have to put eye drops in my eyes constantly. I was able to put drops in my eyes on the water with no problems at all…an awkward maneuver. Also found it essy to relieve myself on the water which is another slightly awkard thing to do.
For me with my body type, I find the Norkapp has more secondary stability for me than my Avocet had…which for me had little to none.
Interesting read from gh, b1, and wlsjo.
I think rescues are improtant, and relying on re-entry and roll alone is not ideal, particularly if injured. So, someday, when you put a wonderful review in Pnet after using the boat for a season or two, please try a scamble or two. Or I can do it if and when I get one.
Weird... new version of boat, and not only did you buy it used (likely from a guy that swam a tad too much for his liking in it--but seller's would never tell you that), but you were ready to pitch it to the aftermarket initially. eBay would be proud.
SOunds like--and wilsoj is very adept at this subject, based on past posts--you found the proper trim for the boat. I find with my current NOrdkapp RM and Nordkapp Classic HM that the boats are very "front heavy". The balance point, if you pick them up, is very much fore. That might also be true of the LV, based on your moving the seat forward to get better control. In essence, with front biased heaviness, the boat would be "popping a wheelie" and not only track poorly, but be very unstable in certain circumstances. The nose prominent Nordkapps (as opposed to a more symmetric front to back boat, like a Romany) seem to have this issue. Check it out sometime when you lift it, b1, to see if front heavy. If so, you have corrected for it with your seat forward mod. By the way, I believe this factor--front weighted bias--is the reason that the Kapps in general are thought to be better paddlers when laden. Keeps it down in water, increasing overall waterline and wetted surface, and making it a joy to paddle. This is a known fact about this expedition boat (now available in a smaller, LV "day boat" configuration, which some have stated is like a miniature Pincher compared to the real thing--it'll still nip you if you feed it your hand).
Great discourse from respected paddlers on here.
“it took some time to make friends"
The Nordlow strikes me as a boat for which seat time is most essential. In this manner (among others) it is at the other end of the spectrum from a Romany - which is precociously friendly.
I am finding very slight differences in trim etc make noticeable differences in this boat. I’ve taken the stock seat pad out and glued in 3/16” minicell on the seat. I pulled the stock foam from under the front edge of the seat and replaced it with slightly thicker minicell (adjusting my pelvis attitude) and I’m sitting about an inch forward of the rear of the seat. I’m thinking of pulling the current foam from under the flanges/deck and replacing it with thinner stuff to increase knee height a bit.
I’m 6’, 175lbs, and find the stock hip pads allow me a good amount of movement for rotation, sculling and bracing while providing enough contact for rolling.
The Nordkapp LV seems a more precise instrument than my other boats. I think it is an appliance which will aid my skill development and fun as a paddler.
Greyhawk has been paddling his Nordlow for a year and his affection for the boat continues to grow. I hope to have the same experience.
“I think rescues are improtant”
I have some concern as to the viability of the Nordkapp LV as a rescue platform. My first self rescue is a roll, if out of the boat a re-entry and roll - both very easy with this boat if not injured. I'm waiting for warmer water to try cowboy and other self rescues with this boat.
My biggest concern is performing rescues of other paddlers. I've had paddlers/swimmers on and hanging off both front and aft decks of my Aquanaut without me being challenged to stay upright. With luck I'll not have to explore that aspect of the Nordlow until warmer paddling days.
As stated by Valley is an expedition boat for the smaller paddler. The bigger people have jumped on it as a dayboat for it’s handling qualities.
There is a big difference in stability by moving the load capacity up above the deck as documented by Sea Kayaker’s stability curves.
What help me understand the boat was paddling a friends surf ski, stay loose, don’t react to what the boat is doing, responsible only for keeping my torso vertical, brace on the paddle strokes.
I paddle with my backband very loose and only contact it when leaning back. This doesn’t lock me to the boat and lets it pivot around me. Sort of just the opposite technique most think of in a sea kayak.
The LV seems to be a different experience for each paddler… Just don’t demo it in calm water.
I am having second thoughts about LV
I gotta demo this bugger, clearly.
I have a plastic Prijon Barracuda that is 21 inches, and it is the tippiest boat I have ever been in. Sure, it has taught me a ton over the past three years–how to hold my breathe underwater for a long time, how to swim with a bumped and bleedling scalp, how to paddle swim, et cetera). It is very unstable, esp in any chop at all, as it is rockerless. One has to try it to understand what I mean.
I have matured as a paddler. I can hit a basic layback sweep roll consistently now (at least last time I checked), and I have progressed from wanting pure speed to wanting some finesse (but still mostly speed…he hee). Owning the Nordkapp RM, which is like the LV, I know it is not too unstable for me… and the Avocet is not unstable at all (unless I try a slap brace with a GP, like I do at Clinton Lake, eh bruce?). I am getting a sectional for longer open water paddles such as Lake MI, and ease of transport. But frankly, I see now why some write that they don;t want a super demanding boat that requires constant attention to avoid a swim, like my Cuda, and perhaps like the Nordkapp LV. Perhaps indeed the Aquanut or, heck, an Avocet glass sectional (it is a tad slow, admittedly) would be the ticket for me. Demo might be in the cards for me. I simply want to paddle a fast boat that requires skill but not unflinching cat-like reflexes. If it can’t be cowboy scrambled like my Avocet, is it best for me (and yes, I did hit a re-entry and roll, but not saying I could do it in chop yet)? Hmmm.
Thanks for the thought provoking thread.
Their definition of “smaller” must be “long-legged smaller.” I demo’ed one and liked its slippery-fast feel but the thigh braces were too far forward for me. I could make contact only by consciously jamming my legs into the coaming edge and even then they tended to slip inwards, away from contact.
I’m with pikabike…
I demoed the Nordy LV last year and at 5’ 9" and around 150 lbs I found it a bit too large on me.
I found Matt’s comments about the Nordy’s ‘low’ fore deck to be the opposite of my experience. For me the deck was a little to high.
The Norkkapp LV’s fit was one of the reasons I ended up selecting an Aquanaut LV. The Aquanaut is not as ‘playful’ as the Nordkapp, but I preferred the higher initial stability, strong secondary, lower deck and snugger fitting cockpit.
cowboy scrambles in the LV…
are easy! I’ve done a fair share of cowboy scrambles in the LV as well as even standing up in that kayak. Compared to the Silhouette, this kayak is downright stable.
The thoughts regarding secondary stability is really at the extreme end. I can confidently edge the LV so that the coaming is in the water and feel stable. However, when I want to get fancy and put the kayak on an extreme edge to do certain manuevers, it gets a bit more dicey. This also means that this kayak is a bit tougher to balance brace than other kayaks for me since it does not have as strong of a righting motion from an extreme edge. I still love the kayak and this characteristic isn’t a criticism at all. Heck, I don’t really like the Explorer because of it’s darned stability. It makes kayaking a bit too tame and boring for my preference.
Don’t know bout you, but all I care about is if there’s a boat left on the trailer for me when I show up! Or that the thrown together test boat doesn’t self destruct in the wrong spot… If it doesn’t have fins and rails it’s just another kayak.
funny thing is…
this is how I used to run trips. I just ended up with what was left. And if i did get a Gucci boat someone always wanted to try it. and who was I to say NO! heck if they liked it, possibly it meant a SALE!
Cindy thinks that’s one of the greatest thing about a fixed bulkhead. only people with legs her length can use it! Re-enter and roll ease?..naw. Fixed b/h’s are so NO ONE else can paddle YOUR boat.
Me…I’m still paddlin’ what’s left. New prototypes? only when everyone else is done ‘trying’ them! we just had a big dealer gig down in Florida and here I was teaching in a Carolina! oilwell.
In climbing guide days
your water bottles were precious. You could tell when your pals were out of juice when they started eyeing you as you chugged from your Nalgene. You knew they were going to ask for some, which you really didn’t want to share…so, as you dropped the bottle down a simple prolonged belch into said bottle totally put a stop to any requests for my bottle. Sorta like a fixed bulkhead…we’ll you get the point.
Not if you’re really short
I ordered my boat with the BH moved only 4" closer, which eliminates ONE of the 3" foam pieces I would need. I’ll still have to pad it out, but that leaves the boat still useable by bigger people…just not those who are so big they shouldn’t be trying to jam themselves in it in the first place!
I like having the option of wearing strap-ridden Keens in a footpeg-less cockpit. No snags. But mostly I did it to get more cargo room in the front hatch compartment.
How low volume is low
It's been a while since I've been in a Nordkapp LV. I briefly demo'd one the summer before last, but haven't been in Jim's since it arrived after doc's orders to stay out of boats for a couple of months following some minor surgery. It'll probably be spring now before I give it a go. The fact that Jim has had to roll unexpectedly in it within his first few trips out makes me want to avoid maiden voyages in 36 degree water.
What I recall from the one I did demo though was that, at 5'4", the cockpit was too tall and a smidge long. I figured that I could pad the heck out of it down and a bit on the sides and get the contact decent, but even with that was thinking that I was still a little too deep in the boat.
My overall recall was that the Nordkapp LV was, from a female paddler's view, a smaller rather than a small person's boat.
LV = “lower volume"
rather than low volume. I’m 5’8”, 145 lbs (closer to 150 after this Thanksgiving weekend) and it’s definitely a larger boat for me but still it’s small enough for me to throw around and feel relatively secure.