Being a true, blue American, I am not content with my current flagship (glass Perception Shadow). I have had the Shadow for 2 years and I really enjoy it, but I feel that I am ready to move to the next (and final)(L) level.

I am a brit-boater so I’ve ruled out the Epics and QCCs (I feel the brit design will suit my needs better). The boats I’m interested in are: Current Designs Extreme, NDK Explorer, P&H Bahiya.

I have trolled the Product Reviews section on this site and the manufacturer’s websites but I would like to hear from P.netters. If any of you have paddled or own one of the previous boats, could you tell me about your experiences.



Extreme a Brit boat?
Personally like the Extreme, a fast boat that handles good… keep the rudder on it.

well, I guess it’s kind of a hybrid,
but it has the upturned bow and more rocker than the “destroyers”, so it made the list.

Yep, understood.
Some rocker is good. Shoud I start the bow debate again? Properly designed, the higher bow really works and has it’s advantages over more plum bows…

Who are you kidding.
There is no last boat.

the boat to end all boats…
is probably the one i die in. other than that…there’s a lot of nice hulls out there and while the relationship between my ass and my boat is darn close…hell, there’s always another boat…i just ain’t met her yet!

til then, my beloved explorer rocks the world!

Lie to your wife, not to us!
You know this will not be your last boat, and your with friends, so simply admit it. That said, the NDK is a nice option, and I have read good things about the P&H (recent issue of Sea Kayaker, still on the stands.) Don’t rule out the VCP boats, hard to go wrong there. Bottom line, buy the one with local support, then choose a color your wife likes so you can give it to her when you buy your next last boat!

In our club, there are more Explorers than any other boat. We have many very skilled long time paddlers, and it seems that most of them have eventually ended up with Explorers as their primary ride.

I’ve had mine for 3 years and still love it. Paddled it on the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes in all sorts of conditions and feel very confident in it. It’s responsive and handles wind and waves well. It also rolls very easily. The keyhole cockpit works great for me; I prefer it to any other I’ve tried. Some NDK boats have quality problems, but mine has no serious issues other than it’s heavy. Oh, and the backband it came with was a joke. The new NDK boats are supposedly lighter and come with a different backband.

What about the aquanaut

– Last Updated: Nov-26-04 11:06 PM EST –

a fine boat faster than the explorer decent balance in wind, well worth a look.

I love my explorer though. Really forgiving. reasonably maneuverable and the best balance in wind of naything I've paddled including caribou, various necky stuff, q500, aquanaut, .....

Still have not padled a tempest 180 though. My fault I'm sure.

If I were looking…
… along those lines (and also assuming I had your bias against more modern designs - which I don’t) I’d take a look at the Outer Island. Sweet kayak.

My Explorer
I have a 10 month old Explorers, in my case a Low Volume (LV) since I am 5’4" and weigh about 135 pounds. However, it is exactly the same hull as the full size Explorer - NDK handled cutting it down for my size by dropping the height of the boat above the shere (spelling?) line of the hull. It also has an extra small cockpit, still keyhole, so I have maybe a tighter fit than many who have the regular volume version.

I would also recommend that you take a look at the Valley (VCP) Aquanaut. If the Explorer fits you the Aquanaut should. My husband has this boat, and loves it. It tracks great and also carves a nice turn. The hull is a more active than the Explorer, but the secondary stability is way up there.

Back to the Explorer - I can’t speak on the newer backbands since I had a Bomber Gear backband put in. I do have the fancy seat - carbon - which is extremely comfortable. After a few hours I have to do some stretching to spare my sciatic nerve on one side, but usually about five to ten minutes of paddling with my legs straight solves the problem. I also am bracing against bulkhead blocks rather than pegs, which a hundred times more comfortable. Consider this if you are looking at a Brit boat, since they will usually custom place the bulkhead.

The Explorer is a kind boat to the paddler. It will allow you to make some real doofus moves on the water and remain upright. And it always feels like it is where you need it to be under you - it doesn’t give unexpected surprises. (At least until you hit tougher conditions than I’ve paddled in.)

It tracks fine going into seas - and loves taking angles like 45 degrees into steeper stuff as well. It has enough rocker that with bigger following seas some skeg is needed, just partial is fine. The boat turns without having to take it over hard - very nice at the end of a long paddle. Secondary stability is quite high as with most Brit boats.

The Explorer is also very supportive of a paddler as they learn more advanced skills. The Romany family of hulls is considered to be relatively easy to roll compared to others. I just started getting up on any regular basis recently, and the LV is no small part. I can mess up more in my technique with the LV than I could with my CD Squall and still get up. This has really helped my confidence in going for harder skills.

A couple of things that aren’t fatal but a little annoying… the NDK boats don’t have any hatches bigger than 10 inch rounds. So you need to pack for camping in many smaller drybags. Also, the NDK hatches don’t float. NDK is using Valley hatches for the most important one, which do float. But the 10 inch ones front and back sink, and aren’t tethered, so if you are packing your boat in a rising tide you can find yourself fishing under water for the hatch cover that slipped off the top of the boat. You’ll want to add some line for tethers.

The Explorer is really what its name says - a boat that you can trust to get you around in a huge range of conditions. And it still comes home and does everything you’d want for advanced skills work.


NDK Hatches
I really should check my syntax better before posting… to correct a couple of messes on my earlier post:

It’s the day hatch on the Explorer that’s a Valley hatch (hence it floats).

I am bracing against a single block of foam, but in my case there are two of them back to back. We left the bulkhead forward enough to be flexible for possible resale.


Nordkapp, Explorer, Aquanaut

– Last Updated: Nov-26-04 9:31 AM EST –

Are probably the most common top choices among expedition boats.

Any one of the three will get you through any type of seas you may place yourself.

The Aquanaut has the longest narrowest waterline of the three. It also has the lowest decks.

The Explorer has the highest primary stability and the Nordkapp has the highest secondary. The Aquanaut has somewhat lighter initial than the Explorer and only slightly less secondary than the Nordkapp.

The Explorer is the most forgiving. It replaced the Nordkapp as the most often used model for serious expeditions. The Explorer is also one that does not require an at least intermediate paddler. Some outfitters use them as their base boat.

Valley boats tend to be built better than NDK boats.

We All Like To Practice Self Delusion
when it comes to the notion of “last and final” be all/end all boats. It just makes spending the big bucks easier to take, until the next and last time. :wink:


last boat
Add a Tempest pro (composite) to your list to compare. After many years, many boats and many miles My Tempest 170 remains my first choice ( I own ten boats) for challenging paddling.

One’s ‘last’ boat should
be one he/she builds for themselves. A nice S&G, hybrid, or wood stripper gives a paddler the incredible emotion of paddling a boat created with their own hands.

There is one minor problem however… you’ll be planning your next home-built boat long before you have finished the first one :slight_smile:

Methinks Eric is right, there’s always a last kayak, but never a final one!

Check back with us in five years - we’ll be curious as to the size of your fleet at that time.

Pleasant waters.


Explorer and Aquanaut

– Last Updated: Nov-26-04 5:36 PM EST –

These are my two all-around favorite British kayaks. I have owned an Explorer for two seasons, paddled it several weeks on the coast of Maine and I couldn't be happier with its performance. I have also spent a lot of time in the Aquanaut over the past two seasons.

The reasons I went for the Explorer were cockpit fit (like a glove), maneuverability and the stability profile. I like the keyhole shape on NDK boats because I get more thigh contact, a snugger fit and have a little more entry room. I find the Explorer's turning to be more responsive for a given amount of edging, which is nice when I get more conservative in rougher water. I feel the Explorer has a little more primary stability and the secondary stability comes on more quickly. The bow of the Explorer also rides higher and offers a drier ride. Predictability and responsiveness, that's what this boat is about for me. It keeps me out of trouble and makes me a better paddler than I probably am.

Having said all that, the Aquanaut has pros over the Explorer too. It is a faster kayak under most conditions and has terrific glide. I'd say the speeds are similar in following seas. The Aquanaut also tracks better without the skeg than the Explorer but both are excellent tracking boats. With skeg, both are easily trimmed for neutral cross-wind performance. The Aquanaut has more lively primary stability and the secondary comes on more gradually so you can more easily dip the coaming in the water. The construction of Valley boats is more consistent than NDK and the oval hatches are roomier and float.

I would also consider ordering a Valley in the elite or carbon/kevlar lay-ups. I would only order a NDK in standard fiberglass. NDK has had some quality control problems in recent years but they implemented a new QC program in 2004 with good results. My Explorer (2003 model) is perfect.

Bottom line is you can't go wrong with either the Explorer or the Aquanaut. Can't comment on the Bahiya because I've only sat in it. Atlantic Kayak carries all three models and will let you demo all day, although you'll have to wait until next Spring.

Best of Luck

who makes that boat?
(asked with a biased sneer)

well, I kinda already have a Tempest
170, but I have a poly one. I do love the Tempest, I wanted a poly boat for trips into rocky terrain, but I want a top line composite for water that contains no speedbumps. I would like to have a versatile fleet so would not consider a composite Tempest.