WSBS Delta - impressions?

I’m wondering if anyone on the boards has tried a West Side Boat Shop Delta - it’s a little touring kayak (13’10" by 23-5/8) that I find very interesting. There’s one review of it here, and I’m looking for any other impressions from those who might have tried it out.

Thanks, Carl

Many +'s for the Delta.

– Last Updated: Dec-05-08 8:20 PM EST –

Sorry, I am same the person that penned the single review, but I have pushed a lot of water with her since "04". In addition to being very quick for her waterline length, she is very easy to car top in high winds and portage through tight spots. Stability is rock solid in waves, bad weather and while tracking is so great for a short boat, she will turn on demand and can be leaned to aide in turning. She is an exceptional winter boat and I have always picked her when there was any chance of hitting ice. Although I've only needed a spray cover for races in bumpy water, mine did come with both a fine nylon and neoprene skirt. My only modification has been a stick on seat pad from Build quality is exceptional, but then she is a Bushnell.

I have a buddy who has that boat. He bought it for his wife but he’s the only one that’s ever used it. He’s had it for a long time, it looks new and he is thinking of selling it. He has an Epic V10 Sport (ski), another Bushnell boat and a Legend. I think he has eight boats.

Anyway, if you’ll email me offline, I’ll give you his email address.


I’m curious about it too
thought purely theoretically at this point. I recently acquired a similarly short Perception Sonoma 13.5 and may be can share some impressions that I think may apply to the Delta as well.

The Delta has probably almost a foot longer waterline compared to the Sonoma so it should track a little better but I doubt it would be much better if at all - since the Sonoma has a more pronounced V shape compared to the what seems to be a round bottom of the Delta. I should think it would probably be comparable to say a Tempest 170 or 165 in tracking (wihtout skeg), which is to say it tracks OK for straight going but eats-up quite a bit of your power to control it without a skeg. Especially when there is cross-wind/waves. So for any racing purposes I’d think it would be good to have a skeg or a rudder on it, otherwise - optional and depending on if it weathercocks or not.

The length is an interesting thing though. With such a short boat I find that steep wind chop that is very closely spaced causes my Sonoma boat to go up and down more than I like. With a 17’ and even more so the 19’ boats I have, they are nearly unaffected by similar 1 foot waves going against them. I suspect the Delta will be affected by chop at about 13.5 or so waterline length (may be a bit less than the Sonoma) - just not long enough to glide over 1 foot wind chop - will lift/dive some even if the bow is slicey and the bottom round. Not an issue downwind, where it would probably catch small waves better than longer boats.

The Delta states a 19" waterline width, so in terms of stability I would think it would be less stable initially than the Sonoma (it is about 22 at the waterline) which in turn is a little more twitchy than the 22" Tempset 170 (plastic, so its weight may be make it less responsive). The secondary stability will be similar I would think.

I think it would be a perfect short boat for workouts that would allow for a good stroke but I’m not sure if it would be a good boat for large waves or chop the way a more rockered 17 footer would be. It would be nearly as fast if not faster though.

I’d be interested to hear from folks who have actually paddled it though - I’ have not. The Sonoma for me is a poor man’s Delta in a way - at about 40lb, similar length, only about 17" at the paddle entry point so a nice close entry is possible, plus at 6’4" I can actually paddle it with knees together after I added a foot bar to it. And get this - the rear coaming is an inch lower than the Tempest - will see if this helps with rolling it on my next pool session -;). But the Sonoma really can use a skeg for efficiency and to combat weathercocking and it is not a fast boat - 4 to 4.5 mph is a good cruising speed with active paddling. I could take it to 6 mph for very short runs but I do not think I can paddle it at more than 4.5 mph average for more than a couple of hours at my fastest pace in flat water. I expect the Delta to beat that by may be 1/2 mph or even 1 mph…


– Last Updated: Dec-10-08 12:06 AM EST –

DGreen - no apology necessary. I tried to email you a while back to see if you still had the boat, but my message bounced and I figured you had moved on. Anyway, I'm happy to see that you still have the boat and regard it highly after all this time.

I am interested in the Delta for exactly the reasons you mention. I currently paddle a SOF Coaster that I built at Cape Falcon in 2007. It is 13'9" and tracks and handles rough water much better than the length would suggest. I figured someone with as much skill and design experience as Bushnell would also be able to come up with a capable short hull - those short boats just go perfectly on my Mini Cooper in NYC.

My only issue with the skin Coaster is that the deck is low for me - my legs go numb after about 90 minutes and I must get out to stretch. The Delta looks to have a higher foredeck and more leg position options - do you find that to be the case?

Also, sometimes I just want to be in a hard-shell boat, but LIGHT. Is the Delta truly as light as listed? If so, that's pretty amazing.

Thanks, Carl

Franklin - email sent - thanks for the suggestion - Carl

Hi Kocho - your post is interesting, as a friend of mine just purchased a used Sonoma in August, and we paddled together a couple of times, with me in my skin version of the Coaster (called SC-1, 13’9" by 23"). The SC-1 is Brian Shulz’s version of the Mariner Coaster, a famously capable short sea kayak.

Compared to the Sonoma, my Coaster tracks effortlessly and turns with a modest lean - the Sonoma was waggling all over the place. It was also twitchy at a stop, and pounded much more going over chop than the SC-1. There really isn’t much that’s comparable between the boats.

The Coaster is known for being able to keep up with and in many cases outperform full size sea kayaks, and I think it is much more difficult to design a good short kayak than is realized. I’m interested in the Delta as I figure Bushnell is fully capable of designing a good short kayak that is not a rec-tub. Short kayaks are not really taken seriously (because there are so many bad ones, no doubt), so there is little in the way of feedback on how the good ones perform. I’m also interested in the Epic GP, which I assume is also designed with some skill, although for me the higher foredeck of the Delta is a big part of the attraction.

what you say about comparing the Sonoma & the Coaster. I wish I could try more short boats -:wink: Each is different in some way…

The coaster seems to have more keel in the stern areas so it tracks better. The Sonoma wiggles its tail too easy for my liking, while the bow is relatively well planted. I think with the addition of a skeg it will improve significantly. I’m just trying to figure out a cheap and easy way to add one without defacing it too much…

That’s a good idea
Adding a skeg to the Sonoma is something I’ve been thinking about. I figure I owe it to my friend to make the boat more user-friendly if I can, especially since I was pretty influential in getting her to buy it. (To be fair to me, it is a light boat and she also got a nice paddle and a like-new Kokatat pfd for a very low price). The pronounced keel in the stern is what makes Mariner boats track so well, so mimicking that somewhat will probably help.

Anyway, maybe between the two of us we can come up with something. For instance, Brian at Cape Falcan often improves tracking incrementally by adding rub strips in the stern. At the moment, my thinking is to make a rub strip of UHMW plastic, molding it to the keel and attaching with double-stick something or other. Extending it up the stern in the form of a trailing tab might help as well, although that would be harder to keep from getting knocked off without rigid attachment.

Of course, adding a factory rudder or retrofitting a skeg box is an option, but wouldn’t be cheap or easy.