Submitted: 07-10-2006 by Ironvic
When we bought the Necky Sky from friends, they said it was tippy and impossible to learn how to use. Of course, they are desert people and not really boat savvy... Being a ship modeler, I was immediately taken by the Sky's lines, she looked almost like a destroyer below the waterline and her hull said, "try me..I'm going to be a good boat..."
We gladly paid $250 for the boat (it had only been used once) and that's a good 50% off full retail. For our $250, we found the Sky to be an excellent boat--not at all tippy and easy to drive through the swells in our home waters of Birch Bay, WA. So far, we've taken her off Point Whitehorn on a blustry day and around Blaine and Birch Bay and I can only describe the experiences as "joyful!" First day out, we glided by an eagle perched on a piling and saw two more close-up on our next day's paddle--these are experiences that only a kayak can give.
The hull is, to my eye, built along the lines of a WWII Japanese naval destroyer at the bow with generous sheer and flair. It tends to plow because of the short length to beam ratio, but the flair and sheer assure water gets thrown to the side rather than in the lap. The boat also takes a while to get up to speed, but when you're cruising along, she maintains her momentum easily and handles open water swells quite well.
With her short overall length of 9', the Sky fits easily into the bed of my Toyota pickup and rides alongside my wife's 9' kayak. Short boats have inherent handicaps, but on the plus side are easily handled, carried and stowed. There's a lot to be said for being able to bungge cord the boats into the pickup without having to go out and buy special, and expensive, racks needed for longer boats.
The neat, sharp chines of the short hull allow good tracking when taking swells off the bow at an angle and when leaning into turns. The ship-like aft keel with the transom stern adds a touch of class. I can't stop thinking how much that stern looks like something you'd see in a larger ship, it's very pleasing to the eye and is a sound design feature. It's almost like the boat was designed by a naval architect with a desire to put ship-like features into the hull and he definitely succeded.
The Sky does tend to weathervane in the wind and on one windy trek, I had to keep paddling on the right side to keep the bow on track, otherwise she'd swing to starboard trying to circle around on herself. That can make for sore shoulders after a while as you don't "share the load" with both arms working in unison from side-to-side under certain conditions (in this case, a strong sustained breeze off the starboard quarter). maybe I'll add a rudder, maybe not...it would be a good excuse to buy another Necky for days when a rudder might come in handy. That's how impressed I am with the Necky brand. They are built tough and have thoughtful design features built in. It's also nice to know that the factory is just down the I-5 from me, in Ferndale, WA--great convenience should I ever need factory advice or decide to add a skeg or rudder sometime.
On the plus side, the cockpit is roomy. I have room for bottled water, thermos, snacks and even my deer-bodied chihuahua (she's a fifteen pounder.) The dog loves riding with me in the Necky Sky and wears her own West Marine life vest, which adds bulk, but she still has plenty of room in the generously sized cockpit. The forward bow space gives her a snug "cabin" to hunker into when the winds get too chilly for her.
All in all I'd rate the Necky Sky a "9" and would buy another if the need for two ever arose. It's definitely a best-buy and even if I had paid the full retail of $499, I would consider this to be a bargain for such a good product.