Submitted: 04-16-2008 by alanbe
Just to add a different perspective to reviews already posted:
I was able to take my new RTM Disco over to a friend's house and do some stability testing in his pool. I got the Disco from Lone Star Kayaks in Austin on 4/11/08.
Here is the official data from RTM regarding the Disco: 14' long, 26" wide, 50 lbs. I am 5'10" and 150lbs soaking wet.
1st test: Side-saddle
Got into the Disco and sat side-saddle keeping my center-of-gravity in the center of the seat area. No problem. I then moved my COG more toward the gunwale. Again, no problem...so it was time to see just how far I could push the boat. As I put more of my weight on the gunwale and shifted my COG so that most of my upper body was above the gunwale, I'd estimate that I was able to get to about a 60* angle before I felt like it would turtle. I could put one gunwale WAY into the water flooding the cockpit before pushing it too far and finally going in.
While sitting normally in the seat area (i.e. not sitting side-saddle) and leaning my COG toward one side raising the opposite side, it didn't take much to upset the secondary stability and go into the water. Don't get me wrong. In my opinion (keep in mind that I'm used to 22" wide sea kayaks) the secondary stability doesn't initially push back very hard, but you can feel it. I can feel it catch, I can push the boat MUCH further past a 45* angle while sitting side-saddle, can take on tons of water, push it a bit further, and over she finally goes.
2nd test: Getting back in after turtling
While the Disco was upside down in the water, I tested my ability to get the boat right-side up and clamber inside again. I kicked myself up over the hull, reached over to the opposite side, grabbed the gunwale, and righted the boat by flipping it over toward me. Very easy to do.
Once the boat was right-side up, I put one hand on the gunwale closest to me and one hand on the gunwale furthest from me, kept my COG low, launched myself up over the seat area so that my mid-section was across the seat area, then started to turn my body so my head was aiming toward the stern and my feet were toward the bow and tried to twist so that my butt would fall right into the seat area, but the boat threw me right into the water again. The way the rocker of the hull is designed and due to it's overall narrow width, I found it best to just launch up into the boat, twist in the air, and land my butt right into the seat.
3rd test: Moving forward
After getting back into the boat, I wanted to see how far toward the bow I could scoot without upsetting anything. I hung my legs over the gunwales and scooted forward. I scooted up to the center hatch and judged my balance: no problem. I kept scooting forward to just behind the forward hatch by sitting in the footwell area: no problem. I tried to scoot up a bit further to sit on top of my forward hatch and felt that was too far. The boat wanted to go over at that point. Sitting in the footwell area just behind the front hatch is as far as I can comfortable go without upsetting the boat. I feel as though I can easily store things in the forward hatch, scoot up to the footwell area while on the water, open the forward hatch, and be able to reach in for whatever is in there.
4th test: Moving backward
I scooted back to the seat and thought I should see how far back toward the stern I could go. I used the gunwales to lift myself up out of the seat area and sat in the well area where the rear scupper holes are located: no problem. I could scoot back a little more to where the rear cargo net area ends at the back of the well...but that's about as far back as I could go without upsetting the boat.
5th test: Standing in the cockpit
Next, I tested my ability to stand up. I was able to stand up but it was fairly wobbly. There really isn't a flat area in which to stand, so I put my feet in the seat area. My feet were close together due to the way the seat area is designed, so this added to the unstable feeling while standing. I wouldn't fish from this position or try to stand and stretch. I don't think I'd try this in rough water, either. There was really no other place to try and stand in the boat. Up on the little hump where the center hatch is located was impossible to stand on. I tried and would go right into the water immediately.
The little white canister storage that came with the Disco is a great place to keep things that I want to stay dry. I held the thing underwater for about 30 seconds, took it out, unscrewed the red cap, and found that it was still dry inside. I'd still put important items in a small drybag before putting them in the little white canister.
Next, I took the Disco to a local pond. No wind, water was glass smooth, so I did some speed tests. It was just me, PFD, keys, wallet, couple of other small items stored away in dry bag in center hatch.
I used a 220cm Werner Camano fiberglass paddle, no feather. I reached a top speed of 5.7mph as measured on 2 eTrex GPS units. It was very easy to cruise along at 4mph. Still VERY stable, turns on a dime, and absolutely ZERO bow noise when slicing through the water. I don't mean some. I mean no noise at all...even at top speed. The thing silently cuts through the water. Rear entry noise is silent, too. The only thing that disturbed the water was my paddle. The boat continued to glide forever after I stopped paddling and is VERY easy to kick it back up to full speed again.
2 sweep turns while sitting still and you can be facing 180*. Lean one gunwale into the water and the thing spins right around. Tight turning radius. Since the rear entry of the boat is as sharp as the front entry, backing is VERY quick and easy to control.
My next tests will be conducted on a local lake so that I can play around in the huge wake created by ski boats to see how she handles chop.
This boat has the potential to be a wet ride, so I purchased a Frogg Toggs Angler Bibb raingear set at Gander Mtn which should help keep my butt from getting rubbed raw if I have to sit in water for long periods of time.
I rate the Disco a 10 because it's a GREAT sit-on-top that will be good in the surf, creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds for those times I just want to have fun and can still rig it for fishing. Not quite as skinny as the sea kayaks I'm used to, but the seat area fits my rump just right.
This boat is the total opposite of my Native Watercraft Manta Ray 14.5, which reminds me of being the SUV of kayaks: stable, heavy, tons of room, easy to store and mount things in/on, a VERY dry ride, and not too bad on the gas mileage!