Submitted: 02-16-2009 by willsonp
Review of my NC Kayak 19 Expedition purchased in early July 2008.
Me: Six feet tall, 195 pounds, 57 year old male with over ten years of sea kayaking experience including Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, Sea of Cortez, and several wilderness rivers. I own, now, four rigid kayaks and an Innova inflatable. Much of my paddling is on lakes in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. I was looking for fast, light, and fun boat that would last me for a decade and give me paddling joy. I have been looking for 2 years and finally settled on a NC Kayak from Tacoma, Washington, that was on sale. Best lesson from this purchase: Try out and inspect a boat before you buy it and have it shipped across country!
Best: The fit and finish is excellent. This is a very good looking boat! The lift toggles fit well in the hand, allow for an easy carry, and the boat feels very light. This boat definitely tracks and holds a course very well. I noticed my 19 did not drift off course when I stopped paddling, like my other boat does. While I have not yet had it out in very strong winds, I think it will do very well. I can also use a camera or binoculars very easily as the boat seems to stay put in wind and waves quite well. The deck lines are nicely placed and I can easily do a wet exit and reenter the boat using a paddle float entry. The paddle float attachment straps are excellent. Greg at NC Kayaks is very nice and helpful, and I was pleased with the ordering process.
Good: The day hatch is very nice. I was pleased to be able to access it while seated in the cockpit. None of my other boats have this feature, so I have always had to use a deck bag. The speed of this boat is only good, so far. I could easily maintain a 4.2 MPH pace on my first paddle, but this boat doesnít feel much faster than my well used Dagger Cortez. I had really hoped to notice a significant speed advantage, but it hasnít turned out that way so far. (Now: With more paddles now under my belt, it does seem to be feeling somewhat faster). The boat is definitely stable and holds a lean very well. You can adjust the foot pegs on the fly, which is nice. The flange around the cockpit is deep and well designed, making spray-skirt attachment very secure.
Not as good: I was surprised not to be able to get into the cockpit butt first. For such a large boat, which I think would attract larger paddlers than I, this would probably have kept me from buying the boat if I had had the chance to try it out first. I have a slightly injured shoulder which is put in a strain when I enter and exit the boat. This boat is also not near as maneuverable as my other boats. It takes a long time to turn, especially when moving slowly. Hopefully, I will be able to change my paddling style to correct this problem (Now: I have been able to learn to turn it a little faster). A turn at higher speed requires lots of lean, and even then takes quite a while. I have been used to very agile boats, so this is big change. Over the last five paddles I have figured out to turn this boat, but I have had to modify my strokes considerably. The hatch covers appeared to be very good, but I did find some water in the rear hatch when I finished my first paddle. Now, it seems that these hatches all leak much more than they should. Given that I like to paddle year round in all types of weather, I am nervous about taking on water in the hatches. Greg at NC Kayaks suggests that you close the hatches with the handles to the side of the boat. I did try this, with no success. I have had gear mildew in the closed hatches of this boat that I have never had a problem with before. This boat does not have a rudder, which doesnít particularly bother me except that I like to use an Action Pacific sail and I doubt if I will be able to handle this boat with a sail on it. The seat looks OK, but one leg started feeling tight during my first paddle and, because of the small cockpit opening, I had a hard time dealing with it on the water. Greg at NC Kayaks suggests that I move my foot pegs closer to me to relieve this. I have fooled with it in many ways and added a thin pad to the seat, but still think this is a problem after five or six outings. This is disturbing since I have never had a problem like this in the many boats I have owned or rented. The seat is extremely well fixed to the boat and I fear trying to make any adjustments. I have finally, after spending $85 on pads, worked out a system to make the seat almost comfortable. With as many comfortable kayaks out there, it seems inexcusable that such an expensive boat is so poorly fitted out! Almost every kayak I have looked at since has some method for adjusting the sitting position.
Pretty Bad - my boat now has a three inch crack on the right side of the boat behind the foot peg slide, which I discovered after my first paddle. This crack looks deeper than the gel-coat, which makes me worry about the future of this boat. The folks at NC kayaks are communicating with me on this matter, but I donít relish having to fool with this, especially across the country. Greg has now said that this looks like a compression fracture - I agree - and may have been done during a tie down to a trailer or rack. While it is always possible that I damaged the boat unknowingly during the one transport before I discovered the crack, I doubt this to be the case as I have handled boats of all types for many years Ė as well as other types of cargo - without any significant damage resulting. This adds further, as you can imagine, to my frustration with this boat.
So, I am a big boy and know how I can sometimes get excited about a "deal" and end up not as satisfied as I would like. I cannot think of any item of sports equipment - bicycles, skis, skates, etc. - that I have been more disappointed with. However, I will continue to try to maximize my use of this boat, while keeping a eye open for the boat I feel I deserve.