Submitted: 07-18-2001 by Spauld
Until recently, the Nantucket was the fastest, most expensive, most advanced kayak I've owned. It's funny how you feel about a boat until you paddle something else that's "better". I say better only because as we all know, a kayak is the epitome of trade offs. In rating my new Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 15 (on this web site), I compare it directly to the Nantucket. Even though they are roughly the same length, they are quite different boats to be sure. While I ultimately prefer my Cape Horn, the Nantucket does have it's advantages. First of all, construction of the Nantucket is far superior in my opinion. I installed rod holders on both crafts and can tell you first hand that the Old Town hull is MUCH stiffer and thicker. That was a huge selling point for me. Further more, the finish of the polyethylene and the overall appearance of the hull is much sharper on the Nantucket (or any other Old Town product for that matter). The seat is quite a bit more comfortable in the Nantucket as well and the boat has ample storage space for a weekend adventure (with enough room left over for a luxury item or two). Unlike the Cape Horn which has a so storage capacity and a short seat back that requires aftermarket products to make it comfortable.
All of these perks are good selling points for the Nantucket. So, if you are just out bobbing around on the lake, fishing, taking photos and then back to camp..... what more would you need? If, on the other hand, you plan on putting some mileage between you and the launch site, you'll most definitely want a different boat. All you need to do to convince yourself of this is rent a Nantucket one day, then rent something slightly more 'serious' the next. The difference will be apparent. A friend of mine and I recently took the Nantucket and the Cape Horn on a two-day camping trip (just 15 miles round trip) on Colorado's Lake Granby. My buddy spent most of the trip trying to catch up, and I spent most of the trip trying to let him (of course... he had to carry more of the gear since the Cape Horn couldn't!). At any rate, I give the Nantucket a 7 out of a 10 because I think Old Town could have put a little more effort into making the Nantucket a more enjoyable boat to paddle. To those who say it tracks straight, I suggest they have not paddled a boat that truly DOES track straight (again, it's a direct comparison thing). If you're still not convinced, next time you are in the store, flip the Nantucket over and take a gander at its bottom. The keel line completely disappears between the bow and stern. The hull becomes completely flat bottomed for at least half of the boats length. Paddling any boat with a hull shaped like that guarantees the need for constant adjustment of direction (I could not imaging paddling the Nantucket any great distance without the rudder down!) Again, you have to compare apples to apples.
In short, the Nantucket will hold plenty of gear, it is not likely to tip over on you and will give you hours upon hours of enjoyable and stable time on the water. But.... to ensure you don't get bored, you owe it to yourself to paddle AT LEAST ONE 'higher performance' boat prior to purchasing the Nantucket. This boat (in my opinion) would deserve a ten if the hull shape was a bit more performance oriented. If you're hot on Old Town products, you may want to check out the 'Millennium 16'.