Submitted: 09-16-2002 by BR
Since I spent so much time seeking info, opinions and reviews for boats, I figured I could at least write one to possibly do my part. I'm 5'10-11, 175lbs. Own a Prijon and started looking for a more ocean worthy model. Over a period of a month, I spent time demoing boats, empty and with weight. Since Prijon Absolutely makes the best plastic, I started there. Seeyak was all over the place, I don't think I'm big enough to sink that boat to get the proper waterline. Kodiak was a great boat for a MUCH bigger guy and a whole lotta cargo, and the Catalina was a gem, but just a hair shy on space. Moved onto the Skerray RM, again it was all over the place (perhaps the rocker), Boreal Muktuk was comfortable, but I don't want a rudder, Avocet RM was real nice, all the way around, jumped in and tried a used NDK Poseiden, too roomy, Kayak Sport Viking was very nice. I ended up buying the Avocet(trying REAL hard to stay in plastic and keep costs down). First day out had water in rear bulkhead and day hatch. There was an unsealed spot on the bulkhead, a small hole in the bulkhead. Water also runs all along skeg cable. It was during this inspection that I found pitch in boat, as if it was set out in the sun balancing on something dead center and the ends drooped. Upon looking at several other Avocets, they all had a similar situation to varying degrees. Enough of plastic. I'm sick of worrying about it sitting in the rack on a nice day, strapping it too tight, where I leave it set during stops. Onto the Romany, very close space wise. Yes, I could pack it, I'm a backpacker and have all the gear and knowhow to keep it light and tight, but it's in a kayak, not on my back and it's a nice change of pace to have the extras (ah, a THICK Thermarest, my Roomy SD Sandman sleeping bag, bottles of wine, salmon, REAL food, my backpackers axe that would NEVER go into my backpack).
The Explorer is a dream. You may have to learn better balancing skills while turning around to look behind you or get into the day hatch (day hatches are awsome). Bit shy on the initial stability. It tracks nice, maneuvers beautifully, if you don't want to deal with the, less than others weathercocking in good winds, just a little on the skeg is all it takes. Bow lifts over waves. Not a DROP of water into the hatches or through the skeg. Bulkhead is close behind seat for easy removal of water from main compartment(won't go there). It will do whatever your little legs and hips tell it to do,,, easily. I thought the seat would be uncomfortable, it isn't at all during extended paddling, it is slippery though which I'll remedy probably with a Padz. I was all ready to be making a seat, but for now I'll wait. I'll probably modify the footpegs only because I had made about a 4"x4" bracket with thin closed cell foam on my last boat, which is just way too comfy without effecting use. And will probably add just a hint of foam to the thigh braces because I don't like any movement in my knees while they are up there, and also will probably add some thigh supports, again just because I made them for my last one and it is just too comfortable to have that support. I think that not enough attention is given to fitting a boat to your weight, mainly saying that I think many people don't weigh enough for the boat they have, to get a proper water line for speed, tracking and handling.
I can see this boat being the last one I ever buy(please oh please). In which case I won't mind the big dip into the pocket to pay for it. Just do it, don't look at your bank account, get the first scratch over with the first day (I really would have perferred not to, but at least it was over with), and enjoy an Awsome boat. Keep your plastic boat, if you have one, for those potentially rocky river trips with friends,,, you'll feel better.