Submitted: 01-08-2003 by BryanM
This is a preliminary review having only had this boat for 2 months. I bought the HV version as I really needed the extra room between the deck and the hull. I am am 6'2" 240 lbs and it fits me just right,I am probably at the limit of fit though. The seat and back band are very comfy. I am going to replace the back band as it is too flexible, ie when getting in to the boat I always have to unfold the back band, but once in place it provides good support.
The initial stability is medium to low, especially since a lot of my weight is in my upper body, but the secondary is very good. It is very easy to hold a sculling brace for long periods of time. With the low initial stability putting the boat on edge is easy and predictable.
The boat rolls very nicely, easier than my Gulfstream as a comparison.
Tracking is good, yet will gracefully carve a turn when edged. Weather cocking is noticable, but manageable with some slight edging. The skeg is huge when fully deployed. With the skeg fully deployed leecocking is very noticable. The skeg control works well, it is the older rope skeg. I have noticed some skeg vibration when surfing, it is more of a humm. A skeg is not really needed, but it is helpful when you are tired and just want to make for home.
It is not a terribly fast boat on flat water given its length (17'8")and width (21.5"), but get it in some waves and rough water it is fast and predictable, waves seem to just not effect the hull at all as they just roll right under. It very good in quartering or following seas. It has good glide and I can keep a 5 mph pace with ease and can push it to 6 mph in a sprint. This boat really shines in rough water. It has good surf manners, pearling so far has not been an issue, but I have not been on any surf over 3 or 4 ft, but summer is not far away down here on the Gulf coast.
This is not a beginners boat, but would be possible for a motivated beginner in warm water, it will definetly challenge the newbie.
OK, now for quality. I really looked this boat over at the shop I purchased it from. About a week or so later, I noticed a flat spot on the right rear quarter of the hull and some spider cracks. It had a hole repaired at some point from an impact with something, it measured about 2.5" x 1.5". This was purchased as a new boat mind you. I spoke to the dealer who was surprised by it as well, he had not noticed it when he accepted the boat. He was a real pleasure to deal with, he ordered a new boat for me no questions or wishy washy feelings. It was, "this is not right, I want to keep my reputation as a good and honest dealer and I want your repeat business". So I should have a new boat arriving sometime this month. If you live in the Austin area and are looking for a great paddle shop, be sure to check out Austin Gear and Guidance, John is a great person and all 'round good bloke. The rest of the finish and quality on this boat is very good, which is fairly rare for a NDK boat. Hatches and skeg box are bone dry after surfing and rolling practice. So overall I am very happy with this boat. Highly recommended, though look the boat over carefully, it will be worth it.
I will update in another 4 months for a six month review, if I remember.