Submitted: 04-02-2005 by dan-philly
I'm an advanced paddler who recently purchased the Outer Island (OI). I also own a Romany and have owned a Foster Rowe Silhouette. I'll compare the OI primarily to the Romany. For a frame of reference, I'm 5'9", 157 lbs., with a 32" inseam and size 10 shoes. My activities include Greenland-style rolling, surfing big water and long open-water crossings. I use a Greenland paddle and storm paddle.
Quality of construction: Impex's layup is a lot lighter than the Romany, but I feel that it is very durable just the same. The finish and construction are first class. The attention to detail is superb, far better than any British boat I have seen. That being said, my boat did have a tiny crack in the gelcoat of the cockpit rim on delivery.
Outfitting: Again, Impex did a great job. This boat came with an Immersion Research ratcheting backband and a foam seatpad. The seat is bolted in rather than part of the coaming. Also, the two small and one large oval Valley hatch covers are all tethered - the small ones internally. The cupped thigh braces are pre-foamed, very aggressive and comfortable. I needed to add 1" thick foam hip pads. The OI comes with rock-solid aluminum foot pegs. There are plenty of deck lines secured by recessed anchors.
Appearance: I love the sleek lines and low profile. I very much like the small hatch up front. I think it has better aesthetics than a huge oval hatch.
Options: none to my knowledge. I wish in some ways that there were a compass recess, that there were no skeg or possibly an option for a deck pump. However, Impex has kept the price down by not offering any options. Also, no deck pump or compass recess keep the boat light and clean looking. I happen to detest skegs. The cockpit is a large keyhole, which I happen to prefer to the more traditional ocean cockpit.
Other physical characteristics: The hull is a shallow V with soft chines. I much prefer soft to the indexed feel of hard chines. Again, the cockpit is large making it easy to get in and out. Although the sprayskirt size is the same as the Romany, the OI cockpit is more nearly round making skirt tension higher - great for surf work.
There is much less rocker to the hull than the Romany. The front bulkhead on the OI is way far forward. Apparently Impex wanted to make sure Shaquille O'Neil could get his legs in, although I'm sure the rest of him won't fit. I think Impex would do well to forget the 7 footers and move the bulkhead to a more realistic position, given the already very limited cargo room.
Performance: I have thus far paddled the OI on flat water on Chesapeake Bay and several lakes, as well as one surfing session on the Atlantic in about 5 foot seas.
Speed and acceleration: The Outer Island has excellent hull speed and quickness. It is much faster than the Romany and about on par with the Silhouette.
Stability: At only 21" wide, the OI is amazingly stable, both upright and on edge.
Maneuverability: As mentioned, the OI has little rocker and a long waterline. Therefore, it doesn't turn too quickly.