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Submitted: 05-03-2005 by Vik
I am very sad to hear that Necky has discontinued production of all SOTs. The dolphin is a fantastic boat for exploring, fishing and playing in rough water.
It has excellent secondary stability - I have never dumped while fighting fish or paddling confused seas. Having said that the boat has a rounded hull which means it will not feel as stable, initially, as some of the other SOTs out there. It leans predictably and as you lean the secondary stability kicks in - making it very hard to dump.
I find it quite fast and efficient to paddle. I can keep up with SINKs at normal cruising speed all day. I rarely ever use the rudder - it tracks well and responds to turns well. Even in strong winds I tend to simply use an occasional corrective stroke rather than bother with the rudder.
The downsides are small front hatch and fiddly neoprene inner hatch covers.
Note: if you are expecting a kayak to be as stable as a raft this is not the boat for you. It will seem a little "squirrelly" at first, however, if you give it a few hours you will become very comfortable with it as it is very predictable. Also keep in mind a super stable kayak on flat water is not a good kayak in rough water as it will respond to all the inputs of the moving water. By contrast the rounded hull of the dolphin ignores a lot of the effects of the waves - making it very relaxing to paddle when things get interesting. This doesn’t mean you need to be an experienced paddler to buy this boat, but you do need to be willing to spend a few hours getting to know how she handles.
I am 6ft and 155lbs. I have used this boat daily for a total of 5 months in Baja - on two separate trips. My dolphin has dealt with some very rough seas and too many rocky beaches to mention. Aside from a few scratches she is in perfect condition.
I have also used OK Scupper Pro and a Tarpon - neither come close to the performance of this boat. I am quite critical of my gear and I can think of only a few other items I own which perform as well as my dolphin. If you find a used one on sale I would definitely recommend you consider it.