Submitted: 07-27-2005 by nickcrowhurst
My wife and I have owned a Northstar in the USA for two years, and have traveled about 600 miles in it during two winters in the Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades and the Keys. We so like the kayak that we bought a new one in the UK, where we live. The purchase of two new Northstars on different continents is a tangible indication of our respect for this craft. One good feature is the intangible feeling of ease with which it seems to move through the water. Some other kayaks just seem to take more effort, and hence risk of RSI. On a more tangible note, the prismatic coefficient clearly suits our weight. Our combined weight with day paddling equipment is about 320 pounds. The rudder I find to be excellent, very precise, and trouble free after many miles.
The drawbacks we have found are three. One is the position of the rudder lowering mechanism. This fouled my right hand when paddling. I moved it aft of the cockpit and also removed the deck lines by the cockpit, which also occasionally rubbed my hands.
A second drawback is the heavy spray my wife receives in the front seat when punching into chop. However, this is preferable to the solid water that we have experienced in other designs. She now wears UV protection goggles under these conditions.
The third drawback is, as previously mentioned in a review, the manner in which the plastic softens when on land in direct sunlight approaching 90 degrees. The flip side of this is that the kayak will always return to its correct shape when it cools down! We work round this problem by storing the kayak out of direct sun, and, when on the top of our pickup, supporting it at three points along its length. If this kayak were produced in the triple layer poly, as used in my P&H Capella, it would rate 9 in my review. It is available, slightly lengthened, as the Northstar Pro in composite, so those with deeper pockets have another way to avoid the softening issue.
The Northstar is an excellent kayak for our purpose, i.e. solo day trips up to 20 miles in potentially demanding circumstances, in a kayak robust enough to cope with being grounded on beaches and hauled single-handed onto a pickup. Oh yes, and it's a great value.