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I really love this SOT. And I'm a real sit-in type a guy. I would have rated it a 10 except for the weight.
Fit and finish overall--10
Side handle placement--4; this is exactly where the knuckle sweep hits. The boats I found for my friends, both 2012 models had handles positioned such that all of us had trouble with any stroke other than high blading. Removed the handles entirely.
Seat center of gravity fore/aft: 10
Seat elevation relative to gunwhales: deep.
Seat comfort:8/9--8 for being a bit wet due to low position, 9 for good back position adjustment and comfort long [day trip] haul.
Seat material: 8--preformed cushion adequate but may become detached on extensive use.
Cockpit size for larger people-10 + 2=12. Absolutely great. This is the shining feature of this boat. The designers nailed it!!
Cargo aft space-9; access-5--web netting makes on water access cumbersome. Odd webbing, we ditched the entire cover and put loops into the strap openings then assembled bungee cross straps with eye hooks to allow access and multiple cargo options.
Tracking-9-a nice balance to as 14 foot boat, though long paddle stroke tend to cause nose wander. Shorten the stroke to ankle to hip and the effect is diminished. No installed guidance rudder on these boats on delivery.
Drift: 10. This thing does drift well once paddle inputs cease. Keel formed rudder straightens it out.
Fishing- tentative 9[not attempted, but deck works well for this configuration and overall hull design allows stability and range for most day trippers.
Handles bow and stern-4-anchored low profile handles are often twisting the hand in portage-we made loop handles with hose cushioned grips to fit on these handles and fixed the problem.
Weight: 9- not overly heavy.
Closing: nice design, great flatwater to significant boat and wind chop boat, front hull could use a tad more blade in the nose to cut side to side wander for longer stroking paddlers. Low seat / low center of gravity is absolutely great for tall people; cockpit size is a gift from the gods for tall people, many new boats do not really fit anyone over 6'3" well given foot stop positions and for whatever reason I keep running into people asking for help to find them SOTs that fit these titans. Go figure. I am 5'8". I can fit anywhere!
The kayaks are both the same width, but the Midway slips through the water much more easily and quietly than the Vector and leaves far less wake. The Midway is definitely faster for both top speed and cruising speed (a friend and I took both kayaks out together and paddled them both for comparison). I think this is because the Vector is wide for most of it's length and has a very flat bottom. The Midway is far narrower at each end, and has more of a V shaped hull (particularly at the ends). The Vector seems to push a lot more water at speed.
I weigh 190 and both kayaks are a wet ride as I'm effectively sitting at or below the waterline. The Vector seat has scuppers under it which eventually let water in, even with the fancy Necky scupper plugs. The Midway plugs are not so great at sealing (weep a bit) and the water from the footwells gets into the seat when you lean for turns.
Both kayaks are well designed. Summary of each as follows:
Vector: very comfortable seat and backrest, the best I've had. Lots of storage (two hatches + tankwell), one hatch easy to access on the water, and handy net bag and storage areas in the cockpit. Feels less tippy (higher primary stability) than the Midway. The handles tend to catch on your paddle until you get used to avoiding them. Excellent at traveling in a straight line (I donít have the rudder), but slaps on waves in sea conditions (flat bottom).
Midway: comfortable enough, but carl brace does limit movement if you need to shift position after a couple of hours paddling. Tippy at first but good secondary stability and carl brace helps you lean to turn. Drier storage than the Vector after a day on the water (in fact, no water got in at all). Only one relatively small hatch storage (with bulkhead), which you can't access easily on the water, but large tankwell. Lighter to carry/lift than the Vector and better carrying handles. Cuts through waves cleanly and has good glide, but is harder to keep in a straight line than the Vector (due to tippiness) when not paddling.
My overall conclusion is:
Vector 14 is more comfortable and OK on flatwater: best of the pair for fishing.
Midway is faster and better in sea conditions: best of the pair for touring.
Very low seat height and foot wells made for a very wet ride on calm waters for this 210 lb paddler, even with the fancy scupper plugs. The fairly narrow beam and hull shape provides for a quick and responsive boat. Gunnel height is pretty high due to the low seat height which makes swinging your legs over the side a bit uncomfortable. This really is a SOT that you sit "in".
The boat seems to perform exactly as Necky intended. It's just too single minded for me. Test paddled this boat and bought a Perception Triumph 13 instead.
Performance was good, in fact it surfs very well. I found it a bit irritating that my butt got wet with the scupper plugs in under the seat. I weigh 235 so it sits fairly low in the water. The plugs are pretty, but today I replaced them with Minicell.
For those who say it is 'tippy', I suggest that can be due to individual torso height, paddling inexperience on an SOT, individual paddling style, or all around comfort with kayaks. Individual height and weight play a big part in fit for anyone when purchasing a canoe or kayak. Any kayak can be fun, if one learns to relax, have proper posture, learn techniques and don't try to choke your paddle to death.
This boat was much faster than the Tarpon 140. The seat is also noticeably lower than on other sit on tops. I think this adds stability, but it also raises the odds of getting wet. It has scuppers directly under the seat. This would only be of concern to heavier paddlers, I would think. It wasn't a problem for me.
I do a considerable amount of paddling in open water, and my concern with this boat was that in spite of its speed, it could be a handful in high wake conditions, which is what I have much of the time. While the top speed on this boat was higher, I felt that the Vector 13 met my requirements better.
If you're looking for a touring sit on top, and don't mind a little water in the boat, this could be your kayak.
The Necky Vector 14 behaves pretty much like a Chatham 16 would when it comes down to speed & maneuverability departments, yet she feels rock solid on both primary & secondary stabilities. The layout reveals a very well thought cockpit for those adventurous kayakers that like to think out the box for a multipurpose kayak.
She can be a bit of everything and very good at most of the tasks one could ask her to perform in order to enjoy some quality time on the water. Some features are worth a million such as the seat's back band which gives an awesome lumbar support yet it is never compromising the kayaker's movements while easy to adjust both in height as well as in its lumbar angle... Seat's pan with its ergonomic leg support is unbelievable helpful for one's long time comfort when paddling. Hardware & Rigging are prime rate quality and one of the best designed for 2012. Those cross lock strapped self suction inner gasket hatches are truly fantastic in keeping water out while allowing for a lot of under deck packing.
One thing that really shines on this boat (other than her versatility) is her performance. Even though rudder ready from the factory I never felt the need to add one (I am partial to rudderless boats so take this with a grain of salt), keeping a straight line on the wind is no feat, stability in any condition is secure due its superb design.
One nice boat, different than most sit on top kayaks, good for clamming, fishing, diving, camping and cruising around, awesome capabilities, excellent carrying capacity for her length.
If you want the SIK performance without feeling so tightly enclosed you owe yourself an outing on the new 2012 Necky Vector 14.
Length: 14'1"; Width: 26"; Weight: 63 pounds
5í8Ē 250# 58 years old
Ive been out in the Vector 14 a few times now in a variety of sea conditions. cruising speed is about 3mph..about the same as people walking alone the seafront, however in calm conditions it was more like a slow jogging speed, perhaps 5mph, which feels quite fast so close to the water. in wind conditions of 17 mph gusts i had to keep correcting the course every few minutes as i dont have the rudder fitted, i would recommend getting the rudder if using in not so calm conditions but as soon as i only like to go out in fair weather its not really needed for me. no problem with tracking in less windy conditions
Even though the width is 25 inches it doesn't feel tippy to me as the whole point of the boat is the seat is low for stability and the scupper plugs have a value to allow water out but not in. its not often a wave will break in to the cockpit unless in really bad conditions but the plugs seem to work well. on difficult beach launches where lots of water has come in over the top, after about 10 minutes of paddling all the water is sucked out through the values and there's only a small amount of water, about 1cm water, around the area of the plugs. in calm condition sometimes its all sucked out completely. the ridges in the boat work well to get the water flowing down to the plugs but keep sand held in the ridge.
I have noticed small stones can get under the rubber of the plugs sometimes and also they can get blocked with seaweed from above if a fair amount comes over the top. there are six drain holes in the boat, two at the footwells, two in the rear compartment and two under the seat. the seat is screwed and velcro attached to the boat. I'm quite new to this but i don't understand why they didnt allow access to the holes under the seat to put the plugs in there as most of the time there is about 1cm water in the seat (im 96kg)when not paddling, and it feels like theres some in there when you are paddling but its hard to tell.
given that I havent had much experience on the water i felt quite confident in the vector 14 even in 1-2 foot chop in the sea and quite a few hundred meters off-shore. only time i didnt feel very much in control is when you have the force of those waves going faster, pushing the boat from behind and it wants to turn sideways, but im guessing this would probably be the same with any SOT and even worse with ones with a blunter shaped stern.
All the hardware on the boat seems pretty good, all handles and fixings feel solid and stainless, the seat is the kind of closed cell foam you get in sandals and trainer shoes and i find it very comfortable. the hatches open to the entire inside of the hull and therefore have masses of room, no trouble getting anything big/bulky in the front hatch. they seal pretty well and even with water breaking over the front hatch it didn't let any in. it all depends on the rubber gasket seals, so i hope they don't perish. originally I couldn't decide between the vector 13 or 14 but I'm glad I got the 14 as I wouldn't have wanted anything slower or less efficient, i haven't had any problems with stability despite the narrower width and the bow is more flattened on the vector 14 (i believe people were saying the bow of the 13 was affected by wind and hull slap).
The boat was easy to paddle as long as I did not try to exceed its capability. It paddles with no effort at about 3 MPH but to go faster you have to work harder. Even against a strong current I maintained fairly good speed.
My only issues, and they are minor:
1) the foot peg adjustment hit me in the ankle unless my legs were flat against the boat.
2) My hand hit the handles on the side occasionally.
3) The replaceable drag plate on the keel is a good idea but executed badly. The counterbore for the mounting screws is much larger than is needed. They hang on rocks and grass and tear a grove in your yard when you drag it. Once the hole edges wear down it shouldn't be an issue.
4) The recessed area in the center that appears to be for laying a water bottle in should have a way for water to flow out. My GPS was laying in it and it stopped functioning.
All in all I'd say I'm about as happy as I could be with a SOT. The main reason I got a SOT was to carry a cooler...go figure!
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