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Good speed, lots of storage, good platform for ocean fishing or diving and it gets you to your spot faster than most. Flat deck my Jack Russell loves w/added non skid surface.
Wet boat in rough conditions, Venturi leaked, sealed it. used the rudder maybe twice and dropped it, Turns like a tanker, hard to carry. But a good boat depending what you want to do.
Also cockpit fills with water as the venturi leaks, drains well when moving fast. So if you are sitting the cockpit will fill with water. Not a cold water yak unless you like a cold butt, For Hawaii/tropical climates its fine though.
Tracks well into wind and is FAST but for some reason the front keel on mine is bent to the left, making the boat have a left turning tendency, without right rudder the thing would literally go in large circles. Not too big of an issue though, doesn't seem to add much if any drag.
When the hull isn't filled with water the stability is fine for me I am 155 lbs 6'
To access to hatches you can't reach behind you or you'll get tippy, gotta sit on the side with your legs in the water for stability.
Overall I am very pleased with this yak. If I could somehow get the hull water tight it would be perfect but we all know that never happens with leaky hatches unless you weld em shut!
Pros: Feels very fast, and you can really push it.
Cons: Doesn't like to turn at all, rudder seems pretty marginal (I am going to replace it) and my venturi valve leaks.
All in all a great plastic boat.
I recommend you try one, if you are on the fence and cannot get one to try you will not be disappointed if you order one.
The boat itself is a joy. Plenty fast and a SOT, like a surf ski, but way more practical and stable for most paddlers. Don't get me wrong, the Expedition isn't overly stable, but if you want a fast SOT for touring or adventure races this is a great choice. It may be one of the only choices left in fast SOT speed touring kayaks. Cobra's linear poly is nice and stiff which may be why they do a 19' SOT.
A major bad point though is the horrible leaking of the hatches. This problem, which could not be mended expect by permanently sealing the hatches, basically prevents this boat to go far & long as it is intended to do, unless it's a calm water environment.This problem also kept giving me a hard time constantly.
It is not great in surfing to the shore, but it's pretty good in riding swell.
In the end I almost stopped using the rudder and used edging to maneuver (with the help of thigh braces). it worked quite well for such a long boat.
It is very fast and (unlike most sit on tops) can rival many traditional sea kayaks. The hull it is light yet durable. The rudder system & omegas & rivets are pretty vulnerable and should be treated with extreme caution and fixed from time to time.
As to the rest of the boat the rudder pedals are very poorly placed for a paddler over 6'3" Rudder is too small to be effective and very flimsy in construction. Deck mounted control lines are weak at best. Cockpit drain system is difficult to use and easily fills with sand.
High points, very fast in calm water. Toggled hatches seal well. Cobra customer service was non existent. Not recommended
From the first stroke, the Expedition has a very specific personality. It wants to go straight... I don't have the rudder. It feels clumsy.... for about 4 or 5 strokes. It feels unbelievably fast after those 4 or 5 strokes. It's hands down the easiest boat to paddle fast that I've ever been in. It feels really good when your flat out hammering it. If you need to turn a bit, the easiest way is to just take a few extra strokes on one side. It doesn't respond all that well to sweep strokes when going real slow but who cares?
I can't wait to see how badly I whip my "flying mile" time in the Perception. If your going really fast, and you need to do a "U-turn" it feels like your trying to stop a runaway truck. Nice momentum! Just lay the blade on the water back behind your hips and flat LEAN on it. I thought I was gonna break my carbon wing trying to stop this thing. Personally, I don't think it weighs in at the advertised 48lbs, but I'm not planning on lugging it around... I'll be paddling it instead. More than anything, the Expedition is a real hoot.
I now use another sit on top in the ocean and am learning to paddle my Epic V10 sport surf ski, so the Expedition will be used more for fishing. It fits me well, allows one to sit side saddle and cast, and has a lot of (narrow) storage space under the front and rear hatches. However the 20 ft Epic surfski turns much faster than the 18 ft Expedition, so the long rear keel must affect its turning radius despite the large rudder.
Easy and fast to paddle, and since this time in +25knt head winds and close to 50kg of fish/gear where I manage to get back to the beach, I trust fully this kayak... even if I was singing "the yellow submarine" the whole time!
I did some modifications to organize all the diving gear on the deck, and I only get reserve gear or big fishes thought the main hatches: It is actually quite impressive to see this hatches swallow a 25kg yellowtail but I only do so if the weather is OK (if is not you must be able to bail the fish).
My only real complain is that the hatches always leak a bit, while the day hatch behind the seat doesn't seal properly and I've end up by fitting a Tupperware box on it to keep some gear dry.
The rudder is weak, and the side wings break easily: I end up by build an alloy replacement. If you use the rudder the boat slow down, and I only resort to it if is really windy.
Stable? Sometimes fall asleep while resting in between the dives... must be OK!!!
I do find the boat difficult to handle down wind with rear side swell, the stability is reduced big time and if I'm heavily loaded I end up by taking boards and avoid a swim... but this problem is probably exacerbate by all my dive gear on the deck and a cockpit full of fish and crayfish. The running water on the cockpit maintains all my catch fresh and sometimes alive...
Over all the boat is impressive... used with a wing paddle is not much out there that keep up the speed or distance this hull manage. Current, wind, swell, exhaustion... I'm always back to my launching point with out any problem, enjoying the ride, and able to reach areas that not much diving kayaks can dream of.
The first time I tried one I found it remarkabley stable and fast. After two minutes, my paddling partner (my 2.5 year-old son) climbed aboard, sat in the baby-seat-shaped depression in front of the foot pedals, faced me, and we went for a very fast run out through chop on a local river. We even played "rock the boat", which involves the two of us rocking left and right aggressively. Now my son asks to go paddling almost every day; we do so often. He tells his mom that he likes the new kayak because it is "fast".
The boat does fill up with water when crashing through surf, but after paddling for 10-20 seconds or so with the venturi vent open, all the water gets sucked out. No big deal. I have paddled many miles out to sea by myself, through 3-5' point breaks off Vilano Beach. The water comes out quickly, as long as you are paddling efficiently. Handles big pushy waves well too. Very light boat. I could see how beginners might find it a bit difficult. But, if you have paddled any kayak before, and try this one, it will seem like a rocket on the water. Plastic is fantastic. Rock on! God bless you.
There is little in this class for competition. The Expedition is long and thin and very fast. I can keep up with the best and often lead. For its size it is very light and therefore as easy to handle as my fiberglass Endeavor. Storage is plentiful and the unusual hatch closurers for a kayak are just fine. I did add a couple of handles at the midpoint for one person loading and unloading. I also added some deck rigging for ease in reboarding from deep water; the external rudder lines are not great for anything except not being inside to foul on something. The rudder is fine though the foot control bar will not fit on all the indented foot holders that you think it would, its too short for the furthest, so tall paddlers should check for comfort length. The boat runs straight and true and the rudder only has come into play on my boat with strong current or high wind. The boat has a nice low profile for wind.
That nice low profile is also the reason it takes lots of water in anything but quiet seas. I like others rating this boat find its only real drawback being what it does or more aptly, does not do with the water that enters the cockpit. The venturi works fine when moving along but when stopped or moving slow, even after closing the valve when boat had no water, water arrives and has no good place to go. On the positive side, most of the water stays below seat level so you do not feel like your sitting in a bathtub; unless seas are running. But it is after all a sit on top. It runs sluggish when the cockpit is filled with water, but balance is ok even then. For a long, narrow and fast SOT, the Cobra Expedition is the boat.
The Explorer is fast, I'm able to keep up with the front few of my club, which is almost exclusively decked boats, with only moderate effort. In other words you can paddle all day with some pretty fast boats and not be exhausted.
The unloaded explorer has next to no initital stability. This is due to an unloaded boat with a 200 lb. paddler riding on just the round bottomed part of the boat. There is absolutely nothing to keep the boat from starting to tip. Once you learn to let it go, relaxing your waist and letting you butt go with the boat while your torso stays upright, the secondary stability kicks in at about 10 or 15 degrees of tip from the horizontal. That is when the flat sponsoned sides of the boat enter the water and submerge enough to provide stabilizing buoyancy. In this position I found it turned quite well for such a long boat. I never used the rudder in the side channels of Elkhorn Slough.
I had reservations about the boat for diving because it doesn't have a tankwell. I don't use tanks, I just snorkel, but I don't like opening a hatch on the water. Once I really looked it over and discovered that the square hatch behind the seat doesn't open to the inside of the boat, but to a closed tub suitable for some diving gear or use as a live well. I would really, really like to see Cobra make this deeper as it seems to go only partway to the bottom of the boat. If I dive the Expedition I wouldn't want to put my weight belt in there because the weight would be too high. I'd have to carry it under my knees/feet in the deeper part of the boat.
It's easily the fastest sit on top that I know of available at this time. Heritage used to make a really quick one, that I never learned to stay in, but it was faster. Now a discontinued model. The only bad things are the drainaged system and the fact that the rectangular hatch tub doesn't extend all the way to the bottom of the boat.
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