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Submitted: 01-11-2010 by HSJ

Not having ever kayaked much and not at all in recent years, the bug to get a kayak would strike every so often to be dismissed after a review of the costs not only of the boat itself but of all the necessary accessories and support equipment. Until a month or so ago, when I, in perhaps a small fit of temporary insanity, placed an order for an NC 17 LT Overnighter kayak from Novus Composites in Tacoma, WA. Why did I choose that kayak? Hard to say now; I suppose I was persuaded to some extent by claims on their web site, in part by the fact that they have a feature of heavily discounting some particular model every week.

Since receiving the kayak (it came well protected in an enormous carton box) I have taken it to the local harbor 4 to 5 times after trying it out in the pool. I was impressed with the general workmanship and the fact that it came within a pound of the advertised weight. I have found only one minor problem, a water leak from the hatch cover which was solved by rotating the circular cover to a different position. I was somewhat surprised to find that the kayak had no knee braces as such nor any padding under the cockpit to protect the knees. That was fixed with some neoprene sheet, but I have seen other kayaks that have this nicely installed by the manufacturer. I am not sure about the seat yet, it is a hard molded unit without a flexible backrest I did put some neoprene there as well, but have not paddled enough to determine if more will be required.

In the water the kayak feels a little bit tippy right around the "0" position, but only for perhaps 10 degrees or so. Beyond that it becomes increasingly resistant to rotation, I found in the pool that it takes quite some effort to put it on edge so that the flange is submerged. This, I hope, will translate into resistance toward capsizing at the slightest provocation. Paddling the kayak immediately reveals its desire to go straight---so much so, that it takes some effort to turn it. It is an interesting consequence of the design which I found intriguing in that the prismatic coefficient is very low, suggesting that the kayak will paddle easily at low to moderate speeds but may require some effort to reach hull speed. The rather long bow and stern sections are very narrow acting, in the language of a novice not familiar with nautical engineering terms, like skegs both in front and back. By putting the kayak on edge, the water line becomes significantly shorter, and at that point it should turn quite nicely---I just have not been able to do that reliably yet.

Yesterday I joined a group from a local paddling club for a New Year's Day outing in the harbor (Channel Island Harbor, Ventura, CA). I found I had no trouble keeping up with the group and, in fact, could keep up for a short while in a near-sprint with the fastest paddler, a very experienced kayaker in a Seda Glider. Since I am still developing basic elements of the forward stroke, I take that as a good sign.

I was reluctant to write a review at first because I felt that as a novice paddler I really could not evaluate the kayak meaningfully. However, perhaps there is value to the impressions of a beginner for all those who are considering taking up the sport and might be confused or misled by esoteric technical jargon. In the final analysis, I really look forward to learning to paddle this kayak with greater skill and mastery. I have signed up to take a comprehensive course in kayaking skills and am very excited to take my boat out into the open ocean. In the meantime, I can take pleasure in the fact that it paddles very nicely in the harbor and that it looks very pretty, a consideration not totally without merit.

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