Submitted: 11-30-2012 by Noel
Before doing this review I thought I should give you some background on my paddling experience. My dad was paddling white water rivers in Ontario when he was a kid back in the thirties. He was an expert canoer and taught canoeing at summer camps. He also made sure that my sister and I spent a lot of time with him in his Peterborough canoe. My sister remembers the sketchy situations in the rough water that we survived and now says jokingly, "Remember that time going out with Dad and getting the hell scared out of us." I bought the canoe off him and continued to do a lot of river touring & some white water. We didn't wear helmets, wet suits or have dry bags, just PFDs. If we spilled in the cold mountain fed rivers and didn't get a campfire going ASAP we would end up with hypothermia. I got into river kayaking in the eighties. I gave it up when I became a self employed commercial fisherman. I got back into kayaking several years ago and now do more ocean kayaking. I have four kayaks that I share with family and friends. I picked up my Nimbus HV Telkwa kayak from the original owner who had owned it for 9 years and did sea touring with friends. I have since put 500 miles in three and half months in the Telkwa in flat & rough tidal waters. I now figured I've put enough miles in this kayak to give it a review. I had read other reviews on the Telkwa prior to buying it so I had a bit of an idea what I was buying. I kayak year round on the British Columbia Coast and I expect to encounter rough water even if I am trying to avoid it. The Telkwa stands out as a high volume sea touring kayak with a reputation for maneuverability, durability & seaworthiness. It has good initial stability and great secondary stability. I trust the stability enough that I had no problem fly fishing out of it. It wind cocks slightly but not as bad as other kayaks I've paddled. I am impressed with how easy it is to edge quick tight turns for a kayak over 18 feet. I have hardly used the rudder other than checking to see if it works and it does the job. The turned up bow is an eye catcher and gives you a feeling of confidence going into a wave. I have had greater thrills surfing the waves. I am 5 ft. 9 in. and fairly lean. The HV Telkwa would not be a kayak recommended for someone my size by a knowledgeable kayak guide or salesperson. The HV Telkwa has a 24 in. width and 14.75 in. depth which is .75 inches more height around the cockpit than the regular Telkwa. The Telkwa Sport would be a better choice for a guy my size at 23 in. width and 13 in. depth. The reason I went for this kayak was I got a deal I couldn't walk away from and it is getting harder to find these kayaks. I have been told that they are only being built by Nimbus on request. This kayak is designed for a big guy with big feet. It is just about as easy to get in and out of as a canoe. I have tightened up the fit considerably by attaching high density foam between the cockpit and my hips as well as under the thigh braces. The snug fit gives the feel and response of my other 21 - 22 in. wide kayaks. I have had no problem turning around in rough seas to go into the waves or with them. The speed is good but not quite as fast as my Seaward Quest. The kayak if not loaded with cargo broaches a bit when getting waves on the quarter stern. This kayak was designed to travel for a week or so with cargo. More cargo in the stern hatch helps reduce the broaching. As mentioned there is a pile of storage in the hatches. The hatch cover system is not as water tight as my Valley and Seaward hatches but they work. An easy solution is to use dry bags. The hatch covers are easy to remove and put back on. This boat is predictable and you know exactly how far you can lay it over to edge. The previous owner said that he couldn't roll it but I have heard different from other Telkwa owners. It is winter so I don't plan on trying to roll it. I have put long hours in the Telkwa thanks to one of the best kayak seats I have sat in. Some reviewers mentioned the weight was an issue. This boat is over 18 feet and was designed for strength and durability. That adds some weight but I have not thought that the Telkwa was heavy for it's size. The Nimbus web site says it weighs 56lbs. Wes Boyd's web site said it weighed 62 lbs. He also gave the HV Telkwa a stellar review after testing it when he wrote an article on ' boats for big guys'. After the tests and reviews he ended up buying the Nimbus Telkwa. I am not a big strong guy but I have no problem loading and unloading this boat regularly from my Honda CRV by myself. I have met a few guides that own Telkwas and they swear by the quality and performance of this kayak. I have spent twenty years skippering off shore fishing vessels. You learn that all boats have their strong and weak points. I would say that this kayak has few weak points. The legendary builder & designer of the Telkwa, Steve Schleicher, is the owner of Rain Forest Designs Ltd. that builds the Nimbus Kayaks. He built a reputation in the eighties and nineties on the quality of these boats and they are highly sought after. There are a lot of good reviews from other web sites on the Telkwa. Nimbus like like Necky, Current Designs & Seaward were a few of the early kayak manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. These small companies' owners were kayakers that had a passion to build kayaks. I have had a lot of great days in the Telkwa and the more I paddle it the more insight I have to what an amazing kayak it is. Between the Telkwa, the HV and the Sport there is a kayak for a paddler of every size. These kayaks have to be rated in the top ten sea touring kayaks. Because of the quality of the craftsmanship, the maneuverability & the seaworthiness of this kayak I gave it a nine. I would highly recommend this kayak or its lower volume sister, the Sport as one of the best expedition boats out there.