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While I didn't to a lot of test drives of other kayaks I did do a lot of research. I like to do multiple days camping/kayaking trips and my 15.5 is a work horse. 10 to 14 days are the norm and it hauls everything I have and more.It is also very stable which was another plus for me as I do a lot of fishing in it.
Whether it is rivers, small streams or open lakes it handles them all and gives me the confidence to take on more. At 54 lbs. it easy to load and unload and makes portages a little less daunting. At age 59, this is a good thing.
But in addition to all these things I like about this kayak. What sold it for me was a video I saw of the owner taking a hammer and literally just wailed away at the bottom of the kayak. Not a blemish.
The D15.5 has very good primary and secondary stability. You can edge the kayak nicely without it being 'twitchy'. Hard to tip this boat over when practicing rescues, but surprisingly easy to roll, even when loaded.
Speed is a bit of an issue. It's a wide kayak and very comfortable. However, when touring with groups that have performance kayaks, I'm not left too far behind. I've since purchased a Nimbus Telkwa and I'm now having to wait for the group to catch up with me, so I guess pushing harder in the Delta trained me well. If speed isn't an issue, the Delta is a great day or touring kayak.
The front and back bulkheads are large, and the hatches are big. If anything, there is too much space. Once loaded, the Delta tracks nicely without the rudder down.
The cockpit is large, and the seat is comfortable. It did break on me (the hinge on the back of the seat). Delta sent a new seat straight away and were fantastic to deal with.
Durability is good. It is thermoset plastic. It can take quite a beating (I've seen demos where these kayaks have been hit by a hammer over and over without breaking). It does scratch on rocks etc, so like all good kayakers, don't run up and down rocky beaches unless you have some kind of protecting (Keel Eazy is fantastic for this). In cold, cold conditions, the plastic will be more brittle and break easily, so don't go on any trips to the North Pole with a thermoset kayak.
It's also very light and easy for one person to lift onto a car (harder after a day of kayaking though).
When unloaded, it sits high in the water. When it's choppy or rough, the Delta doesn't cut through the waves. I don't like using a rudder, but it's almost always necessary when the conditions turn for the worst. However, when loaded, the Delta holds a straight line through choppy seas.
A tad slower than performance kayaks, but that's offset by it's stability and comfort. It's a bit wide for my liking. I had to really pad out the thigh braces to enable me to roll.
Overall, it's a great entry-intermediate level kayak. I use my Delta for day trips and the Telkwa for touring and days that are choppy/rough. Very durable, comfortable and tracks well with the rudder down or loaded with gear. I'll never sell it.
One could say it's the Suburban SUV of kayaks. Very stable, strong, and has incredible storage capacity. I use it mainly for my kayak camping trips, but end up carrying other peoples "stuff" cuz their boats just won't take it all.
As far as speed and agility, it's not a racing kayak. Wasn't designed to be, but what it is, is a great novice boat where one can learn in, but then has enough advanced features, (like super secondary stability), so one can grow into it. I hate putting good money into anything that I end up outgrowing after a few times. If the 15.5 is too big, go for the 14.5. Lots of capacity, same stable design, but I wanted the extra capacity so I got the 15.5.
While the width of the three boats I mentioned are made for midsize to larger paddlers, the way the seat adjusts, (like in a car), and the optional fit kit Delta has, one can customize the cockpit to fit them snugly.
No, I don't work for the company, but I strongly support them. Out of 11 boats, four of them are Deltas. Why? They're awesome. I use the 18.5 for my expedition paddling, the 15.5 for camping, and the Catfish for fishing, and my wife has a Delta 16.
Owners Sandra and Colin are great to talk with and if I had a question or concern, they responded to me immediately and very pleasantly.
I would suggest a Delta for anyone interested in any kind of paddling.
The slightly larger cockpit opening makes it easy to get in and out when you can't find an easy launch site or want to snorkel. The extra inch in height on the Expedition model does make re-entry from deep water harder, especially in a PFD, but that just takes practice.
While not the fastest touring yak on the market, I paddle to enjoy nature not to race, so the large capacity for camping gear and the stability for photography suit my purposes. She's picked up some scratches over the past 2 years but still looks great. I know we've many more years of paddling adventures ahead of us.
I am 5'11" and 250lbs. Great access to get in and out of. Very stable. I kayak out of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, B.C. and have encountered some reasonably rough water on the Georgia Strait with no issues regarding capsizing or stability. Slightly slower than my wife's boat but not a real hindrance (makes you paddle harder!) and has wonderful storage capacity. I was a little leery of thermoform when I first purchased it but see no real issues at all yet after 4 years.
Definitely a great boat for larger people!
I do like the easy entry/exit and how you can scratch in on rocks and buff out the grooves. For ocean use I would not buy this boat again, but for all purpose use it would suffice.
Noted improvements over my six year old Delta are the mounts for the Sea Dog foot braces, no longer bolted through the hull, but to an inside mount, and an improved seat back on a swivel with improved height and depth adjustments.
Paddles like a dream and has a very stable, substantial feel in a very lightweight boat. These are thermoform plastic boats, which provide a durable, hard working skin without the weight of the roto mold boats.
Then to the sprayksirt, application charts show the SEALs 1.7 fits... no-no! As it turns out, after pulling teeth from Delta, that to get a skirt that fits it must be purchased from Delta or their dealers. I had to spend an extra $140 for a skirt I shouldn't have needed to buy.
I will say SEALs, who were involved in the skirt issue, were extremely helpful and they are changing their fit charts.
To the good:
The boat handles like a dream, which is why I kept it. Better than expected in quartering winds yet very responsive, carves wonderfully for a touring boat.
My experience shows Delta is not a customer service capable company. If you want a Delta, research the spray skirt issue first!
As Colin had mentioned to you, we sell many, many 15.5s and have very few issues with them. I also recall our conversation when you ordered your spray skirt and it was pleasant, I wish that had you been so unhappy with us, that you would have conveyed that to me then.
As I said in my earlier email, we are very customer service oriented and always do our very best to make sure that our customer feels they have been cared for. I again apologize for your disappointment in us. I will credit your Visa for the skirt that was sent to you. I see that we did send you some parts to fix your rudder so I'm not sure what other costs you incurred to fix it. Perhaps you can send me copies of your receipts.
Delta Kayaks Ltd.
I'm a big person at 6'1" and 250# and I like to go camping. Delta made the hatch sizes and access holes actually usable. Most others have a small round hatch and unless your putting your items in a tube sock, forget it. I carry stuff like chairs, full size tent, camp stove, and the Delta hatches and volume allows me to carry it all.
As far as performance, while it's not as fast as a sleek sea kayak of similar length, it's incredibly stable with very good secondary stability. I rarely use the rudder, and windcocking is not an issue when loaded. It does have more freeboard than Eddyline or Hurricane, but it also will hold a lot more too.
The finish is far superior than Eddyline boats, and I notice the plastic Delta uses is thicker and stronger than Hurricane. Delta also has twice the volume, bungees, decklines than the other thermoformed manufacturers and also include the self recovery system and rudder as standard.
I would recommend this boat to ANYONE, novice or experienced. I definitely give this boat a 10 out of 10.
I have had the boat to the Outer Banks in NC, Algonquin Park in Ontario with a few portages and enough gear for 5 days. Lake Ontario is not the ocean but we get some good waves to play. Even when we try to see who can get their cockpit full of water by plowing the waves (paddle fast and let the nose drop in to the second wave), the boat is very stable.
Speed is very good for a wider boat and I have no problem keeping up with narrower fiberglass boats. One trip of 15 kilometers took me 1 hrs and 45 minutes. That is with a steady but not hard stroke, mild breeze and nothing high for waves.
After three years the finish, seat, rudder and peddles are like new even though I try to paddle once a week through the spring, summer and fall with our annual New Yearís Day paddle on the lake a have to even. We try to have a few large trips of 3 or more days with gear as well and I still love this boat.
Got my wife in to a Delta and 4 other friend have purchased Delta's after paddling my boat. Each boat to its purpose and this one works great for me.
My first impression is as follows; itís the most stable kayak Iíve ever paddled, it gives the impression that you couldnít tip it over. It handles waves great, or at least the ones Iíve been in so far. Going over large power boat wakes is a cake walk, straight on or even at almost a parallel angle. Iím a large man at 5í11Ē and around 250 pounds and itís one of if not the most comfortable kayak Iíve ever sat in.
As far as speed, itís hard to tell, I donít have a GPS so I donít have much to judge the speed by, it does seem to accelerate pretty quick though. The fit and finish is very good and the rudder system is really nice. I really like the rudder peddles, kind of like a gas paddle in a car. The kayak turns well with just a little lean and it tracks well also. If you stop paddling it only well glide for a short distant before it wants to turn left or right, and with the rudder down it glides straight. All and all I really am happy with my Delta. Iíd like to try in the ocean soon and see how it does there, I really have no doubt that it well perform fine.
This is only the second kayak Iíve owned, but Iíve paddled many different kayaks (friends and at kayak demos) and so far this is my favorite.
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