Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
The rear of the boat has been formed to fit a scuba tank and gear. I don't dive, but use the area for storage of coolers. I can reach back and grab a drink easily from the area. There are drainage holes throughout the boat so you don't have to worry about pumping out water. I have taken corks and plugged the holes if I didn't want the water coming up through. There is a rudder on the rear to help with steering. I use this feature almost all the time.
The Dolphin has been a great boat, and I have had no issues with it at all.
Here are my YouTube videos of this kayak:
I'm 5'4" and can pick up this vessel. My feet get wet entering and a little water remains in the foot wells, but generally my rear stays dry. For me this is a very comfortable kayak. Getting out through mild ocean swell is a breeze. Coming in is blast!
This boat is amazing. I actually paddled both of my SOT Neckys and will also share later about the Spike. Both great boats. But still, I wanted to let all know that this boat still is very popular and if anybody finds one used, you better snatch it!
Great boat for playing, fishing and touring. Yes, touring! This boat is very, very comfortable regardless of what type of seat you have. Great boat. It does feel a bit tipsy and perhaps short of scoring a perfect 10 because of that, but this tipsy feature also allows the boat to be be superior than many boats in the surf, waves and agility. This boat will stay in my fleet forever.
The other "trasher" (and note, one chose to create a veil of anonymity, and the other [assuming it really was a different individual] only "tested" the boat. Both of these reviews must be viewed against the long-term use by those of us OWNERS who have paddled these boats in all conditions for months and years. I have nothing to sell, and no axes to grind, and these boats are out of production now. Fact is I have owned two of these for 5 years now, and used and abused these boats in all conditions, from glass-flat water, to podium finishes in kayak races, to exploring the Florida Keys from Stiltsville to Bahia Honda, to surfing hurricane conditions in the Gulf, to weaving in between drifting alligators in the Everglades.
I am not anonymous, email me anytime for more info on these great boats. My in-laws own cousins, the 12' Spike, and love the similar design. Also interesting that the two "trashers" both gave this boat a lowest "1" rating. . . . there are no "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7" ratings... all 8, 9, or 10's. I have grave doubts as to authenticity of the "trashers" veracity... perhaps a "sour grapes" competitor trying to beat up the Dolphin. If you find one of these for sale, research and consider it closely. If you don't buy it, email me, because I want a few more of these.
My only complaint is the one mentioned elsewhere-the integrated hand grips are a pain. However, the simple solution is to hook a pair of padded thigh braces into the deck hardware and sling them over your shoulder, or balance the kayak on your head.
Overall, a great all around kayak with a few compromises. If you want versatility in a kayak, this is it. One last note. I'm 6'1 and 175 lbs. If you're over 6'3" and over 225 forget this kayak. It will feel like a tank.
Now, seems like most people said the boat rocks or it's tippy. From my experience-it's NEITHER. Itís about as stable as almost any kayak Iíve ever paddled.
Speed-it's not as fast as a real touring kayak by any means, but it IS fast enough to go places if you're not in a hurry. Seems to handle waves good-compared to my OK Scrambler it breaks through a wave much smoother.
My only complaint about its performance/ergonomics is the seat-it seems to be molded for someone to sit very upright so back edge may press against your lower back. Not a major issue and I think some foam will easily fix that.
Quality seems a bit on the cheap side-plastic is definitely not Prijon quality, but it should be fine long as you don't abuse it.
Overall-if your idea a recreational boat is something affordable you can take just about anywhere (though not in a major hurry), and can easily handle on land-give the Dolphin a good look.
It has excellent secondary stability - I have never dumped while fighting fish or paddling confused seas. Having said that the boat has a rounded hull which means it will not feel as stable, initially, as some of the other SOTs out there. It leans predictably and as you lean the secondary stability kicks in - making it very hard to dump.
I find it quite fast and efficient to paddle. I can keep up with SINKs at normal cruising speed all day. I rarely ever use the rudder - it tracks well and responds to turns well. Even in strong winds I tend to simply use an occasional corrective stroke rather than bother with the rudder.
The downsides are small front hatch and fiddly neoprene inner hatch covers.
Note: if you are expecting a kayak to be as stable as a raft this is not the boat for you. It will seem a little "squirrelly" at first, however, if you give it a few hours you will become very comfortable with it as it is very predictable. Also keep in mind a super stable kayak on flat water is not a good kayak in rough water as it will respond to all the inputs of the moving water. By contrast the rounded hull of the dolphin ignores a lot of the effects of the waves - making it very relaxing to paddle when things get interesting. This doesnít mean you need to be an experienced paddler to buy this boat, but you do need to be willing to spend a few hours getting to know how she handles.
I am 6ft and 155lbs. I have used this boat daily for a total of 5 months in Baja - on two separate trips. My dolphin has dealt with some very rough seas and too many rocky beaches to mention. Aside from a few scratches she is in perfect condition.
I have also used OK Scupper Pro and a Tarpon - neither come close to the performance of this boat. I am quite critical of my gear and I can think of only a few other items I own which perform as well as my dolphin. If you find a used one on sale I would definitely recommend you consider it.
Those who have rated this boat a 1 or 2 simply (a) don't have the basic paddling skills to appreciate it; or perhaps (b) are too large to fit it comfortably. It has decent primary stability and very good secondary -- i.e., may feel a bit tippy at first to the novice, but can handle leans and turns and braces with confidence as one "grows into" this boat. Mine has a rudder, but I think I will remove it, as I haven't really needed it, although it might come in handy on a long trip in high winds or strong tidal currents.
I am 5'9" and about 195 pounds, and it fits me great. Necky makes an awesome boat, and the Dolphin is a great one to have for day touring, etc. It's stable, yet relatively fast and maneuverable. I haven't tried surfing it yet at my favorite NC beaches, but I'm betting it will be an awesome ride! Happy Paddling...
The thing I had trouble with is the handles so I took a point off. I would not let a newbie ride this without instruction and I let the newbie use one of my sit-insides. The PRO shop I bought it from said the Dolphin is one of the BEST Kayaks for OCEAN and lake use and they had alot of brands there. I tryed alot of them before I bought it and have been satisfyed with it. If I demo-ed a kayak I'm not sure I would write a review. If I bought it and used a month or so, then I would probably write a review. But that's me and everyone is FREE to say or write what they want.
I'd dispute others claims of tippiness as far as kayaks go, a person can become comfortable in any kayak if they would spend some time in it.
This boat is the best scuba diving buddy I've ever had. I tow it on a long rope clipped to my BC. It really does not have a lot of drag - feels like I am towing a flag. The rear hatch is very accessible when unloading from a dive in the middle of a lake, in the water or astride the boat backwards. The tank bay comes with convenient tie down points for quick bungee clipping of gear.
When diving, I always have this baby above to help out catching the wind for a tow, to catch my treasures, or to allow me to cancel the whole dive and just paddle out. I hesitate to dive without it - my dive buddies are not as trustworthy as my Dolphin.
It paddles well for a sit on top. On a fully loaded 20 mile crossing, you can expect a sore back unless you outfit it with a deluxe back rest and thigh straps, which I highly recommend.
The seat could be hung lower in the boat (to lower the center of gravity a little more and provide deeper butt cupping). The footpegs and rudder system are excellent.
I do NOT like the handles on the side of the cockpit for solo carrying. They crush your fingers no matter how you carry the boat. I will be looking for an alternative handle. These knucklecrushers, the tiny front hatch and the lack of an appreciable rim for both neoprene hatch covers are the Dolphins only weaknesses. Oh, as with most sit-on-tops bring a plastic shopping bag for a butt protector - the seat drains will get you wet in waves or if you are heavier. Otherwise, one heck of a boat.
In all other respects, I thought the boat was excellent, particularly the quality of attatchements and finish. I'll stick with my Scupper until I can find a wash decked kayak that is faster, has room for camping gear and is at least as stable.
100,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!