I bought my Baidarka Explorer new in 1987. I've had it all around the Great Lakes and in Southeast Alaska and have no regrets. After 32 years I do not want for a different boat. It has utterly met my expectations for a fast kayak that will carry sufficient gear for extended unsupported expeditions.
At the time it was generally considered the nominal equal of the Valley Nordkapp. I chose the Baidarka Explorer after a comparative test-paddle. I liked it better than the Nordkapp because I was (and still am) a bit too tall for the Nordkapp with its lower fore-deck. My friends all chose Nordkapps and we generally agreed that performance was similar.
Surprisingly, my sister who was slight of build also chose the Baidarka Explorer and used it to good effect for many years, too. I do think that she suffered more than me from the initial instability because she was lighter even when loaded to the gills with camping gear.
I'm sure my fiberglass boat is heavier than contemporary kayaks but I find it acceptable. The construction has withstood the test of time very well. It remains glossy and polishes up easily. Mine has no spider-cracks and seems quite rigid owing to the absence of flat surfaces, I guess. There is some wear on the keel from thousands of beach-landings. The v-hull does not help this part as it presents a small bearing area to the ground.
It is fast and as stated by others, gets better as load is added. The twitchiness when empty goes away when loaded. That said, a good paddle-brace is vital; the same as with any performance kayak. At 20-1/2" beam, it is going to be sensitive, but the good part is easy control in beam-seas.
Mine has the small "Ocean Cockpit" which is cozy and easier to seal with a smaller spray-skirt. I prefer that to the large "key-hole" cockpits. It is drier than a Nordkapp in a head-sea and does not typically spear the waves like the Nordkapp, so the deck stays drier.
At the time, the only available hatches were 7-1/2" VCP. These remain air-tight on my ancient boat. The replacement hatches however no longer allow the stainless steel seal-bands to work. I think the thickness of the hatch material has changed. They fit the hatch combing but the bands won't latch anymore. I find that loading gear through the small hatch holes presents no big challenge. The trick is to use long stuff-bags of appropriately small diameter.
The only negative I can convey about the Baidarka Explorer is the tendency to weathercock slightly in quartering following seas, especially at speed. At such times I wish for a skeg. I do not consider this quality important enough to reject the design.
Despite the "whiz-bang" improvements featured on modern boats, if I were in the market and found a Baidarka Explorer for sale, I'd snap it up in a minute.
Had this boat for years and done some great long distance trips in Scotland and in the south of UK including the channel islands. Works best when fully loaded and track's well in big waves. The boat is in better condition than me as I am getting older.
The P&H Kayaks known as the Baidarka Explorer is a rare find here in North America. I found one in Seattle a few years ago with a worn through keel and missing hatches. I recognized the design since it is related to the "Dawn Treader Odin". From what I know the Dawn Treader was the Baidarka Ex with the funny curvy bits on the bow and stern trimmed off. These are narrow boats at 20" and have a super deep "V" hull section and almost straight keel line. The original seats are very narrow and short, the cockpit is "Ocean" which is small. You have to get into this boat with both legs at once and its a tight fit. The construction is primitive by modern standards but durable. P&H is a great builder these days and the old boats represent the early fiberglass days for them.
I remember back in the early 80's Derek Hutchinson came to Seattle to give a talk and brought one of the Dawn Treader hulls with him. By then the design had been eclipsed by superior British designs but to us it looked radical since we were paddling wide stable NW style touring boats. A local builder got permission to pull a mold off of the boat and built about 20 of them using vacuum bag and some of the best techniques of the day. He was able to bring the weight down and we all got a chance to try out the boats. I owned one of these light boats and enjoyed it, always regretted selling it. So when I saw this old broken Baidarka Explorer I was intrigued.
I was able to bring this old boat back from the dead, Glassed the cracked keel from the inside, added exterior keel strip. Cut-out the tiny seat and made a new one for my normal sized American ass. New hatches to replace the old leaky style. Buffed the glass deck and hull and it started to look respectable. Added new deck lines and off you go. That's the great thing about glass boats, infinitely reparable given enough time and a bucket of resin.
These are not great beginner boats. Very twitchy on first impression but you get used to it. The straight flat keel-line tracks like crazy so you will be doing some long corrective strokes if you get blown off course. Great boat for carving turns. I have done some local touring in the boat and when it is loaded with gear it feels great, really great. If you can find a old boat for cheap and fix it up these are fun to paddle. The tiny 8" hatches are a challenge for loading, be sure to tie a retrieving cord to the stuff you push up into the end of the boat. I think these boats are important in the modern sea kayak design progression.