I've had my Eskia since 2002 or 2003. At 6'4" tall, 240 pounds and with size 14 feet the size of the large cockpit opening and the very generous height under the front deck of the Eskia were major selling points. At the time we lived in the eastern Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York and if I left the Eskia on the ladder rack of my F-350 I could have it in the water at Skaneateles Lake or the Seneca River 15 minutes after walking out the kitchen door and just a bit longer to Otisco or Owasco Lakes.
Over the years the Eskia and I have been in Lakes Ontario and Erie, all over the Adirondacks and paddled the the waters off Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and in Block Island and Long Island Sounds. It has been paddled in both calm and rough water when empty or heavily loaded on camping/touring trips. While I've never had it in waves higher than 8-10 feet or in really severe squalls I have never felt like it and I were overmatched. A little white knuckled at times but never feeling like I was in immediate danger. It's a rugged boat that has served me well.
Like others, I found the seat uncomfortable for longer stints in the boat and found that a thin gel seat pad and occasionally changing the length of the rudder pedals relieved the pressure that otherwise sometimes put my leg(s) to sleep. And finding your legs asleep when you've just punched the boat through the surf and are trying to slide out and drag it up the beach before getting swamped can be tough (umm....don't ask, please....)
Now that we've retired to the foothills region of North Carolina it gets less use than it did before but just last month my wife in her Necky Narpa and I in the Eskia kept up just under 4 MPH headed into a stiff breeze on a quick one hour trip.
We just gave our kayaks and canoe their fall coat of SPF-50 Boat Guard protectant and hung them up but before that I took the measurements to order new custom straps for the kayaks cargo hatch covers, new lines for the elastic tie down cords, the rudder cords and the rigid rescue cord that runs around the perimeter of the top deck. I also need to replace the elastic cords that return the rudder pedals to the forward position as they have gotten well stretched over the years. I suspect that when I'm done sometime this winter I'll have somewhere around $100-120 in both boats. As that will be the first "repairs" in all the years we've had them and in all the miles we've paddled them I think Necky did a pretty darn good job with these boats. It's a shame they went out of business.
All in all I'm pretty happy with it and would recommend to anyone who wants a good stable kayak which has good speed for a plastic kayak
Has excellent initial and secondary stability. It may not be a lightening bolt in the speed category, but it is plenty fast. It tracks nicely. The seat is very comfortable (can sit in it all day with no aching issues at all), and the kayak is roomy enough for almost any size paddler to use (I am average at 5-11, and 180 pounds). It is a little large for my 9 year old, but she still manages to paddle it.
I cannot think of a negative point to this boat (perhaps the weight, although this has never been an issue with me, so I will not mention it). I would have given it a 10, but nothing is perfect.
The seat back was too low, but a nice birthday present was a custom seat with full seat and back support - makes it ride like a luxury sedan!
It is nice and stable and runs pretty smoothly with little effort. My feet fit the pedals without a problem although they are maxed out. I don't have any qualms with this boat and would recommend it to anybody who is tall and looking for a poly boat.
I am 6' 3" , 180lbs, and this boat is perfect for me and all the gear I want to take for me and the family.
In comparison to the Cape Horn, the Necky is slower, tracks downright awful without rudder , and I guess this being personal preference, the hinged seat back of the Cape Horn is way comfier than the suspended one on the Eskia. Eskia IS somewhat more stable, but it's more like recreational-kayak kind of stable that doesn't really want to be leaned.
Eskia has 2 things going for it, number one is its high volume and number 2 is it has lots of room for larger paddlers, I’m 6'1 and 180 and I think someone 6'4 and 250 would be fine in it.
All in all, paddling the Eskia in even mild wind was more of a chore, while paddling the Cape Horn (or a Prijon SeaYak that paddles very similar) was just joy. Try before you buy.
It has been in rough river and wind conditions and seems very stable, although it tracks terribly unless rudder is used, and it is slow, but a fair compromise for stability. It holds plenty and is well made for a plastic boat. This boat would not fit a smaller person very well so if you are taller than most with big feet and want excellent stability this is a boat I would recommend, other than spending $2500 and up for a kevlar or fiberglass.
Unfortunately, this boat is about as fast as a sand barge. When paddling with my club, I find it difficult to keep up with the slimmer and lighter fiberglass and Kevlar boats. However, I've had this boat in some rough chops and tidal rips and it has never gone over. It also has a large storage capacity and can even swallow small two-piece beach umbrellas. It turns reasonably well without the rudder. I've experienced a sea condition where I was parallel to never-ending, wind driven boat wakes and waves and the Eskia absolutely refused to turn perpendicular to the waves without a rudder assist.
Initial and secondary stability is high and I too would rate it a ten if it tracked better and could hit 4.25 MPH without killing myself or without a tide/wind assist (measured with a GPS). In contrast, I've paddled an Eddyline Merlin XT which paddles like a Corvette when compared to the Suburban-like handling of the Eskia.
The boat carried a great deal of gear including substantial deck loads at times without complaint, and paddled very easily for a fairly short, fairly wide touring boat.
After six weeks of living in the boat and camping downeast Maine to the top of the Bay of Fundy, I ended up liking it more than when I started!
Note: I am a big guy - 6' and 240 - and the boat was a comfortable fit. Might be too roomy for a much smaller paddler.
I looked at a number of RM boats from Perception, Wilderness Systems and Current Designs. What stood out to me about the Necky's was the attention to the details. Quality stainless steel hull fittings and nice features such as the flush deck hatches and comfortable seat.
I've now paddled this boat in a number of conditions ranging from calm inland lakes to the choppy waters of Pamlico Sound and am very pleased so far with the way the boat tracks and handles in 15-20 kt. winds.
If the boat were a little faster, I'd give it a 10.
Boat was equipped with good perimeter line, a safety plus. Deck rigging layout is nice and you can change the bungee arrangement if you like. Good recessed fittings for clean lines and unscraped knuckles. Front and rear bulkheads are foam, but seem sturdy enough. They should be placed closer to the foot pegs and directly behind the seat. Behind the seat storage is awkward and wet and the space would be better served in the dry hatch. The diamond chined hull is great with stability all around. Did not roll the boat yet. Carry toggles are great! Thigh braces are good quality.
There are some exposed screw ends under the deck, but not in places they might be a real problem in. Carves turns without rudder fairly well, feels solid on edge. Nice draining depressions around cockpit coaming. Boat seemed a bit more influenced by windage than some, but not terrible by any means.
A very high quality plastic kayak. Not the most elegant, not the fastest, not the lightest in polyethelene, but very well appointed, safe, very seaworthy, competent in the calm conditions I experienced, and I am assured it handles rough water equally as well. I don't doubt it.
I'm 5'11" and 170 lbs so I needed something sea worthy but not the size of the Titanic. Weighing in at 64 lbs, with a length of 16'4" this boat is ideal for someone my size. It's made from polyethylene and contains two large dry hatches that do what they're supposed to..."keep things dry." It has the diamond shaped hull design which makes for great initial stability and secondary stability. However it does not turn as well as boats with a round hull but if you choose to have a rudder (which in my opinion is a must) you'll be able to turn on a dime. The thigh braces are very comfortable and the seat became comfortable after I adjusted it correctly.
All in all I recommend this boat to anyone my size looking for a reliable high performance sea kayak.
It responds nicely, though not eagerly, to a hanging draw and to leaned turns, though I never did feel comfortable with where it's secondary stability point was. (I was unwilling to deliberately risk going over, considering I was paddling solo with no paddle float in a harbor). I didn't try rolling.
The cockpit was quite roomy... it would need padding out to truly fit me, and I'm not small. The back band seemed uncomfortable, but it may just be that it needed some adjustments. The hatches were quite roomy, but also showed evidence of leaking, though I didn't test them.
All in all, a pleasant, but not particularly playful, boat. I would recommend this boat to beginners who want a boat that will accommodate growth in paddling skills or intermediates who are looking for a fairly stable, easy to paddle, forgiving boat.