People complaining about the gel coat and glass layup probably should not own a composite boat. I have been paddling my XO16 for 4 years now and have had no issues with the gel coat or the glassing. Last year I dropped my kayak from my shoulder going over a stone sea wall, when a rock shifted. I was afraid to look at the damage. Most overly rigid glass kayaks would have shattered and had a major hole and multiple repairs to be done. The flex of the side walls allows for force reduction. I had to chip out and replace an area of the gel coat and I reinforced the area that took the most impact with a single layer of glass on the interior. I would say that it is one of the best glass layups I have seen. Never had any leakage from the hatches that was any greater than any other kayak I have owned including NDK, Current Designs and Wilderness Systems.
The Navigator rudder system sucks but I hardly ever use the rudder. I replaced the rudder peddles after I broke one of the foot pegs off during a roll in very confused 3 foot chop. The rudder control line channels were not well installed and that and the rudder system itself are my only complaint.
The design is top notch. It is very stable and manoeuvrable. I think Point 65N designs and produces a fine kayak. I also own a Whisky 16 and I am looking at getting an XP18. And as for my experience with fibreglass shaping and layup, I use to glass surfboards.
As with the review [of the Whisky 16 boat; April 2010] by Paddle Boy, I completely agree that the lay up is far too light. A good tug on a tie down strap cost me a monster gel coat spider right in front of the coaming. My wife was paddling the boat and as she was getting out on a beach, sat on the deck aft of the coaming to retract her legs from the cockpit... another large spider. Pushing the front hatch closed I created another spider. Needless to say the gel coat and lay-up is much too light for any substantial hard use. When you push on the deck, it flexes and pops... NOT GOOD.
I will say that the company was great as far as being responsive to my e-mail. They sent me matching gel coat to make repairs at no cost and it was delivered to my door from Sweden within 6 days.
I have the Navigator rudder system, but have been unable to use it to efficiency as the lines never stay where you adjust them. The twine linkage, instead of metal cable, stretches, sticks and comes undone from the friction holds you are supposed to use to fine tune the adjustments. Even after MacGyvering the lines the bungee cord returns are not sufficient enough to overcome the drag created in the tubes from the rudder to the foot controls and it never re-centers itself. If you push too hard, the lines come undone and the rudder is useless until you reach shore and are able to fix it.
The final straw for me was last week. After a day paddle on a moderately calm water lake, the rear hold had an inch of water in it. The lid on the rear cargo hold is a real B***h to get on as it is super tight; a good thing right? It will stay water tight, right? My first thought was that I didn't secure the lid well enough, however when I checked the lid, it was secure. But, at least 1/4 of the hatch could be lifted off of the boat. In looking at the hold design, where many other builders use a sandwich style of hatch to capture the boat deck between the top and bottom, this boat has a rubber seal that failed. A tube of 'Marine Goop' later, it still leaks. A sponge in the hold seems to work however.
This boat is going on Craigslist as soon as I get home from my current week long kayak vacation. I still love the way this boat handles, and I might even consider buying another, but only if Point 65 gets their stuff together and makes them a lot more sturdy. I give it a 6 only because of the way the boat handles in the water, otherwise it would be much lower.