Before I said that having a wet seat (since butt area doesn't drain) doesn't bother me as I only paddle in warm weather, but I've lately been out paddling for longer periods and sitting in a half-inch or so of water for hours makes your skin soft and easier to chafe. Its okay if you launch dry and stay dry, but in wet conditions (like launching thru the surf) this design shortcoming can be problematic for sessions longer than an hour. Maybe newer models have improved on this?
I've done capsize and re-enter drills in deep water and found it very easy to right the kayak and hop back in.
Overall, I'd buy it again. And I still rate it a 9.
Pros: For me, I agree with most positive points in other reviews. The Disco is 5 inches narrower and ~3ft longer than the Explorer, and seems much faster and efficient, though I've not done any formal timing. Tracking is pretty good, and better than the Explorer. Zero hull slap noise in choppy water. Glides far when coasting. Punches thru moderate breakers easily(whereas the Explorer tended to usually ride up and over moderate breakers). No problems with stability in ocean chop (multi-direction swells). Handles well in the wind (not much weathercocking). Not much water enters scuppers when still (as I'm light), and it drains out quickly once moving. Most of my paddling is in ocean in warm weather so I get wet going thru breakers starting out and the little bit of water that stays in the seat area doesn't bother me. Fit/Comfort are very good for me (comfortable foot placement with slightly bent knee, and the seat well and my seat both suit me).
Cons: Its tippier than the Explorer, though I'm still getting used to it. I'm starting to experiment with thigh straps and they seem to help. Doesn't turn as readily as the Explorer, though once I get better with the thigh straps I'll be able to lean more and get better rotation. Deck cord is not elastic and is tight to the deck, so can't secure paddle blade beneath it (using a bungee until I get a chance to replace the cord with elastic material).
Overall: I like it a lot and look forward to getting more proficient with it.
I am an avid fisherman and my primary concern has always been a light easily portable yak that was outfitted to fish. I started out with a Pelican type sit-in with a couple of flush mount rod holders that I installed myself. I realized pretty quick that I didn't like the confinement of a sit-in so I purchased a Dragonfly Sportfisher, which is now made by Lifetime. This is a 10ft boat that will actually seat two adults. The ride was incredibly dry and stable, but the weight and length made it pretty slow for a kayak.
My next kayak was a 10' Pelican Castaway 100. This little kayak is really a very good deal for the money. It is incredibly light (43 lbs) and the layout was very good. It paddled with very little effort unless you got into heavy wind. Wind is not a friend for short kayaks.
The third yak I will mention before getting to the RTM is the Ocean Malibu XL. This kayak is a little over 12' long and close to 60lbs. Even though the OK Mailbu is a bit heavier and wider, it moves through the water really well and is stable enough to sit side saddle. I have a Pelican 130T tadem and my wife and I struggled to stay up with my brother and his daughter. I paddle this yak myself in Gulf of Mexico and is definitely a better yak than my Pelican.
Now for the good stuff.
I have realized over the past several years that I love to leave the rods and reels at home and just go paddle. It didn't take long to realize I needed something a little longer, more along touring lines but in a SOT rigged to fish. I also realized while fishing that chasing hybrids and sand base across the lake can be fun if you have a yak that will keep up. I started buy doing a Google search for SOTs that were 13 to 15 ft long and weighed less that 65 lbs. I compiled all the information I found in an Excel spreadsheet so I can sort by length, weight, etc. I came with three manufacturers that had what I wanted. Cobra has a couple of kayaks that met the weight and length criteria, but they are a little costly and shipping is another $100+. OK and Malibu have a couple of 13' fishing yaks that look great but are pushing my upper weight limit. I took a look at the WS yaks as well but they were always significantly higher in weight so I stopped looking at them.
RTM has 3 kayaks that caught my interest so I researched them as best I could. The RTM Midway, Tempo and Disco. All 3 are in the 14 and 15' range and 50 - 60 lbs. I searched high and low for reviews on the Cobra and RTM and finally found a good professional review by Capt Jimbo at http://www.ftlauderdaleyakfishingclub.org/. So, based on my limited budget and Capt Jim's reviews,I purchased a Disco from Masthead sailing out of st. Petersburgh Fl.
I took my RTM Disco out the first day I received i and was very pleased. This yak is 26" wide so it feels a bit twitchy in the beginning, but is easily adaptable. The primary stability is good as well as the secondary. This yak is fast, tracks in a straight line, and glides very well. I can vouch for capt Jim's comment that there is no hull slap. This is a quite and fast kayak. Other little perks are the rings added to tie down very options are very very solid. The molded in side handles are perfectly balanced. So far this is my absolute favorite yak.
The Disco has a very mild V and a good amount of rocker. The V seems prone to flattening with careless handling -- like being strapped down in the bed of a truck. It looks like that's just what's been done to my boat. On the water, I could open the 6-inch hatch ahead of the seat, and press down on the hull bottom, to see the amount of deformation allowed due to weakness of the V. As suggested by another user, I formed some mini-cell blocks to wedge under the seat and footwells, to stiffen up the hull.
Maneuverability on the water is where the Disco shines. With thigh straps, it can be leaned over for tight turns, similar to a sea kayak. The boat tracks well, especially given it's waterline of only about 12 or so feet. Fastest cruising speed for me in this boat is about 4 mph. I'm pretty light; maybe a heavier paddler could get more speed due to longer waterline... not sure.
Coming from sea kayaks, I did not find the Disco tippy at all, even with a seat pad about 1 inch thick. It handled busy holiday boat wakes with no trouble, and was fun in the micro-surf. Sitting still with the scupper plugs out, the footwells hold about 1 1/2 inches of water with my 140 pounds, plus a small amount of gear. When the boat is moving, the scuppers actually suck! The footwells drain very well. If you're quick enough, you could get the plugs in place and have nearly dry footwells. In practice, I opted to keep the plugs in, and only remove them if I had taken on water that needed to be removed. I also discovered that if there's a fair amount of water in the foot wells when you heel the boat over to turn, water will flow around the center hump, and into the seat pan.
The D-rings for seat and thigh strap attachment are unique and quite study. Other fittings for safety lines, netting and handles are also well done. One peculiarity is that the seat attachment rings are further than normal from the seat well, and the straps on some seats will not reach that far! I used nylon line to make a set of extenders, so that I could experiment with different borrowed seats.
I was surprised to discover that the cockpit area of my Disko is not symmetrical. It's not grossly out of whack, but, it may be enough to drive an OC-type person nuts.
So, the Disco handles well on and off the water, and has relatively good speed. It's not made to haul a lot of gear, and there are faster SOT's.
The Disco is weight sensitive. I weigh 195. IF......you enjoy warm weather/water paddling, it doesn't matter. 225lbs will have you quite close to the water level. But that's usually why you buy an SOT because you are in and out, walking the beach,fishing, looking for geodes up a creek, and using your Yak as a swim platform.....easy in and out. I swim a lot in a local State Park lake. If you haven't been Yak/swimming you are missing a treat!
The Disco will also make you a better paddler. It has a certain "Flywheel" effect and rewards the paddler with smooth strokes, a nice speed, and exceptional glide. So far, the Disco has a faster constant travel speed than anyone that I have paddled with. If you weigh 165, you may get a ticket in a "Closed Throttle Bay". With my homemade, non-flexible back brace, 5hr paddles are comfortable. Lean forward to go for it, lean back to relax.
The RTM Disco is kind of like Ellie May Clampit, if you get the reference. The Disco is classically beautiful... but FUN!
Have been out half a dozen times, lakes, Mississippi river, and the Bay. For a 14ft'er she tracks great, but because of the hull design, [rocker?], she still turns quickly. In and out of creeks that feed the river is a breeze and feels a lot like our two Dimension Spirits, arguably the best, most comfortable SOT's ever made. Head back out across the "ol Miss" and you are across the river before you know it. She is SO much faster than the Spirits, and has a fine entry and exit. Super quiet and graceful in calm water. Had one windy and fast flow day, and the Disco did feel somewhat lively in the rough water, but very stable, and confidence inspiring. We're flooding at this time so I tried 'er on the backside of some bridge piers. She handled the turbulence without distress, then nosing into the flow paddled right up stream with considerable speed. I was amazed. By now, I'm all smiles.
If.....you enjoy going for it, paddling for speed and distance, she's ready to go. Lean forward, sprint, and train. At 195lbs, 6ft, and 57 yrs, I'm just there to be there! I needed a back brace. Actually made one after trying a back band. I'll try to get some pics as it is so comfortable and makes the Disco a pleasure. 50lbs, cartops easily. Hardware, net, and scuppers are first rate. Survived shipping just fine. Looks fantastic, fun to paddle......for me....it's a 10.
I have lost about 30# and down to 185#. I am really liking it much better now. It actually has become my preferred ride lately. The foot wells still fill with water. I wear knee high boots to keep feet and legs warm. It does have a slight rocker to it, I think.
It is very quiet. I just can not stand a loud boat. I sold a fiberglass Heritage Nomad because the hull slap drove me crazy.
It is a convenient size and weight. Its pretty well balanced and easy to rack. Its got very good glide for a 14' boat, and the low profile is very good for paddling into the wind.
RTM used to make Ocean Kayak boats for Europe. I think they still use the OK plastic, which I have found to be very durable. As far as the rigging, I don't really know. Like most plastic boats I buy, I immediately took a rivet gun to it and re-rigged the whole thing. I replaced the steel rings with nylon eyes, just because I know the eyes work! I never did install the front hatch. I just don't like hatches.
I have even heard complaints from very light paddlers it is tippy. Maybe in comparison to the typical 32" wide SOT, but not at all compared to most sit in boats. I does have a very round displacement hull.
I will stick by my original review. I Don't think its well suited to paddlers much over 190#. But I do think it really is all that, IF you are the right size, and weight for it.
If you're a barge paddler, you may find the Disco wiggly. It's the closest I've found to sea kayak performance in a plastic SOT. The swede form hull shape is efficient and well-defined with none of the usual dips and bumps associated with plastic.
I'm a long-waisted, 6'1" 218lb. guy and the Disco paddled great, and I didn't find it a wet ride. It's also lightweight (about 46lbs.), molded in carrying handle is at the balance point. The hatch ring is molded into the hull, so installing the accessory Kajak Sport hatch cover is as simple as cutting out the center of the hatch molding. Totally happy with the purchase.
It feels slightly tippy at first, but after a while it just feels completely natural to paddle, it leans well and feels very stable indeed. It actually feels more stable in rougher waters! It handles waves/swell etc no problem, and it tracks very well indeed, even in strong winds. It's a fast-ish kayak, and it glides really well, making for efficient paddling. There is no hull slap noise at all.
I like the footrests, but I do need a back rest to feel comfortable. The only slight downside I have found is that you do get a wet bum, and the water doesn't drain away, so once water is in the boat, you are sitting in a puddle for the rest of the trip! Overall however, this is a great sit-on-top, which paddles well and looks fantastic!
Here is the official data from RTM regarding the Disco: 14' long, 26" wide, 50 lbs. I am 5'10" and 150lbs soaking wet.
1st test: Side-saddle
Got into the Disco and sat side-saddle keeping my center-of-gravity in the center of the seat area. No problem. I then moved my COG more toward the gunwale. Again, no problem...so it was time to see just how far I could push the boat. As I put more of my weight on the gunwale and shifted my COG so that most of my upper body was above the gunwale, I'd estimate that I was able to get to about a 60* angle before I felt like it would turtle. I could put one gunwale WAY into the water flooding the cockpit before pushing it too far and finally going in.
While sitting normally in the seat area (i.e. not sitting side-saddle) and leaning my COG toward one side raising the opposite side, it didn't take much to upset the secondary stability and go into the water. Don't get me wrong. In my opinion (keep in mind that I'm used to 22" wide sea kayaks) the secondary stability doesn't initially push back very hard, but you can feel it. I can feel it catch, I can push the boat MUCH further past a 45* angle while sitting side-saddle, can take on tons of water, push it a bit further, and over she finally goes.
2nd test: Getting back in after turtling
While the Disco was upside down in the water, I tested my ability to get the boat right-side up and clamber inside again. I kicked myself up over the hull, reached over to the opposite side, grabbed the gunwale, and righted the boat by flipping it over toward me. Very easy to do.
Once the boat was right-side up, I put one hand on the gunwale closest to me and one hand on the gunwale furthest from me, kept my COG low, launched myself up over the seat area so that my mid-section was across the seat area, then started to turn my body so my head was aiming toward the stern and my feet were toward the bow and tried to twist so that my butt would fall right into the seat area, but the boat threw me right into the water again. The way the rocker of the hull is designed and due to it's overall narrow width, I found it best to just launch up into the boat, twist in the air, and land my butt right into the seat.
3rd test: Moving forward
After getting back into the boat, I wanted to see how far toward the bow I could scoot without upsetting anything. I hung my legs over the gunwales and scooted forward. I scooted up to the center hatch and judged my balance: no problem. I kept scooting forward to just behind the forward hatch by sitting in the footwell area: no problem. I tried to scoot up a bit further to sit on top of my forward hatch and felt that was too far. The boat wanted to go over at that point. Sitting in the footwell area just behind the front hatch is as far as I can comfortable go without upsetting the boat. I feel as though I can easily store things in the forward hatch, scoot up to the footwell area while on the water, open the forward hatch, and be able to reach in for whatever is in there.
4th test: Moving backward
I scooted back to the seat and thought I should see how far back toward the stern I could go. I used the gunwales to lift myself up out of the seat area and sat in the well area where the rear scupper holes are located: no problem. I could scoot back a little more to where the rear cargo net area ends at the back of the well...but that's about as far back as I could go without upsetting the boat.
5th test: Standing in the cockpit
Next, I tested my ability to stand up. I was able to stand up but it was fairly wobbly. There really isn't a flat area in which to stand, so I put my feet in the seat area. My feet were close together due to the way the seat area is designed, so this added to the unstable feeling while standing. I wouldn't fish from this position or try to stand and stretch. I don't think I'd try this in rough water, either. There was really no other place to try and stand in the boat. Up on the little hump where the center hatch is located was impossible to stand on. I tried and would go right into the water immediately.
The little white canister storage that came with the Disco is a great place to keep things that I want to stay dry. I held the thing underwater for about 30 seconds, took it out, unscrewed the red cap, and found that it was still dry inside. I'd still put important items in a small drybag before putting them in the little white canister.
Next, I took the Disco to a local pond. No wind, water was glass smooth, so I did some speed tests. It was just me, PFD, keys, wallet, couple of other small items stored away in dry bag in center hatch.
I used a 220cm Werner Camano fiberglass paddle, no feather. I reached a top speed of 5.7mph as measured on 2 eTrex GPS units. It was very easy to cruise along at 4mph. Still VERY stable, turns on a dime, and absolutely ZERO bow noise when slicing through the water. I don't mean some. I mean no noise at all...even at top speed. The thing silently cuts through the water. Rear entry noise is silent, too. The only thing that disturbed the water was my paddle. The boat continued to glide forever after I stopped paddling and is VERY easy to kick it back up to full speed again.
2 sweep turns while sitting still and you can be facing 180*. Lean one gunwale into the water and the thing spins right around. Tight turning radius. Since the rear entry of the boat is as sharp as the front entry, backing is VERY quick and easy to control.
My next tests will be conducted on a local lake so that I can play around in the huge wake created by ski boats to see how she handles chop.
This boat has the potential to be a wet ride, so I purchased a Frogg Toggs Angler Bibb raingear set at Gander Mtn which should help keep my butt from getting rubbed raw if I have to sit in water for long periods of time.
I rate the Disco a 10 because it's a GREAT sit-on-top that will be good in the surf, creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds for those times I just want to have fun and can still rig it for fishing. Not quite as skinny as the sea kayaks I'm used to, but the seat area fits my rump just right.
This boat is the total opposite of my Native Watercraft Manta Ray 14.5, which reminds me of being the SUV of kayaks: stable, heavy, tons of room, easy to store and mount things in/on, a VERY dry ride, and not too bad on the gas mileage!
I modified it with a built in foam back support like I did on my Cobra Expedition to make it easier to crawl back in the kayak when I dump in the waves and also a added aluminum foot support bar and will post these modifications also. For the price, weight, and size the Disco is a good compromise for paddling up and down the beach past the breakers for me (I am 5'10" and 182 lbs.)
I finally got the Disco out on the water this weekend. I agree with the rave reviews. This boat really is different than the typical American SOT fishing platform. It would be perfect for a smaller, athletic, paddler in demanding conditions. I think SantaCruzMidwife would love this boat! Its been all the rage for the SOT crowd. It had rave reviews from Cap’t Jimbo in South Florida.
They are made in France by RTM and shipped via container to the Port of Miami. They are selling so fast in South Florida that they are hard to get elsewhere in the country. I think there are only a couple on the West Coast, so far, but I expect to see lots more! I paid $190 to ship a $580 boat from Florida via FedEx.
I do have a basis from comparison. I have years of experience in different SOTs from my 18' Kevlar Shearwater to my 9' Ocean Kayak Frenzy.
It is honestly around 50#. Its significantly lighter than most plastic SOTs. I do not think it will overtake a Tarpon, Prowler, or even a Scupper that is paddled by a guy strong enough to propel one of these boats at hull speed, but not very many guys can really do that for any distance. If speed is that important to you, you probably aren’t paddling a plastic SOT, anyway.
It is more efficient than any of the above mentioned boats. That is, it takes less effort to maintain a nice easy 3-4 MPH cruising speed. Depending on the group, the boater in the Disco might easily find himself at the head of a pack of longer SOTs after a couple hours on the water. At 26' wide it is narrower that most plastic SOTs. It has a finer entry and exit. The “V” hull is faster than the typical flat hull on most America SOTs. It really does handle well. Comparing it to the typical fishing yak is like comparing a sports car to a pickup truck.
I will add some Caveats. I think its important because many will be in a position to buy this boat sight unseen, or not at all: I will admit to being well over 200#. I think the initial concerns that this might not be the best boat for someone over 200# may be justified. I tested it without scuppers. One plug was lost in transit, and besides I never use scupper plugs on the ocean anyway, so I wanted to see what it was like without them. There was a lot of water in the footwells, and it slopped up into the seat. The seat also took on water if I was not careful getting into the boat, and even in small 1-2 swells.
Once water gets into the seat, it does not drain out. There are no scuppers in the seat. A good sponge is going to be required equipment. I think even paddlers under 200# may have a problem with this. The seat is so snug that its not going to hold a lot of water, but enough to keep your butt wet. I admit to be overweight, but its mostly beer belly (Well, Jack Daniels, actually) I do not have a wide butt. Some people are just not going to fit into the seat. A wet seat is not really a problem on the Pacific off NORCAL because you will probably be wearing a wet suit anyway, and its often not calm enough to sit still for very long. It does get very uncomfortable to sit still for long period if you are fishing wearing just trucks.
It may not be the new "follow the Pungo around the lake" boat just because it is so wet, but I will try again with scupper plugs. I was concerned the boat might be too overloaded to perform, but once I got into 20-25 MPH head winds with 1-2 swells and chop it handled like a dream! It felt really solid. I will need to try it in bigger conditions to really know if it’s a safe ride for a 200# Plus boater. It lacks the total stability of the flat bottomed 28" wide SOT fishing platform. It may make some people a little nervous at first. Some minor details. Keep in mind this boat retails for only $580:
The color scheme makes me want to take a can of spray paint to it. I might really do that. Deck rigging needs to be replaced with bungees. Not so crazy about the fittings. On the other hand I really do like the recessed grab handles. Very good idea.. I don’t know about the hatch. I had the dealer send a hatch cover, but I didn’t have it installed. Hatches make me nervous.