Name: rsevenic

Most Recent Reviews

Last year I purchased a used and very light 2005 Current Designs (CD) Squamish. Most Squamish kayaks are rotomolded, but this kayak is a very rare and much lighter composite. The seller thought it was carbon fiber, while CD says it is aramid/fiberglass. If aramid, the hull interior doesn’t look like any Kevlar hull I’ve seen. Whatever. The specifications are

  • length 15’ 8” width 23” depth 12.5”
  • weight 38.5 pounds!
  • coaming 29” by 16”
  • bow and stern hatches, no day hatch
  • fish form, soft chine, shallow V
  • mango deck, white hull
  • paddler size small to medium

A review typically depends on the reviewer’s size, experience, etc. I am 140 pounds (naked, which you don’t want to see), 5’ 5” in height, and over 80 years old. I would probably be considered an intermediate paddler, having kayaked for 16 years and been a BWCA canoe lad in my teens and early twenties. I paddle about 40 day trips per year, mostly on my home lake (110 miles around the periphery) and in the waters off Vancouver Island on usually two trips per season.

Of my 3 composite kayaks, the Squamish is the shortest, fattest, and slowest; but not by much. However, it is by far the lightest, extremely important for this small old guy. Other reviewers here have indicated that the Squamish weather cocks readily. Maybe my hull is different, but the weather cocking seems non existent. However, I avoid high winds these days and have only been out in winds up to about 8 knots. It tracks well and is maneuverable.

The rear hatch, despite the skeg box, easily holds my C-Tug cart. I can readily get the kayak onto and off of my Thule Hullavator. I have made these minor modifications to the Squamish:

  • a keel strip via Keel Eazy
  • a paddle holder via two open cleats (in the Broze Brothers style)
  • a stainless steel pad eye on the bow deck
  • under fore deck storage for the manual bilge pump
  • a cord hanging down from the skeg blade to have a companion free the blade if stuck when far from shore

A practice rescue session resulted in significant water in both hatches. It was enough water that it could not just be coming in the hatches. Clearly water was leaking from the cockpit into the hatches. Sealing the hatch perimeters with Lexel seemed to fix the problem.

I have two other very nice fiberglass kayaks, a CD Slipstream and a Valley 17.3 Etain. Both are faster than the Squamish and both weathercock somewhat. However, because of its light weight and refusal to weathercock, the Squamish will be the keeper among those three (as old age begins to shut down my kayaking career).

A review should be accompanied by some notes on the reviewer. I am a small male paddler, born in 1940. I have been kayaking since 2006, have taken various kayak courses over the years, helped teach beginners, and get in between 40 and 60 day trips per year (rarely camp). I have a hobby of rotating kayaks through my small fleet. I buy decent kayaks, refurbish them as needed, learn their paddling characteristics, and typically release them back into the wild. I have cycled through kayaks by many manufacturers – Seaward, NDK-SKUK, P&H, Valley, Mariner etc.

In spring of 2022 I purchased a used fiberglass Current Designs Slipstream kayak. It had several features that were particularly attractive to me:

  • it is a small person’s kayak (at 5’ 5” and 141 pounds, it works for me)

  • the foredeck is quite high for a small kayak (so my largish feet can move around if needed)

  • the backband is already comfortable (typically I must reconfigure the backband)

  • the skeg works smoothly

For an expedition style paddler, this has a volume that is likely too small. As a day trip paddler, this does not hinder me.

These are the specifications:

  • length 16’, width 22", depth 13.25"

  • stern, bow. and day hatches

  • weight 49 pounds

  • paddler weight, under 170 pounds

  • swede form, shallow 'V', medium chine

  • not much rocker, low stern deck

  • skeg

  • designed by Derek Hutchinson & Brian Henry

  • manufactured in Sydney, BC in December 2000 (before the Wenonah buyout)

  • serial number QDC10654L900

I added a few semi-permanent items – none of which affect how the kayak handles:

  • keel strip

  • paddle park (as common on the Broze Brothers’ Mariners)

  • stainless steel pad eye near bow

  • cord on skeg blade for freeing it if stuck while on the water

  • minor rigging modifications

This kayak was intended as our spare kayak for occasional visitors who might like to accompany us for day trips on our relatively large lake. Lake Pend Oreille has ~110 miles of shoreline with two rather nice deltas. It is said to be the 5th deepest lake in the USA; I may swim down to the deepest location to verify that. The lake exits via the Pend Oreille River which flows into the Columbia. I suppose, other than a few portages, one could paddle to Japan.

It was not my intent that this 16’ kayak supplant my own preferred kayak, a Valley 17.3 Étaín. But that seems to be what’s happening. What about relative cruising speeds? Clearly the Étaín at 17.3’ will have a higher hull speed (5.56 knots) than the 16’ Slipstream (5.36 knots) – roughly a 4% difference. For comparing the cruising speed of two kayaks, one must consider how close can you get to the hull speed with the same effort. But it’s much more complicated than merely the hull speed; the hull shape really determines drag (e.g. various factors such as wetted surface). Further, things change with the load carried, because heavier weight immerses more of the hull. My experience with these two boats suggests (with no attempt at a scientific comparison) that the Slipstream is slightly faster when I am at my cruising speed with both kayaks lightly loaded with the same gear. Of course, I am nowhere near the hull speed. A heavier, stronger person might reverse my subjective results.

The kayak behaves well. It goes straight, but turns easily with turning strokes when edged. The very slight weathercocking is easily tuned out by the skeg. I can get into and out of the kayak without scraping my shins (this required some initial practice). I haven’t found the kayak to be tippy at all. I avoid truly rough water and cannot address its handling in such conditions. I am sure I have the necessary skills for such conditions, but as conditions degenerate I always find myself starting to suck my right thumb, thereby inhibiting my paddle skills.

The fiberglass Slipstream dictates its name, the “Glass Slipper” or just “Slippy” for short. Slippy is a rather garish bright red (hull and deck) with yellow trim. Personally, I think some of the British kayaks are prettier. My aging physique can manhandle Slippy onto my hullavator, before raising it to the cartop.

My summary is that this kayak is ideal for me as a small paddler who only does day trips. This has become my preferred kayak.

I am reviewing the 17.3 Étaín fiberglass sea kayak made by Valley Canoe Products in Britain. The 17.3 Étaín is no longer made and has been superseded by 3 sizes, the 17.1, 17.5, and 17.7 Étaíns. All three are made in fiberglass while the 17.5 and 17.7 are also available as rotomolded. The specifications for the 17.3 are:

  • Length: 17’ 2.7” (525 cm)

  • Beam: 21.06” (53.5 cm)

  • Depth: 13.4” (34 cm)

  • Weight: 50.6 pounds

  • Paddler weight 90 to 181 pounds (41 to 82 kg)

  • Bow, stern, and day hatches

  • Removable module on deck, fore cockpit

  • Orange deck, white hull, b;lack seam

  • Retractable skeg

  • Slightly Swede form

  • Outside seams are diolen tape reinforced fiberglass

  • Welded bulkheads are curved to allow flexion

The 17.1 Étaín is more of an LV kayak than the 17.3, but for me the 17.3 is as close as I can come to an LV. In particular, the 17.3 fore deck is relatively high and allows me sufficient foot room. The 17.1 fore deck is probably too low for me.

I purchased the kayak used in very good shape, but

  • added a black keel strip (EazyKeel)

  • fixed a minor skeg problem

  • tweaked the rigging to my druthers

I must also divulge my own specifications. I consider myself to be an intermediate paddler, well past my golden years, and stubbornly committed to not advancing my kayaking skills further. I am a hefty 140 pounds and a lanky 5’ 5” in height. Over the years I have owned many sea kayaks including a variety of Brit boats; so I have at least some perspective.

The kayak fits me well. The cockpit is easy for entry and exit. For example, on entry, I can plop my butt on the seat and then pull my legs in. The fore deck is higher than for a true LV kayak, leaving room for my feet. I am not a fan of deck pods just fore the cockpit because they encroach on foot space. However, this Étaín has a (removable) deck pod which is shallow and does not have that effect. In particular, I wear size 11 water shoes over my bulky dry suit socks, but can easily take my feet off the foot braces and stretch out my legs. This is not true in my bigger Classic P&H Cetus, whose deck pod is in my way if I want to stretch out my legs.

The seat is configured so it can be moved, either slightly forward or slightly astern from its middle position as delivered. This is not all that easy and the seat is best moved by tiny elves who are also very strong. Nevertheless, I moved it astern and ensured that the backband was also further back. Next I supported the backband with minicell foam to keep it firm and vertical – requirements dictated by an old lower back injury. Moving the seating astern reduces weathercocking and allows me to get the spray skirt on with reasonable ease.

Sometimes it’s the little details that make me like a kayak. Reasons I like the 17.3 Étaín:

  • it weathercocks only slightly

  • it tracks well, and turns when properly encouraged

  • I can put the spray skirt on, without severe contortions

  • I can easily stretch out my legs on a longer trip

  • the skeg works smoothly and is effective

  • I can get it on my car

I haven’t had the kayak for long, but am pleased and expect it to be my favorite. The weather here is still cold with water temperature around 5° Celsius. So I haven’t tried rolling, but am confident it will be as easy to roll as my Cetus. If not, my Cetus will again become my favorite.

In mid summer of 2016, I purchased an older (1996) NDK Romany Explorer which is nowadays sold as a SKUK Explorer, of nearly identical design. This kayak was dirty and disheveled, even a bit stinky. However, it was fundamentally sound and featured a well known classic design. I cleaned it up, added new rigging, a paddle park, a keel strip, a new back band, and fixed a minor rear hatch leak. It was my intent to then sell the now enhanced kayak.

At this time my primary kayak was a Mariner Express, also a cult classic – quite famous for needing neither rudder nor skeg. It certainly lived up to that reputation. However, I was learning to roll and was having a hard time rolling the Express, even with my very supportive Pawlata roll. I failed more often than not and was essentially making zero progress. I consider a roll to be an important safety technique. So I was discouraged and, at 76 years old, was almost ready to forget rolling.

On a whim, I decided to try rolling the NDK. In my first session, I rolled on each of my 17 attempts. The rolls were shaky, but this was very encouraging. Was this a rolling breakthrough? No, on returning to the Mariner, I was about the same as earlier. So I stuck with the NDK for many weeks, until I knew where I was underwater. My technique had really firmed up. At this point I tried the Mariner and was quite successful, although the rolls were again on the shaky side.

So, for starters, I would say that the NDK Explorer is quite easy to roll, even for an elder. The kayak is 17’ 8” long and with a 21.5” beam and has enough rocker to be maneuverable. It isn’t a really fast boat for those dimensions, but it is certainly fast enough. It has a rope skeg, which I rather like for the ease of repair. However, I have yet to actually need the skeg – this kayak is quite neutral, maybe not so much as the Mariner, but not significantly inferior.

I have not weighed the NDK. but it is clearly on the heavy side. The older NDK kayaks are very sturdy, considered somewhat bombproof. The kayak may be slightly roomy for me at 5’ 5” and 145 pounds, yet I rather like that. I’ve read that the NDK Explorer LV does not have room for my hooves, so the standard model is the appropriate one anyway.

I am not a kayak camper, but would note that the NDK (with skeg box lurking in the rear hatch) reduces your packing options. This would not hinder a backpacker at all, but I would need to become more efficient in terms of what gear to bring for an extended trip. Further, I like to keep my deck relatively clean.

I’ve owned my share of kayaks, and would rank this as the best of those. These kayaks would include: - Seaward Endeavor - North Shore Calypso - NDK Romany (classic) - Boreal Design Ellesmere - Mariner Express This isn’t quite a fair comparison, because my skill level has evolved as well. Finally, if the kayak were lighter, I’d be a bit more pleased, but otherwise I am happy.

Rec kayaks occupy a very different niche than sea (touring) kayaks. Nevertheless, in either case safety should be paramount. The Ibis does not have sealed bulkheads. This defect can be mitigated by purchasing, maintaining, and always using float bags. Most buyers will not do so. Consequently, they would be better off purchasing a rec kayak with fore and aft sealable storage hatches; such kayaks do exist. Those who already own the Ibis should discipline themselves to use float bags or else stay in shallow water.