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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Delta Seventeen is the Best Expedition Kayak on the planet. Period.

I know.

That is a bold statement. But I have now put a ridiculous amount of miles under the hull of my seventeen. And it is true. I have paddled the Seawards, I have paddled the NDK's, and the Wilderness Systems boats. The P&H Cetus is a beautiful boat too. I came close to buying a Necky Looksha, but at the end of the day, I will stick with my Delta.

After literally thousands of miles, I still love this boat. Let us start with build quality. Beautifully finished, glossy and sexy. With great finishing touches - I would like some more outfitting options. Like a choice of seats, and such. I have made one repair to this boat, and it took me literally seconds - I replaced the hatch cover seals which Delta sent me at no cost. High quality gas pedal style foot braces,  have given me literally zero trouble. After six years and thousands of miles, I have yet to make a repair to my rudder, or rudder cables (and people say they are more prone to problems than skegs, but in the same amount of time I have repaired four skegs for friends or employers) and if you want it with a skeg you can have that too.



Thermoform plastic is a 21st century material, Fiberglass is very 20th century. Sorry folks, but that is how I see it. (the theme of this week at Paddling Otaku is 'drop the dogma' so lets just throw out the notion that fiberglass is the only way to go, because people say it is) Thermoform - when done right, like Delta does - gives me a stronger, lighter, and more forgiving material than fiberglass. Now someone will say "Oh, but you can't fix thermoform like you can fiberglass!" Nonsense. I repaired The Delta 15 after it got damaged from a forklift - yes, that is what it takes to crack one of these boats - and then it did the AGAP trip without issue.  I have done things to this boat where I was sure I had cracked it, and gotten nothing but scratches. I have slid this boat down rocky beaches to get away from bears - yes, a massive coastal brown bear in Alaska, literally had his front paws on my stern hatch, it did no damage - I have loaded it and unloaded it on rocks because it was my only choice for a campsite. It has been on the roof of my car for two round trips to Alaska. Drive the Alaskan highway and you will get hit with debris, I have the cracked windshield to prove it, but no damage to the boat.

For long trips, this boat is exceptionally easy to pack. Large openings, that close easily. No neoprene to fight with over the hatch covers. No day hatch,  with a  tiny opening and adding a bulkhead to the stern. I can put a gallon can of fuel - standing upright! so I don't have to worry about it leaking - in the bow compartment. I don't know of another boat that can do that. Behind the cockpit I can fit three 15 liter dry bags of food, side by side.



A metal locking ring behind the cockpit can also be used as a tie point for towing, and they put supports in the hull where the boat will be sitting in a roof rack. That is the kind of attention to detail I like.

You don't fit well in the seventeen? Well there is a very similar eighteen and sixteen. The sixteen performed amazingly in Alaska, and I will have a review coming up soon.

I think the only real competition for this boat is the NDK explorer, which is a great boat, is beautifully made, and has some incredible attention to detail. The angled rear bulkhead to help empty water out of the cockpit is genius. But it is heavy, and over $1000 more, but neither of those problems  is the deal killer for me. I need to do one thing on an expedition. Move a lot of gear and food. The bow of the Explorer holds 58 liters versus The Seventeens 83 liters. On the explorer add the day hatch to the stern compartment, and you have a total of 99 liters behind the cockpit. The Delta has 135 liters behind the cockpit. We won't even get into the fact that the Day hatch on the Explorer makes it more difficult to pack.

If you have a touring boat you think is better, lets go paddling. Prove me wrong.