I dropped into Sydney Harbour Kayaks for a trial of the new Nadgee Solo composite sea kayak that they recently added to their stock. The Nadgee is a beautiful, locally-made composite expedition kayak designed for hard-core sea paddlers. I was actually a little hesitant to get in for the test run!
The first thing that was quite apparent is that I was simply too big for it. Squished into its cockpit, I looked on the water suspiciously like a paddling muffin – way too much overhang for anyone’s viewing pleasure. The seat itself is carved foam and felt quite comfortable, but in terms of leg room and cockpit size, I was wedged in tighter than a fishies’ bottom!
On the water the Nadgee paddles beautifully. I quickly picked up speed and noticed that even under my considerable weight, there was hardly a ripple from the bow as it cut smoothly through the water. With a bit of a V-bottom on it, the boat is a little bit twitchy, which would no doubt work well in big ocean waters. On the flat waters of early morning Sydney Harbour however, I found myself getting the occasional speed-wobbles as I tried to keep it upright.
As the morning progressed I took the Nadgee into some small ocean swell coming through the Heads into Balmoral, but found my lack of core balance with the boat made the ride pretty scary. So I decided to head up into Middle Harbour instead, where the conditions would be a little bit calmer (or so I thought).
What I wasn’t aware of was the building 25-30 knot southerly wind which was throwing up following wind waves behind me. Again this made the paddling quite challenging, until I turned around and paddled back into the wind for the trip back to the The Spit.
In summary, the Nadgee is a truly beautiful well-designed and well-built sea kayak ideal for intermediate to advanced paddlers. It is not for beginners, as it’s twitchiness would have many novice paddlers spending much of their paddling time swimming instead. Likewise, I would not recommend this boat for the bigger man – after 2 hours in the kayak paddling I was suffering from pretty bad cramps. But for more reasonably sized experienced paddlers I can see why the boat is so highly rated – it is fast, fun and a very serious kayak for ocean paddlers.