Why Consider a Nigel Dennis Kayak? What is Unique About NDK Designs?
Hull and Deck DesignNDK’s overall designs offer very high primary stability with their flat surfboard shape designed into the hull. This means the boat easily slides forward down (accelerates or surfs) the smallest of waves, adding efficiency and speed on the downside of any wave. The boats' softly rounded edges, or chines, are more forgiving than a sharp (hard) chined edge, like on the Greenlander series. Hence NDKs are remarkably forgiving when we paddle in bigger water for our relative skill set, as they simply absorb wave energy by sliding sideways in beam seas instead of tripping over sharp edges as hulls slide downhill (like a softer ski). The vertical sides combine with NDK’s full ends, soft chines and relatively flat hulls to offer gradual and progressively stronger stability up on the boat’s edge. This is the same angle relationship as when the paddler is sitting upright and the slope of waves come to meet us. Nigel’s fuller, convex bow and stern offer a drier ride when cutting through wind waves, reduce submarining when surfing or coming ashore, but most importantly add more hull support and stability when the kayak is up in its secondary stability function. Relative to other British cousins, NDKs have lower fore and rear decks to reduce unnecessary volume and increase thigh contact (contact is confidence), allow for lower stroke angles, and make it easier to lay on the rear deck for rolls, or to re-enter after wet exits.
We believe that contact with our boat offers us confidence and control. NDK's keyhole cockpit provides a maximum area of equal pressure contact with our thigh muscles, like a shorter sea cockpit, but with the safety of a long open central portion of the cockpit; so we have control via great equal contact with our boat, but the safety of not being trapped in the boat. Entry and exit are quicker, easier, and more stable as there’s no need to ‘slide in’; instead a paddler can quickly sit in the seat, reducing tippiness, and then put one’s legs in. NDK’s simpler underdeck shape makes it easier to custom foam fit these hulls to our varied thigh muscle shapes. And the longer distance from the back of the seat to the rear of the cockpit edge reduces contact with your spine in a layback position. For surf landing and launchings, it’s great to throw one’s butt on the seat for stability and then slide legs in or out without skinning our shins.
All boats are built with composite bulkheads that are glassed in place. The middle bulkhead is installed on a slope directly behind the cockpit edge; along with the raised cockpit rim, this allows for a complete emptying of the cockpit whenever the bow is raised: during on-water rescues or washing out when ashore. The rear bulkhead placement makes the stern very strong and provides for a healthy day hatch volume: large enough for most of one’s day kit. The front bulkhead, also composite, can be custom fitted. This reduces water in an emergency, increases front hatch storage, and allows the paddler to use the bulkhead as a footrest while strengthening the boat’s cross section. This is a highly recommended feature for custom ordered NDKs. Most MIKCo boats are built with custom features. Talk to us about recommended bulkhead placement options on the various models.
The two most important functions of a sea kayak are its seaworthiness in rough water AND its bulkhead integrity. Period. The rest are really details. We often can’t realistically swim ashore on the sea, as we sometimes can in river boating; so our kayak is our life saving station. Most pro paddlers prefer the strength and durability of composite bulkheads that are glass taped in place to those made of plastic or moveable foam inserts. Of the hundreds of boats that MIKCo has owned since 1986, NDK is the only manufacturer we’ve NEVER experienced a bulkhead failure with.
There are many great methods of composite boat construction now available. We have personally been involved in many of these manufacturing methods, and have spent countless weeks using hundreds of different boats and paddlers in real on-water conditions since the 1980s. We appreciate the particular applications of the most current layups:
- Standard (Expedition)
- Hybrid 50/50 (50/50)
- Full Carbon Kevlar (CK)
The standard NDK adjustable skeg system has a well placed non-kinkable slider control located out of the way in the side seam, and is connected to our preferred simple composite skeg box. Several other systems are available: for way-out-there expedition use, or three piece boats, talk to us about rear rope skeg options.
NDKs have always been three hatch boats, and have stayed with the uniform seaworthiness of the 10” round fore and aft hatch. The 7” round day hatch is a superb size; its cover can be upgraded to the more positive fit of a VCP cover. Larger oval hatches are available on Explorers, Surfs, Excels. A small foredeck hatch and accessory storage is available by special order.
NDKs are available with a variety of seats, in several exchangeable widths. The current third generation composite seat has 1” of fore/aft adjustment, and is removable if you prefer an NDK cloth covered foam version, or if you need repairs. Delivered with a supportive back band, many paddlers use the seat without it, or fit a solid foam lower back support.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin