Joined: Feb. 2006
||Posted: Aug. 19 2008,16:11
Good comments all. Thank goodness there are lots of choices in kayaks, for lots of differences in paddler tastes and, more importantly, in paddling environments. I know yours are south Florida bay and coast fishing; mine are central Texas lakes (about 80% of the time), rivers (10%) and Texas coastal bays and flats (about 10% of the time). For my use, the Disco was my previous favorite boat; it has now been edged out by the Kestrel, for these reasons;
1. Weight. RTM claims 50 lbs for the Disco, but mine weighed 54 off the truck, and now is 56.5-57 with center hatch, rod holders, water bottle holder, tiny GPS mount, and minicell foam back pad glued in.
The Kestrel claimed 39 lbs but mine weighed 38.5 on the same scales as the Disco. Light enough to toss on the car top and head out at 5 pm for a few hours before dark. Good grab handles make it seem even lighter than it is. With rod holders, mini gps mount, water bottle cage, and small minicell side bolsters it weighs 40.5. The seat is separate snap-on, so not included in the weight.
This criterion really overshadowed all the others, as my back made a trip in the Disco a dangerous move; the Kestrel is a snap to load.
2. Speed. Unless your dealer/tester has tested both boats with a gps, his comments are suspect. The Disco is indeed a sweet paddle, but the Kestrel is deceptive. Whether it is the VERY sharp bow entry, much sharper than the Disco, or the absence of underwater obstructions (4 scuppers plus longitudinal channels on the Disco) or the mirror smooth finish, or whatever, it is sneaky fast. When I first got it, I too felt it was slower than the Disco except at top speed. But when I put the GPS in it, I was surprised. The sharp bow entry (about the thickness of the edge of a paddle blade on my kevlar model) means there is no discernible bow wave at low speeds. It feels like you aren't moving. But ghosting along with very easy paddle strokes shows 3-3.5 on the gps. At top end, it seems to be a solid 0.7-1.0 mph faster than the Disco (6.0 mph top, 5.0-5.5 at a brisk workout speed). My Town Lake launch-to-dam workout (2 miles each way) takes about 1 hour in the Disco, 45-50 minutes in the Kestrel. These are 2-way times on a couple of windy afternoons. Moderate dam releases both times.
3. Seating comfort. I don't know how you measured the seat versus floor height of the two boats; I never found a reliable way to do that. True, the Disco's footwell is wet and the Kestrel's is dry, but I believe that difference is due to the hull shapes. The Kestrel's bottom is a very shallow vee, and the BWL is very nearly the full 26 inches. The Disco's vee is much sharper (to my eye, about twice the deadrise of the Kestrel), and there is a lot of flare topsides. BWL is probably 1.5 inches less than the Kestrel. As a result, the Disco sits lower in the water for the same displacement.; it seems to draw about 2 inches more water. Good for slower drift in a breeze, bad for Texas shallow flats on a low tide. But I think that explains the wet versus dry footwells, and absent any other evidence, I won't concede which seat is higher relative to the footwells. Note that the Kestrel's factory seat provides 1/2 inch seat lift above the gelcoat.
Seat comfort is okay in the Disco, but even with my glued-in back pad and Padz bottom pad, I was never able to get comfortable in it for more than a couple of hours. The seat bowl slants in at the sides, squeezing my hips. I always get out of the boat with aching hip muscles after a couple of hours. The Kestrel's bowl is wider by several inches, and flat across the bottom (side-to-side). I had to glue in side bolsters to get full hip control, but I now have a boat that I can paddle or sit or fish for several hours with no pain of any kind.
4. Maneuverability. No contest, the Disco is much more agile. But in my use, that agility has little real value. I can turn the Kestrel pretty quickly, now that I have the hip bolsters in place and can roll it up on one chine without "rattling around" in the seat.
5. Drainage. Yes the Disco's two scuppers drain the cockpit faster than the Kestrel's one, IF they are open. The Disco is wet enough that I usually keep them plugged unless I am headed in harm's way. And the Disco's low sides mean that I get splash in the cockpit far more often in it than in the Kestrel, even in wind chop on Town Lake. Moving aft, even the Disco's shallow tankwell would drain slower if pooped than the Kestrel's convex rear deck. I think I'd call that a Kestrel win for my application, maybe a draw for yours (?)
Just like at the Olympics, different rules produce different winners. Those are my criteria for my application.
So the Kestrel is my new fave boat. But the Disco at about 40% of the cost is still a marvel. And as I said, I probably would never have made the jump were it not for a couple of herniated discs.