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North Shore Atlantic RM Review

Posted by on February 27, 2012

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of trying out a staple of North Shore’s long awaited roto-molded line: the Atlantic RM. For decades, North Shore has been at the pinnacle of composite British sea kayaks producing boats such as the Calypso and more recently the Atlantic. For anyone who has had a chance to paddle these classic boats they would agree that they are in a class of their own when it comes to construction, performance, and aesthetics. Unfortunately, they can be hard to come by in the United States and these composite boats carry with them a high cost which precludes most of us from experiencing the greatness that is North Shore.

The Atlantic RM really shines because it offers an affordable way to get into a classic North Shore sea kayak. At the $1600 price point the Atlantic comes in at half of the cost of its composite cousins without sacrificing much in the way of performance. I already liked what I felt after just sitting in the Atlantic RM on the dock. The cockpit is superbly outfitted with solid thigh braces and a back band. It reminded me of the older Calypso but with one big improvement: a slightly higher deck (the low deck of the Calypso was always something that bothered my inflexibility).

On the water the Atlantic RM really exceeded my expectations. It tracked well, offered decent primary stability and excellent secondary stability. I found that the skeg control operated smoothly and the day hatch was easily accessible from the cockpit. If anything, the Atlantic RM had slightly less primary stability than the Calypso but that added greatly to its playfulness. Lean-turns were a dream and that solid secondary and soft transition made for comfortable edging. I liked the Atlantic RM so much that I almost bought it on the spot. However, the particular boat that I was trying was a used demo and it had a jammed skeg. This is common with cable-operated skegs but I didn’t want to walk into this type of issue from the get-go.

There are not too many downsides to the Atlantic RM. The one thing that jumped out at me was the quality of the plastic. It seemed to be of a thinner gauge than some of the more common RM kayaks on the market. It also had a bit of a waxy-smooth feel to it. I also noticed that the keel-line within the cockpit is reinforced with an aluminum rod to prevent oil canning. This method has long been used to reinforce RM hulls but I’d feel better if North Shore had gone with a thicker gauge plastic and no aluminum rod. Also, I’m not a big fan of cable-operated skegs because of their jamming problem and would have been very happy to see a rope-operated skeg especially on a boat with lines as classic as the Atlantic RM!

The bottom line: If you’re interested in owning one of the classic British sea kayaks but don’t have the cash flow or a time machine to secure a composite one then this is the next best thing.

More Info at:

Final Verdict:

Stats: 16’-11” long, 22in wide, 57lbs

Pros: Handles like the Calypso, Comfortable cockpit, Well outfitted

Cons:  A bit on the heavy side. Mildly concerned about material quality. Cable-operated skeg

Kayak Dave Rating:

4 Responses to North Shore Atlantic RM Review

  1. Richard Sevenich

    I purchased a used North Shore Calypso, in good shape. It’s hard to find specs on this boat, particularly since it seems to be a slightly smaller version of the standard Calypso. Anybody able to shed more light on this rather rare boat?


    • arrudad

      Hi Richard:

      From what you describe it sounds like the boat is not a Calypso but rather the North Shore Freewater which was the smaller version of the Calypso. If that’s the case then it is indeed a very rare kayak to find in North America. It’s hard to find used Calypsos and Freewaters here because they are vintage boats that were imported from the UK in the days when kayaking was a niche sport and people who were going to spend that kind of money on a kayak were serious paddlers, knew the quality that they were investing in, and hung onto their boats. I’ve only ever seen one Freewater in my 10+ years at the local kayak shop…

      It’s hard to find anything in the way of specs on the Freewater but here is a link with some info:

      Enjoy the new boat…you found a nice one and a piece of kayaking history!

      -Kayak Dave

      • arrudad

        Hi Richard:

        I just spoke with a rep from North Shore and they told me that there are three other possibilities as well:

        1) Shoreline
        2) Mistral
        3) Fuego

        Of these I’ve only seen the Fuego and according to the rep they are hard to distinguish between the Calypso. It’s safe to say that they’re all pretty rare by North American standards though.

        -Kayak Dave

      • Richard Sevenich

        It still had a faded ‘Calypso’ imprint from the logo – along with a tired out North Shore decal. Perhaps I had the wrong Calypso specs which indicated the boat was 17′ 1″ whereas mine is about 16′ 10″. At any rate, it seems to be a fine craft. Because I have a compromised lower back, I modified the back band to be a bit taller. I also added the Keel Eazy keel strip and outfitted the cockpit. Otherwise it remains as it was when younger. I wish that were true for me also.

        Thanks much.

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