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: http://www.northshoreseakayaks.com/
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: