mitch, while almost all the the info on NC's website is very specific and quite accurate, the part about paddlers needing to be 190 to 350 pounds for the Expedition is something they need to modify. There is nothing about the boat that requires one to be of any particular weight. It would be hard to imagine a very small person selecting a boat the size of the Expedition, but it would also be hard for me to contemplate a 6'-6", 350 pounder trying to stuff him, or herself into an Expedition.
If you could have been with me yesterday, I think I could have sold you on why I believe the NC Expedition is without doubt, the boat to have if you are serious about sea kayaking. The wind was pretty strong and the tide was running straight out into the wind. The waves were steep and breaking. I left shore without putting my skirt on, which wasn't too bright, but even without it, I stayed dry.
I ducked into a marina and put my skirt on and then went back out there. For a while I thought it prudent to keep the bow into the wind, but pretty soon I turned around and went surfing. Later, after a little shore break, I decided to go ahead and cross the river to the other side. That meant that I had to expose my beam to those waves. The boat couldn't have cared less; it didn't matter how big the waves got, at no point did I have to even deploy a brace. On the way back across the monster waves, I angled slightly away from the wind. That put the waves on my rear quarter. This for sure is asking for a broach. The boat just flew throught the waves like it was in a race. It never offered a hint of a broach.
I've had the boat in big wave before, but this time I kind of just went for it and didn't even bother to try to be careful. I even purposely just let the boat drift beam to the waves to see what would happen. I think I could have hunkered down in the cockpit and taken a nap. I probably won't purposely put myself into those conitions again, but I'm glad to know that if things deteriorate, the Expedition will get me home safe.
Regarding the weight range -
I guess you could assert that they need to modify their website but to me when I see a large (LOA) kayak with a 'full sized' beam, I would think the same thing. They could have easily shaved the beam down to 20-21" IMHO.
Regarding your trip -
Pretty crazy and fun I'm sure :-) . I was out on the hudson river the other day and had 2+' sharp waves slamming into my P&H, with the skeg deployed I was easily able to keep on course.
Though returning with waves and current with me, I was surfing at my fastest rate ever obtained in that kayak (prob 10mph).
The skeg was continually rising out of the water and I was constantly having to control the direction of the boat as I wasn't wanting to go completely in the direction of the waves. Right before I got to the launch ramp, I almost tipped over and used EVERY bit of strength and tilting to save it. I had my inflatable PFD so I would have been more than just a little pissed if it deployed so close to the end of my trip. I can see how a wider boat (BOA) would help a lot but I think my Sorpio LV's biggest limitation was it's length. I can't see increasing the wetted surface for a little more stability, seems unnecessary for what I'm doing with the boat.
PS> You talk about beam but to me that is the width, I refer to the sides as I do with a boat and call it "freeboard". Anyway, thanks for you comments. NC makes a great kayak.