I purchased a dory about a year ago, and I have had a lot of fun with it, some of which I posted here on this forum (e.g. bike-rafting with it on the Mississippi, using it to shepherd someone on a cross-lake swim, and a whole lot more general goofing around in the water).
I have used the rowing-frame pretty happily, but of course it is also kind of bulky and gets in the way. Bulky even when collapsed for packing. Gets in the way when you are using it–e.g., no way to get a second person into the bow with you if you are rowing. (Though I did get two people into it a few times in kayak-paddle mode. Once it was me at 190 lbs plus older brother at 240 or so lbs, and we found we had plenty of freeboard and could get up a good head of steam with two kayak paddles.) The rowing feature makes a huge difference to flat-water speed–there’s just no way to kayak-paddle it as fast as you can row it.
Anyhow–the new Fjord Explorer looks even better. I’m wondering just how jealous I should be. Here are some specific questions:
a) Is the raft itself pretty much the same? I see two differences: the velcro frame-attachment loops are positioned differently, since the frame is different, and the oral inflation tube is a different color! Pretty minimal.
b) is it possible to purchase the new frame and oars and retrofit them onto the old dory raft? I’m thinking that if its just a matter of the velcro-attachments, it might work. Any thoughts on this, e.g. pricing?
Constant innovation is cool. If it means last year’s purchasers wish they could have this year’s model, that’s a small price to pay. Still, if there’s an upgrade path, that’s even better.