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Kayak for rough waters

Which kayak would you recommend for confused seas, speed and rough water. Explorer's and Romany's , NordKappLv or QCC . Thanks FishHawk


  • I have been in the Valley NordcapLV
    and I'll take my QCC-700 any day, (between those two)

    jack L
  • Options
    For my money
    I don`t think there is a better rough water kayak than the Romany. Certainly not the fastest, but best handling. For a bit more speed look at the Explorer but will give up a bit of handling. BTW speed is of kayak is way overrated. If you can maintain 3.5-4mph you can paddle with anyone. Paddlers stroke has more to do with speed than the boat IMO. You want to go faster work on your forward stroke.
  • You won't likely get good information
    I myself would agree with jackl. I have paddled the explorer and romany and prefer my qcc700. I don't like the Nordkapp but have not paddled the lv. But those opinions are purely personal preferences. You could easily disagree. So, ignore all of us. Paddle all of them (or as many as you can) yourself and make up your own mind. Don't pay any attention to the pep rallies on either side.
  • Options
    What I did
    I was also looking for a boat that I would like in rough water. I hired an instructor for an afternoon in the SF Bay on a windy and rough day and demoed kayaks.

    We looked for the roughest places we could find, and nothing really stood out until I tried a Cetus. Neither the instructor nor I thought I would like the Cetus, and neither of us was in love with the lines. But the boat blew me away.

    Prior to the Cetus, we were both having difficulty. I was worried about whether the instructor, in an Avocet, would be able to help me if I wound up swimming. In the Cetus, it was almost a joke. He was constantly bracing and working while I enjoyed the beautiful sight of the GG Bridge on a bright and windy day. There is something about the width of the boat right behind your butt that is very comforting, and I see that you list yourself as a beginner. A beginner might not be comfy in a Nordkapp in rough weather. The Explorer and Romany have good reps. Don't know about QCC. But I would include a demo in the Cetus, and go on a rough day. You don't get a sense of the predictability of the Cetus on a calm day, although it feels fine.
  • Have you considered a Pintail
    If your looking for a second kayak for rough conditions, it's hard to beat.
  • for confused seas, speed and rough water
    Personally, I usually choose my Aquanaut for such conditions if I'm covering distances. For rock gardening, surfing, and tide races I usually choose my Romany. For thrills moving through confused seas I use my Nordkapp LV.

    Others would make different choices.

    I do not recommend the Nordkapp LV for novices, let alone beginners.
  • Options
    +1 Aquanaut
    I'd bet the Nordkapp would be faster but only in very capable hands. The Aquanaut gets you most of that in a boat that beginner could grow into sooner than later.
  • Photography?
    Does this boat have to be a good photography platform? I see that in your profile. If you want this boat to be a photography platform, I'd suggest boats that have a tendency to stay well-mannered in rough conditions. That's not necessarily the same as being stable - the Romany is very forgiving for example but it'll be tossing all over the place while tending to stay upright.

    The Aquanaut is a much better mannered boat that way - the greater volume is probably part of it along with the overall hull design.

    I have no idea where the QCC boats fit in this kind of spectrum.
  • Demo ...
    Well, first "rough" can be subjective. What do you mean by rough?

    On boats, you mention QCC, but not a model. Regardless, I have no comment on any QCC boat: never even seen one, let alone sat in one, never heard of anyone who has one, can can't recall a single comment about one.

    Explorer, Romany, and NordKapp LV are all very capable boats for rough and confused seas. If you going to demo Valley boats, add in the Avocet and Aquanaut to your list. Wilderness Systems' Tempests are good boats too, as is P&H's Cetus.

    For speed, longer boats like the Explorer, Nordkapp, Aquanaut, Tempest 170, and Cetus will have more glide, ie speed. Shorter boats, like the Romany, Avocet, and Tempest 165 will have less glide, but being smaller can be edge and turn easier.

    The Nordkapp LV is a compromise of sorts, in that it is very fast yet handles like a smaller boat. The trade off is less defined stability, meaning it can feel more "tippy" than the others mentioned.

    We're all made a little different, so all of the boats will fit you differently. Each boat will have a feel to it unique to how you fit in it. A kayak is like a pair of shoes: you need to try them on before you buy. They're all capable boats for general conditions your list ... demo to find the one that feels right.
  • Glide
    -- Last Updated: Oct-12-10 11:59 PM EST --

    I have to say that speed and glide are not the same thing. A longer boat will have higher hull speed, which may be desirable. But it also has more friction drag due to more wetted surface area, so will have less glide, i.e. will slow down faster.

    A shorter boat in general has less surface area, so less friction drag, therefore will glide farther, although it may not be in a straight line if the tracking is poor.

    This is all pretty moot in rough water, granted - glide is not really relevant then. But you will have to paddle distance sometime, so it helps. My 14 foot Cape Falcon SC-1 has fantastic glide, and is quite comfortable in rough water. To the OP, if you have a chance to try a Mariner Coaster or Cape Falcon F-1, you may be pleasantly surprised.

    (PS to NEBeginner, I'm not quibbling with your boat suggestions, I think they are quite good, it was just the glide thing)

  • Correction appreciated
    Thanks carldelo ... I'm far from knowledgeable on boat attributes, so your explanation is helpful.

    I've always thought that, in general, longer boats were faster due, in part, to glide. However there are a lot of variables beyond just hull length, and beyond my knowledge base as well. Glide is more a factor of resistance that simply length.

    Relative to the OP's stated requirements, speed being one, and the boat list, one way to refine the list regarding speed would be that the longer boats mentioned have that attribute ... or at least potential.

  • Test paddle as many boats as you can
    Since your profile says you're in Cape Cod take a ride up to Billington Sea kayaks in Plymouth and test paddle a Surge. You don't mention your size or weight, the Surge has a small cockpit, kevlar, 38 pounds - 17'7", no rudder or skeg but I've paddled mine in some really nasty water and never felt the boat was going to let me down.

  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Oct-13-10 5:18 PM EST --

    The avocet RM is a very nice rough weather kayak. I love the tempest 165 in rough seas and wind. The pintail?..not a beginner boat i guess..its important that the kayak is easy to manouver in strong wind and waves. The tempest is very good in this. Id take an avocet or tempest 165..The Romany is a pretty obvious choice too. I think plastic is an advantage for rough stuff. Landings can be somewhat brutal..

  • Glide is about tracking straight
    My 17 ft plus Explorer has less glide than my sub-16 ft Vela on the lesser swells that we mostly actually paddle in, because the latter is quite bow-tight and the first has a very loose bow. On bigger waves, the Explorer has much more glide because the length seems to help it dig in more.

    There are sooo many variables in a hull design - just one of them doesn't tell the story.
  • rough water boat
    valley aquanaut. for all of the above reasons.
  • My 'go to' boat
    I own 4 sea kayaks. Each of them a very good boat. However, if I am to be paddling a broad array of conditions and distances the Aquanaut is my choice. Before I owned my Romany or Nordlow, I used my Aquanaut for everything. It remains my 'go to' boat.
  • Consider the Epic 18X
    It was good enough for Freya to circumnavigate Australia and I have had it in 45 mph wind gusts on the Chesapeake Bay. The plumb bow cuts through the waves nicely without slapping down hard, which causes loss of speed.
  • Options
    Contradictions and compromise
    Beginner, confused waters, rough waters, fast, photogaphy. Beginner and photography might be the same type of boat, confused and rough waters would be a different type of boat, fast is yet another.

    Of the boats you mention, for speed, from fastest to slowest would be the longer QCCs, Nordkapp LV, Explorer, and Romany. For a beginner, that Nordkapp could be a bad mistake. The bigger boats like the Explorer and big QCCs would be the most stable for photography.

    I bet I would love owning a Nordkapp LV, but a larger friend of mine could not keep his upright. Something like an Explorer or Aquanaut does everything very well (if you are not small), but would not be as manueverable as a smaller boat like the Romany or that Nordkapp. The best confused water boat I have been in was my old Pintail, which I sold because it was way too slow and did not track well.

    Try the boats, buy the one that fits, which one seems like it was built for you, and is the best buy. If you are not satisfied after a couple of years, sell it and buy a different boat. Good boats like your list are easy to resell.
  • Not yet mentioned ...
    ... is the Current Designs Extreme aka Nomad. This is a large person's boat (not not an XXL by any means). I know someone who swears by it and paddles it in all kinds of conditions. I've had one for a while and it handled nasty windchop (up to about 3 feet, the kind at/over your eyesight) very well.

    If you look at drag figures, at a certain web site, this was the boat that was #1 at a certain fairly fast speed.

    The QCC 700x will handle confused seas just fine and is probably faster by a smidgen. I've only paddled one briefly in something close to rough for me at the time (high wind and nasty wind chop) and the boat felt great. Liked it better than the Extreme I owned at the time.

    As of late, I seem to like the Cetus line a lot. It is not nearly as fast as the QCC700 but I think it may be a more reassuring choice and give a very good turn of speed in rough conditions. The catch there is to pick the right size as there are significant differences in handling b/w the three...
  • the boat that was #1
    Sea Kayaker found the Valley Rapier 20 the fastest sea kayak they ever tested.

    Such boats are rarely first choices for other than speed.
  • Options
    and then...
    its all the great kayaks thats coming out all the time i guess. made by specialists in roughwater..rockpool ndk valley..tidal race etc ..its quite a jungle.
  • Second the Aquanaut
    My wife has one, and it's a great all-around boat, including in rough water. Great boat for a novice to start with, and you will never "outgrow" it as you develop skills.
    As many others have said, not the Nordkapp LV if you are a novice. It's also a fantastic boat, but not until you have a lot of experience. I watched as my paddling partner went through a learning curve with his Nordkapp LV, which involved a number of unintended capsizes in the first few trips with it. I would recommend it only to someone who has a solid roll and doesn't mind practicing it as they get used to the boat. Once you get used to it and have good bracing skills, it's a fantastic boat - fast, maneuverable, and just as good as any other boat in rough conditions.
  • Options
    ive only paddled the NordKapplv once and a few rolls.
    i paddled the rotomolded nordkapp in very rough water and strong wind. I liked it but i guess the extra rocker of the LV would have been useful in waveplay..
    Why is the nordkapps the favourite with so many great kayakers? of course its great.
  • remove "speed"
    Rough water tends to equalize hulls that have differing speed performance in flatwater.
    But, what do you intend to do? Are you asking about a kayak in which to travel point-to-point confidently through rough water, or a kayak that you can play in the rough water with?
  • Thanks for the imput.
    -- Last Updated: Oct-16-10 10:40 PM EST --

    I'm an intermidate paddler and use my yak for fishing and transportation to fishing locations. I've been in some very rough seas with my Kaskazi sit on top but would like a Sit in yak for the rougher seas and distance.
    It looks like the Qcc 700 or Aquanaut are at the top of the list. FishHawk

  • Avocateare?
    -- Last Updated: Oct-14-10 12:27 AM EST --

    Lots of good boats mentioned in this thread. It seems the one noted by the most paddlers as the preferred boat for the specified conditions is the Aquanaut. Which sort of surprises me, as it is not a new trendy boat like the Cetus, nor sexy boat like a Nordkapp LV, nor is it the focus of a cult such as the QCC boats.

    As is always the case, the 2 or so paddlers who have QCC boats are very fond of them. That more haven't noted the Q600 or Q700 as their preferred boat for the conditions specified may owe as much to few paddlers having had a chance to paddle one in conditions as anything.

    In my decade of sometimes paddling big water I have yet to intersect with someone paddling a QCC boat. Even inland, where I have encountered QCCs, the only one I have had a chance to paddle is a 400 which, I have been told, is a whole different boat than the 600 and 700 boats. Thusfar no one whom I have encountered with a 600 or 700 has offered me the opportunity to paddle it - even after I compliment them on their boat...

  • Just my 2 cents.
    My fastest boats on flat water were also fastest in rough water. That is why when I decided I wanted to go from point a to point b in rough water I always took my Looksha 2 or my Qcc 700. My senses told me they felt fast and my gps confirmed it. So instead of grabbing my Sirocco or Avatar which are good rough water kayaks my senses told me they were slower and my gps agreed.
  • I think I have owned all of the boats
    mentioned so far. Without knowing who is buying the boat for what purpose, it is pretty difficult to give good advice. Based on my experience I would choose the Nordkapp to cover a long distance in rough water. No other boat (for me),once mastered, can give the feeling of oneness with the water like the Nordkapp can. It is a great "feeling" boat. I would choose a QCC 700 to race someone a long distance in rough water and the Epix 18x a close second. If I was going out in rough conditions for a longer paddle with the possibilty of increasingly deteriorating conditions and rescues, I would take the Aquanaut hands down. As WilsoJ2 stated "it is my go to boat". I must say that my Romany Surf is getting very close to filling that role as well, but it is not as well suited to a longer paddle, and strangely enough it does not seem to surf as well as my Aquanuat. I can catch a wave more often in the Naut than the Surf. My Cetus was by far the worst performing boat in off wind and wave conditions. It could be that it was a very early production hull number, or who knows what, but I really struggled with the Cetus. One guy out of ? The kayaks that I am really starting to take note of are the Tiderace line. I have never seen this kind of build quality in a kayak. I have also never seen this kind of excessive weight in a kayak, although I expect the new Thailand made epoxy boats should weigh less. The Tiderace Expore-X was very interesting to me. It turns like no other big boat I have paddled, this also means that you must be less anal about holding your line as the boat is constantly going a little this way and a little that way. I am sure that given more time I could have adjusted to it. I will not buy another boat without checking out the Tiderace model that could fit my need, very , very impressive boats. After having said all of this, my conclusion is that if you needed to ask this question, go with the appropriate sized Aquanaut. It will do everything but paddle for you. Bill
  • A differing opinion
    Allow me to profess my ignorance (and perhaps my agnosticism when it comes to kayak performance), but there are two things I can't help but mention:

    1) Most every boat I've been in handled rough conditions just fine. The difference is in playfulness and (as noted above) 'feel'. But if you don't care about playfulness, but rather are intending simply to transit rough water safely, then a wider PNW style boat like the CD Solstice GT will do just as well, perhaps better, than the playful boats mentioned about.

    2) The OP wants to fish. To me, he needs a stable platform to reel in his catch, and he should probably consider a wide boat with a rudder. Again, a big ol' PNW style boat is probably the best bet.
  • what model of Kaskazi?
    those look like good boats
  • My experience has been the same
    I consistently travel the same distance faster in my Current Designs Extreme or Kajaksport Viviane than I do in my Capella 169 or VCP Selkie, as examples. This has been regardless of flatwater, 4-6 foot waves, wind, or calm.

    I've seen a number of QCC's in this area. I was always surprised at the number that showed up to the Wrightsville Beach Challenge, a local race. I've never paddled one, but would like to give one a try. I never had one finish ahead of me, myself paddling a CD Extreme, Nigel Foster Legend, or CD Solstice GTS. But I've never figured that tells that much about how fast I would be in it. I'm no racer, and there are many much faster. I just have always figured the limit of my ability to make reasonable forward progress is the biggest factor determining the limit of the conditions I can safely paddle in. And I seem to favor kayaks that travel more efficiently when I start approaching 3.5 to 4+ knots, and that don't hit a wall when I have to make runs against currents.
    I'm a fan of the CD Nomad/Extreme. I think it's a great kayak. Not a highly maneuverable kayak, but the positive tradeoffs are obvious and very appreciable when you get out there, and I find the maneuverability quite acceptable.
    If you want a somewhat fast kayak with great maneuverability, and the size works for you (lot more room in this one than a Nomad), you should give a look at the CD Gulfstream. Rough water handling, and high maneuverability with lesser sacrifice of speed (compared to Pintail, Romany, Capella 169, Chatham 16). I think it proves too wide in the cockpit for many. But if you care about speed and a strong forward stroke, I think a good, necessary rule is to make sure there is a finger width between your hips and the sides of the seat. This allows rotation. And yes, you can still securely surf and play in rough water while allowing this important room. So if you're a little wider in the hip area than I, I think D-Hutch came up with something exceptional with the Gulfstream.
    Of course, I cannot dismiss a report of a Chatham 16 not too long ago winning a rough-water race. Just how rough it was would have been fun to experience, and fun to observe in terms of the differing kayak's behaviors out there. As in all races, I also can't comment on the paddler's contribution vs the kayak, which is proven to be wildly significant.
  • 3-rd This!
    My GPS confirms that in both flat and rough conditions I am faster in my 'faster" kayak, the Rapier 18, than in other kayaks I've paddled. Not by much over a longer distance but faster.

    The problem is that, if I get really tired, in "rough" conditions, a kayak like the Rapier (or the QCC700x or the Epic 18x, not the "sport") require user activity to stay upright. That uses-up energy and if one is exhausted can be downright a scary experience even in conditions that when "fresh" would be fun.

    Plus for fishing, I'd want something stable and comfortable, not something that would ask for a brace here and there. Plus, the cockpit of the QCC700x is short (I can't get in seat first) and a spray skirt is required (roug conditions), and there is no day hatch (I think). Not exactly a fishing platform - no room for easily accessible fishing gear and fish, unless stuffed in the hatches... But I don't fish, so what do I know...
  • "confused seas"
    Confused paddlers maybe, but the sea is not confused. I like to use the term textured seas myself .
    All of the boats mentioned are probably good boats for the conditions you are discussing, but in general terms I like "dumb boats". That is boats that are not predisposed to any particular behavior without my encouragement. i.e. Neutral both above and below the waterline. Of course the only real test is for you to paddle the boat in the conditions you mention. However, I would recommend training in those conditions to become less confused before one decides on a particular boat. I must confess that I am the distributor of Rockpool Kayaks in North America as well as the producer of the Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC, and as such I have a particular bias for these boats. Good luck and happy paddling!!
  • handling qualities
    For A to B travel in windy and choppy conditions, the first requirement is a boat that lets you hold any direction with respect to the wind, without excessive stroking, or sweeps, on one side. It must also be stable enough that you don't have to interrupt your forward motion for bracing. You must also be able to turn into or off the wind without excessive difficulty. It is also very nice if it does not broach too quickly in following conditions.

    Before a boat is deemed good in rough water it should pass these tests.

    Rough tide race or surf play requires different handling qualities.
  • confused
    The term 'confused sea state' is used in the scientific literature, so is a perfectly cromulent word to use.

    I mentioned the Coaster above, but in general, all the Mariner Kayaks are famously wind-neutral, resist broaching and are generally well-behaved in dicey conditions. They're hard to find on the east coast, however.
  • Options
    confused seas..
    -- Last Updated: Oct-14-10 4:56 PM EST --

    wave reflections, wind waves at an angle to swell, add some current and rough underwater terrain..yoll get "Confused seas" of course they are not confused, but extremely complicated interactions. waves imposing fase interactions etc..i have studied analogue synths quite a lot..its similar..that being said, im looking forward to cheking out the rockpools! The shopowner where i bought my pintail are now selling rockpool too. We have become very good friends, so i wouldnt be surprised if i end up with an ISEL to compliment the drunk bordercollie
    PINNY..fishing...i used to have a pungo: very nice kayak actually..

  • Marlin
    -- Last Updated: Oct-16-10 10:40 PM EST --

    The Kaskazi Marlin is the boat I have used in 30 knot winds and rough conditions. I think the Aquanaut is on the short list. FishHawk

  • My
    go-to yak on our Northern California coast is my 15'SOT with a full body wet suit. Have been in some nasty conditions where the chance of a spray skirt release is a major problem. And remounts are way easier on a big SOT
  • confused
  • Mariner Kayaks
    Odd that you would mention Mariner Kayaks as wind neutral. I have never paddled a kayak more predisposed to lee cocking than a Mariner boat, although the Mariner ll is a very fine boat in other respects. Are you sure you mean Mariner Kayaks from Seattle?
  • When you are ready
    to handle rough water you probably don't need to ask this question.

    Sorry to sound like a smart a$$ but it's like asking what's the best motorcycle to race with; if you are skilled enough to race you know what bike suit you better.
  • I don't find that logical
  • Rough water requires skills
    when you have developed those skills you know what boat suit you better in rough conditions
  • Thanks...I've never undestood "confused"
    Can the sea be "confused"? I doubt it. Buy whatever kayak fits and gives you a hard-on. Then go paddle the thing on cool trips and forget the internet.
  • Options
    Agree with Carl, the F1 is probably one of the best rough water boats.

    If you "have" to have a production boat, the Romany is a good one.

    Bill H.
  • "extremely complicated interactions"
    Well put.

    However, though the sea is not confused, the term does exist in the literature and we all have some sense of its meaning.

    Among my favorite terms for referring to other than calm water are clapitos (which can readily be 'confused seas')and lumpy water.

    I am particularly fond of lumpy water as a general term. I believe I first heard the term from Tom Bergh years ago. The other general term for other than calm water often heard in these parts is 'interesting water' which I think derives from Steve Maynard.
  • Hearsay
    I guess I'm busted, I've never managed to paddle a Mariner (yes, the ones from Seattle), but have read in many places that they are wind neutral. So I am reporting hearsay as fact, which is a mistake. If your experience is otherwise, then you get the final word.

    I will say that my SC-1, which is a skin-on-frame version of the Coaster, is completely neutral. Apparently the F-1 is similar, but these are Brian's boats, not Mariner's.
  • Wave terminology
    -- Last Updated: Oct-17-10 11:00 AM EST --

    Well, the various colorful terms for sea state have specific meanings which are different, so they aren't really synonyms.

    'Clapotis' is a term for the standing wave pattern that results when a wave train reflects back on itself from a hard surface (e.g. a rock face). If the waves hit square, you get a standing wave with rapidly rising and falling peaks. If the waves hit at an angle, then the interference pattern (of the wave train with itself) will be in the form of rapidly oscillating pyramid waves.

    'Confused seas' is taken to mean crossing seas, i.e. ocean waves progressing in several directions at once. This is from http://www.seatalk.info, an online nautical dictionary.

    'Lumpy seas' or 'lumpy water' seems like a good general purpose term for a sea state that is a mix of wave frequencies, amplitudes and directions. However, 'Lumpy water' is also used in the waste water field, to refer to, well, fill in the blank yourself. So I wouldn't use the term myself, unless I was paddling in the East River during a large storm runoff...

  • Thank you for the clarifications
    I did not mean that all the terms mentioned were synonymous - though it apparently read in that manner...

    Of the terms I mentioned, I was aware that clapitos is very specific. I did not know the specificity of 'confused seas' nor the meaning of 'lumpy water' in common parlance associated with waste water....

    I guess for a general term for not calm seas I may stick with 'interesting' ;-)
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