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BEST PLASTIC SEA KAYAKS

Would appreciate opinions on what you suggest in rotomolded/plastic sea kayaks around 17 ft. length for
an "advanced beginner"-225#/5'11"- for multiday kayak camping on large lakes and large rivers(some rough weather)....probably an occasional visit to New England seas.

Considerations: rigidity/speed/glide/stability...and any other that may come to mind.
Many Thanx!
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Comments

  • Eddyline Fathom, Valley Aquanaut RM
  • suggestion.....
    Prijon plastics have a reputation for being xtra tuff..the kodiak model would be in line with what your looking for.
  • P&H
    Capella or Scorpio should be on your test drive list. Plastic is rigid and light, customer service is first rate and the quality is excellent.
  • what have you paddled?
  • Rudder or Skeg?
    Personally I like the Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 for skeg and Prijon Kodiak for rudder but I'm 50lb lighter than you and there are plenty of other options.
  • Current Designs Sirocco
    Exceptional speed/glide for a kayak with its maneuverability. 225#/5'11' is a big person compared to the average 145# Greenland male that used to hunt out of kayaks (I read that statistic somewhere recently I think?), and this kayak has a roomy cockpit that may be a good comfortable fit for someone your size, but try it on. You don't want to be squeezed in on multi-day trips, but you don't want a lot of excess room either.
    Advanced beginner could mean a couple things. You could be new to kayaking working on picking up skills like comfortable edging and turning strokes and rolling as quickly as you can. Or you could be a long time kayaker not worried about more advanced type handling skills. The stability profile and the edging characteristics would be great for the former, and maybe not so great for the latter. The latter would likely never fully appreciate the maneuverability, but could still appreciate the nice cruising speed.
    Quality construction. Good speed compared to most very easily maneuvered kayaks, yet can maneuver right with them. Handling characteristics on the performance end of things. I wouldn't describe it as a stable boat, but not really one requiring constant attention either. Plenty of room for your multi-day camping. Very capable sea kayak in capable hands.

  • A couple to look at...
    - Valley Aquanaut RM

    - And two new boats on the market for 2011 - The Valley Etain RM and the North Shore Atlantic RM
  • Options
    Maybe Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5 . . .
    . . . I used a Nighthawk 16 down the Mississippi but I am 5'9" 170. It took a lickin' and kept on tickin' plus tracked well, was efficient and carried enough gear for extended trips. You can also probably find one used.
  • Prijon Kodiak
    Not my choice for rivers though ....
  • Options
    plastic
    The Eddylines arn't rotomolded btw.

    I second the Sirocco, nice boat, which I'd not sold mine.

    Bill H.
  • prijon kodiak
    I took my kodiak on a two week trip down the wabash and had no problems with it.
  • Sirocco
    I love my Sirocco. I use it all winter and for rec paddling all year. I find it very stable but not every one does for some reason? I am 5'11" 195lbs. We also have a Tsunami 160 roto in the garage, I have only used that once in the last 2 years and hated it compared to the Sirocco. I also paddle a QCC 700 all summer for racing and training but always take the Sirocco for recreational paddles.
  • Prijon has the best plastic
    Prijon kayaks are made of a superior plastic and pressure molded, not rotomolded. I have a Kodiak and love it. I've gone through an Aquaterra Chinook, Dagger Magellan, Perception Captiva and a Current Designs Storm. None of them can compare to the Kodiak. I'm keeping this one!
  • Kodiak is good
    I like mine: tough, fast, lotsa space. But it is rudder dependent and I'm not the biggest fan of the Prijon rudder gudgeon, which is the weak point on the boat.
  • Valley and P&H plastic
    Both Valley and P&H make very good stiff, strong, plastic boats.
  • Who said they were? The OP asked for
    " suggest in rotomolded/plastic sea kayaks around 17 ft.". Eddyline is thermalformed plastic. IMO Eddyline makes the finest plastic kayaks money can buy. Rockpool and Valley, I think, agree with me (or me with them). If you do not put them through extreme abuse, they are the better choice for me versus other plastics and rotomolded boats. Lighter, better looking, stiffer, and better performance all hit home with me. I would include it in the search based on the OP. Bill
  • interesting
    As someone who sounds like they've tried them all, thanks. I hadn't thought of it as an alternate to poly, but now thermoform has me intrigued and it seems like more and more manufacturers are moving to this material. I'd like to try a rockpool TF kayak, it might just change my perspective shopping list.
    Do you know how durable (impact-resistant) it is compared to poly, and how is it repaired?
  • Agreed on Valley
    Very bomber construction and fun hull shapes. I like the fact that they weld their plastic bulkeads, but since no other manufacturers (that I know of) do so, one wonders whether they are ahead of the game or off on a tangent. I seem to recall that P&H used to weld their plastic bulkeads, but all the recent models I've seen have foam.
  • No, but they are plastic
    nt
  • I agree, for what it's worth ...
    ... since I don't know much about plastic. I did get a chance to take good look at a Rockpool, USA model, which is made by Edyline. While the Edyline boats do nothing for me, the Rockpool looks like a sea kayak (to me that is: I like the Brit form boats). If they perform like the "real McCoy", their cousins from accross the pond, they would be very intersting.

    Sure, they're not roto molded, but they are plastic. Downside is cost: they approach glass territory. But lighter in weight.

    As far as roto, P&H and Valley are indeed tops. Not only in build quality, but the hulls themselves.

    All very subjective of course.
  • Bulk heads - Valley
    Welded bulkheads are much stronger.....
  • Options
    welded bulkheads
    Hard welded bulkheads also create hard spots on the hull, bad idea for a plastic boat. Foam bulkheads are actually more expensive than plastic ones, they are not used cause they are cheap, they are used cause they work.

    Bill H.

  • Triple-layer Polyethylene..
    With Valley's boats being made of triple-layer Polyethylene... you will not have the spotting issues you speak of.
  • trade-offs
    While A foam bulkhead can flex with the hull or deck it is not appropriate to brace against. Welded bulkheads can be braced against as you would in a composite boat. I would imagine that the solid welded bulkheads add more stiffness than epoxied foam ones.
  • concave welded bulkheads
    The plastic Valley boat we have has concave welded bulkheads, so no noticeable hard spot.

    Perhaps there's a downside that I'm missing, but I'd much rather have welded bulkheads than foam. Foam bulkheads all leak eventually, and you can't brace on them.
  • Foam attachment
    Can't agree that all foam bulkheads eventually leak. My experience recently being P&H. Formerly the system was of welded in plastic bulkheads. Very strong. Actually perhaps too much as wear marks concentrate on the exterior of the hull along the bulkheads. The current Corelite 3 layer material is a tad lighter than the older version. This doesn't put up with the heat of electrical welding as well so the foam is chemically fused to the inner surface. Individual results may vary but from the various P&H/Pyrahna/Venture Scorpios, Capellas and Fusions that have been in the Fleet, no problems to date.

    Ok that used up a cup of coffee.


    See you on the water,
    Marshall
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
    www.the-river-connection.com
  • Eddyline
    -- Last Updated: Jan-20-11 8:42 AM EST --

    Eddylines are great boats! Their manufacturing and construction are top notch and they have designs that will fit your needs. Customer service is beyond compare but you will seldom if ever need it.

    I have had a Nighthawk 17.5 in Modulus for about 6 years now. The 17.5 "might" be just a little large for you since I'm 6'3" and weigh about 275 and even I still have room in it. Depends on what type of fit you like. However, you may want to go with one of their models with the large size cockpit, since I can't get in the NH16, as great a boat as it is, but it should work for you. The Journey is a little short but has a larger cockpit and is one you definately should try. Unfortunately the Fathom is the right length, and plenty of volume, but has a smaller cockpit opening, but if you can fit comfortably in a NH16 it may be a good consideration.

    The material is tough. Unfortunately, I found out how tough this past year when I torpedo lanched my boat down a paved driveway off of the top my Jeep where it slid under another car. I thought it had had it. But, except for a few scratches that polished out (and the car's hood) everything is OK.

  • Thanks
    That's good to hear. I hope to add a Delphin to the fleet soon, and while the bulkhead material certainly wasn't going to change my decision, I'm encouraged to hear that the P&H bulkheads are holding up better than their North American counterparts. I've seen so many Necky, LL Bean, Perception, etc kayaks with leaking or completely displaced foam bulkheads over the years.
  • Slush, nothing compares to roto as far
    as durability is concerned. My problem with roto is mostly the weight. Roto tends to fuzz up and I also do not care for that. Finally, roto will deflect more and cause a loss of forward movement because of it, they simply are not as efficient. All of this applies, for me, to longer sea kayaks. The failure mode for thermal formed kayaks is different from any other material. Failure "usually" results in a crack or fracture. This crack is easily repaired with commercially available glues and adhesives. A more serious fracture resulting in the loss of a "piece" of the boat is far less likely, and far more difficult to deal with. Coming down hard on a rock in the cockpit area can result in a crack to the hull. Dropping the boat, or hitting something hard, both in cold weather can create a failure of some kind. Thermal formed is not for high abuse types of paddling like white water or rock gardening ( IN MY OPINION). The new Rockpool boats are thicker than the typical Eddyline material and as such may be far more resistant to these issues. Outside of dropping the boat in cold weather, anything that damages a thermal formed boat will likely also damage a composite boat. The repair is almost always easier, but the final cosmetic result will not be as good in the thermal formed boat. You will spend $100's getting the composite boat fixed, versus about $.25 in glue on the thermal formed (provided there are not pieces broken out). The thermal formed boat will take alot of abuse and come out of it looking much better than the composite. I really like the thermal formed boats and am waiting for one of the manufacturers to sponsor me :) If you plan on bouncing down a rock filled river, forget it. Roto is the only way to go for this. I don't fit in the Alaw Bach or I would own one. The newer model Fathom is a fantastic boat and I hope to have one someday. My only gripe on the Fathom is the height of the foredeck, it makes it comfortable, but it is just a tad high in proportion to the rest of the boat. It will be interesting to see if Valley has Eddyline make their new hull in thermal formed, and if Rockpool has them make another design larger than the Alaw Bach. My feeling is that once the higher quality thermal formed boats get a critical mass of momentum in the market, they could become the dominate form of construction. Bill
  • At 6'3" 250 lbs I have plenty of room
    in the Fathom. I remove the hip pads on the coaming verticals and find it fits really well. With the newer low back deck, this boat is a great performer for various rolls and is easy to re-enter. The Fathom has a ton of cockpit and hatch room and is a very efficient hull form. I wish I owned one, Blue deck/white hull, or white/white. :) Bill
  • that's what I dislike about poly also
    Much of it is aesthetic, but some of it is the weight. It seems that in order to get a rigid enough poly you are looking at a build like Valley has. Which is heavier. I'm not sure if the poly Valley boats are as flexy as, say, a perception kayak.
    The fact that a british builder like Rockpool is using thermoform interests me because we know what kind of conditions the brits have at their disposal. So Rockpool must have some confidence in the material.
  • I love my Aquanaut RM LV, but the
    roto construction is a challenge for me as far as weight and efficiency go. Everything else about this boat is absolutley fantastic. I abuse the hell out of it and all it does is treat me like a king in return. I cannot say enough good about the boat. Now, having said this, I could replace it and my Romany S with a new Fathom. The Fathom would have the durability of the Naut along with its roll friendly traits, and the storage and off wind/wave manners of the Romany S, all in a boat that is faster than both of them. Do you like the psychotic manner in which I talk myself into another boat, a good boat whore will do that:) Bill
  • Smaller Nighthawk coming
    I emailed Eddyline a few months ago about the possibility of a high volume boat between the Journey and the Nighthawk. I was written back by the owner (Tom- can't remember his last name) that they're reworking the Nighthawk. As I remember, it's supposed to be smaller. It's supposed to come out sometime this year.
  • Deflection?
    I've heard again and again about loss of efficiency in roto boats due to flex/deflection, etc. How much of this is myth? The Valley RM boats that I've "tested" (pushing down hard on the hull) seem to have no more deflection than the composites. I know that a Prijon hull actually deflects less than my 46 lb Mariner.
  • Probably "snake oil"
    about the deflection as it relates to tripping speeds. I got no numbers but I just can't imagine anyone being able to tell a difference in *efficiency* due to flex. One can feel flex in certain situation but does that mean the boat is perceptibly or measurably slower for that?

    The real stopper, pun intended, I think is the fuzzyness that develops with hard use on rocks and sand. That can be dealt with (shave, melted, smoothed) but never as smooth as composite or thermoformed plastic.

    Weight - that can't be dealt with. A heavy boat will require more energy to deal with no matter what - thatks more to accelerate at each stroke, more to steer, sinks deeper for more drag, harder to get to and from the water...

  • don't forget repairability
    For me one of the reasons to buy composite boats is because they can be repaired more easily. Also, they don't abrade as easily as plastic, so for some uses they're a lot more durable than rotomolded.
  • Respectfully disagree Griffin
    I can't recall one Valley boat cracking at the bulkhead weld. Could be wrong, but just haven't seen or heard of such. Your reply sounds like a competitive marketing line Vs a valid engineering point. Having been an R&D guy in the business I will share my opinion, for what it's worth?: The welding process is very tough when done correctly but involves a special meash wire screen that gets charged electrically so as to melt the poly together. Too much juice and burn-out, too little = poor bond. Done right = great bulkhead! Most manufacturers favor foam because it's easy, fast, works well, and is cost effective = more margin and simplified manufacturing = smart. This does not mean that Valley's approach is weaker. Having messed with all approaches, I'd personally opt for welded bulkheads such as Valley's. If I built and sold 50,000 poly kayaks a year I'd use foam...

    Having said that, I'd buy whatever kayak fit me the best and I enjoyed paddling the most and I'd live with whatever system they employed. Really doesn't matter much, except for internet forums.
  • It is not snake oil. Of this I am sure.
    It is also not about pushing on the deck of a roto boat to see how it moves. Take my carbon/kevlar Nordkapp and pick it up at both ends with two people and jerk it up and down. Now do the same thing with a roto Nordkapp. That flex over the length of the boat is what is robbing you of speed on the waves. If the water is calm, there is likely to be no real difference provided the coefficient of friction is the same. The movement lost in flex is lost in forward travel and it also changes the profile of the wetted surface. You will also see a more noticeable difference in acceleration. During my windsurfing days, the change from plastic hulls to carbon was like night and day in terms of acceleration and speed. The Eddyline made thermal formed boats are highly rigid and thus do not suffer from this issue. If these things matter to you, test the difference, if not, ignore it. Either way it is real.
    Bill
  • Makes some sense, but...
    I'm not sure waggling a boat from both ends on land is the same as loading it on water. Do plastic boats really go banana shaped in the water with the weight of the paddler? I'd like to see some vigorous testing of the claim that plastic boats are less rigid, particularly in respect to the newer plastics. Composite hulls do flex some: that is what all the popular hammer tests show.

    I think the real difference is in weight, which affects acceleration and speed over the long haul.
  • Options
    not 17 feet but darned sea worthy
    http://kayakcamping.amongstit.com/2011/01/18/ted-keys-video-of-the-inuit-being-paddled-through-lava-falls/

    check out this video to see a Native Inuit 14.5 and see for yourself if it's tough enough. Plenty of room for 2-3 day trips although these guys did over a week. Gotta wait a minute before you'll see the Inuit run Lava Falls.
  • What do you think two waves do when
    they pick up a boat? I don't think "vigorous testing" is needed to understand that hull flex is detrimental to a hulls efficiency. Again, I suggested that if someone is concerned about this, they need only test a hull that is offered in roto and composite. My Nordkapp example is exactly what I did. I also said that the Eddyline thermal formed boats are highly rigid, thus stating that there are rigid hull alternatives in plastic. Bill
  • Fair enough...
    I guess I would just be curious to know how much deflection? At what weight? Over what hull length? For a total loss of efficiency of what percent?

    We measure everything else with our kayaks.
  • re test
    Are you quite sure that the hulls are identical?

    Plastic shrinks as it cools, making a mold to produce a hull identical to composite layup is non trivial. Going the other way - making a mold based on plastic kayak to produce composite boat - is much easier, but I am quite sure only Jackson has done it (maybe) for their playboat.

    I hope Salty chimes in.
  • I would do it, but I am too lazy.
    I just go by my life experiences with this sort of stuff. The windsurfing one in particular really reinforced this notion. The flex of roto is not really the big issue for me, it is the weight. The Eddyline is both lighter and stiffer. The only thing it lacks versus roto is impact resistance, and for me this is not a deal breaker as I don't white water paddle, or rock garden. I know that I can feel the flex in my Aquanaut LV RM in certain wave conditions. I would buy this boat again a hundred times over as it does so much else so well. It is not huge issue, but it is an issue. Bill
  • I am quite sure they are not identical,
    but I don't think this has much bearing on the issue in general, not specifics. They are close enough in design that gauging the level of flex is still relevant. Flex robs efficiency. Bill
  • add to that:
    The weight of a loaded poly kayak. I'd think this would increase deflection.
    Of course, if we're not convinced, I know I could always use another excuse for a boat purchase!
  • Really doesn't matter much...
    -- Last Updated: Jan-21-11 1:31 PM EST --

    except if one greatly prefers bracing off the bulkhead rather than foot pegs - which some of us do. This would be less of an issue if sea kayak manufacturers emulated ww boats which often have a sliding foot rests the size of a bulkhead.

  • Options
    bulkheads
    The problem with the hard edges of bulkheads really only show up if you just happen to catch one at exactly the right spot at the wrong time. It's not a problem otherwise. Seeing it show up on a forum in a couple years of production would be rare, specially for a boat built as well as Valley does. Having a problem show up in 10 years might happen, has on certain fiberglass boats.

    With new boats if it were a problem the manufacturer's warranty would cover it and you'd never hear about it here or on the other forums, takes years.

    Still if I were in the market for a grossly heavy poly boat, which I'm not, I'd buy the design I liked and wouldn't give it a thought either way what the bulkheads were.

    Bill H.
  • Options
    kayaks
    Btw, I don't buy kayaks, not in years and years. I build kayaks. Not paying anyone thousands of dollars for one, sorry.

    Bill H.
  • If they're poly boats, then they are not
    using epoxy. Even West G-flex is too stiff, and requires expensive labor to prepare the inside of the hull by flaming. A urethane glue, maybe.
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