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STABLE kayak suggestions for my wife

If any of you remember me...I started a thread a month or two ago asking about a kayak for me. Some people started asking me about wet exit, and self rescue and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Thankfully they did, though, as it gave me more to research and I found out there was a lot more I needed to know.

Since then, my wife and I have taken a 4-part Sea Kayaking class that did plenty of self and assisted rescues and we know 'the basics'.

We are going to the NW paddle fest this weekend to try out some boats. One of the people helping with the class has a kayak for sale that felt great to me, and I may get it from him if I don't 'fall in love' with any this weekend.

Anyway, we are still looking for one that my wife feels better in. She hasn't found any that feel comfortably stable yet.

She's about 5'6" and 210 lbs.

We are definitely leaning toward sit-in sea kayaks (17' range).

Can you recommend some good kayaks that are very stable? At this beginner level, we've learned that we aren't horribly concerned with speed and handling as much.

Main requirements: STABLE and tracks decently well.

We'll probably stick mostly to lakes this first year, but plan to get into salt water soon enough.

Suggestions please? What are some good well known very stable kayaks that are good for beginners of larger size?

Thanks in advance. :)


  • Strictly 17'?
    If there's some leeway in that parameter I would recommend the new Venture Jura as a poly option.

    Composite options for Stable, North Shore Atlantic or North Shore Ocean 17 could be fun.

    Any idea which brands or models will be present for you to try out?

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • Options
    Dumping out the vendors that aren't really what we want, this is my list of vendors to check out.

  • Options
    Thanks for suggestions....not 'strict' on the 17', no.

    I like the look of those, especially that Jura. Too bad they won't be at the fest to check out.
  • Current Designs older Solstice series
    You'd probably be looking at the boats for bigger folks in that series to accommodate cockpit fit for your wife - but aside from the Solstice GT these boats just do not like to capsize. Of course all boats can, but they will do so much less easily. In fact, I found out with my first boat (a Squall) that they are a PITA to roll. They have so much of an interest in that secondary stability point that they hate to pass it in either direction, going down or coming back up. The boat for your wife in the Solstice series is probably the Storm. Comes in plastic too, which makes it less expensive.

    I have not sat in these boats myself, but the other one I'd have her try is one of the larger boats in the Vision series, CD's transitional line. It appears that these boats have CD's older ethic hull (really hates to capsize) with a lower deck and a cockpit made to be easy to get into.
  • stable boats
    find boats you fit in. good contact with feet,thighs and hips makes a world of difference.
    Also, be willing to get a boat that feels a little tippy. A boat that feels great and super stable right now will feel like a bath tub in a couple of months. I know many paddlers who started in a boat that felt tippy and after 3-4 outings were 100% comfortable.
    If you want a good all around 17 footer and want plastic as a first boat, the Wilderness systems Tempest is a great choice.

    I have worked safety boat at the NW paddle fest for several years and watched LOTS of people try boats along with demoing many myself. Be willing to move a boat around,get it on edge and get wet even. Paddling out in a straight line and back as MANY do at the paddle fest tells you little about a kayak.
    Since you are in the NW, I highly recommend Rogue Wave Adventures or Body-Boat-Blade for more advanced instruction as you progress.
  • Stability is in the eye of the beholder
    It would help a lot to know what boats your wife tried and found to be uncomfortably unstable.

    Also, what boat are you considering?

    Finally, outside of the classes you took, how much paddling has your wife done? If the answer is "little" or "none" then this may indeed just be a case of a new paddler needing a bit of time to adjust to sea kayaks, particularly if the boats you used in your classes were beamier types.
  • Options
    Paddling experience
    The answer for both of us is little or not. I agree somewhat....I think I'm convincing her that she doesn't need to be perfectly rock solid because that's unlikely.

    The first boat she tried was a really old Northwest Cadence. Then she tried a Seaward Chinook Tx (borrowed from one of teaching assistants at class).

    I think the bigger problem with her was that both were kind of high off the water and hard for her to do the reentry.

    The Chinook Tx was the one I tried (only briefly) but really felt comfortable in.
  • At the risk of bleeding into
    the realm of marriage counseling - it might be best to step out of the decision making and let her take charge. She has essentially the same experience as you - meaning none - so she can seek advice from people she trusts and then make her own decision. That way in the end it will be a decision that she made and she will be motivated to make the decision work. Just a thought.
  • Options
    Letting her make decision
    Thanks for the advice. I understand where you are coming from.

    I'm certainly not trying to make the decision for her. I'm the "researcher" type, she's not. She's a bit overwhelmed and appreciative of me doing some leg work to help narrow down her choices. She has few resources to ask, and she's pretty shy and not the type to seek out advice.

    I'm trying to help narrow the selection for her with her definitely making the actual decision. I'm not trying to step on her toes in any way.
  • Cockpit size
    On your list there are at least two brands that won't fit your wife because the cockpits are small: Delta and QCC. She should be looking for a cockpit that's about 18" x 35".

    I think you should rethink the length. Some here will disagree (vehemently), but I think 17' is an awful lot to handle for a beginner. Match the length to your intended use. There are kayaks in the 12- to 15-foot range that are seaworthy.

    I recommend that your wife try the Eddyline Denali, a 15-footer that's new this year. I believe the cockpit will fit your wife. I have not paddled it and there are no consumer reviews of it yet. Here's a review by Sea Kayaker magazine: http://www.eddyline.com/wp-content/uploads/Sea-Kayaker-Review-Denali-2014.pdf

    And a video:

    For stability, Deltas are quite a bit more stable than Eddylines, but Eddyline has the cockpit that fits your wife. The Denali has more volume in the bow and stern than other Eddylines, so it may be more stable (as the Sea Kayaker review indicates). The Eddyline Journey will probably not fit your wife due to the low cockpit, which is quite confining in the thigh area, and it may not have the stability you're looking for.

  • Look at used kayaks and do not limit
    yourself. I frequently use a 13.5 ft Northwest Kayaks Sportee. Paddled 25 miles around Resurrection Bay yesterday and did a trip down and up a class 2 section of The Kenai River the day before. If you can find an Eddyline Falcon, the 16ft fiberglass model, A Mariner Coaster or Express. Demo it.
  • The QCC 400X cockpit is deep, which
    makes the 16"x30" inner cockpit dimensions less of an issue than on the shallower QCC models (600 & 700).

    I'm 5'6" and 160 and my 400X feels too loose in the cockpit and too stable to me.

    The challenge for the OP's wife will likely be entry and exit, not fit after sitting in seat.

    Our 400X is the only sit in kayak that my wife will get into because she is stiff and lower volume kayaks, even with longer dimensions, such as the kevlar Perception Eclipse, were less easy for her to get in and out of.

  • More on deck height/ Solstice
    -- Last Updated: May-09-14 9:11 AM EST --

    Take the CD Solstice boats off your list if you need an easier deck height for re-entry. They will be too tall. But the Visions might solve that from the description on the web site.

    I wouldn't get hung up on length. My first sea kayak was close to 17 ft, when I didn't have a clue, and I had that boat offshore in some stuff that was frankly nastier than I should have been it. I always managed to get her to go where I wanted, even the one day where it was a bit of an argument. Higher winds and unusually big rollers - so it just took a little longer. My shorter go-to sea kayak maneuvers more easily, but you said you were more about a predictable experience right now.

    I personally never matched the Eddyline boats because their cockpit fit for my size was like a pair of Addidas sneakers on my feet. The shape of things in the cockpit just did not work for how I was configured. But - I demo'd a number of them including some of their more challenging ones, and never found them to be particularly unstable in the water. They have a V-hull that tips around in a driveway. But when you get that shape into the water they are just fine. I don't love the Journey because I find it to be less responsive than I like, but an outfitter around here sold a number of them after they came out to people who wanted a little extra head room on the stability part. No returns.

    Actually, if not-fast works for you take a hard look at the (oops on earlier mistake) WS Alchemy for your wife, will need to check both sizes. Newbies have been picking them up from an outfitter around here since they came out, and none of those paddlers has found the water by accident yet.

  • Options
    Xplore, Xtra and Vortex - bombproof and stable (Vortex is a plastic version of Xtra pretty much, easier on the pocket)
  • vintage used
    Occassionally a vintage Dagger Magellan turns up for sale in good shape, made in the 80's, 17' touring kayak. I had one for years as my loaner for friends and dates, wish i had held on to it. it was very stable but easy to paddle to decent speed and tracked well, with or without the rudder. i had countless folks of all sizes, mostly novices in it and all felt very secure in it. Paddled it a few times myself and enjoyed the feel and performance. The stock seat is a little funky but the back can be replaced with a backband. It is a little heavy (62 #) but a durable and reliable craft. I bought it for $400 and sold it 8 years later for $450 (actually had buyers bidding me for it when i posted it on Craigslist).

    Another very stable and superlight boat is the Pakboat folding kayak model xt-15. Pakboat is replacing it with their new Quest models so you might find a discount on it and the slightly larger XT-16. The XT-15 is only 39 lbs. The inflatable sponson design makes it very stable but the aluminum frame, PVC/poly skin and shape make it perform very much like similar sized hardshells and it is actually more stable in rough water than a rigid boat.
  • From your list
    The only mfg. I carry and have direct experience (recently. I'll let others weight in on CD, Eddyline, etc. as my seat time is dusty with those brands) is P&H, Valley & North Shore.

    In their current offerings;
    P&H Cetus, or Ceti - never sure of the plural
    P&H Scorpio - the shorty poly Ceti
    P&H Delphin/Aries - While a touring surf boat the civil primary stability is very reassuring, even if you're not in breaking surf.
    Valley Etain 177 for you
    North Shore Atlantic for your wife
    North Shore Ocean 17 for your wife and the Ocean 176 for you
    North Shore Atlantic & LV Poly

    Paddle this list then have lunch.

    Others will have more suggestions I'm sure.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • Here's one for ya.
    The Next Adventure Paddle store in Portland Oregon has two brand new Maelstrom Vaags on clearance for $2600. It might be well worth a drive down to Portland to have a look and see if the fit is right. Check out their paddles and other gear while you're there. I've made some purchases there that are unbelievable.
  • OP's wife
    5'6" 210 lbs

    There couldn't be a worse cockpit for her than 16 x 30. There is no way she can get in or out of it, so the question of fit once she's in is moot. Her body shape also hints at a level of fitness that's not going to allow entry and exit acrobatics.
  • Longer doesn't always = easy entry.
    The OP's wife may not fit in the 400X, but also may not fit in a kayak with a 34" long cockpit, unless there is enough depth to go with the length.

    I have to hold and balance any boat my wife gets in or out of because of her stiffness. Even her SOT.
  • Too many assumptions
    You are assuming that the configurations given mean that the OPer's wife is carrying much of her weight in her hips and thighs.

    Without seeing her or the OPer verifying this, none of us know if that is true. I know of more than one woman who has a relatively heavy weight for their height but carries is throughout their body, really as much like a guy as anything. And at least a few of them have proportionally skinny thighs.

    There is also the issue of thigh length to make it to a good fit under the thigh braces, a further number that can change as the cockpit gets biggier and no one here knows.

    I tend to agree with Yanoer about depth - it can matter as much or more than the horizontal measurements of the cockpit. And we do not have enough information here to assess that precisely.

    Delta kayaks, while not my cup of tea, also have the characteristic of being fairly lightweight. (Don't know where the QCC's land these days) The OPer's wife may find this to be a desirable feature.
  • "V hull tips over in the driveway"
    That was true of the previous generation of Eddylines, like the Merlin XT, which had a deep V hull. The newer design (e.g. Journey) has a moderate V hull and is more stable.
  • Doesn't really matter in this case
    A person who is 5'6" and 210 lbs isn't going to fit into a QCC comfortably no matter where her weight is, and I think this is probably true for Deltas also. Those are just the wrong brands for those body types. Eddyline would fit the person in question better because Eddyline has made an attempt to cater to larger people.
  • Not the point
    -- Last Updated: May-11-14 11:25 PM EST --

    Your assumption that how a kayak behaves on a hard surface directly indicates you it will behave on the water - not a new idea - completely ignores the resistance that develops as the boat heels. Hitting the pavement is not same dynamic as a boat responding to degrees of heel in waves.

    The Journey is not more resistant to capsize than other boats because it has a shallower V. It is a combination of factors.

    If stability relied on as limited a test as you suggest, there would have been no reason for Sea Kayaker magazine to have posted all those graphs with each boat review. The could just measure how much a boat fell over from its center and call it more or less stable from how many inches it fell.

  • No
    I know quite large people who fit into one boat rather than another BECAUSE one is deeper. In one case, a well over 6 ft tall guy, the cockpit opening is exactly the same between the boat he can't get into and the one he paddles. The difference is in the depth.

    We have had exactly the same experience in our boats with some women. Thy couldn't get into a boat with a larger cockpit due to deck height, could get into one with a narrower cockpit and more depth.

    Yanoer is right - depth matters and there is no reason to rule out the possibility that any of the manufacturers you mention might not have a boat that would work.

    I long ago lost track of the number of people we have put into our boats, to give them a chance to see what a sea kayak feels like. We have often shown up with two cartops full of boats - up to four boats on each - for these ad hoc sessions. So we have a seen a lot of people of various configurations fit - or not fit - into a given cockpit configuration.
  • That Vaag...
    ...is an incredible boat - spent a couple of hours in a friend's, and it felt like I could trust it to go anywhere, do anything. Real solid in the water, turns readily, tracks well, beautifully built and finished. If I was looking, the Vaag would be No. 2 on the list - Eastern Island Makkovik would be No. 1.
  • have you heard of ocean cockpits?
  • Try the Eddyline Carribean sit on top
    I am not quite that weight, but am not a lightweight, and have the long legs which I don't want to have to work to get in and out of a cockpit in the really hot summers we have. I have had the Carribean s.o.t. by Eddyline in the 14' length (it also comes in a 12') and it is stable. We've had it on the lakes/reservoirs, the American River, and down in the Delta with mild rapids, breezes, currents, and powerboat wash, and in spite of not having a rudder, if you weight the front AND the back with a little bit of gear (because you're in the middle as a heavy pivot point) the thing tracks and steers amazingly well. It is easy to get in and out of, and if you somehow manage to go over, you just flip it back over and it drains itself, none of this having to pump it out. The only time I've done this was by leaning too far over towards upstream side while turned sideways in a heavy current, which one shouldn't do anyway. (insert "embarrassed" icon here) I was very impressed that the inverted kayak did not take off without me, but waited patiently for me to come back up.... smaller one might have.

    We got this kayak so I could load it completely by myself if I need to, which is another huge plus, at only 50 lbs, all I have to do is grab one of the handles and pivot it around to the truck, and then I can lift one end in, then go back and slide it myself in before strapping it to the truck tie downs we have mounted inside the bed.

    My other kayak is a heavier and very, very sturdy, stable sea workhorse, an older 13' Ocean kayak fishing model sit on top. I am a little surprised these aren't on your list, as they are really made for those of us who hate being enclosed in a cabin, they are super easy to get in and out of, and made for those who want something which is almost impossible to flip over, and are nearly indestructible. Okay, they aren't the faster things in the world, but, both of these longer fishing kayaks can keep up with other kayaks who are not being paddled for the sake of being paddled really fast.... like a racing kayak. They CAN go faster than the shorter recreational kayaks, and if you work them a bit, they can go fast enough for a fun race. The Ocean kayak is a bit heavier than the Eddyline but I can't tip it by leaning over - I've tried. Both can take over 300 lbs of human and gear.

    Both of these would be really great for building confidence, and you can always get a "touring" kayak next year- but you may not want it, after paddling them.

  • You misinterpreted my meaning
    Eddyline discontinued the Merlin XT in part because of low stability for beginning and intermediate kayakers. The problem, according to Eddyline, was the deep V hull.

    I said, "The newer design (e.g. Journey) has a moderate V hull and is more stable." Those are two separate facts. The Journey has a moderate V hull. It is more stable than the Merlin XT. There are other factors that have a negative or positive impact on the Journey's stability.
  • Most of the suggestions
    made in this thread are for quite expensive composite sea kayaks. Is there any merit to giving consideration to a plastic kayak? The OP's wife is a beginner after all. Why not get into something less expensive and then later after you have a few years experience and you have a better idea what you want move into a composite - if you feel the need at all.
  • Of course depth matters
    -- Last Updated: May-12-14 10:47 PM EST --

    I recommended a cockpit of about 18 x 35 for the OPs wife. A depth of about 13-14" might be about right for her, depending on her weight distribution. 12" or 12.5" would probably not work for this individual.

    Yanooer wrote, "The OP's wife may not fit in the 400X, but also may not fit in a kayak with a 34" long cockpit, unless there is enough depth to go with the length."

    I agree, of course, and that's why I previously said,"The Eddyline Journey will probably not fit your wife due to the low cockpit, which is quite confining in the thigh area." Eddyline came out with the Denali this year to overcome that common complaint about the Journey.

    I think it's commendable when a company like Eddyline makes an effort to offer at least two cockpit sizes and depths to accommodate different-sized paddlers. QCC's one-size-fits-all 16x30 cockpit targets a specific body type.

    There's a difference between fitting a cockpit once you're in it and getting in and out of it comfortably. That can take some agility, which a larger person might not have. OP, ask your wife if she wants to do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59NrjneHcUo

  • Feel free to give your definition
    of an ocean cockpit so we can have a free for all.
  • Options
    I thought since you good people were kind enough to give so much advice, I'd tell you the results of what we liked.

    First, I'll say for me, I really liked a couple, but not so much more than the Seaward Chinook Tx that a friend is selling to justify the cost, so I'll be sticking with buying my friend's Seaward Chinook Tx.

    *MY* top picks were:
    Current Designs Solstice GT
    Eddyline Fathom
    Eddyline Denali
    QCC 400X
    Tiderace Xscape-x (I'd like to go back at some point and try the regular instead of the X).

    My wife's top picks were:
    Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165
    QCC Q500x/Q400x (said they felt same to her)
    Sterling Grand Illusion (her favorite)
  • Before you buy.
    Do some poking around on that Chinook. The ones I have had experience with have been quite squishy. Compare it with the Eddyline ABS. If you do that comparison, take a good hard look at the Eddyline Raven. That is a great boat.
  • nevermind
    Advise away.
  • QCC
    One thing to remember, if you buy a QCC new and don't like it, they'll take it back, which takes out some of the risk.

    If you're buying used, it helps to know that a Swift Caspian Sea is the same boat as a Q400. I have a Q400 and really like it. BTW, I'm 100% sure the Q500 is too big for your wife.
  • such as...?
  • Sterling
    makes some great boats. I had the chance to paddle an Illusion a couple years ago and came away very impressed.

    It's a very different boat from the Tsunami. But if your wife feels comfortable, I think it would be an ideal choice, as it's definitely not a boat that she'll ever outgrow, skills-wise.

    (Note - I have no idea about the relative merits of the QCC boats. Never paddled one)
  • Options
    did you all get boats yet?
    Hi -

    My partner and I tested the P&H Capella 173 day before yesterday and we both liked it. He is 5'10, 220#, and I am 5'5", 240#s.
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