Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Tips for Noob in a Sea Kayak?

I picked up my first kayak (an Old Town Heron 9XT) on Labor Day. I've been using the heck out of it and having a great time. But I wanted to do more. I knew I wanted a sea kayak.

I did a lot of reading online. Read lots of reviews. Decided I probably wanted a Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, but figured I would demo a bunch of them over the coming months and get one sometime early next year. Then I was browsing Craigslist today.

Long story short... I brought home a couple year old Tempest 165, a Werner all carbon paddle, a TON of gear including a wet suit, winter boots, waterproof pants, dry top, several under shirts, two pair of gloves, two spray skirts, a cockpit cover, deck bag, paddle float, bilge pump, and bunch of other stuff... for $600.

Now I have this fancy new (to me) kayak sitting outside begging to be used tomorrow after work. I fit in it perfectly. I Googled around and did all the measurements and I'm a perfect fit for this thing... 5'8, 175 lbs, 29" inseam.

So... given that my only kayak experience so far has been three weeks of paddling a little rec boat around, what should I pay attention to when I climb into this thing tomorrow?

I'll be doing this on the Willamette River here in Salem, Oregon. There's a nice.. dang, I wish I knew what it was called... slough? That doesn't quite fit because it's not that shallow, more like a reverse peninsula.. that's about a mile long by a couple hundred yards wide. It's separated from the river by a narrow little bit of water only about 18" deep by 10-12' wide that prevents anything with a motor, or bigger than an inflatable raft, from getting through. So it's perfect for paddling.

I have no desire to try to roll this thing until I take the rolling class, which won't be for at least a few weeks or more. I'm already signed up for Kayaking Essentials on the 6th, then Rescues on the 14th, and a more advanced Essentials class (this time with Nigel Foster) at the end of October. So after that, I'll do Rolls, and then take the Sea Paddling class, also with Nigel.

But in the meantime... any tips? Or should I just leave the thing alone and keep paddling the Rec boat until I've had training? If I go out, I'll gear up all the way in case I get wet, since the river water is probably in the high 50's now given the cooler weather we've been having.




  • Suggestions
    Before you start, watch some videos on self-rescues so that you have an idea what to expect. There are lots of these available, so look and learn. Do some web searches as there is a decent bit of information about the river online, such as this:


    Once you reach the water, put on your immersion gear and go into the water. If you can stand the temperature, then that's as bad as it will get all day.

    The Williamette isn't a fast moving body of water when it reaches Portland, and I've paddled that in canoes before. Here, there may be wakes from the occasional ship or tug of which you might wish to be aware. Turn into any such turbulence and take it bow on (since you are a novice, I'm not going to recommend trying to surf). If you are on another part of the river, I can't comment on the conditions. I can say that when you paddle beside on of the large ships, you get a real perspective of not only their size and power, but also just how insignificant you are to one of them.

    If you are planning a solo paddle, the following applies:

    Stay close to shore - no further than you wish to swim. This may put a crimp in your style, but taking chances before you are familiar with the risks and learn what it is like to paddle this body of water is ill-advised. Bring a well protected cell phone or other signalling gear and leave a float plan with the local authorities (sheriff, coast guard, park rangers or whatever)

    If you are paddling with a partner, both of you review and practice rescues. Yeah, it may not be necessary, but it is always better to have the training and not use it than the other way around.

    I'd consider asking locally (perhaps the local shop) if there are any tours/groups going out and ask if you could accompany same. I've done this before and had some fairly memorable experiences. If this happens, take advantage of the situation and practice some rescues.

  • The 165 is Plenty Stable
    By all means start enjoying and getting accustomed to your new ride.
  • Maybe do a couple wet exits
    If you are planning to only do some paddling in a very protected waterway the chances of a capsize are probably pretty low. However, if your only kayaking thus far has been in a pumpkin seed boat you should be aware that you are losing 7 inches of width going from your Old Town the the Tempest, and 7 inches makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to initial stability.

    Also, your rec boat has no skirt and a great big cockpit opening, so that if you ever tipped over in it, you probably pretty much just fell out of it, like a canoe. Exiting a narrow sea kayak with a spray skirt on requires a little more thought. It can be done very quickly, but it is not automatic. You have to tuck, release the skirt, and slide the boat off your legs. I have seen some pretty level-headed folks, even strong swimmers with life saving experience become a little freaked the first time they went over in a kayak.

    Best would be if you can find an experienced boater to join you, dress up with some towels and dry clothes in a nearby vehicle, and practice a wet exit or two.

    If the water seems to cold for that, I would probably just paddle your boat without the spray skirt and stick close to shore as advised until you take your roll class.
  • Options
    WEAR your PFD
    -- Last Updated: Sep-27-12 7:33 AM EST --

    A wet exit and learning to rescue yourself is NO 1. Learn the paddle float reentry for starters. Join a club where you can learn all kinds of things for free and have a good time doing it.

    You can take lessons too if you have the money.

  • Wet exits and neo deck skirts
    -- Last Updated: Sep-27-12 8:55 AM EST --

    If the skirts have a neoprene deck, you need to practice capsizing and pulling them off before taking the boat into anything. (Grab loop always always out.) You can't knee a neoprene deck skirt off, it'll just stretch. Most people will recommend this is best done the first time with someone standing there who can pull the skirt if there is a surprise.

    Or just paddle without the skirt until you can set up the first practice with company.

    If the grab loop is underneath there are emergency ways to get a neo skirt off, but they aren't handy for when you are first getting your reflexes down. Remember that if the water is murky or it is getting dark out, you will have to manage everything by feel alone.

    If you get by this one, make sure you have a wind blocking layer over the wet suit stuff. A wet wet suit in chilly air or wind is a fast trip to hypothermia, the stuff only keeps you warm when you are in the water. But it sounds like you have the layers.

    If you have a way to get by the wet exit thing, why not take it out. The Tempest is pretty forgiving of mistakes.

    Great deal, by the way!

  • Cracking deal!
    I always get a bill of sale on used boats. It's extra important when I'm getting a great deal.
  • Options
    A great utility often overlooked
    Animated Kayak Tutorial
    - http://www.kayakpaddling.net

    Click on ""british flag" for english version when loaded

    Watch, rewind, play again, freeze frame, repeat.

    A great way to learn a lot of info and
    burn it into your brain.
  • Options
    Awesome tips, thank you!!

    Yeah I've paddled this section before, but in the wide, stable rec boat. I'm a strong swimmer, but the temp of the water concerns me. Good tip for getting geared up and going in, I may have to do that.

    I was thinking about "practicing" in the yard before going out. I have two spray skirts... one is a lightweight summer one, the other is a neopreme. I figured I'd bring the lightweight one. I saw one of the self-rescue videos about how to get the skirt off, and thought I would try setting all that up in the yard, tipping the thing over, and try it.

    I have yet to make any kayaking hookups here locally, except for one local group I'm going out with on Saturday. We're paddling from Independence to Salem (12 miles).. should be fun. I'm debating which boat to bring. Probably the rec boat, I dunno.

    Thanks again!

  • Just go paddle the thing
    It ain't rocket science. By all means, watch some videos, talk with and paddle with some experienced paddlers, but in the end it's all about spending a lot of time in the saddle.
  • Options
    Hip Ups - yeah its spelled correctly
    Dry Land training for those core muscles
    - reactionary muscle memory



  • Options
    Higher-Back Seat
    Rather than start a new thread...

    I'm here after work, and I've decided to go out and try the new kayak tomorrow since I have the day off. Today I've been cleaning it up, experimenting with the spray skirt, with getting and out, etc.

    One thing I noticed... the seat is NOT at all comfortable. The bottom is fine; it's the back support, or rather, the total lack thereof. It's uncomfortable to sit in because I have nothing to support my back. At least my rec boat has a higher seat back, which while not great, is 1000x better than this.

    I know these things aren't supposed to have "high back" seats since you're supposed to be able to lean backwards against the rear deck, but isn't there something else I can do to get the seat back up a few more inches?

  • Not supposed to be leaning into back
    The seat is fine. The paddler needs adjustment, which you will get in the classes you have coming up shortly.

    Unfortunately for your current comfort range, the folks you will be working with are likely to disabuse you of any notion about actually using a seat back for support. For a good forward stroke, you are supposed to erect and rotating from the hips up, thru the torso. Rotation is point blank not possible if you are leaning back against the kind of seat you had in the other boat. Core muscles etc.

    What you should have in that boat is a back band, set lower to support you at the top of your pelvis.

    There are things that you may eventually find you want to do about thigh and leg angle - everyone has slightly different places where you need to tweak the seat and thigh braces - but for a proper stroke you need to replace the reliance on a high seat back with reliance on core muscles.
  • As Celia said
    you want to develop the habit of sitting with your torso upright maintaining some curvature (lordosis) in your lower back. That might not come naturally at first so I would stick with the stock outfitting first. Keep your initial outings short and focus on good posture. People tend to slouch more as they become fatigued.

    That said, I know a number of individuals who could never get comfortable with the low seated position of a kayak and had persistent back pain. Those who still paddle have canoes now. Hopefully you won't be one of those.

    If after a good trial use of your existing outfitting, you might consider padding your seat with a thin layer of foam to either cant your pelvis slightly forward or back. Stock molded seats cannot accommodate everybody's anatomy. If you do this, keep the foam thin so as to raise your center of gravity only minimally.
  • Back bands
    Some kayaks come with woefully inadequately supported back bands, but no worries, they can easily be fixed with the addition of or merely changing to a firmer--usually larger bungy cords for the fine adjustments.

    The back band is not there as a back rest, but that doesn't mean it is just a useless decoration. You do need firm support in your lower back, so any modifications should be done with that goal in mind.
  • Options
    Back support
    Yes, exactly!! I know you're supposed to sit upright when paddling, and I do that even in my Rec boat, but the backrest in that one is vastly more supportive. The one in the Tempest is just pathetic.

    I went out today for my first paddle in that boat. Wow, what a total difference! Definitely "tippy" compared to the rec boat, but I didn't capsize. I went without the spray skirt (it was in one of the compartments in case I needed it). The wet suit was a bit hot.. I need a shorty version. But anyway... I could "rock" the boat with my hips, and I worked to keep my upper and lower body separate. I sat upright as best I could against that pathetic back band thing.

    What was getting me, though, is my legs were cramping up. I have the footrests set so my legs are splayed and pressed up against the knee pads, and I fit just fine between the hip pads. I'd try to press myself against the back band. But no matter how I set the footrests, my legs would cramp up after a few minutes. I would have to stop paddling, remove my feet from the foot rests, and stretch them out. That'd help for a little bit, but every 10-15 min, I found myself on shore having to get out and walk around a little bit. The problem is that there's just no "free" movement space for my legs in there, and I guess that's how it's supposed to be. Maybe in time I'll get used to it, or maybe I'm tensing up, I dunno.

    Anyway.. I decided to paddle up-river from the boat launch, towards a dark red boat house on the right. The last time I tried ti in the rec boat, I got turned back once I hit the strong river current in that area. This time, I put the skeg down, and paddled through it. It still pushed me to the side a bit. I actually hadn't planned on visiting the boat house, but the current had other ideas. As I approached it, I did almost get dumped when I hit a nasty reflecting current off the boat house's wall. I then went around to the back side of the boat house and got out on its little dock and rested for a bit and had more water.

    By the time I got back to the boat ramp, I was absolutely beat! Either I'm trying too hard (tensing up -- likely), or I'm even more out of shape than I thought (also likely). I'm very glad I have the class next weekend. I need to figure out how to properly setup this thing so it fits me properly.

    Thanks a bunch to everybody for the helpful replies!! I'm having a blast at this new activity.

  • Options
    re: back band
    Lots of ppl replace the stock back band on their boats. There is nothing sacred about 'em AFAIK.

    As long as the new one isn't so stiff that it prevents torso rotation, or is so high that it makes it hard to get back in the boat when self-rescuing (or prevents a layback roll)...
  • thoughts
    You may find that using the leg lifters helps with the cramping. Some of us have found that they help with keeping our feet from getting numb.

    I like the backband well enough that I went out of my way to get one for my home built boat. Have you loosened the rear straps, so that when you pull the main straps, the back band actually comes forward as it tightens?
  • Adjustments
    Have you made adjustments to your seat and backband? I have a T165 and I really like the thigh adjustments pulled up pretty tight. When I first started I liked the backband pulled up tight also. I guess my body has gotten used to kayaking. I paddled with a backband strap broken for a long while and didn't even notice.

    Cinch up those adjustment straps and spend some time paddling. I bet those comfort issues will go away.
  • My thoughts-
    I am new to all this too (kayaks that is). My experience was similar to yours at first and I am happy to report that after time in the saddle all the same discomfort you are describing with my back and my legs has disappeared. I feel very comfortable in my WS Zephyr which I feel sure has the exact same seat and back band as your Tempest. I do have a couple of suggestions for you to consider. Your seat should have an adjustable under thigh support. If you adjust that to supply a bit of upward support for your thighs that might help with your legs. Also, at first anyway, consider adjusting the foot pegs so that your knee area contacts the top pads when you put press a bit on the foot pegs with your toes but also so that if you relax your foot you can comfortably drop your knee off that contact point. The back band issue is something that just takes a bit of time. I have mine adjusted now so that when I am seated in the boat with my legs on the pegs in proper paddling position the band just brushes my lower back/hip area - definitely not real tight. When I am actively paddling the back band is lightly contacting me. When I rest a bit I can relax into it. I do not have a strong abdominal area or strong back muscles but still after some time I find this set up very comfortable. I can paddle for hours on end in comfort. I am prone to back pain, but even I am finding this truly comfortable. A hight back seat will interfere with your development of good paddling technique and limit your skills development in my opinion. But you could install one if you decide you just can't work with the back band. Everyone is different so your set up might end up slightly different than mine. But I encourage you to be patient. Your perceptions about what is comfortable will change fairly quickly as you get time in the seat.

    Also, I encourage you to stay away from current at the start. Paddle flat water for a while near shore and then after you gain some comfort level - venture into the current.

  • Comfort
    Yes. I put an old compressed foam block under my calves/ankles. Keeps the heels off the hull. Very comfortable.
  • Fixes for the pain and current
    First, the back band usually takes some tensioning to get it right for a given person. And the back band itself may need replacement to give proper support - Immersion Research and, if they can be found, Bomber Gear both makes back bands that people like. Or you can take a look at some of the cutomizable options in minicell available from places like Redfish. I would caution you to wait on that one though until you have time in the boat - once you've shaved off minicell it is hard to put it back.

    The backband should give you solid support at the top of the pelvis/into the lower lumbar vertebra. If it is not doing that, you need to attend to the backband. If it is doing so, you need to attend to the rest of your positioning.

    I am sure that you feel like you are sitting upright. But getting mostly upright and really being in a position for torso rotation are two different things. Once you get the hang of the later it'll help your back in a bunch of ways.

    The Tempest has very kind stability. You will get used to it and learn to relax fairly quickly.

    As to the knee pad thing - they aren't knee pads. They are supposed to be hitting you at the thighs, behind the knees, unless you want to do some damage to your joints. If you were actively pressing you knees up into the thigh braces it would be surprising if you didn't hurt. It increases the tension too much, and is a pretty nasty position for your legs and hips.

    Most new paddlers lock themselves in too tight. All you need to do is to be able to reach the control surfaces (thigh braces, foot pegs and butt) when you need to manage the boat, not be locked in all the time.

    One thing you will likely learn is to get the boat on edge by shifting your butt over to one side or the other rather than locking into the braces. It works as well, is if anything more stable and is a lot less taxing.

    There should always be space for you to pull your legs out and let them relax - otherwise it will never be comfortable. But that means that you are just sitting in the boat without exerting any control, and that is probably not something you are comfortable doing right now.

    You may need to do stuff like flatten out the seat pan a bit, change the angle and/or get some foam under your thighs to help extend the support of the seat. But I suggest that you get thru your classes before getting involved in that level of tweaking.

    Skegs are not always your friend in current by the way, because they give the water more boat to push. Note that WW boats don't have any such thing. Your first recourse should always be a good edge, which you probably are not comfortable going for right now. It is something else you will be learning.

  • Options
    Awesome tips!
    -- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 12:28 AM EST --

    Thank you folks so much for the tips! This is really great.

    Regarding cramping up.. is it possible that this boat is too small for me? I was doing some comparing on websites and this boat has a 12" deck height. The Perception Essence 17 has a 16" deck height. MUCH more space. It might have more room to relax a little bit. And I found a used one too... am talking with the owner about working a trade for some other stuff I have for it.

    I did try adjusting the seat bottom. I liked it up as far as it'd go, but then I couldn't get out without lowering it. That worried me that I wouldn't be able to make a wet exit if needed.

    The thigh braces definitely need adjustment then. I have them all the way forward so they're just behind my knee. I guess I need to move them back quite a bit.

    I went on a 12-mile paddle today in my Rec boat, which has tons more room. Near the end of the trip, my right leg was cramping up pretty bad too (in the sciatic nerve area) and the only thing that helped at all was to straighten it out, and even try to lean back and stretch it out. The best solution would be to stop, get out, and walk around, but that wasn't possible given this stretch of river. But it worries me that this issue will be much worse in the tiny cockpit of the Tempest. I can't help but feel like OJ trying on that glove. :)



  • No, Not Too Small
    You are THE height and weight for the 165. The trick to making it feel better; make entry and exit better, is to move the seat back one bolt hole... about 2 inches. I have a very long, lean friend (6'5" maybe?) who paddles and enjoys his 165 with the seat moved back. You can pay a shop to do it or do it yourself.

    I moved the seat back in mine. Also moved the seat back in my Alchemy.
  • More comments
    -- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 8:44 AM EST --

    Do not invest in another boat until you have gotten work in those classes to learn how to use this one. As others have said, it should fit fine once you understand how it is supposed to work.
    Kudzu's suggestion to move the seat back is a good first start, though that needs to be done with regard to the correct location for the thigh braces.

    As to the adjustments you are considering -
    Raising the seat in its entirety is not what people really meant. The adjustment that you may want to add at some point, but not today, is to fill in the lowest part of the seat with minicell or change its angle so it is flatter. This in not the same as raising it up.

    A 16 inch tall deck is a very tall deck - way taller than should make a proper fit for you especially once you get the thigh braces over your thighs rather than your knees. If you got by the first round of lessons in it you would find a need to get another boat when you got to trying to roll it. You are buying yourself a terrific backache if the deck is too tall. We know someone who finds the Tempest 165 to be quite comfortable and is at least four inches taller than you. You are just at a point where you don't fully understand fit because you don't understand how to use the control surfaces of the boat. You can't separate the two from each other.

    AS others have said, you have found a great deal on a very good boat to get you started in sea kayaking. The Tempest will support your learning what you need to know and be a boat to keep around for guests if you want to go to something more specialized later. Get some advice on fitting it out when you get into that class.

  • Options
    Seat Adjustment
    How exactly does the seat move back? I can do it, but from what I can see, it's attached at the top of the kayak just outside of the coaming, two screws on each side. Are you saying to move it back and only use one hole on each side, or is there another adjustment elsewhere?

  • Yes
    If your boat is like mine, you remove the seat; measure the distance between the bolt holes and saw about that much off the back of the seat base. You're right. You re-attach with just two bolts. You put the other bolts back just to plug the holes. Be careful to run the bolts through the seat adjustment straps.

    I really think the folks at WS should make this fore - aft adjustment easier. Maybe leave off all that excess seat base.
  • I moved my T165 seat, too
    -- Last Updated: Sep-30-12 3:13 PM EST --

    I believe the rear of the seat pan only needs to be trimmed if moving the seat rearward in the composite boats. Not a problem in the RM models.

    I moved my seat back about 1 inch. I'd consider this the "default" adjustment. After removing the seat (WS does have a video for this - Youtube, I think), you'll note there is enough room about 1 inch forward of the forward mounting hole in the seat pan, to make another hole. You also have to make a new hole 1 inch further forward for the rear hole. You end up with 2 sets of mounting holes on each side of the seat pan, and 4 machine screws still holding your seat in place.

    edit 1: Here's the video. Note that this begins with the high seat back that comes with some (all?) Tsunamis, and which could probably be fitted to your Tempest, and which you MUST avoid, at least for a good while of working with your back band:

    edit 2: I have noted that you would NOT be able to put in the high back, after all. The seat pan is molded differently. As the video shows, you can put a back band in a boat that came with a high back, but, you can't go the other way, unless you have a model with a seat pan designed for a high back.

  • More on moving the seat
    Just an FYI - that is how I moved the seat in my Vela. The only thing you may to add is getting creative with minicell to stop the seat from moving around on you in wet exits, something that can't happen with both bolt holes in use.

    If you are less lazy than me you can even bother to glue them in rather than just having to cut new ones once in a while when they fall out. :-)
  • It'll take awhile
    to learn how to relax while strengthening postural muscles AND increasing core flexibility. Stretch beforehand, get out and stretch before leg numbness or cramping develops. Besides learning a cowboy self-rescue here's a basic stretch you should be doing on the water until it becomes automatic. Sit upright in the kayak and twist your torso to the right so your left blade is pressed against the right side of the kayak. Hold that position for a few deep breathes then reverse and put your right blade on the left side. This will twist your gut considerably but once you're able to do it comfortably on the water you'll be able to do a basic sweep stroke reliably.
  • Options
    Kayak Kockpit Komparo
    So... that Perception Essence 17... I ended up getting it. The trade deal turned out to be too good to pass up, and so I figured I can now compare both kayaks and pick the one that works best. Then I'll sell the other one.

    Tonight, I pulled them out and put them side by side and sat in both. I fiddled with the various adjustments on both. And then I took photos, which you can see here:


    Note I'm calling it the Kayak Kockpit Komparo (or KKK), so don't go being offended. :)

    Anyway... first I sat in the red one (the Perception) and got it all setup to how it was comfy. It's missing the thigh pads and the PO doesn't have them, so I'll have to get some. However, I only need about 1/2 to 3/4" at the bottom and maybe an inch on top, so we're pretty close.

    The thigh pads... I still have no idea how the hell these things are supposed to be positioned, but I've moved them back in both cases. They're hitting me about midway between my hip and knee now (roughly).

    Getting into the orange one (the Tempest) is still a huge pain in the butt... or more accurately, legs. When I get in, then get my legs in place, my legs almost immediately start to cramp up due to the position of my legs and my feet. Even changing the positions of the pedals, it doesn't help.

    Whoever said to move the seat back has a good point. Look closely at the photos and you can see how much closer the seat is on the orange one, and both seats are in their stock positions. BUT.. I'm not convinced that moving the seat on the Tempest is going to be the fix. The taper of the front of the cockpit (kockpit?) is like the tip of an egg, whereas on the red one, it's more like the bottom of the egg. So there really isn't enough room to get in and out. I'm pretty convinced at this point that, had I capsized the orange one the other day, I would have had a heck of a time getting out.

    These two boats are kind of at extreme opposites in size. So the answer just might be a Tempest 170. I'd have to see one in person and sit in it to know more, but the slight change in width and extra inch in deck height could be the answer.

    Now I'm really eager to get to class this coming weekend and see what their boats are like, for an even better comparison.

  • PS on the cockpit shape
    You haven't gotten anywhere near trying to edge the boat. That tells you how to set the thigh braces, also informs on the cockpit shape. Also a larger opening tends to complicate dealing with waves, a normal aspect of actually kayaking on the ocean.

    At some point you may have to decide how much open water - ie ocean - time you plan to do. There are some skills and comfort considerations for that which are different from and take more time to learn than bopping around on flat water. It will take some patience which has thus far not been terribly present in your approach.

    Your impatience is not necessarily a bad thing, better to be aggressive about learning than to go out and get into trouble by doing something not so smart. But you really need to tone it down and wait for some in person advice to make good judgments. There is just way too much that you don't know.
  • You Don't Want a Tempest 170
    Do a side by side taste test between a 170 and a 165 on a very windy day and you'll find out.
  • Options

    If so, then the Perception will be 10x worse.

    If, after this weekend, it seems that my only choice is going to be one of these tiny, painful, claustrophobic things, I'm going to sell both of them and stick to flat water.

  • Learning takes time
    So flat water may be your best idea...
  • Yes, Patience and Perseverence
    -- Last Updated: Oct-03-12 12:52 PM EST --

    I understand about the claustrophobic thing. I got a killer deal on a demo model Alchemy S. There was a bit too much 'friction' when I did a wet exit but otherwise the boat was great. What's the fix? I moved the seat back and took out all the stiffening hardware. Now it's perfect.

    I don't know about motorcycles but I make a lot of adjustments to a road bicycle before it starts to feel right. Part of it is getting the machine to fit me but I'm sure that over time my body starts to adapt to the machine.

  • Options
    Back from Class!
    Today was my Kayaking Essentials class. I got home about a half hour ago and have hung up my wetsuit and stuff. I just ordered a pizza, and now I can sit back and write. I'm BEAT!! But in a good way.

    The boat I got to use was a SEDA brand.. not sure which model. From looking at the SEDA website, my best guess is it's an Ikkuma 17. It was a very nice boat. Fit-wise, it's in between the Tempest and the Perception. I took the Perception out yesterday morning so I would have a good comparison to whatever I used in class.

    So yeah.. the SEDA is smaller than the Perception, but quite a bit roomier than the Tempest. It had a fiberglass seat with no padding and a fixed seatback, yet it was very comfortable. After three hours on the water, my tailbone wasn't even slightly sore.

    It was a VERY windy day on the Willamette up in Portland. As in steady 15 mph winds gusting to 25+. Made for a very interesting class. We paddled across the river to a cove which gave some protection from the wind, though it still tended to blow us around a bit. We practiced all kinds of strokes.. forward, backward, forward sweep, reverse sweep, bow and stern rudder turns (I think that's what they called it), and two sculling strokes.

    One guy was even nice enough to capsize so we got to watch an assisted rescue. No, I don't think it was intentional. :) (and no, it wasn't me)

    I played around with edging a bit. Not really knowing what I'm doing though, but it seemed like it'd hold an edge fairly well, but since there were no thigh braces, it seemed like a lot of work to keep it up on edge. Or maybe it was the wind. It tended to track a bit straighter than my Perception, which has a tendency to want to bear to the right unless I put the skeg down. The Tempest (the one time I had it out) did the same thing but to the left.

    I discussed kayak fitment with the folks there quite a bit. I explained how there were no thigh braces with my Perception, so they showed me the blocks of foam I can get to carve my own. They also explained how to position the thigh braces. I actually had it almost right the first time... closer to my knee than not.

    So once home, I stole the thigh pads out of the Tempest and put them in the Perception. If they work well, I will "copy" them with carved foam so can include the originals with the Tempest when I sell it. I also reset the thigh braces and footrests, so if I go out tomorrow, I'll be set.

    Oh, I also played with the seat adjustment some more. It's still not perfect, but it's a lot better.

    Before leaving, I looked at all the boats they had in stock. I noticed that the Point 65 N boats have this really incredible Air Seat. It has a higher back just like I want, and several air bladders you can inflate to custom fit it. The seatback isn't so high that it prevents you from leaning back though. Man, I want that seat!! Though honestly, until I upgrade to a much fancier boat, I will find an expensive way to tweak the Perception's a little more.

    So there ya have it. I know now that the Tempest is too small for me, plain and simple. There are "smaller" fitting boats that are bigger than the Tempest that will work better when I'm ready for one. For now, the Perception will do the job until I have the skills (and money) to warrant moving up.

    And at $12 for an afternoon, I can rent any of their boats and take them out on the river to try them out. So I'll spend a lot of time doing that and then have a better idea of what I want when the time is right.

  • Glad you enjoyed the class
    -- Last Updated: Oct-07-12 8:50 AM EST --

    By the way - you are taking classes with the Portland Kayak Company? Great choice.

    You'll appreciate spending time before buying more boats. Learning some of the upcoming stuff that you have planned, like rolling and I assume self-rescues, often changes your view of what you want in a boat in terms of deck height, fit, that kind of thing. Certain attributes in a boat and its fit can make all the diff between a boat being easy to manage or a really trying, exhausting bear. A couple of folks came thru the board recently with just that experience.

    As to how each boat got affected by the wind (Perception and Tempest), the diff likely had nothing to do with the boat other than the Perception having more windage. The way the boats were turning were a factor of the wind direction and whatever current was acting on the boat at the time - as I recall you were in some current on the one day you had the Tempest on the water.

    You may want to mess around with just shifting your weight into the bilge to get the boat on edge, rather than going thru the extra effort of lifting with the thigh braces. You'll find use for them quickly enough when you get to rolling. In the meantime, unlike a 100 pound skinny female, you have enough weight that you can get some edge just by moving your butt over and staying more relaxed.

    The bottom line though is that, the bigger the target volume of the boat is compared to the paddler in it, the more effort it will take to keep a boat on edge. There isn't anything you can do to alter that relationship.

    I am confused by one thing though - your repeated reference to wanting to lean back. I was at first assuming you were thinking in terms of a layback position for a roll, not necessarily required but a very common way to start people in rolling. But I am beginning to wonder if I have that right. Is there some other phase of paddling that you want to lean back for? If it is to stretch out your back, leaning over the foredeck can work too, and the basic rotation exercises once you get some targeted work on the forward stroke also help the back. The lower body is usually helped by doing active pedaling... something else that comes in with forward stroke work. So there are ways to get some body relief in the boat that you likely haven't encountered yet.

  • Sounds like a great class
    I may have said this before - my experience as a new paddler was that my comfort level in a fairly close fitting kayak increased significantly over the first 20 to 30 hours of paddling. What seemed extremely uncomfortable at first became very comfortable and preferred by the end. Take your time and be patient. Get some seat time. I think you will see that your view of what fits and is comfortable will change in time. Don't sell that Tempest just yet.

    I also agree with Celia - not sure what this leaning back thing is all about - when are you leaning back? Is it just to rest? Or while paddling?
  • Sounds like a great class
    I may have said this before - my experience as a new paddler was that my comfort level in a fairly close fitting kayak increased significantly over the first 20 to 30 hours of paddling. What seemed extremely uncomfortable at first became very comfortable and preferred by the end. Take your time and be patient. Get some seat time. I think you will see that your view of what fits and is comfortable will change in time. Don't sell that Tempest just yet.

    I also agree with Celia - not sure what this leaning back thing is all about - when are you leaning back? Is it just to rest? Or while paddling?
  • Options
    Leaning Back

    The leaning back part for me is just to relax. Move my feet off the pegs, stretch my legs, lean back, and relax for a few minutes.

    I'm heading out today after lunch to paddle the Essence around so I can compare it to the one from yesterday while it's fresh in my mind. I may give the Tempest another try in a day or so as well.

  • Got it, try this too
    Leaning back stretches some bits, compresses things in the lower body as well so you may want to also lean forward as far as possible to alter where you get the pressure relief. And side to side from the torso, which they'll have you doing for the forward stroke.

    The statement above that some people just can't find physical comfort in a properly fitting sea kayak is for real, though I also know people who got into yoga for paddling and found that it helped other activities as well.

    If I am paddling properly and often enough, something this season hasn't been about, getting back on the water for some distance usually takes at least an inch and a half off my waist from rotating.
  • Try This
    -- Last Updated: Oct-08-12 6:00 AM EST --

    Take the hip pads completely out of the Tempest. (Not to be confused with the thigh pads). They're just held in with velcro. I've never had to do it but the hip pads can be shaped and put back.

    Don't use a crappy boat because it's comfortable. Make your good boat comfortable.

  • agreed
    Take out the hip pads for now. Also, not sure if someone else mentioned this already, but the thigh braces should be hitting you just above the knee. Move your foot pegs far enough away that your legs are not contacting the thigh braces. You should not be in contact with the braces when relaxed.
  • Options

    Thanks... yeah, that's how the thigh braces are now. Much nicer.

    I thought I would sit in the Tempest again this afternoon and reset its thigh braces and foot braces and see again if I cramp up right away. If I don't, I may take it back out on the water again.

    I spent three hours in the Perception yesterday and had a very nice time. Ran into a guy with Perception Expression 15, which looks like a nice boat too. We exchanged phone numbers and will probably paddle together from time to time.

    The Perception definitely feels bigger than the boat I used in class. It doesn't stay on edge as well either, even with the hip pads. The chine on it looks to be much softer. But it was still pleasant. I know it won't be my final boat by any means. :)

  • Thanks, Willi
    Wish I'd had that tutorial when I began many years ago.
    I don't really like teaching others to kayak as sometimes I'm unable to make a good 'word' picture, and a few folks don't quite get it but I will definately pass this site on to others.
  • Options
    Tempest Update

    Since I had to unload the boats to make room to go (hopefully) pick up a used contractor rack later today (to make carrying the longer boats easier than hanging them 7' out the back of my truck), I decided to pull the Tempest back out and play with the adjustments a little bit.

    I got the seat into the same reasonably okay position that I did on the Perception, i.e. with the seatback as far forward and vertical as possible, moved the foot braces out another notch (farther away) and made sure the thigh braces were in the right spot.

    If I'm careful, I can get into it without any leg cramping, and I don't instantly cramp now. The keys seem to be the thigh brace positions and the foot braces being a notch farther away. This gives me room to relax my legs a little bit when needed.

    Getting out still takes some work, and I still have a concern about not being able to get out quickly on a wet exit. If the cockpit was 1" longer or the deck was 1" taller, I think it'd be about perfect.

    BUT, that has me thinking about the earlier suggestion of moving the seat back. I think moving it back ONE inch might do the trick. So I might just try that tonight or tomorrow. You really don't think that'll compromise the center of gravity?

  • Is it correct that you are 5'8"?
    If so, I must say it seems to me that that tempest should fit you just fine as is. I recommend that you paddle for about 20 hours before you do anything drastic.
  • Move the seat
    As has been said above, it is common. You seem to be having trouble believing this advice. It would be way faster to just do it and get the boat on the water to feel it out than spend more time worrying about it on this thread.

    As to wet exits, I take it you have yet to try this. You will find that you fall out of a kayak much more easily than you expect, in fact it can be difficult to stay in a boat that is bigger. Gravity works upside down too.

    I strongly suggest that you take the Tempest to the rescue class, get this concern out of the way with someone there. Sweating wet exits is just going to slow you down.
  • Options
    second that....
    There are many things affecting the center of gravity so where it was set may not be the center anyway. Plus a little variation makes only minor differences in handling that you likely wouldn't notice and if you did they are easy to correct.

    If you saw the "ocean cockpits" that used to be more common (almost just a circle) then you'd appreciate how easy ANY keyhole cockpit is to exit -- unless you're so big you needed a shoe horn to get in. After your first wet exit and assisted rescue you'll relax so much that anything will be possible. No theory beat reality for that.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!