We're thinking about getting a kayak, I'm hoping someone can point us in the right direction.
We have a canoe and have canoed a lot, mostly class I rivers and flat water. However on open mountain lakes and estuaries out here in California, when the winds pick up we sometimes find our high sided canoe a bit too sail like. Not long ago we rented a tandem recreational kayak under similar (windy mountain lake) conditions and it handled those conditions much better than the canoe. After getting blown around on a lake the other day I started to think maybe there's a reason kayaks are so much more popular than canoes out here.
I'll try to be as specific as possible about our criteria so I don't end up just asking for a nonexistent boat that can do everything. I think this is what we're looking for in a kayak:
Tandem, and able to deal with a heavier rider in back. (That would be me…) We aren't very tall though, 5'7" and 5'1".
Recreational/touring -- mostly flat water lakes and estuaries. We're not likely to venture out into the ocean, the most challenging waves we encounter come from motor boats ignoring the local speed limit, or wind driven waves which are smaller but (in the canoe) actually more challenging since they're accompanied by wind.
Related to that, tracking well and covering ground is more important than maneuverability. I want it to go in a straight line and get us to the other end of the lake no matter what the wind is doing. If we visit a river we'll take the canoe.
Openings on the large side -- we don't have any real kayaking experience and are unlikely to use skirts, if the boat goes over I want to be dumped out, not stuck in the boat.
Stability -- we're comfortable with something with a little lower initial stability as long as the final stability is good. We don't plan to stand up or fish in the boat. But something very difficult to actually tip would be good. I know that competes with speed, but as long as it's faster than a canoe I'll take final stability over speed.
Maximum length about 17' because that's all we have room for in the garage!
Probably plastic so it's as durable as possible.
It doesn't need to be a big cargo hauler, if we decide to paddle in to a camp site we'll take the canoe.
For comparison our canoe is a Wenonah Spirit II (royalex), a 17' long ~70lb general purpose canoe that can haul a lot of cargo (and gets blown around a lot when it isn't hauling a lot of cargo).
On the far recreational kayak end of things I've thought about an Old Town Dirigo Tandem with a rudder, but it may be a little too open and in reviews I see folks say it's slower than other recreational tandems. The Current Designs Double Vision Roto is another I've thought about, but I've been unable to find any reviews.