14-foot vs. 16-foot Kayak

Ideal length
Hutchinson (now deceased) designed quite a few boats, the Sirocco being the rotomolded version of his composite Gulfstream. When asked what was the ideal length for a kayak, he replied that it should be quite close to 16’ 10". He then added that the ideal length happened to be the longest he could fit in his garage.

Skeg vs Rudder

– Last Updated: Jun-20-16 7:41 PM EST –

The skeg is simpler and easier to use, the rudder gives more correction and doesn't take up a big part of your rear storage capacity.

Okay I’m going to go try out a kayak with a skeg then one with a rudder and see which I like better. Is it possible to buy a kayak with a skeg then add a rudder and only use one at a time or does that add complications for the future?

it would be possible, but I have never seen (or even heard of) a kayak with both. Simpler is almost always better.

The Tahe Wind models have both a rudder and a skeg and there are others. And then there are some of the very best that don’t have either an adjustable skeg, nor rudder. The boat I always want to be in when it’s rougher than snot is the one that has neither–NC Kayaks.

If you are interested in a boat that will do it all and for a very reasonable price, go for the CD Sirocco and don’t be shy about using the skeg. I always use a little skeg–even when going upwind. And no, you do not have to constantly make corrective strokes in a boat without a rudder. There are several ways to adjust for side winds and currents–paddle shift, edging and even shifting your butt a little makes a big difference.

I also prefer a skeg because I like to keep the rear deck as clutter free as possible.

Scrambling back into a ruddered boat is more difficult.

Try them both on days that have an equal amount of wind.

Also try them both when the wind is blowing big time and paddle into a strong quartering wind

Jack L

Testing out kayaks on a calm day doesn’t tell you much.

Hey Jack! I’m kinda retired! I got ‘downsized’ Friday. Am I sad?


common sense

– Last Updated: Jun-22-16 8:51 AM EST –

offering my own input, I would say the following - narrow your search down [which you have already done] and do your homework. find a couple of crafts that you favor highly and really start picking them apart. everybody has their personal fav's, but it is you alone who will own & operate the kayak. test any choice out beforehand, try sitting in it on dry land and see how you like the fit. since you wrote that you are looking for a sea kayak, I must assume that you are located near a body[ies] of water that potentially could come with rougher conditions, then the 16" footer would be a much better choice over the 14". as for the whole skeg -vs- rudder debate, I opt to thrown my weight behind the skeg. I myself just upgraded from a 12" foot kayak, to a 17"+ and I absolutely love it! I choose the drop skeg option and I am glad that I did. good luck in your search and enjoy, enjoy, ENJOY!

Knowing what I do
of Hutchinson, if his garage was 27’ long, he’d probably see if he liked the 26’11" boat more and eventually come up with a size somewhere above the 17’ range.

Still, if you look at native kayak designs, there are both very long and very short boats, varying by locale, intended purpose, and prevailing conditions. In the open ocean, however, 19’ and longer boats were generally the preferred craft, for obvious reasons.

There was a NatGeo episode called “Baidarka” where they replicated one of these longer boats (which had a bifurcated bow) and had a modern paddler take it out. Worth seeing and you’ll learn a bit about some of the extreme boat designs used by native paddlers.


My Mistake
It was a scientific american frontiers episode from 1992 - memory, fallible, must stop slamming the forehead into things…

I can’t seem to find the episode online, though.


stroke asymmetry
from magooch: “And no, you do not have to constantly make corrective strokes in a boat without a rudder. There are several ways to adjust for side winds and currents–paddle shift, edging and even shifting your butt a little makes a big difference.”

I think we’re just seeing a semantic difference here. The stroke tends to be driven by torso rotation. Any asymmetry in body (torso) position, will affect the stroke asymmetrically. The stroke on the left will differ from the stroke on the right in these various conditions.

It’s not that hard but it’s not cheap

How much do you weigh?
Current Designs has a much, much higher quality rudder and footbrace rudder control than WS. The rear hatches on WS Tsunamis aren’t as good as CD. It’s better to pick a boat that works for the intended purpose than a kayak that has X features at Y price.

When you’re paddling you aren’t paddling features and numbers, it’s a shape in the water.

I’m going to look into a skid because as I’ve researched it that is becoming to seem like a better idea. Thank you all for suggestions. As I said above I weigh 180-200lbs and am 6’ tall.

boat length
FYI, my friend has a rudder, paddle boat, which does not do well in choppy waters. We were on a Lake Tahoe, a wind came up producing white caps, she and he friend had to hug the shore as the steering was horrible. Rent or borrow boats you are interested in to determine which is best, and take them out on other than calm days

Good Luck

Wow, I just saw this now,
Congrats !

Now you can pick and choose the days you want to paddle or peddle.

Welcome to the club

Jack L

…It’s your birth date…! And this will get truer and truer the longer you


-Frsnk in Miami

Where are you located? I recently got one for myself from Dragon Kayak here, in Brisbane. The company has some designs similar or better than the Tsunami, plus the price is also very manageable (I got mine for $520). They have the 14ft for some $800. I suggest this as an alternate to the Tsunami, if needed.

Dragon kayaks are 9’ or 13’ long, 34" wide sit on tops. Tsunamis are a family of 12’ - 17 1/2’, 24" sit inside sea touring kayaks. I have no problem with SOTs but what makes you think the Dragon boats are designed “similar or better than the Tsunami”?