1st Kayak Advice

-- Last Updated: Jul-31-14 1:53 PM EST --

Hello all. I posted this in the fishing section but it seems that forum doesn't get as much traffic.

I'm as novice as novice gets when it comes to paddling, but I've made the decision to make the plunge.

I've decided I want a SOT with some fishing amenities, and have been researching like crazy to see what's what. I found a Hurricane Skimmer 140 Angler with rudder a guy is selling with a cart, Werner paddle, and PFD for $750. From what I can tell the boat looks brand new, though he said he thought it was a 2011. From what I've been able to tell from my research it doesn't look like this kayak has been in production that long. I really like the light weight of the Hurricanes, though I haven't ruled out a Tarpon (amongst a few others).

I'm 49, 5'-9", about 195, and will use the yak primarily on rivers with a flat current ranging from nearly stagnant up to perhaps 4 knots (springtime).

So does this kayak seem as good a deal as it looks? What kinds of things should I look for to make sure it isn't damaged goods?

Is this boat something a beginner can learn on and grow with? I've read repeatedly that new kayakers lament having purchased a beginner rec boat and then find themselves very quickly buying another 'step-up' boat. I'd like to avoid this if possible, but I don't want something that is too difficult to learn on either. I understand it's important to demo as many vessels as possible, and I'll try and do this. But if this deal is as good as it looks I don't want to be my customarily day-late-and-dollar-short on it.

I'd also welcome anyone's thoughts on any other boat they think would be a good fit as well.

At that length it won’t be sluggish
… like a much shorter boat, but will still be more stable and forgiving that a sit- in. You won’t have to worry about “outgrowing” it, unless you hang with a lot of people who are in touring boats, trying to make distance, and “not fishing,” or “not birdwatching,” or “not floating,” etc.

Questions to ask, how was this boat stored, inside, hopefully, out of the sun, on a flat surface or not cranked down, and how much use did it really get ? You can turn it over and see how much wear is on the bottom, don’t be afraid of a bit of scratches but obviously make sure there’s no holes, really deep gouges. Also, from what I see this boat rides rather low in the water for a sit on top, so the seams are going to be more exposed to the waterline, make sure that it does Not Leak. Or, if it Does Leak, have the person admit to it and evaluate if it is a Big Problem or Not Much to Worry About. As in, example, my major front hatch on my SOT leaks a tiny little bit sometimes if there’s a lot of wave crashing over it, but has never caused a problem and I should just get the seal foam tidied up sometime, but the seams are all okay, so “Not Much Worry” category. Turning a water hose on my kayak cannot replicate this, so it just proves it has a sense of humor and sometimes I end up with a half cup of water from somewhere to sponge out. 2x in two years… this is what dry bags are for. But make sure the long side seams are sealed on this model…

Also, warning, these lightweight composite miracle-whatever types of kayaks may creak and squeak softly like crazy when paddled, which is very different than a the sound a big, solid heavy-duty plastic barge, er, regular sot fishing kayak makes. Nobody told me about this feature, and the first time I had my lightweight, state of the art, space age darling out, all by myself, for the first half hour I was petrified something was going to give, and I would sink, even if it has another 150 lbs of stuff as its carrying capacity. Now I think the sound is cute, but just in case you have a low tolerance for squeaky noises, that’s another consideration. I’d rather that because I can pick up and load this by myself, besides the speed thing that comes with a 14’.

Have you thought about a sit in?
I baught my first kayak about 4 years ago. I really wanted a WS Tarpon 14 with all the fishing bells and whistles. My wife insisted that we get a tandem sit-in. I baught a WS Pamlico 14.5T and love it. I put a 48qt cooler in the front seat and lay my rods on top of it and my tackle box between my legs. I fish bays so I have wind and chop to deal with vs moving water like you. It does not sound like you plan to fish fast water so I’d look at a sit-in. The best part is you can stay dry and warm while fishing in the Winter, and sight see with my wife all in one boat.

Thanks Bear for your insight. You brought up several topics I hadn’t considered.

Do SOT’s typically come with or without internal bulkheads, or are these more of a SINK feature? I read where this Hurricane 140 does not have internal bulkheads. I have to think that one with bulkheads is a bit more safe, having separate air chambers to keep the boat off the bottom in the event of a compromised hull.

Thanks for your thoughts Shipper. I haven’t really given a sit-in much consideration. I truly am completely inexperienced in kayaks, and only know what my online research has revealed about the various types/styles. I have spent a great deal of time looking over buying guides and how-to guides with respect to choosing the right boat for my needs, and all signs point to a SOT.

Part of my rationale for choosing the SOT is the desire to fish, and spend at least some of the time standing and casting. Or at least sitting sidesaddle with my feet in the water to cast. When I get proficient enough, I may try some coastal type fishing as well. Summers in my area generally see temperatures in the mid 90’s to around 108 at the peak. Winters can be quite cold, but there aren’t many fishing opportunities that I would pursue in the late fall or winter time anyway.

I am divorced, so I don’t have a spouse to accompany me. My two sons have expressed an interest in joining me, but if they do it will likely be in their own boats.