9' Closed Deck Rec Kayak okay for ocean?

I’m fairly new to kayaking, but have some experience including wet exiting on a white water kayak in a rapid. I am strong and comfortable in with getting a little roughed up or having a kayak flip (i.e. I am not a panic-er). I live on the coast in Santa Barbara (most often surf is quite small and I would only go on calm days). I’d like to get a cheap, small (9ft) kayak that will be easy transport and to mess around in and take short trips along the coastline (not far off shore, 1-2 hours weekday, maybe 4 hrs weekend,~1-6miles range). For the low price I will go with Emotion Glide.

I prefer a closed deck kayak (not sit on top). I know the sit on top is supposed to be better for ocean for safety reasons, but I’m trying to gauge just how unsafe a closed deck will be. My main concern is if you do capsize in the open water (not in a protected flat bay, but still on a calm day and ~50 yds off shore), will the boat really fill a ton of water and sink? Even if has an inflated bag in it? What are the odds of that happening as a result of a flip over? I’m fine with the idea that the boat will be slow on less than flat water, I just want to be sure I am not doing anything deadly and that I completely understand the risk. I was not able to find a lot of info based on reality online so I’m hoping to draw from people’s observations and experiences…so, got any advice or warnings I should be aware of? Thank you very much!

I think it would make a great deal of sense for you to go on some tours with outfitters in your area. They will know the details of the local paddling, be able to recommend appropriate and safe equipment, reasonable solo destinations, etc.

I’m a paddling loner myself, and almost always go alone. But the first year I rented to learn about equipment and get some paddling pointers and safety skills. The second and third year I had my own equipment, but still went on some guided tours and joined a local paddling club for group paddles. I’ve left that behind, mostly, but in the process learned what I’m comfortable doing on my own, and know how to use the equipment I have.

And you can’t underestimate the value of having a good, efficient forward stroke. I had a couple of good teachers early on, and it was a big help.

Have you ever used rec kayak on ocean?
Thank you for the response, that’s definitely a good idea to take a local tour. I have a friend who teaches, but she is up north and I plan to learn from her soon (though she couldn’t recommend for or against the rec yak in the ocean). I’m sure any outfitter is going to recommend a sea kayak for the sea (which right now I am not willing to pay for). What boats have you used on the ocean and what was your experience with them?

Not a good choice.

– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 12:16 AM EST –

The problem is the ocean does not cooperate with the best laid plans, if you paddle on the open coast you will discover winds and rogue set waves can change what you thought was an easy safe day. The big problem with boats like the glide is the big cockpit fills with water and it is a big hassle getting it back to shore, in bad conditions more than a big hassle, just not worth it.

I have several kayaks SOTs and SINKS and waveskis and I surf and paddle the coastline in San Diego often, and come up to Ventura and Rincon to surf every fall. One of my favorite boats for doing what you want to do is an 8'2" necky jive whitewater kayak, very sea worthy and you can surf it, play in rock gardens, it just doesn't go very fast. My other favorite choice is a 9'6" Cobra Strike Sit on Top, I actually do most of my coastal paddles in that boat, just cruising the rocks and caves and looking for places to surf. You can usually find both of these boats used on Craigslist for $300 -350.

Boat suggestions
Wow, that is exactly the advice I’ve been looking for, thank you! I thrive on details and explanations so the tip about the cockpit size is very helpful. I hope you don’t mind me picking your brain a little bit more…

I just looked at the Necky Jive online…is it more sea worthy because of a smaller cockpit? Or what about it makes it better for the sea versus the clunkier rec kayaks? I see the boat shape has more rocker as well (which is what I imagine helps with surfing it). Will a white water boat be slower than the Glide boat or are they about equally slow in the ocean? I work in Ventura and plan to try and paddle around a bit there as well.

What about rolling…is it easier to roll over a white water boat versus the cheap-o rec kayaks like the Glide? Because it seems to me that if it’s hard to roll them, that would negate some of the risk. If I have a bilge pump with me, does that also negate some of the risk with a roll and water fill? (considering I am able to right the boat and re-enter?) Thanks y’all!!

Go Cheap

– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 12:41 AM EST –

Until the rescue sends you a bill for $100,000

In 2011, costs - per flight hour - published
by the USCG (for search and rescue missions) were :
$11,061 for a H-65 helicopter,
$14,318 for a H-60 helicopter,
$17,886 for a HC-130J turboprop,
$15,354 for an HC-144A turboprop,
$12,556 for a HU-25D twin turbofan plane,
and $4,271 for a 47-foot motor lifeboat.
Cost per flight hour to operate
the VIP C-37A were $22,600

You might want to spend some money on kayak classes
before getting rescued for lack of knowledge

Station 46054 - West Santa Barbara Channel Buoy
Conditions As Of: 7:50PM, 06-20-2012
Wind Direction: NW (310º)
Wind Speed: 23.3 kts.
Gust Speed: 27.2 kts.
Wave Height: N/A ft.
Swell Period: N/A sec.
Air Temperature: 55.8ºF
Water Temperature: 58.6ºF

Yep, water is still cold

Utilitarian uses
I forgot to mention that I am trying to get the most utilitarian boat. I will also be paddling on a lake often as well (Lake Cachuma–near my house) and would like to invest in a boat that will be good for a variety of uses. E.g. I can take it up to Lake Tahoe and go at a reasonable pace/comfort or to a river, etc…whatever opportunities present themselves. If I wind up getting into the sea kayaking bit, I will consider investing in a better “Sea” boat. So…if I’m not going to die using this cheap rec kayak in the ocean, that may be good enough for me considering that it’s ideal for lakes, etc…but, on a daily basis, I’m closer to ocean more often than not.

When do you need a rescue?
I definitely hear ya…I am an avid climber and have partaken in rescues of “gumbies” who climb without the knowledge. But let me posit this scenario: if I’m never more than 30 yards from a nice sandy beach (which describes the whole coastline I would be paddling near…like downtown SB or Goleta, CA…no crazy rocky/cliff edges)…what situation do you imagine I will be needing a helicopter rescue? So, okay, worst case scenario I guess my boat will flip, fill with water and sink and I’ll be out the $300, but swimming back to shore is do-able? Now, of course, you can make the case for “drastic wind changes” such as on-shore winds that would make a swim to shore hard. But, I plan to go out on the ocean only on the calmest of days and probably for no more than 2 hours (with lots of beach portages for exploring). And really, I mean CLOSE to shore…as close as possible with perhaps only a slight detour to check out a kelp forest if it’s close enough. Do you still think that what I propose is super risky?? If you do, I’d like to know the specific risks so I can AVOID. And thank you for the info :slight_smile:

second Seadart

– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 11:56 AM EST –

I'll second what Seadart says - one of these other boats used may be a better option. The sea has a way of its own, and I believe it is best to be prepared.

Now to answer your question - all boats are made so they shouldn't sink. But not all boats are made so that you can get back in if they are flooded.

So, yes, you could possibly swim the boat back in and you won't lose it. But, the water temps at Ventura (couldn't find for Santa Barabara) vary from 55 to 67 during the year. These are all somewhat risky temperatures, and your body could start drawing blood back from the extremities to keep the core warm - which prevents you from swimming.

Optimal would be to also buy thermal protection (wet suit or similar). But, if you picked up a sit on top instead, you are more likely to be able to get back on (and out of the water). This is the safety you referred to (though, truthfully, they are just safer than rec boats, but not really all that safe - but that is a long story).

Skip the kayak - Go Swimming

– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 12:56 AM EST –

Run your own experiment first.
Swim out 100 yards into the surf zone and back
- can you do it in 60 degree water ?

What would you wear ?

Familiarity with rip currents, ocean surf,
swimming all alone, unassisted, no flotation ?

Tide familiarity ?



– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 8:55 AM EST –

get a sot.

ps. I learned to kayak in Santa Barbara and actually used exactly what you're talking about. For some bizarre reason I avoided the experience and instruction available at the time, and like you I went out in gentle conditions. Later I paddled a sea kayak but without adequate self-rescue skills. 6mo later I moved to the S.F. Bay area and took a multitude of classes.

Imagine I am you 23yrs later giving you advice. Don't be a gumbie.

No no

– Last Updated: Jun-20-12 8:35 AM EST –

As above, once you capsize in the thing you can't likely do an on water self rescue, and get the water out of it, to be able to get on your way and to safety. Swimming to shore with a boat loaded with very dangerous amounts of water right behind you is not something to be taken lightly. Swimming in surf without that is not something to be taken lightly unless you have some time in that.

If capsizing and swimming is your approach to challenging water, I agree with the idea of at least getting a SOT.

Your idea of staying close to shore won't work if you find yourself alongside a beach with major waves. You will either have to be well out beyond the waves, which means you are far enough out to have a real challenge making it in safely or dealing with a capsize, or you are tumbling in surf nearer shore. Neither is where this boat should be.

understand that my comment is made with the utmost respect for you and any one else.

Read your own statement about being an avid climber who has partaken in rescues of “gumbies”. In this case, 9’ rec boat for ocean use of any kind, you are being the “gumbie”. You are getting all kinds of warnings not to do what you are thinking of doing. Please heed those warnings, its the most logical thing to do.

Easier to roll over…
Any boat can be quite easy to roll over - it is rolling back up again that is the challenge.

You have the cart before the horse. If you are contemplating ocean paddling or want to get better at WW, get into some rolling classes now. You will learn a lot about boats that you don’t understand at the moment, and find why people are advising against a rec boat for on water self-rescue while you are learning.

when you are in over your head
sure conditions don’t change rapidly there, sure you can see what conditions are when there isn’t fog, etc. etc.

a paddle board would make more sense.

If on the cheap…
…consider a SOT. It doesn’t take much to cause one to flip over and, even close to shore, a kayak with a flooded cockpit is unmanageable in even modest surf. At least a SOT will not end up flooded and sloshing around in the surf.

The more butt time you can get in before your purchase, the better you will be able to make informed choices.

Sign up for some local classes where you can get wet with minimal risk. Keep us posted on your quest!

A roll is one self rescue tool
and not the only one… What does make self rescue possible is not having much water in the boat. That either entails use of float bags or sealed bulkheads in each end. Rec boats annoyingly have either one or no bulkheads.

Swamp…and the reasons for capsize are many including simply not paying attention on a beautiful day or looking overboard… and you have a rec boat with one end filled with water and the other end looking at the sky… Impossible for one to self rescue and incredibly hard even with a second boat. At least with minimal water to pump out its easier to get back in to the boat and the boat is more stable than filled with water.

I saw a whole bunch of such boats at WalMart the other day and they scared the crap out of me.

I used to take my rec boat out in March in Long Island Sound. I had a spray cover. Wave imploded that and filled the cockpit and the boat which promptly became unstable and I went out… I was in waves and managed barely to get to shore. It was only about thirty feet.

Next day I went to buy a real sea kayak with double bulkheads. The rec boat was still used…on ponds and as a visitor boat.

I have had the same question
Since I do own an Emotion Glide and live on SF Bay. It’s very fine for flatwater and smaller wave situations in the sloughs, but I don’t know about the open Bay, much less the open ocean. I am going to test the Bay carefully this summer.

First, in defense of the Glide, all you need is a second air bag for the front (just buy the same one they supply for the back for $25) to get the flotation you need and to keep the hull from filling totally with water. Also, a good spray skirt will help keep you from filling. And eventually you’ll need a good pump to get water out if those don’t work with ANY boat. These are the same requirements you’d have for almost any other boat without hull chambers, including the Aleut and Inuit designs of skin on frame boats.

When I took lessons in Princeton Harbor (Half Moon Bay) I met skilled kayak surfers using all kinds of short WW and rec and small ocean kayaks, so it’s possible. But they were highly skilled and not touring at all.

NO boat is worth a crap to you if you can’t rescue yourself. And swimming 30 yards in cold ocean water and surf is a really dangerous idea. Those lessons will tell you what type of boat you do need for your conditions, and don’t count on ideal conditions.

Once I took an ocean lesson in more protected water with a 14’ smaller sit inside and learned self-rescue, I started to get my doubts about taking my Glide out on open seawater of any kind. The longer boats are made for the sea’s vicissitudes, not just for speed.

The truly best bet is to first invest in at least one lesson on the water you plan to paddle in SB with a good instructor. That’s a better bet than what you think you’ll save on a boat without firsthand info.

This is advice I wish I’d heeded when I bought my boat. Though I love my Glide for what it’s designed for, I ended up hungering for a “true” sea kayak for the real ocean. And everybody tells you this same advice for a reason.

save me tax money
And don’t do it. Coast Guard rescues are expensive.

Only if you get flotation
That is secured well. Unfortunately, it is hard to secure flotaion in the front, because these boats are so short and wide: it is very likely it will float out if the boat fills-up with water. Flotation in the rear is easier to secure - just put the float bag(s) in then inflate and they are likely to stay if you have a solid back rest to keep them in place (but if not, they could come out and that’s no good).

But that said, these boats paddle OK as long as you are not in a rush. They are also rather stable, so they won’t flip easy, unless you get into braking waves. So, if secured with flotation and a spray skirt to aviid filling-up in the first place, they are just as good as a longer boat, unless you need speed: you simply can’t paddle these faster than about 4mph and sometimes you need to paddle against a tide current that might be faster than that - you sill be out of luck, unless in a longer faster boat and a strong paddler…

I paddled a very similar boat recently. It was actually a lot of fun in the small steep waves. It would surf nicely and body leans and stern rudders were very effective in keeping it where I wnated it to go. I could even paddle it in a racing position, with my knees high-up in the center with lots of body rotation, something I can’t get in a more snug regular kayak.

I wanted to see what happens if that thing flips over. So, I rolled it once, which filled it up half-way. It still floated with me in, but lost most of its stability, was very heavy and slow, and even the slightest waves would wash over and inside (I had no spray skirt). I rolled it a second time and as I came-up, the thing sank under me. There is no way to empty it alone and reenter. It might not sink down entirely, but it would be almost as useless as not having it next to you. You can’t pull it for long as it is very heavy so you will have to leave it behind.

To sum-up. Unless you get flotation properly secured, AND you practice re-entry self rescue in deep water successfully, you should only stay close to shore and in warm enough water to not die swimming. Regardless of the boat.