a second kayak

I’d like suggestions for a second kayak. Here is my situation now.

I purchased my first kayak late last summer, a used P&H Capella 173. I’m 6’-3”, 215lbs, still a intermediate/beginner (I can self-rescue with a paddle float, no roll yet). I live in California’s Central Valley where we have all types of paddling opportunities nearby including local rivers, lakes, California Delta and of course the Pacific Ocean. I’m not an extreme whitewater enthusiast and I like to paddle camp so I’m really happy with my Capella. I like its comfort, cockpit size, skegged hull and performance in big water.

I’d like a second kayak more suited for day trips in slow flow rivers (rubs and scrapes) and backwaters and generally a more playful and maneuverable boat.

Important features/considerations include:

skeg (not a rudder)

two watertight bulkheads

polyethylene hull

large cockpit length – I like my 34” Capella 173 cockpit

room for my size 13 paddling booties

A friend suggested a WS Zephyr or a Delphin and I already bought a used Looksha Sport 14 that I’m dealing with some foot room and sliding foot pedal issues. I’m thinking that the Looksha Sport may not be my final choice.

Any suggestions?


Dagger Alchemy?

– Last Updated: Feb-27-12 1:14 PM EST –

You may want to try out a Dagger Alchemy 14.0L. Sunrise Mountain Sports in Livermore has them. I have one, and have done overnight trips out of it (but you ave to pack like a backpacker).

Ignoring brands - it does sound like you want a rotomolded plastic boat ot put up with the bumps, not thermoformed or composite (fiberglass, carbon, or kevlar).

And for more playful/maneuverable, you want shorter or more rocker.

I have a Looksha Sport and size 15
booties, and I haven’t had footroom issues. Of course I may have lost all feeling down there…

The Looksha Sport has some issues, but it’s a great handling touring kayak, and you’ll need to be a careful shopper to do better.

foot problems
I think my foot and leg problems in my Looksha Sport may relate to an old sports injury and/or those sliding foot pedals attached the rudder. I’ve been on fence about upgrading the foot pedal system or just replacing it with another boat. I have $450 invested in my 2004 Looksha Sport and its a nice boat otherwise.

I Second The Alchemy
I picked up a used one in the Fall and have been very happy with it so far. Try one.

At least think for a moment

– Last Updated: Feb-27-12 4:44 PM EST –

about the Liquid Logic Remix XP10.
Just want to be sure you consider the options.
You said:
Important features/considerations include:
skeg (not a rudder)-- YES
two watertight bulkheads -- ONLY 1 (but folks take this down the grand canyon self supported -- if you are thinking about safety, i have float bags in the bow).
polyethylene hull -- YES
large cockpit length – I like my 34” Capella 173 cockpit -- HUGE
room for my size 13 paddling booties -- HUGE
It is VERY maneuverable -- 1 hard stroke = 360 degree turn. I would not want this on a lake, but as long as the river is moving in your direction you should be fine. Trade off of course is, if the river is really slow moving, you would make better time with a faster, better tracking boat. The size gets you into nooks and crannies.
I have a 16.5 foot sea kayak for the lakes around here -- the XP10 is REALLY a different boat (vs. say a 14' rotomolded touring kayak -- I have one of those t0o -- it was my first boat and now that I have the 16.5 and the 10, I rarely use the 14 -- but it is a great all arounder for loaning to friends).

14 foot
since you mentioned having a 14 ft, I have a Tsunami 145, plenty of foot room, room in cockpit for larger paddler. In the wilderness System kayaks all the ones ending in 5 are the large paddler versions.

skeg (not a rudder)- NO, but you really shouldn’t need either one for river paddling. They come rudder ready or with rudder already installed. I don’t have rudder.

two watertight bulkheads-Yes

polyethylene hull-Yes

large cockpit length – Yes 35.5 by 19.5

room for my size 13 paddling booties- Yes (size 12 wearing tennis shoes will fit)

That said, It’s alot of boat for just day tripping. Are you set on needing double bulkheads for day floats on a slow river?

We must be neighbors…
I’m using a WS Zephyr 160,(my first boat), as you have descibed. I think it’s very freindly & manuverable. Have paddled up & down the mokelumne from Lodi to the W and up as far as the fish hatchery to the E. It fits your description well. I should be in a Z 155 but am fine in the 160, find a good used 155 & I’ll trade you! As far as use goes, there’s a good review and compare between the delphin 155 & zephyr 155, I believe on this site. I believe the delphin would be more of a departure from what you already have, probably would play in currents a little better at the cost of some touring ability. The shorter boats mentioned may be a good choice but I doubt they would do well at what the zephyr does easily. FWIW, t.george.

my vote …
is maybe a Liquid Logic XP 10 …it fits most of your criteria.

The rocker provides the play you don’t have with your P&H.

another question
I bought the looksha sport in the house last night and sat in it for a while with my various paddle footwear. I don’t think there is enough room for my feet. Also to get my thighs under the thigh braces I had to splay my legs apart too much to be comfortable. The cockpit seems to keep my legs too straight.

This is all in comparison to my Capella 173 which is hecka comfortable. I don’t think I keep my thighs under the braces at all times.

I got suggestions for the Zephyr and the Alchemy (thanks) but neither one of these lines are carried at the local pro shops in my area, CCK and Headwaters. I would sure like to patronize a local shop.

Should I be looking at a boat keyhole cockpit or a boat with a specific kind of cockpit?


suggestion …
…I googled both CCK and headwaters shops for brands of boats they sell …my suggestion is go to the shops. tell them your criteria, and try out boats they suggest. Another thing is look for what is called" high volume" boats that usually have higher fore decks for more foot room. Cockpit styles…a keyhole opening (Prijon is noted for using that style) compared to other types of openings(ie:egg-shaped ovals) makes sliding the legs in and out much easier w/o going too big on the overall opening, important if you plan to use a spray skirt, less chance of implosion w/ a spray skirt over a smaller cockpit opening. Its gonna be hard to find a short boat( 14’ and under or WW boats) with the 2 hatches, there is simply not enough room up front for both legs and practical,usable front storage space. Skegs can be much more problematic than rudders, they seem to like to hangup, not deploy and leak water into the rear storage area. Now ya know why most kayakers have a few diff boats in the fleet, no one boat does it all. good luck

I recommend this

Last year I got to try out over $30K worth of kayaks in a day, plus take a couple nice classes.

You can see all the major brands, and most of the ‘minor’ brands there, also.

May as well get a chance to see all these boats people mention, plus more, before you fork out your hard-earned dollars on another craft.

I agree
with trout’s suggestion to talk to the local shops (and demo their recommendations) - especially since you say you really would like to buy from them.

Just a couple of odds and ends:

  1. If you are really talking about slow river day trips, you might actually be fine with a rec boat (something like a 12 foot Wildernes Systems Pungo or Pamlico); I don’t have personal experience with this category of boat, but I see plenty of folks enjoying themselves in these in the Class I sections of the Snake River here in the Tetons (typically these boats have neither skeg nor rudder).
  2. If you go for a 14 footer, a skeg or rudder may come with the boat or be offered as an option. While my lake boats have skegs, and i love them, I can tell you (from a guided/outfitted multi-day trip a few years ago) that a rudder on a slow river can be fun because you can steer pretty well with your feet while gliding along in the current eating a sandwhich, playing a harmonica, looking at the clouds or a map or a filed guide, or whatever.

    I hope others will chime in if they think I’m saying anything that will mislead you.

Consider A Used Boat
If your used boat needs tweaking / repair take it to your local shop.

Take a trip to Reno

Has a rudder but really does not need one and you can pull it and put in fixed footpegs and sell the rudder. Does not need a skeg either.

Rent a drysuit at Tahoe Eco Sports in Kings Beach on your way home and have a greAt wintr paddle.

Alchemy, Remix XP 10
The local paddle shop has an LL Remix XP 10. It’s a lot different that the touring boats the paddle club members paddle and looks like it would be fun in moving water and for shuttled river day paddles. Many of my day paddles are solo or up and back paddles. I didn’t sit in this boat but it might work great as a third boat.

We also talked about the Alchemy. The owner might bring in Dagger as a new line. He wants an Alchemy for himself. In the mean time maybe I’ll get the opportunity to test one.

My next step is to sit in bunch of shoe room floor boats to see what cockpit features work for my long and not too flexible body. Half the paddlers in the local club are paddling Sterling Kayaks (my wife has an Ice Kap)and there is peer pressure for me to get a sportier composite boat. On the other hand my vanilla Capella 173 carries most of my wife’s stuff and I don’t contribute to the circus at the launch and take out.

Thanks for all the input.

Don’t Forget…
There are things you can do to make things fit better. I’ve moved the seat back in my last 3 boats. Besides moving back the seat, I removed some added ‘stiffening’ hardware from the Alchemy. Much better.

…if half your trip is upstream, the XP10 isn’t the boat.

As it turns out, we are neighbors!
Hope to meet up with you at some point, I do a fair amount of solo paddling as well. I may be off on this, but it sounds to me you pretty much know what you want from a boat. If in doubt, I think you can trust Dan’s advice from the Headwaters, he hasn’t steered me wrong. If interested, we could try to hook up for a paddle & trade boats a bit.