adv. beginner first SINK kayak

I’m looking to purchase my first kayak for mostly coastal/estuary/bay/some open water use. Mostly day tripping but would like to be able to weekend camp as well. I’m female, 5’8" and 155 lbs.

I’ve tried the WS Tsunami 140 which I found very comfortable and stable. I have been out on several half day tours, and I have taken an intro course which taught me some basic strokes, bracing, and rescues, and I will likely take a more advanced course next. What I found is that after the course the Tsunami felt somewhat sluggish with turns and speed. I’m not looking for a speed demon, and I’m not looking to do much surfing. I just want something that can handle some weather when it gets thrown at me, and something I can grow into, but not so much that I end up taking so many unexpected swims that I get discouraged. The Tempest sounds like a great boat from the reviews I’ve read, but it’s a sizeable drop in width. Would it be too much for a hesitant advanced beginner? I do not have the opportunity to demo it in conditions that will give me a good feel for that.

Are there any other boats that might fit the bill in the 14’ to 16’ range? I’ve tried the Old Town Cayuga 146 which was very uncomfortable (I think something about the wide v-angle my feet needed to be in that bothered my hips). I also tried the Manitou 14 which felt more nimble but did not have the storage capacity.

I’m looking for used plastic and I don’t want to put a lot into customization because my hunch is that I will want an upgrade once I have a better idea what I’m looking for.

Thanks for your thoughts.

wilderness systems kayaks are great
and though there are others out there that I like I’ve always felt comfortable in these. I have an older WS Sealution which has been very stable and responsive but I’m no longer a beginner and am ready to move up to a WS Tempest which is longer and faster. ERBA a local outfitter here in Essex, Mass allows you to try out new boats on their tours so you get the feel of it before buying it. Maybe you could do that at an outfitter near you?

First boat

– Last Updated: Jul-13-08 9:18 PM EST –

I bought an Avocet RM as my first kayak -- similar in stability to a Tempest 165. I never felt that I should have bought something wider. But I had sailed Sunfish and sailboards before I started paddling, and I had taken several classes and spent time in rented and borrowed boats before I bought mine.

I think something like a Tempest is a fine first boat if you're reasonably coordinated, plan to work on developing skills, and realize that an occasional swim is normal while you're learning. At your weight you'd want the Tempest 165. The Avocet RM would also be worth a test paddle. Both have been out for several years and should be available used.

You might want to try the Tsunami 135 -- it could be a better fit for you than the 140. The Necky Eliza in plastic would also be a candidate.

More info needed
Tell us where you are located and people will be able to steer you to some resources in your area. If turns are important to you, you know already there’s a tradeoff between tracking and turning. At your size, there are lots of great choices - its more a question of what’s available locally.

I think you are exactly on the right course - taking classes and learning what you like and what doesn’t feel right. I think you are also right to recognize that you are likely to outgrow your first used purchase. Use that purchase to refine what you want in your next boat. And buying used is low risk as you can resell a plastic boat at about what you paid.

All that said, I don’t think a Tempest is out of the question for beginners at all. My wife and I met another couple - she in a T165 & he in a T170, their first kayaks. They loved them and paddled them beautifully. But as always - try before you buy.

Skip the Tsunami, go for the Tempest
if you think you will be advancing your skills beyond what you already know. <br />

Paddled the Tsunami 145 for 2-3 months and now the have the Tempest 170 and another similarly sized boat.

The Tsunami is initially more confidence-inspiring in flat water and some mild chop/waves as it is wider and has very good primary stability. But in really bad weather or in winds or currents the Tempest is easier to control. The 165 is a touch narrower than the 170 but you are also considerably shorter than I am so you should not find it any tippier than I did (and I thought the Tempest was among the most easy-going boats in its size when I first tried it some time ago - and it only gets better as I learn).

The Tsunami is great for “recreational” paddling and if you get a model with rudder there is really nothing missing (the 145 without rudder tends to weathercock too much in winds and waves). Except perhaps a little speed compared to faster boats, but the 140 is not slow - just not at the front of the pack compared to slimmer kayaks. Also, I find the Tempest easier to turn than the Tsunami, especially with some edging, so even though it is longer it is more nimble.

The seating is also better on the Tempest for active paddling, though the Tsunami is not bad either - the backband on the Tempest allows more free torso rotation yet provides decent support. The band can be put on the Tsunami as well if desired ($40 at REI).

some more
Definite yes to Avocet RM, I prefer it to the plastic Tempest 165. Both have similar hulls, T165 is a bit longer, has less rocker.

Also, consider Capella 160. It will probably feel a bit cramped, but worth a look anyways. Capella 166 has slightly larger cockpit. Both have chinier hulls than the above two, will handle differently.

NDK Romany is also available in plastic, but probably harder to find.

didn’t know Romany was made
in plastic. Are you sure?

plastic NDK’s
I stopped at a kayak shop yesterday that I happened to notice as we drove by. The gentleman there told me that they were expecting their first plastic NDK’s to arrive very soon. According to him this was the first time they were available to him (NC), so you wouldn’t find anything used in this area, but you could now get plastic if you wanted.

The Tsunami’s
are excellent boats and very capable for many things, including the type of water you seem interested in paddling. In order to make the Tsunami very maneuverable you do have to edge it pretty aggressively, but learn to handle it and it will respond when you need it to.

However all that said it does sound like for what you want to do and the skills you want to grow the Tempest is probably a better place to start. It will give you more opportunity to grow, advance, and paddle in bigger water.

As others on this post have suggested, there are other boats for you to consider if you think a boat like the Tempest is more what you’re interested in.

Good luck!

But if you aren’t interested in taking many more classes and really advancing your skills then Tsunami 140 or 160 would do all you need it to with a good skirt.

Tempest not too much

– Last Updated: Jul-14-08 5:13 PM EST –

It shouldn't be anyway if you are serious about the coastal/...bay/some open water use part. If it is, the correction is more seat time in that boat rather than a wider one. I don't care what you are in, once you are in coastal/...bay/some open water use you are going to feel challenged at some point. You might as well have that happen in a boat that'll give you the most back in terms of easy handling and accomodating the conditions. While the Tsunamis can be that in the right hands, the Tempest 165 is that. And you can find them used relatively inexpensively.

Might also want to check out
the Prijon Motion although you might have trouble finding a used one. I’ve seen some demos available for about $900-$1,000 though, although that’s been a few months ago.

Try a Kajaksport Viking
You will be very glad you did. If you can find one, an Eddyline Falcon16 would be an excellent boat also.

Romany S is available in plastic
(S or Surf or whatever they’re calling it now.)

I saw one when I went to pick up my Explorer LV. The vendor told me one of the hatch covers does not fit the hatch rim. Eek.