Advice: OT Loon 111 or Dagger Blackwater

-- Last Updated: Jun-02-12 7:19 PM EST --

Here it goes. Im brand new to kyaking. Im 5'6" 170 pounds. I have a choice of either an Old Towne Loon 111 or a Dagger Blackwater 10.1 kayak. My primary use will be on the lower Hudson River in NY near the Tappan Zee bridge close to shore. Once I get more experience, I may want to take my son (9 years old) or dog (35 lbs) out with me. Any advice.Thanks in advance.

Neither first
You are talking about too serious a body of water to be taking out a dog or a child in a rec boat, or yourself without a better background for that matter. Go to Atlantic Kayak Tours in Peekskill and spend some time talking to those folks about how to get started (right).

Please think this through
First let’s talk about you as a beginning kayaker. Do you know the Hudson currents? Can you handle moving water? Do you know what to do if you end up in the water?

Assuming that your answer to those questions is no, please don’t take a child or even a dog in the kayak with you. Thankfully, your 9-year-old won’t fit in a kayak like the Loon. It’s a one-person kayak.

The Loon 111 is open in the bow. If this kayak overturns it will quickly fill with a couple of hundred pounds of water and you will be helpless to empty it or get it back to shore. Trying to manage yourself, the kayak, and a child or dog at the same time would be impossible.

Postpone taking your son and dog for the moment. Learn about kayaks and kayak safety and then choose a kayak that is suitable for the conditions you intend to use it in. Start out in easy, safe conditions.

Good advice
Thanks all. That is why I post here. Help abounds. I am going to heed your advice and talk with a pro first. Thanks.

first kayak advice?
Waterbird any advice on a first kayak?

Some tips to start
I’m pretty concerned about your choice of the Hudson River. Any other water near you?

For general-purpose kayaking, I would recommend something 12 to 14 feet in length and about 24" wide, with closed ends, meaning two bulkheads (walls) that create airtight spaces fore and aft. That space is important for flotation and gear storage.

If your budget is limited, check Craigslist. You should be able to get a used kayak like I described for around $450 to $750 on Craigslist. At that price, the material will be rotomolded plastic, which is fine for a beginner’s kayak.

Fit the cockpit to your size and comfort. A huge cockpit may be comfortable, but it also admits water more easily. A small cockpit can be hard to get into and out of. For a beginner a comfortable cockpit size is about 17" x 35", but it depends very much on your body size.

The hull should be a shallow V, meaning it has a ridge (keel) on the bottom to help it track straight. In your case the sides will most likely be rounded, which is called a soft chine.

Try to get a kayak with a seat that you can stand to sit in for a couple of hours.

The weight is important. Rotomolded plastic is heavy. Try to get a kayak that is less than 53 lbs. If it’s heavier that that you get tired of loading it on your car.

An example of the above is the Old Town Cayuga 130. There are several more good kayaks in this length.

And of course you will need a good paddle, a pfd, and some safety equipment.

Perception Caroline 14.5 on the New York Craigslist:

That’s the only good kayak I see on your local CL. Check daily; there is always something new.

Hull shape etc
OPer - get to Atlantic Kayak Tours. The shallow V hull shape works but so may others for someone just starting out including the almost flat bottom designs like the NDK Romany. Tracking issues are universal for new paddlers because they don’t know how to paddle yet, but a skeg fixes much of that.

There are some boat designers on this board but none of them have weighed in here, nor would I expect them to. They’ll also likely feel that you have to get to somewhere reputable to and demo and sit in boats over looking at hull shapes. It is easy to get wound up in what the hull shape looks like over how a boat actually paddles to you.

As to other water - the Hudson is a big, very inviting river down by the Tappen Zee and the other water bodies are often privately owned so access is poor, or are part of the NYC reservoir system so kayaks or similar aren’t allowed. It is a highly developed area with one end of the bridge going into the middle of Westchester County. I see a good sized body of water on the west side of the river, but no indication of any public access in a several searches or a look at the map. Looks like you’d have great access if you belonged to a private golf club though…