Advice Sought - Rough Water Sea Kayak

HELP! - I am overwelmed by all of the on line reviews and could really use some personalized advice - PLEASE!

I’m looking for as new boat. I’ve got 12 years of experience. My trips are generally 3 to 10 days, but I tend to travel light. I’m 5’8", 175 lbs. My current boat is 17’ long, and 22" beam - and those seem to be pretty good dimensions.

  • Of primary importance is great performance in rough conditions, which I love.
  • I live in Alaska, and often travel on the exposed coast.
  • There is not that much available here, so I may end up buying sight unseen and shipping the boat.
  • I paddle with ACA/BCU snobs - so, no rudder boats please :wink:


Necky Chatham 16

– Last Updated: Jun-22-13 3:25 PM EST –

Love it in conditions, skeg (I hate rudders), very maneuverable, low back deck, easy to roll. Adequate storage in hatches if you are a light packer.

What do you want to do with it?

– Last Updated: Jun-22-13 5:18 PM EST –

From what you wrote, it sounds like you want to travel from point A to point B and be able to handle rough conditions. That's going to point you to a different set of boats compared to what you would be better off if you were primarily playing in rough water...

I'd say the Cetus MV would be a great choice for tripping if you don't mind the hefty weight... Very reassuring initial and secondary stability, yet maneuverable and quick.

Tempest 170? There are so many boats that would do what you seem to describe that I'd go by fit and price, unless you got some other differentiating criteria to throw at us to think about...

The Chatham 16 would certainly handle rough conditions well, but I don't know if you can stuff it with 10 days worth of "stuff", plus I think it is a slow boat for traveling in a straight line...

Current Designs Sirocco
Great rough water boat. I used to say that it was a better boat than I was a paddler. It handled the rough stuff easily.

What do you have now?
And what about it makes you want to replace it?

Like nebeginner asked what kayak do you have now and why do you need to replace it? Just want something new? Do you want plastic or fiberglass? Some good choices are Valley sea kayaks and NDK make good rough water kayaks.NDK Explorer is one.

NSDK Romany or Explorer
Romany is very good at rough water but the Explorer will do long distances more easily without having to stop and play on every wave. Both are long standing boats, no surprises, and tend to show up used relatively cheap because they are slower and less sexy than many of the newer designs.

But both are boats that people hang onto even after adding to their fleet, because they just do it with so little fuss.

Why I want to replace my current boat
My current boat is a Perception Shadow. I’ve been paddling it for 12 years - it has many miles on it. The thing that I really love about it is the way it handles conditions. It doesn’t matter the size of the wave, it bounces right back and asks for another.

There are a few things that I would like to improve. The Perception has a lot of wasted space behind the seat and between my feet and the front bulk head. It has a rudder that I almost never use, but adds weight and wind resistance when up.

Old boat
My Perception Shadow is 12 years old, and has less epoxy left after many, many miles. I am looking for a fiberglass boat.

How about
a SOT?Kaskazi kayaks are made in/for Africa’s coastal waters which most definitely are some of the nastiest waters to be found anywhere.

What did you try?
What kayaks have you tried over the years, what did you dis/like about them?

Opinions are all anyone can give …

– Last Updated: Jun-23-13 8:07 AM EST –

... And there are so many great boats out there! I have a Nordklo (Nordkapp low volume), which is a great boat for rough weather. It's also fast. It's small, and I know the regular volume Nordkapp is an expedition boat, and I have heard the the reg vol version needs weight in it to handle like the low does with just a paddler.

I like Valley boats, well, the old models anyway. Aquanaut is a great boat. Valley has essentially become P&H, with there new boats being more P&H in design than what Valley was. That's not a bad thing, because if you can't get a Valley, A P&H is just as good, as the old saying goes.

Someone mentioned NDK, the Explorer. Another excellent company and expedition class boat that can handle rough weather.

These three companies and the boats mentioned are not the newest designs, but they are proven and durable, designed for rough seas.

I had several Tempests, and the designer created a great boat. Only issues are hatches and leaks, which does not sound all that comforting for where you're going to be paddling.

So opinions are all anyone can give you, and it's tough that there are not so many options to try out boats up there. Perhaps people you paddle with can let you try theirs to see the fit?

If you can't, I guess if I was in your position I'd think a solid proven design from one of the 3 Brit companies would be safest bets.

Not saying there aren't other great boats out there, just from my own limited experience these are solid safe expedition boats.

Just in case
You don’t know Tom Pogson…I assume you do, but if not give him a call, he’s in Homer.


try some
You’ll need to paddle some boats to get an idea of what you like.

Ask your BCU/ACA snob friends if you can test their boats.

The difference between a rough water park and play boat, versus a get you from point A to point B through rough water boat, is significant.

For the former I like something like a P&H Delphin or Aries. For the latter I’d prefer something much different, like a Valley Aquanaut.

Both are very predictable and capable in very rough water, but one makes miles and carries stuff better, while the other maneuvers and surfs a bit better.

personalized advice?

– Last Updated: Jun-23-13 11:04 AM EST –

Paddling 12 years and trips 3 - 10 days?

You say you are overwhelmed with all the various reviews?

You need to try boats. At this point you'll know what feels good to you by being on the water in it.

If you want to carry camping things and do extended overnight trips, the overall most popular in my neck of the woods is the Explorer.

Start with the Fit
You need to paddle a number options. One observation . . . if you are coming from a Shadow, boats like Explorer and T170 may be too big, you might do better in a Romany or T165. Try them all. Make sure you have a good comfortable fit.

Cetus and Spartan
I own a Cetus MV and send what the poster said above. It’s a fantastic boat - great stability, very responsive, holds an edge solidly, and is relatively fast for a brit boat.

Our club has an Atlantis Spartan, another fantastic boat. Quite similar in performance to the Cetus. This boat gets fought over about who gets to paddle it more than any other boat in our fleet. Great stability, great on edge, tracks straight and turns easily and predictably on a bit of an edge, catches waves easily.

You wont go wrong with either.

Caribou S
I have paddled a Current Designs Caribou S for the past six years. I find it to be an excellent boat for vertical waters and can surf wind waves with the best of them but it is a bit on the slow end as are most hard chined boats.

You need to take a look at these.
I thought I had my rough water boat (CD Sirocco) and yes it loves rough water, but then I wanted a faster long distance boat, so I started looking and testing and testing and testing.

I settled on my NC Expedition which exceeds every aspect I had hoped for in a long distance boat, but what an enormous bonus it has been to have a boat that treats the rough stuff with complete disdain. This boat allows me to go into situations with total confidence where heretofore I would have had serious trepidations. That by no means is meant to disparage the Sirocco’s prowess, but the NC is really that good.

Check them out at The Expedition might be a little bigger than you are interested in, but they do make a 17’-2" that is just a scaled down version.

I can also strongly recommend the Cetus, it will do anything it needs to do really well, with excellent stability in rough water, and a lot you would want to do with its great maneuverability and good speed.