Hey everyone just want to throw this question out there. Im attempting to make a move up to costal Maine from the Hudson Valley. Currently I am paddling a Dagger Alchemy 14L, which I enjoy however I am looking into something that is a bit longer and not as wide. I will hopefully be moving to the Portland area this year and want something that will not only thrive in calm water but chop and surf zones. I am still a bit of a intermediate paddler but want something them will grow more with me. Not totally concerned about speed but would like something that could keep up with a group. I am also looking for something that could be used for camping. I also want to stay within the plastic side and trying to keep the budget under $2000. Looking for new but also would go used if it was gently loved.
Southern Maine Sea Kayakers
Is the group to touch bases with.
Dozens of boats fit your needs
Most folks here use 17-18 foot boats.
Consider membership in MITA. Opens up camping opportunities though there are plenty of public islands too
Take the Alchemy
It is a fine boat for starting in those waters. Then spend some time trying out boats at outfitters up there - wait until you arrive and paddle there some. There is no shortage of options up that way.
And learn to respect the fog. No, it cannot be predicted and Maine fog is the definition of pea soup. Many stories of paddlers with otherwise competent skills getting done in by the stuff.
Many kayaks to choose from
A Valley Etain in plastic would be a good choice. There are two sizes in the RM version (RM means plastic) so depends on your size. 3 sizes in composite. They retail for I think 2 grand but you should be able to get one in the $1700 range(plastic).
Bring the dagger and search the craigslist in maine. There are some good deals right now, glass outer island, Chatham 16 and an Aquanaut all for less then $2000. Well not all of them, individual pricing… you know what I mean.
Why stay with plastic?
I am asking because I know of a couple of very good boats out there for your purposes, that experience has proven work well in Maine waters including island camping, which usually come up used in fiberglass between $1000 and $1200.
If it is a maintenance issue, I would take composite over plastic any day of the week. With being in Maine each summer I and my husband found many rocks. None of them were tougher than the combination of gel coat and the strengthening layers in our fiberglass boats. And basic gel coat repair is pretty easy stuff. You can get fussy with matching colors exactly and perfect finish sanding if you want. But you don’t have to do so for a sound boat.
Plastic boats do hole on shellfish. I have done that. Nothing like being on Isle Au Haut with a small hole in the strn that duct tape will not stick to. And no hardware store
Composites are tougher and more easily field repairable. I have paddled in Maine for nearly 30 years and 27 of them in composites. Now I live there. Outfitters of course use plastic . Few private owners do
Would love to find a nice composite, def keeping my options open. Currently looking at a Scorpio LV II, hopefully will be testing on Tuesday.
How much do you weigh?
Agree with Celia, get there and see what works, you’ll probably find a good deal used.
I’m 5’10 and 175 #'s it really depends on what happens with the alchemy. If it sells I’ll pick something up if not I will continue to paddle it and enjoy it.
You are average sized paddler then
Lots of boats. But seriously - when you get to Maine you will find that there is a huge range of paddling available. Is there any way you could hang onto that boat and just pick up a touring boat at a good price.
There are boats that people often regret letting go when they get into more robust paddling environments. The Alchemy is one that could be that. It is a very nice boat for skills work and lovely for messy conditions and river mouth work with a strong tide. Yeah the hatches tend to leak a bit, but it more than gives you back in responsiveness.
I wish I could have more then one kayak but funds are limited, that’s why I’m thinking the Scorpio might be a good fit. Hardest problem is finding storage for the kayaks it seems. Any idea of storage for two kayaks in the Portland area?
Sorry for adding more questions to one post, but as I’m unfamiliar with the conditions if I was looking to go longer and narrower what about the Delphin 160?
…good for surf…slow for touring.
I may know of someone in the area I can ask. Could you narrow the geography a bit, like in Portland proper, or the direction from Portland if in one of the adjoining towns?
We are not totally sure just yet as we are still figuring out the job/living situation however us both being chefs means we will work in Portland proper. We’re hoping to live near Portland proper or South Portland.
You have a dilema
There is quite decent availability of places where you could play in areas where there is fun tidal action, within a very resonable drive from Portland. For that you want the rockered, slower boat.
There are also islands - lots of islands - to go out and day trip to or camp on overnight. For those you might want a faster hull.
But if you are out on a longer paddle and get caught by weather, well it depends. Leave fog off the table, that is a whole chapter itself. If you are close to something you can land on - and be aware that ability to land is not guaranteed on a lot of Maine islands - you want a skinny rocket to get there fast. But if you are fully in it, you probably want that slower hull that will be easier to manage chop and waves with.
So I think I am coming to my first post. Take the Alchemy and spend some time paddling around the area, then decide on a boat once you have seat time in that environment.
Say you decide that safety for paddling solo is your highest priority. That argues for a boat with a slower hull, more easily maneuvered and and very friendly stability for an on water self-rescue in dicey conditions.
But if you hook up a group of paddlers - not exactly a hard thing to find in that area - you might want to sacrifice some of the above stuff for a boat that is faster and could be a little crankier. Because you’ll be paddling with others with (hopefully) useful skills when it comes to assisted rescues and local knowledge about when and where is best to paddle to avoid surprises.
Apartment or house rental?
You looking for… as to the boat, I am going back to my first idea. See post below.
a friend of mine a chef
lived on Peaks and either took the ferry or kayaked to work … He cooked on Exchange St.
Portland does not have interesting
tidal action. Go up to the Sasanoa River for great surfing or Head Tide in Alna on the Sheepscot. You will want a rockered boat for the latter and a regular sea kayak works for the Sasanoa though more rocker would be nice to maneuver when a whirlpool appears out of nowhere.
Check out Popham Beach at the mouth of the Kennebec.. a favorite surfing area for kayakers and seals.
You can have fun off OOB or Wells surfing in your Alchemy