Another newbie wants a kayak. 😊

I’m a newbie that has fallen in love with kayaking over the summer. Right now, I’m using a friend’s recreational 30” wide beam Pelican kayak that is missing foot rests and a Walmart paddle.

I want to save and get a kayak that is in good shape, fits me physically, and will suit my kayaking style. I’m female, 55 years old, 5’5” tall and 135 pounds.

I see myself primarily kayaking in lakes, calm rivers, ocean bays and mangroves. IOW, sheltered areas, closer to shore.

I’m leaning toward kayaks like the Eddyline Skylark. Ideally, I’d love something narrower than the 30 inch loaner I’m using now since I’m smaller. I have no idea what other options are out there that might suit me. Nor do I have any idea about kayak building materials, durability or paddles suitable for beginners …with room to grow.

Would thermoform (spelling??) work well for me? I guess I should also find a lighter paddle that doesn’t break the bank and get a kayak around 25-28 inches wide? What sort of keel would help me track straighter in a 12’ kayak? Right now, I’m zig zagging impressively. :grin:

All advice is greatly appreciated.

Tracking device for a kayak is either a rudder or a skeg. Take a look at the articles on this site under “Learn”, they talk about this stuff. Note that paddling straight is more the paddled than the boat though.

There are other considerations, but best would be to read those articles then come back here.

Thx! I had no idea.
I’ve spent the evening reading and watching the videos. :smiley:

Welcome to the community, Ceci!

If you like the sport trying to paddle that fat box store boat with no foot pegs, you’re going to love it when you try a decent kayak. Kudos to you!

Thermoform would be a good choice and would work well for you because of its light weight. My second kayak was a used Eddyline Skylark. It’s a fine recreational kayak for lakes, but not meant for ocean bays or the IOW. See this link for good information on various types of kayaks (plus loads more excellent information).

Of the Eddyline boats, I think you’d do better starting out with the Eddyline Sitka ST (formerly called the Samba). If you have the opportunity to demo one, by all means jump at the chance and see what you think. You’ll wear that boat compared to the slug you’ve been paddling. In other words, your hips and thighs will have contact with the boat. Plus, it has great foot pegs which are easily adjusted while on the water.

Your next stop should be a class, if that’s possible in today’s environment. If not, good videos on the forward stroke. Here’s one demonstrating the use of hip rotation:

Have fun on your journey. Kayaks are our magic carpets on the water.

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Thermoform should work fine for you needs. (Rookie will probably chime in on hers sometime). The kayak looks reasonable for most of your use cases (except perhaps of ocean bays) and it does look like it has sealed bulkheads although small at each ends. I have seen a paddler practicing paddle float re-entries in a similar kayak so that can be done. Tracking should be reasonable in that kayak for it’s size but as Celia notes much of that is the responsibility of the paddler.

To start with, we’re not going to be doing hip rotations. Torso rotations will do just fine.

The best advice from me is to not settle for anything under 14 feet and keep the width under about 26 inches. Real happiness begins at about 16 feet long and about 23 to 24 inches wide. It gets even better by adding two, or three more feet to the length.

Most happy boats have an adjustable skeg, or rudder. Some don’t need either, but the skeg vs rudder is arguable. I prefer the skeg if the boat needs one.

You will likely get more boat for your money if you choose a polyethylene plastic boat, but it will also be heavier than "thermo-plastic, or composite. Do not summarily disregard a poly boat; there are lots of really good ones.

Two very big deals are your paddle and pfd. Don’t go cheap on either of these–unless you happen to find a very, very good deal. First you have to know what a good deal is. That may take a bit of education. There is a very big difference between life jackets and paddling life jackets. Just as there is an enormous difference between a kayak paddle and a good kayak paddle that fits you. You aren’t likely to find a good kayak paddle that sells new for under $175 mfg. suggested price. Find the paddle you really like and then shop around to get the price that makes you happy. Not to start an argument, but most likely a decent paddle is going to be all fiberglass, or glass and carbon, or maybe wood based. Don’t be surprised if you someday find yourself with a bunch of paddles and more than a couple of boats.


Welcome! This is a fantastic forum with many experienced paddlers, so you’ve come to the right place (provided you want to be enabled to buy a really good boat, paddle, PFD, etc. :grin:)

I agree that shooting for a boat not less than around 14 feet and preferably under 24” wide is a good idea. You will be surprised at how quickly you get used to the narrower longer feel.

Most people here advise to buy used. Depending on where you live, there are often great deals to be had. You’d never believe how many people seem to purchase expensive boats only to use them twice and resell two years later 50% off. If you find anything that looks good post it on here and people will give opinions on the boat and its suitability for you.
I bought several good boats being steered by these generous folks.

Have fun!

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I’m going to keep my eye in the used market and I’m willing to drive to pick one up. ( come on Delta or Eddyline :crossed_fingers:t2::crossed_fingers:t2:) It’s still going to take me a while to find an used one though. My area of the country is heavily into fishing and recreational kayaks.

I’m not thrilled at all with the current kayak I’m borrowing. But I’ll do my best to work on technique such as I can in a boat that is wide enough for my dog to sit in with me and that has no foot rests. I really feel like I could swim around in the cockpit!

Until I find “my kayak” I could get a good pfd (I have nothing right now) and a paddle. It’s getting cooler, but I’d love to keep kayaking (if I can stay dry-ish).

Actually, I just saw this on FB today. Is this worthy? Old Town Castine

First thing you should purchase is a good life vest made for paddling. Without one you’re a statistic waiting to happen, and we don’t want that!

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The ad does not say which size Castine they are selling but since they say it is 13’ it is probably a 135 – it came in 3 sizes and the 135 could be the best for you. Not sure why they call it a “river runner” and “class 2” since that is usually used to describe a kayak designed for whitewater. You could certainly use a Castine for that (mild class 1 and 2 open rapids) but Old Town classifies the Castine as a day touring kayak for flat water, which is what you are looking for.

Interesting boat and though a bit heavy (50 pounds for the 135), Old Towns are durable and that one has dual bulkheads so it’s a competent kayak. The specs say the beam is 23" which would be a good fit for you – the two kayaks I use most often are 22" and 23" beam. Here is a spec sheet – they were $1400 new so that’s a good price.

And here are some very positive reviews (from this forum) on the Castine, including from some people for whom it was their first kayak. If it is nearby you, it could be just what you need. If you go look at it, check that the bottom is not caved in (called oil-canning) which happens when a plastic boat is stored on a flat surface too long in hot weather.

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Thanks for the advice! The kayak is already pending sale, but if it falls through, maybe I’ll get a chance to look at it. If so, I’ll be sure to look at the bottom of the boat.

Bummer! But maybe you still have a shot at it. I’ve gotten a few things (including a couple of kayaks over the years) when somebody the seller was holding it for failed to show up.

I’m your height but 20 pounds heavier. Trust me, you will be so much happier in a slimmer low volume boat. Most lower end kayaks are designed “one size fits all” which means the average guy and therefore too big for most women, like putting a size 7 foot in a size 10 shoe. When a kayak fits your proportions well it is so much more pleasant to paddle.

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I saw that. I’ve contacted him on Facebook. It’s 15’ Long, 22” wide and 50 pounds. I admit that I’m nervous about the width as a newbie kayaker.

But if it’s something I’ll learn and get used to, then that’s what it takes to grow.

I understand that fear, and of course everyone experiences tippiness differently. When I was even more of a newbie than I am now (I’m an intermediate newbie :wink:) I bought a kayak that was 15 feet long and 22.5” wide from a woman who was selling it because she found it too tippy. She wanted a Pungo 140 instead, which is 28” wide. I was lucky in that she lived near a lake so I was able to paddle the boat. It felt tippy to me for maybe 15 seconds and then I was fine. After another few months I bought a narrower boat! So if you can paddle it first that would be ideal. But if you’re at all athletic or have a low center of gravity, as I do, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you get used to it within 10 minutes. Also that boat would allow you - eventually - to paddle anywhere, and to progress as far as you chose. It is more “advanced” than the Old Town boat, but might be better fit you down the line. And it should hold its value pretty well, should you decide to resell for any reason.

22" is not skinny for a sea capable kayak. You will get used to do it surprisingly quickly.

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I took the advice from here when I got one for my daughter. If you can find a Venture Easky LV… I think you would have a hard time being wrong. She paddles that thing like a duck on water. The skeg system they have seems about useless after a few years though, I have never seen her need it.
As to newbie in a sea kayak. Though I am still not the smallest bear in the forest, when I got mine, I was bigger and wanted to river trip. I needed a boat that would haul me and enough gear for 5 days. I ended up with a well used Sea Lion. At first it was a bit hairy, but I grew into it pretty quick. I keep looking at new boats, then I just cant see that it will be that much better.

@Ceci, My Current Designs GTS is 17 1/2’ long and 22" in width. (I’m 5’6" and 155 lb.)

The CD is by no means tippy. It fits me like a glove and feels like an extension of my hips and legs.

Get some seat time in a variety of kayaks…you’ll figure out what feels right to you. Tippiness has more to do with your fit and comfort in the boat and the shape of the hull than its width…

Hope this helps!

My advice would be: Go fully overboard on the paddle purchase, but find a cheap kayak if you want to save money.

As beginners, we tend to focus a lot on the kayak choice and consider the paddle an accessory. But that is in my opinion the wrong approach. If you want a good experience, a good paddle is much more important than a good kayak.

When I travel, I bring my own paddle(s). I have bought a 3-piece carbon fibre Greenland paddle, so I can take it as cabin luggage. And then I rent a kayak. Any kayak. I have paddled some really lousy plastic kayaks, but I enjoyed myself immensely, because I had my own paddle.

2 years ago, I rented a 25" wide terrible plastic tub in Croatia and took a 46 km day trip around a small island at our holiday spot. It would have been nicer to have a good boat. But without a good paddle, I would not even have considered doing the trip.

Focusing on the paddle is also cheaper. The best paddles cost hundreds of dollars. The best kayaks cost thousands of dollars. So you can buy a top-of-the-line paddle and a mediocre boat and save a lot of money, compared to buying a mediocre paddle and a top-of-the-line boat.


The Necky Eliza is only $700 and perhaps could be had cheaper. I agree that a good paddle is important, but why not shoot for both? :wink:

Edited to add: also, since the OP is a small paddler, a too-big boat (i.e., your average kayak) might not be as workable for her as it would be for a bigger person.