Another newbie

Please be gentle,

I’ll be moving to Oak Ridge, TN next year and living within walking distance to Melton Lake/Clinch River. This is a 60 mile, no flow TVA lake.

I’m looking for a nice flatwater kayak for decent length trips in easy water with no overnights. I’m 5’10, 140 lbs. It’s easy to find boats that state they’re great for large paddlers, but I’m a small guy.

I’ve read about the Pungo and Dagger, but I may be missing a couple that are more for my stature.

Any hints would be appreciated. I know this question has been posed hundreds of times before, but there are always new kayaks and readers, so bear with me.


I’d recommend stating what it is that you want to do out on the lake to help refine and limit the otherwise billions of responses that your very open ended question may result in.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Read here

– Last Updated: Jan-25-08 10:34 AM EST –

You are doing what we (and many others) did with your major focus on the boat rather than your skills as a paddler and the likely things that you might have to handle as problems on the water. The downside of this approach is that it can cost money when you find that you need a different boat within 8 weeks of getting the first one wet.

You should spend some time looking over the current and older articles here on pnet. There is a lot of content out there.

Also, the information at the site for Atlantic Kayak Tours ( a lot of ground in the features of a boat, why certain features may be preferable for longer trips or bigger conditions and safety practices and skills of the paddler.

At the AKT site, pay particular attention to two things. One is their discussion of why they have established an approved boat list for their tours, the other is their Expert Center. Between the two, you'll walk away with a pretty good summary of what may turn into a much less organized discussion here. And don't get mislead by the name on "Expert" - the majority of it is pretty basic stuff.

My goal is to just explore the expanse of this 60 miles lake. There will be no current, just long paddles along smooth water. No fishing. No fancy moves. I want to have a boat that handles potentially day long trips that also includes tucking into coves.

I hope this covers enough information for any help.

Smooth water…
Tends to get a good bit less smooth if a wind comes up, and despite your best intentions now you will get caught out in it. One day, one place the weather will come up faster than you thought at the same time that you decided to paddle straight across for some reason, either to get home faster or scout out a new area before dark falls.

If this lake is fairly large and a wind is capable of blowing a distance across it without being interrupted by islands or irregular shorelines, it could get bumpy. If that is a possibility and you are likely to be paddling alone, you really need to look over the info I mentioned.

Lake dimensions

The lake is 60 miles long and averages about 100 yards across. If you’re interested, get a Google map for zip code 37830, look on the east side of town in satellite view, and follow the water. The US Rowing Assn has a training facility here, so it is in a valley for much of it.

I’m sorry if my newness is showing, but I just wanted some input.

At first, its 90% boat and 10% paddler
as you learn the ropes, it becomes 10% boat and 90% paddler.

Given that
Downgrade my wind comment if your lake is 300 feet across. It’s still an issue but a literally shorter one.

However, at 60 miles of length there’s likely to be an awful lot of length to explore. I’d guess that as you spend time at it you’ll want something a little easier to push a long distance than what you are thinking about now. I’d take a hard look at the boats in the list below against the considerations they mention on the AKT site.

Check classifieds
When I was looking for a used boat, I would check the p-net classifieds fairly often. Of course, I didn’t know much about what was being offered, but between checking manufacturer’s websites to check specs and reading reviews of the boats, I learned a lot about what is out there. And who knows, a great boat may turn up in your backyard for cheap. For instance, right now there’s a Perception Acadia for sale in KY - it’s worth a few minutes of web surfing to see if it would be good for you.

Classes, Paddle Clubs, Rentals
If any or all of these are available at your move destination, I recommend looking into them before buying anything. You’ll get to: develop some skills, meet local paddlers, try a bunch of boats, find where the good “put in” spots are, and find out what else you need to buy with the boat in the place you want to paddle. View it as an enjoyable journey that has a boat purchase in there somewhere.

Good luck…Lou

Unless you want to spend $$$$$
Check availability at the local shops unless you are willing to pay frieght.

Searching the web and getting advice from all over North America won’t do you any good if the the kayak is not available to demo unless someone has one you can try.

Because neither of your choices are expensive kayaks I recommend this route first.

Plenty of options. Sixty miles of deep flatwater would be ideal for a homemade kayak. You can search for books on “kayak building.”

Two Poly Rec Boats that’ll fit you
for just tooling around (providing, as mentioned,

you are not looking to do laps on that 60 mile lake on a choppy day:

WS Tsunami 120 or Necky Manitou Sport.

There are of course, countless others.

But at/or around 50 pounds, and with both

boats costing well under $1000 new – You cannot go wrong on flatwater as a beginner in either.

They also resell quite easily if/when you want to upgrade in either skills or boat.

Good hunting.

Rec Touring or Transitional Touring
In English that means kayaks in the 12 to 16 foot range that are as narrow as you are comfortable with. At your size that could be anywhere from the 22 in wide to 26 inch wide range.

Comments on the other boats that are mentioned:

Pungo and Dagger are mostly rec boats and on the low end. Probably wider than what you want and not as well outfitted.

Eric’s recommendations are mostly high end touring boats – very nice with the price to match. If you are made of money, look into those.

Building a boat can be expensive and time consuming and when you’re done you might be afraid to use it. Great boats, but maybe not for getting started up fairly quickly. Plus, it will take some time to know what exactly you want in a boat, so you might build a boat you don’t like the feel of.

Spiritboat probably has the best advice if you are on a budget. You probably won’t keep anything that is inferior to the Tsunami or Manitou very long, but they are both respectable boats at good prices. You might even find a 14 ft version of one of those around $1000 that will be a good fit and a little faster that the 12 footers.


Boat Testing
Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in Knoxville will let you test drive their boats at a nearby park. I think they charge $25 but that is subtracted if you buy the boat. I live in Athens Tn (45 min. from Knoxville) and have a Pungo 120 that I’d be happy to let you try. I’ve never been on Melton lake but it’s on my list of places to go. Let me know if you’d like a test-drive of just some paddling company. David

My husband’s kayak is a Pungo 120, which works well for our needs. However, it is a wide boat, and although it fits both of use well (he’s really tall and I’m tall and wide), I think it would be too big for you to use comfortably.

If you’re interested in building
and saving money, look into

You can build a wood frame skin-on-frame kayak for a couple hundred dollars that would be just about perfect for your lake.

Don’t know your knowledge of these kayaks but they are not fragile. I wouldn’t be put off until I’d checked them out unless building is simply out of the question. But if you are handy at all, these are very fast kayaks to build, and there are forums where you can ask all the questions you want.

Just an idea. You can get a boat that really fits you and will be light weight and Tom’s free plans almost assure successful results if you have the simple carpentry skills. You can also build them in aluminum frame folders.

Melton Hill
I lived in Oak Ridge for 17 years and paddled Melton Hill from one end to the other (not all at once). Below Norris dam there is a small wier dam and other playful waves. Below Clinton it flattens out and slows down, but I frequently encountered wind and waves, and also wakes from fishing boats. The water is very cold, even in the summer, since it comes from 300’ deep Norris lake. I was paddling whitewater boats at the time, but if I was going there now I would take a long fast boat to cover more territory. Check out River Sports Outfitters in Knoxville, they have demo days.

finger lake!!!
hi Yager…@ 60 miles long and only 100 yd;s wide …that is one helluva narrow lake ,which i’m sure turns into a wind tunnel of sorts from time to time… even if the wind blows crossways across the width …the wind has to swirl a bit when it hits opposite shores causing confused “seas” I can only imagine what the wind would b like coming headlong down the length of the lake …If it were me …i would be looking at a sea kayak style boat, with a rudder/skeg,( hears a collective GASP! go up from the purist kayakers…lol ) to deal with the waves/wind your almost sure to encounter, and something with adequate storage fore and aft. Brand /model is up for debate. everyone has their fav boat. i’d go for a full blown sea kayak style and not a recreational style boat with a rather blunt or flat bow. other than that…your weight and size will probably eliminate a lot of boats for choices.