Another Trying to Decide Thread!!

To compare …

– Last Updated: Apr-09-10 9:05 AM EST –

Since you are similar size as me and mentioned the same boat I had as my first "real" kayak, I thought I'd share my experience with it. I'm 185-190 at 6'4" and when I was first buying the Tsunamy 145 felt great - comfortable and roomy. A year later it felt HUGE. I actually did not even keep it a year - more like a few months before I moved on to slimmer boats. The Tempset 170 was a much better fit with plenty of room. May also be too big for empty day trips but not too bad. I also fit quite well in the 165 Tempest (with feet on the bulkhead - can't use the foot pegs as they are too short for me but might be OK for you). The 165 is tippier for tall folks than the 170 and may give you a steeper learning curve initially.

So, regardless of the boat you pick, the above is to estimate your fit and size. At first we as beginners typically opt for roomier boats that feel more comfortable and non-restricting, but if we want to do paddling in any sort of bumpy water or learn to roll and don't need huge capacity for trips I suspect most quickly mode on to something slimmer.

The Zephir 160 is a large person's rough water playboat. It will be slow on the flats. You may be able to fit bettre in the 155 model if you have normal size feet (I don't - size 15 on a 36"+ inseam is a BIG issue with kayaks). The key question to answer for yourself is how you plan to use the boat. For more straight-line paddling you would prefer a faster boat. For more playboating - the something slower and more maneuverable. The Tempset 170 is a great all-rounder that also does very well for tripping in rougher water and it also feels quite playful and maneuverable and surfs wind waves quite well. Can't go wrong with it and if bought used you can sell for minimal loss should it turn out to be the wrong boat for you...

There have been some fantastic recommendations, many of which I would have made myself. Every person is different, so ultimately you have to try out as many as you can and choose one. Buying used is always a good idea.

With all that said, don’t take the Essence 16.5 off your list. I’ve had mine since 2008 and really, really like it. It’s a solid all-arounder and should feel stable enough for a new paddler. The outfitting is wonderful, though my boat does not have the ZONE seat like the newer versions. While it can be tough to compare current boats to those previously owned and be realistic, I can honestly say I enjoy paddling my Essence as much as my old poly Avocet (and actually find it more comfortable,) and like it more than my old Chatham 17.

Used Tsunami 145
So I guess I should not buy the Tsunami 145 for $800 that I just found! Only used once, in great condition with skirt and cockpit cover.

My bank account says buy but I will probably want something better in the short term. Decisions, decisions.

My Wife has a Tsunami 145. I’m not a huge fan. It’s certainly not a bad boat, and it would get you out on the water. It has quite a bit of volume, is fairly wide, and the seat back is high which I don’t like. I’ve never tried to roll it, but don’t think it would be much fun. With all that said, it’s not a bad paddling boat. It’s quicker than I expected (but not fast) and turns OK. The hatches stay dry in average conditions and it has tons of storage. The cockpit is roomy and the outfitting is good. It would be a good boat for lakes and protected waterways, camping, fishing, and day paddles. It will never be a performance boat but might keep you happy for a season or two. After that it would make an excellent loaner boat because anyone can paddle it.

Your call of course but consider turning a fire hydrant on that wallet of yours '-)

A friend of mine in Michigan just bought a Valley Skerry RMX, rotomoulded plastic (and Valley boats have great plastic)about 6 years old & very well cared for. A skegged 17 foot, 22" wide seakayak for under $700. A number of similiar boats out here are listed right now for $1000-$1100 which leaves wiggling room to negotiate.

Your buying season, like ours, has just barely begun.

If you really want a seakayak - patience grasshopper

plenty of fish in the sea
If you like that boat, then sure - buy it. But if you suspect you’d rather have a sea kayak (the Tsunami 145 is solidly in the “transitional” category), then there’s no need to rush into the wrong deal. There are plenty of boats available in your area, and plastic boats in good condition will generally be around that same price. You’ll even find some used glass boats now and then for the same price - it’s just a matter of being patient. (My dad just bought a glass Tempest 170 for less than that in Massachusetts.)

Good luck! Nate

Aquanaut LV
Swimman, I am your size. My size 11 feet are a little squeezed in my LV. Other than that it is a great boat.

Further thoughts

– Last Updated: Apr-09-10 11:34 AM EST –

Your criteria include wanting to grow with a boat, and your paddling environment includes ready access to the ocean. I hadn't caught that you were RI until rereading this thread.

Soo - IMO you are better off waiting for a used, plastic full-out sea kayak. Hit the hell out of demo days until then, maybe take some lessons which you'll ultimately want to do anyway. If you can hit the price point of that in a glass boat, go for it. But something like the Tempest 170, RM Aquanaut, Capella or maybe a Romany surf can be gotten in plastic.

It's probably worth it for you to take the drive over to Charles River kayaks - they have a great inventory and also have regular demo days/evenings in May. Link is

Also, stay in touch with the classified listings on two very good paddlers networks in your region.

Connyak is
NSPN has a more formal approach, but both have paddlers that are good and supportive company.

I agree with friendlyfire about patience. People who ordered new boats last year will be receiving them soon, so the old still pretty nice boat will be coming up for sale. One of the people in our local pod will be picking up their new Cetus LV shortly - the shipment was in the mid-atlantic region and heading north as of a few days ago. She won't be the only person in the northeast with a new boat in that load.

Still good stuff
Thanks for all of the input. I don’t know if you are helping or hurting!!

Ok, I have ruled out the Tsunami. Not the right boat for my future endeavors and I don’t want to rush the purchase - although I want it now. I plan to go to the Kayak Centre demo the first weekend in May, and then will sign up for their Ocean Play 1 course which will give me a better feel for what to expect. During this time, I’ll check out the classifieds and also check out other boats while I have the time.

The advice on this board has been great. Each post has given me a little more information I did not have prior and I’m sure will help others who are also in my shoes.

another benni re classes
Take classes. You’ll be meeting other paddlers - who knows who has a boat they are thinking of selling, or who knows someone. Let your instructors know you’re looking too…

plus you might get some paddling partners, or find out about a paddling group/club, informal or not.

Let us know how it goes Marc!


– Last Updated: Apr-11-10 10:32 PM EST –

Concur with Celia, Wilsoj, and others -I'm 6-0, 205, -but with a short 30" inseam, and size 12s (in H2O shoes) -and the standard Aquanaut is a GREAT fit.

I've paddled it at 210#, and I bought it at 200# 2-1/2 years ago, after an intensive search that had me paddling all sorts & sizes of boats with rides begged, borrowed -and no, not stolen. (No comments from the P-NET p-nut gallery; I am now 205 while up from 200 still DOWN from 210...) This one fit the bill and was just a terrific fit for me and my paddling growth curve and education as well as physical size.

I've been out in rather squirrelly conditions relatively far from port a couple times, and the boat is just a damn fine confidence builder. I've camped on a 3-day trip on it and didn't bare-bones backpack so it hauls a decent quantity of gear. It's very well built, and is comfortable for me to spend several hours in the saddle -also an important consideration, as you do NOT want to be either uncomfortable in and during, or super-stiff after, your trip. The A-ANUT standard has enough room for me to move about it to relieve stiffness and I can still be locked in between the foot braces and the thigh pads.

That said, you may like another one just as well.

I enjoyed paddling friend Brazilbrasil's roto Tempest-170, I thought the roto Chatham 17 was the absolute BEST-fitting and MOST-comfortable kayak I've ever laid butt in, and my wife Sally has a Hurricane Tracer.

However, I thought the Chatham 17 paddled poorly -it felt like I was paddling in wet concrete when I rented one and paddled the Willamette River in Portland, OR. The T-17 was fine, but perhaps I had residual bad vibes because I couldn't roll it even in relatively calm conditions under the excellent and expert instruction of one of our (PNET's) better rollers, Brazilbrasil. And Sally's Tracer is a bit big in the cockpit even for me and my mildly oversized thighs. While String notes that his brother experienced weathercocking in it, Sally found that it has happened only once in 3 years after having had a skeg retroactively installed, which really firmed the boat up nicely. In addition, the Hurricane T is the only SINK I've dumped -I think it was because I wasn't paying attention, but it is what it is...

I enjoyed paddling a CD Solstice GTS, and both Sally & I REALLY enjoy paddling friend Grayhawk's CD Caribou. However, the latter is not what is now being sold by Current Designs, so I'd strongly suggest you find the current edition and paddle it to see if it fits your bill.

As others have noted, try as many boats as you can -and in as many conditions (real, or manufactured -like seeking out boats wakes) as you can -maybe even keep notes and try to perform a series of similar maneuvers with each to better asses them. Attend 'demo days', talk to local shops, tell them you're serious about trying boats to find one to buy, and ask for a test-paddle, and ask other paddlers in your area -think about joining a paddling club -to try their boats. We generally don't bite and want to help...

And, as others have noted, seek out opportunities in the 'pre-experienced' market as well as new boats as well.

Understand that you're NOT just getting a boat -you'll also need a good (good=provides sufficient flotation for you AND good even more importantly=COMFORTABLE -because you'll wear it!) PFD, a good paddle (I'll let others go into that), and a system to transport the kayak from where it lives to where you want to paddle. You might also consider how you're going to store it where it lives as well.

Hope this helps you to more quickly find a nice boat -for YOU -so you can get out on the water and


-Frank in Miami

My experience
I found my Artisan 4 years ago and bought it used from a guy in Connecticut. It was in excellent condition.

I’m 6’ 190 and the Artisan fits me great. I take care of the boat and it still looks great. The Artisan is 18’3" by 21.5. Here are some photo’s from the day I bought and my first paddle with it.



– Last Updated: Apr-11-10 10:23 AM EST –

If you're interested in the KajakSport Artisan Millenium, I'm selling one for my dad right now. Just haven't gotten it listed. It's glass, good condition, good price. (in Maine right now, but I'll probably send it back to my Dad's place in Boston in a week for easier selling).

Some beginners find it a bit tippy - my dad did - but it's a great cruising boat for the bigger paddler in many ways.

Taking that class in May will be a great thing to do. You'll get a solid skill base, and you'll have a chance to try some boats. In addition, you'll find out that the water is chilly, and that you need to add some immersion gear to your growing shopping list! (probably a farmer john and a splash top, or drytop). In fact, if you're having trouble waiting for the right boat, and just want to buy what's on Craigslist right now, so stand up to your knees in Naragansset Bay. That'll get you cooled off and restore your patience! :)


Demoing a Tempest 165 and 170
I’ve set up a demo of the Tempest 165 and 170 for this Friday. The local EMS teaches lessons at a local park and they were terrific to deal with. Even better, they are having a 20% off sale for in stock merchandise (25% on EMS branded products) April 23-24 so if the Tempest works, I’ll may pick one up.

They will have a dry suit and all the fixins ready and I’m excited to get these two boats on the water. I’ll post more information after Friday.

T & Z

– Last Updated: Apr-12-10 11:03 PM EST –

I own a Tempest 170 and a Zephyr 15.5. I am 5'10" and weigh 190 pounds. With either boat I have about 5 1/2" travel on the footpegs to spare. The Z cockpit is roomier than the T-170 and I use a different sized spray deck.

Something that I'm surprised nobody says is that the Z is much more neutral in wind than the Tempest 170, seems to poke along about the same speed with the same energy expended. The Zephyr isn't just for play. It's a good all round boat. Too small for longer trips but it does carry weight well. Very good boat for skills development.


Member of the tribe!
After demoing the Tempest 170 yesterday I decided it was the boat for me at this time. I ended up buying a mango 170 from the Kayak Centre in Wickford and they were great to work with. Also picked up a Werner Tybee CF paddle, Seals surf skirt, dry box and dry bag, safety kit (mirror, whistle, paddle float, leash, sponge, pump). Great price and no tax! I plan to get to the EMS sale this coming weekend to pick up some odds and ends. Not sure which outfit I will take classes with but that is next on the list.

Thanks for all of your suggestions and comments.

Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport, MA is excellent for low key, solid instruction.

SM, you got a great boat.
I’m sure you will enjoy it for a long time and thanks for letting us know what you did.

The 165 behaves much better in the wind… and not just for lightweights. I have a buddy at 200 pounds who much prefers the 165 over the 170. I think the folks at WS screwed up when they designed / placed / fixed that 165 seat the way they did. I think lots of folks who belong in the 165 are passing it up.

Swimman will likely find himself out in stiff, quartering wind in that 170 and do some cussing.

congrats! (NM)