Any rec kayaks with sea kayak manners?

I’m looking for a kayak for my girlfriend. She’s about 5’5" and 120 pounds. This would be her first kayak and I’m looking for a yak that can serve as a still water-slow moving water all-rounder. I know, good all-rounders don’t exist…but one can try. I’m thinking 10-12 foot max…partly to be a boat she can control on mild-moving water(class 1-2) and partly to keep the weight down. She’ll want to be able to load it on her car by herself. The boat should be made of polyethylene.

Necky has the Manitou 13 comes to mind (getting too long I think)

The Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 may be a possibility, though it’s quite wide.

Are there any good candidate Makes/Models that are known to be sleeker/higher performance, maneuverable, “rec” boats with some sea kayak manners?

As you probably realize, kayak design is necessarily all about compromises. At the shorter end of your range, 10’ kayaks tend to have very wide beams in order to provide enough flotation and this makes them slow, so I’d push you to 13’ or even a bit longer kayaks. The Pungo is a fine rec boat but its lack of a forward bulkhead means a flotation bag is mandatory if there is any chance (and there’s pretty much always a chance) of tipping it. Plus the Pungo’s oversize cockpit, while making the boat easy to enter and providing warm weather ventilation, limits skill development and use in rougher conditions.

I’d suggest something like a Current Designs Vision 135 R…

http://www.cdkayak.com/Kayaks.aspx?id=27

It’s a transitional design, 13’6" x 24", well appointed with an excellent seat intended for a small to medium sized paddler.

The Necky Manitou 130R, and the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 135 would also be worth a close look.

http://www.neckykayaks.com/kayaks/day_touring/manitou_130R/

http://www.wildernesssystems.com/us/products/tsunami-135

As always, the best advice would be to find a local stockist where your girlfriend could try out - or at least sit in - the various boats.

Well instead of a super wide Pungo why not a Wilderness Systems Tsunami. they have several sizes pick the one that best fits her.

My girlfriend is a couple inches shorter than yours, and she does perfectly well in the Manitou 13, from long flatwater trips to mild Class II rapids. I doubt she can push it to top speed though, so a slightly shorter boat might be worth considering in your case, but beware that most of the shorter boats you can find will be tubby in comparison, and it sounds like you wish to avoid that. If you want fairly good cruising performance from a rec boat, I can’t list multiple choices the way some can, but I do know that the Manitou 13 isn’t too bad at all. You’ll want to get float bags for the forward part if you are doing any offshore stuff or swift-water rivers. Oh, I should add that she loads it on her car and carries it around by herself without much trouble, and the 13-foot length is not remotely difficult for her to maneuver on twisty rivers (like anything, practice makes perfect).

Let me suggest the Necky Manitou 14. You get two bulkheads and a skeg.

Here’s a rec boat that’s 11’9" x 24", has two sealed bulkheads, hatches fore and aft, deck rigging, weighs 35#, and has nice touring boat manners.

http://eddyline.com/kayak-model/rio

While it’s not RM, Thermoform’s pretty tough stuff.

What do you paddle? If you guys paddle together, you will want something comparable so you can be paddling in the same conditions. In general, I would get her something better than what you paddle. Perhaps for short term if you aren’t sure if she will get into paddling, get her something cheap and for test purposes. but if she does get into it, quickly (within months) get her a better boat than your own. This way she won’t be held back by the boat while paddling, which would be frustrating and reduce the chance of her liking the sport.

To find possible boats, I would use the following steps. Look at manufacturer’s specs. Shoot for a boat that is 28" or under (maybe even 26" and under). Rec boats are almost always wider than this.

You have your length speced out, but I think you may find a longer length (up to say 14’) would give you more options and she will appreciate the length on the water.

If weight is an issue, sticking to plastic will make it hard. The thermoformed boats, like the Eddyline that Rookie recommended, would be lighter. A bit more expensive though.

Any boat you identify, then go to the Seals Skirts fit list (http://www.sealsskirts.com/sizing/sizing.php) and look to see what size skirt they recommend. The larger the number, the larger the opening. I would target 2.2 as largest if you want a skirt to fit, though 1.6 would be better.

On some boat ideas outside of what has been suggested:
Jackson Journey 13.5
Dagger Alchemy 14.0S
Maybe a Necky Looska 12 or 14 (though double check the specs - it may be wider or have larger cockpit than my guidelines recommend).

Lots of great suggestions folks…thank you!

I was doing some additional research last night and as @kfbrady suggests…the 10 foot range are typically ‘guppy’ shaped…very wide at 28-29 inches…and I do want to avoid that. While that girth is required to support a 250# guy…it’s way overkill for a 125# woman and does little for performance and lots against.

I did run across the CD Kestrel 120R…looked pretty reasonable…the Vision 135R also looks quite good…thx.

@dc9mm I just looked at the smaller Tsunami’s…I was aware of the 140 from a search in years past, but I didn’t realize they had such an extensive size-line of them. The smaller ones don’t look bad at all…thx.

@Guideboatguy Manitou 13…hadn’t seen that one…nice! That’s ~what I was thinking about…a touring influenced rec boat. I appreciate your GF’s first hand experience…what you describe is how it’ll be used. Cool. The 14 looks nice too,…if she’s willing to go longer.

@Rookie That Eddyline Rio is another I hadn’t seen…specs look great…very light weight…I’m sure she’d love that. Nice boat. A friend had a thermoform boat and she had no issues with it. Seemed tough from what I could tell.

@Peter-CA Hello! We traded a couple emails probably a couple years ago. What do I paddle…key & good question. I have a CD Gulfstream that may well get sold this year as I don’t use it enough. On slack water and mild rivers I mostly paddle a Dagger Alchemy 14L…I think this is the boat we discussed when I was last looking for myself. I believe you had an Alchemy at one point. I like it…nice boat & would buy it again. I also have a Perception Prodigy 12 that I use on moving water rivers/creeks…got it cheap…good loaner… It handles reasonably well…in my moderately-limited experience. Actually, my GF has paddled both the Prodigy 12 and my 14L. While the Prodigy “works”…she does like the 14L much better…even if it is big for her. If I paddle the 12 & she takes the Dagger we tend to be more evenly matched on the water. Good point on something cheap…I may look for a decent-close to being sized right used/cheaper boat for her while I/we look for ‘the’ boat. She seems to enjoy kayaking so far and likes the exercise. Having a second boat never hurts.

So far…I’ve been looking more seriously at boat widths in the 24-25"range. My 14L is 24" and it feels very stable…though at 225# I get it to its waterline pretty well. Even at her weight (125ish) she thinks my 14L feels fine stability-wise. The Alchemy 14s is 23" wide…I’d guess this would be fine also as the boat is more sized to her frame. Thermoform’s light weight would no doubt be welcome.

Good idea on the skirt-sizing…hadn’t considered that…but it’s a good measure of overall cockpit size. I’m familiar with the Alchemy(14s)…but I’ll look into the Jackson. I did run across the Necky Looksha 12 and as I remember it looked pretty good. Need to revisit.

I too am biased toward a longer boat…I’m just leery of her getting on a twisty river/creek (class 1-2) and having difficulty turning fast enough. Her skill level won’t be real high and I don’t want to spend the money and then have her get frustrated… A longer-ish boat with a little rocker would help… She’s paddled my Alchemy on lakes only…though it does have some rocker and she handles it fine.

Thanks again to all…there’s quite a few real contenders here & many I wasn’t aware of…

If you can find one stocked anywhere, look at the Stellar S14-LV. http://www.stellarkayaksusa.com/S14LV-touring-kayak
Not plastic, but Stellars are beautiful, sleek, fast and light. There are 4 lay-up options.

If you can find a used Venture Easky 15LV, that is a plastic boat that is only 44 pounds and very versatile. I’ve loaned mine to several friends in your GF’s height/weight range and they have loved the boat (as I do). I’ve used it on some Class I-II streams and it has served me well yet is fast and fun to paddle on flatwater. Unfortunately Venture discontinued it a couple of years ago and replaced it with the heavier and wider Islay models. Lake George Kayak in upstate NY has a smaller Easky 13 in stock and on sale right now for $999 – might also suit her as a crossover for your stated usage: http://www.lakegeorgekayak.com/Venture_kayaks_Easky13_specs.htm

get her a rudder boat for easy turning

Oh! Now, again, I’m not a kayaker, but when I see rudders used for steering, I sort of cringe. Lots of true kayakers here will agree with me, I know. Now, using a rudder to help compensate for crosswinds or quartering tail winds saves energy and makes sense. Using one for basic turning? That’s putting limits on what you could otherwise do with the boat, and will encourage you to avoid learning those things as well. The OP mentions light rapids, and you need OTHER ways of maneuvering in swift water besides “turning”. That said, average paddlers never figure that out, and they are missing the fun.

@Guideboatguy said:
Oh! Now, again, I’m not a kayaker, but when I see rudders used for steering, I sort of cringe. Lots of true kayakers here will agree with me, I know. Now, using a rudder to help compensate for crosswinds or quartering tail winds saves energy and makes sense. Using one for basic turning? That’s putting limits on what you could otherwise do with the boat, and will encourage you to avoid learning those things as well. The OP mentions light rapids, and you need OTHER ways of maneuvering in swift water besides “turning”. That said, average paddlers never figure that out, and they are missing the fun.

That’s the warning I’ve come across in the books I have on kayaking: use your rudder (if your boat has one) to counter the effect of weathercocking, not as a crutch for turning. My personal preference is a skeg. Clean lines and simple.

@fishboat1 said:
I too am biased toward a longer boat…I’m just leery of her getting on a twisty river/creek (class 1-2) and having difficulty turning fast enough. Her skill level won’t be real high and I don’t want to spend the money and then have her get frustrated…

I’d suggest that she stay off the class I/II creeks until she has the skill to run them - a swim there could discourage her pretty quickly. If the objective is simply to run through some easy rapids, the long boat is probably better anyway since it is less likely to get pushed around. A short boat won’t necessarily make the turns any easier, and will probably make paddling the flats more work.

Venture Kayak Islay 12LV or a closer fitted model would be the Islay 14LV. Both come with skeg or inboard rudder arrangement.

See you on the water,
Marshall
The Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
845-228-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile
Main: www.the-river-connection.com
Store: www.the-river-connection.us
Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

@Rookie said:

That’s the warning I’ve come across in the books I have on kayaking: use your rudder (if your boat has one) to counter the effect of weathercocking, not as a crutch for turning. My personal preference is a skeg. Clean lines and simple.

If you are guiding beginners thru mangrove tunnels in tandems and tell them not to use their rudders for turning your’e going to have a very long day.

Every other boat uses a rudder for turning, use whatever works.

grayhawk said:

“Every other boat uses a rudder for turning, use whatever works.”

I’m always for whatever works in any given situation. But I almost never use the rudder on one of my yaks–Only when making a deep water crossing in very high chop and winds. And one certainly doesn’t use one on rocky Cl. I-II streams(where I might add, that other than on the flats between rapid sets, a skeg too is mostly useless, and at times an outright danger if mistakenly left deployed while paddling through gardens of rock.) --I think Guideboatguy and Rookie make a good point in there’s no substitute for developing good turning skills from the git-go, rather than relying on a mechanism which is not always foolproof or trouble-free.

I’d consider an Epic V5. Great downriver boat. Kickup rudder or understern option.
You kind of get a do-everything boat with the V5.
Fitness—On a ski you’ll have the ability to use your lower body as well as your upper body. It will enhance the paddlers stroke technique and economy of motion.
Rivers: —kick-up rudder and shorter length will work well here.
Ocean—No need for advanced rolls, this boat will surf swell and will generally be safer than a kayak.
Light camping/Day trips—you’ll have one bulkhead, but when you do away with extra safety gear that most sit inside kayaks need you’ll have extra space.
Weight—Plastic boats are always gonna weigh more, but the V5 will be as low or lower than anything else on the market.
Safety—as I said above, if something goes wrong, you just climb back in your boat and take off. No better way to enjoy your experience than to feel confident.

I know that there is this idea that rudders, etc are a crutch, but there is another way to look at it. On a ski, the primary focus is on utilizing a good, strong, efficient full body stroke. A rudder will allow you to bear down and use your best form while not constantly making adjustments for turning etc.
Another advantage of rudders is surfing. When the front of your boat dips down into a trough and the rear is lifted up, the boat has essentially lost it’s connection to the water. You can stern rudder with your paddle on standing waves, but if you ever aspire to travel out in ocean swell you’ll want to be paddling to keep and catch each wave, In the event your rudder is damaged, it’s not that difficult to manage the boat. I still use strokes to occasionally assist with turning my ski from time to time. It’s not like you need a college degree to figure it out.

I would recommend that, rather than a boat purchase, you purchase lessons until she finds she likes/dislikes the sport. Let her get wet, capsize, play around, and perhaps try a few boats to see what is preferred. It is difficult to bring someone into a sport, especially one where there is an unequal degree of skill and interest in the participants, and have it work out well. Some folk are willing to take instruction, just not from their person-of-interest. If the learning process becomes one of competition and comparison, often the dynamic does not work well.

I was fortunate in that the shop I worked with allowed me to deduct (a lot) of the costs of rentals and lessons from the price of my eventual purchase. If you establish a good relationship with your outfitter, perhaps that can be a factor in choosing your approach to introducing the sport.

If I had to do it over from scratch, I would have loved to build a wooden kit and have a boat that was lighter and more…mine, if you catch my drift. If the opportunity is there, and she enjoys the process of trying a few boats, perhaps there is a way to build a kit on the side and present her with a something special that you built for her (or built together) some point in the future.

Rick

Check out the RTM Disco. A friend about your girlfriend’s size has one and it is her go-to boat although she has owned every high end sea kayak known to womankind. Those boats come and go but the Disco stays.
It is a SOT.