Avocet or Etain or ?

I’m shopping for a kayak for my wife. She’s 60 and I’m 62, so we’re looking for very light kayaks and considering getting two carbon kevlar boats. I’m pretty certain I want a romany classic. Any recommendations for my wife? Primary stability a priority with her plus speed without too much effort. Avocet? Etain? Others?


gift certificate and butt time
Don’t buy a boat, but instead the opportunity for her to try boat and select the one she likes best. Boat choice is very personal.

If it’s Stability You Want…
have her try the Zephyr.

But definitely try before you buy.

Agree - she picks her own
Boats are a feeling thing and you can’t pick for her. She has to get in one and have it feel right.

I also think you need to revisit the speed and stability thing. The Romany has a quite slow hull compared to many boats (we have one) and the Avocet isn’t exactly into going straight without some more aggressive paddling.

I agree that the Romany feels very comforting to new paddlers. We have put lots of people into ours, in conditions which were on the slightly challenging side for them, and no one has swum yet. But is one of the slower hulls within its cohort.

Are your stability concerns about generally capsizing or about some physical limitation involved in getting in and out of the boat? The first is something that goes away with surprisingly little seat time. A boat that felt tippy in June will often feel like you can serve tea on it in August. The second is something that may be helped by other means, maybe even a larger cockpit.

stability v speed
Hi, Celia, thanks for taking the trouble. And thanks for the advice about the romany. What are the faster hulls in its cohort?

As for Julie’s boat, the concern is both capsizing and getting in and out. She is NOT athletic at all, but she loves going out with me to paddle around in soft waters at evening time. Neither is she very strong in the arms.

So I’d love to hear of boats that have good stability yet move easily through the water with not a whole lot of effort.

I’ve been doing research, and people point towards the Avocet. Also its composite weight is given as 45 lbs, which would be good for us–given age.

Just found about Necky’s Eliza, which seems designed for someone like Julie–short, low body weight.

Where do you live?
I have a kevlar Perception Shdow 16.5 in central IL that I’d let her try and buy, if she liked it.

too soon
What’s your experience so far? what kind of kayaking do you enjoy most - point-to-point, weekend trips, extended trips, day touring/sightseeing, or playing in the surf?

The boat you choose for yourself and your wife could go a long way to making your preferred use more enjoyable. Celia makes a good point of this when she advises to revisit speed and stability.

My SO is seriously thinking about the Eliza - she too is on the shorter side, barely 5’ 2" and weighs around 120 soaking wet with her gear. She really like the smaller cockpit on the Eliza and the adjustability of the thigh braces. Seems to be one of the few boats that actually fit her after trying a good number. Not to mention the 2014 carbon layup with the bamboo looking deck is sexy as all get out!

The other, very different, boat she is looking forward to trying is the Tahe Marine Reval Mini. It’s a Greenland style boat with very noticeable rocker - not sure it will be her cup of tea, but who knows.

We day trip / sightsee. No surf. No extended camping trips or weekending. Very little point to point.

If you look on google maps, Little Narragansett Bay, where we mainly kayak. Fairly protected by Nappatree Point in RI, but tidal currents can create waves that reach 3’.

We also kayak in the Mystic river out towards Noank.

For her, I’m seeking stability but not dead in the water stability because she is not strong armed, so she needs a boat that moves to decent speed easily (without a great deal of hard paddling on her part).

Our old plastic Necky Lookshas feel like trucks sometimes out there. Takes too much to keep them moving. Our tandem eddyline shasta is much better. But we’re ready to go back to side-by-side kayaking–hence our desire to find two good boats for easy evening or afternoon paddling around the bay.

My research online so far suggests the Avocet seems to combine stability with decent speed as far as I can tell from my research.

The Eliza also sounds promising.

Any and all advice and recommendations welcome!

I got to paddle someone’s Avocet LV some years back. There wasn’t a lot of secondary stability. Feel free to try it but try lots of others.

Romany Elite layup
I have an Elite layup Romany which I’ve been using as play, day, and guest boat for about 8 years. I’ve grown to feel that anyone who cares about paddling a sea kayak should try a Romany. (Elite is the lightweight layup from Nigel Dennis.)

I agree your wife has to pick her own boat, but as you are already thinking Romany, why not have her try a Pilgrim, Romany LV, etc…

The Romany may not be the ideal boat for longer distance paddles (for those I use my Aquanaut or Nordkapp LV) but for many uses it is unsurpassed. It is a very reassuring boat for novices that one never outgrows.

There is a much larger array of very good smaller sea kayaks available now than at any previous time. You and your wife should try as many as possible. The Romany is a good start and baseline.

Avocet LV stability
I spent some time again in this one in May. I tried it several times previously as well.

Secondary stability like bellying up to a bar - lean all day, relax, enjoy. Very stable in primary too. I think at OP’s wife’s weight and size, and her need for stability she should try one - if she can find one.

Avocet LV will fit her much better than an Avocet.

Also: Current Designs Willow.

P&H Capella 161 (the composite 16 footer)

North Shore Atlantic LV

Necky Eliza in composite as mentioned.

Eddyline Fathom LV

Eddyline Nighthawk (16 footer not the larger)

maybe the Pilgrim if she fits well to the

"knee bumps

I’d stay 15-16 feet as she’s not strong and probably not overeager to actively edge longer seakayaks like, for example, the Cetus LV or Pilgrim Expedition.

those I mentioned are stable, easy to manage/control, will clock in under 50 lbs., will keep up w. a cohort (she has to put forth some effort though and maybe take some lessons to get the most of what she’s got)

The cockpits are not esp. small as seakayaks go. Again, some lessons and practice wet exiting will probably allay fears and overall make kayaking infinitely more enjoyable for her.

My 8 yr old daughter was just out on the water with me and wanted to paddle my Etain 17-7. She thought it was fast and stable.

I love it too!

But I would recommend the 17-5 as even at 176 lbs I’m on the light side for my kayak.

I’d also recommend a Aquanaut by Valley if you can find one. I feel sorry I got rid of mine!

Impex Mystic
My wife found a used Mystic in Carbon Kevlar last year and she loves this boat. Light, fits her well and has enough rocker to be fun to paddle while still keeping up with me in my 16.5’ boat without any problems. The Mystic is 14’ and less than 40 lbs in K/C.

This is well worth a look for a smaller paddler IMO

You can get John at Seda to build an Ikkuma at 40 lbs. Ask him to eliminate the day hatch and eliminate another 2 lbs. At 22 inches in beam and very hard chines it is very stable. More important it is very easy to keep directions in a cross wind, Also, much cheaper than a Brit made boat of similar weight, if you can find one.

As you are interested in many Kayaks in the New England area:

The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island will have all the Valley Boats to demo -


As to the NDK Kayaks…Waveology will have them:


Thanks everyone!
Thanks to everyone. Very helpful!

Various thoughts, unanswered question
How big is the wife here - height and weight - or was there an answer to this I missed?

The Avocet is sized for an average paddler - meaning approx’ly 5’10" and 170 to 180 pounds. And a male, so relatively longer torso and arms to total height than a female. I suspect your wife does not match this.

The Eliza is sized for a female anatomy - shorter torso and arms, less skinny arse in the seat - and could be a very good boat for your wife to try. If she is really tiny or short, move onto the other ideas. You’ve been given a nice list in the above replies.

As to stability, this is a wonderful example of the need for someone to try a boat. We know of outfitters who have put paddlers with decent seat time into the regular Avocet and had them return saying it felt too unstable. But most paddlers we know find it to be completely solid. One person’s boringly stable boat can be someone else’s scary ride.

But I am concerned about something else here - it sounds like you are trying to fix your wife’s fear of capsize by choice of a boat. If you were talking a Pungo on a flat pond, yes maybe. But this is unlikely in a sea kayak in an area where you can easily get 2 ft waves. That is plenty of wave to be too much for comfort.

If you treat the idea of a capsize as a chance to learn what to do rather than something to be dreaded, you guys have a huge advantage over someone paddling solo. Two people make it way easier to manage problems on the water, and so make it much safer. It will also make it more likely long term that your wife will be as interested as you.

As to faster hulls than the Romany - almost anything that is more of a tracker. The Romany excels at maneuverability while being fast enough, it sounds like you want something that does speed but maneuvers OK.

One thought re weight - no one at your (and my) age should be lifting a sea kayak around without the help of rollers to load it onto a car and a cart to get it between car and water. The difference of several pounds between boats if you use the right tools is not a big deal.

Epic V6 - 16’, 39 lbs & stable.
Works well for my wife that’s over 60, 5’2" and stiff and fears falling in and not interested in improving her paddle stroke. Very efficient and quick for her. I can’t mess around as much when she’s paddling that boat as when she’s paddling a less efficient boat. The rudder is very effective.

Never had it in big waves, though. Not many around my part of the world.

A bit pricey at about $2400, but much less than many kayaks.

We will definitely head for the Kayak Centre in RI and try out the boats you all have recommended. I already checked with the Centre people, and they have the various LV versions you suggested. Great idea to go LV.

Glad to hear there is an LV Romany! That sounds promising. We’ll be trying the regular Romany this Wednesday eve with Greg from Waveology here in Stonington.

The Ikkuma looks promising, but not sure how we’d try one. I guess I could ask if anyone nearby has one.

Good guess on wave size, Celia. We make our way through it pretty regularly, though, and we’ve had no issues yet with near-capsizing. Of course, there’s always that one wave . . .

If we wanted to be absolutely certain with Julie, would a hard chine, greenlander style be the best way to go? Are they the most stable boats?

I’m thinking Ikkuma or Anas Acuta LV. Are there other possibilities along those lines?