Beginner Advice on Kayak for Lake

-- Last Updated: Apr-19-09 10:48 PM EST --

I am looking for advice on the pros and cons of a sit in vs a sin on top kayak for recreational use in a large lake in Georgia. (Hartwell is 53,000 acres) Early or late in the day is quiet but it can get windy mid day. I may do some bass fishing from it. I am about 5 10" and 175 lbs and don't know the appropriate length or weight. I understand that higher sides may catch more wind and make steering harder. I was also considering a tandem in case we have guests to the lake house, but most often I anticipate being the only user. I guess another question is how difficult it is for a solo paddler to control a tandem kayak. Finally, what about a flat vs feathered paddle. I guess I should state that I'd like to spend under $500. if possible.
Thanks so much for any suggestions!

You’re on the “used” market at $500.
But if you can use pnet and other sources well, you may be able to pick up something pretty good. I have bought some wonderful boats at $400.

Skip the tandem. Get a good solo, and later on get another for those who want to accompany you.

I think if you want to really cover water on Hartwell, you’ll want a 12’ or 14’ kayak. Look for faster rec kayaks like those made by Liquid Logic or Necky. Try for one where the cockpit is small enough that you can use a sprayskirt if you want to.

You can fish from anything, but you might want to look at some of the fishing kayaks. Most are sit-on-top.

On the wind issue, with a kayak it’s not so much the exposure of the sides. Rather it’s not getting a kayak too big for your weight. Such a craft will sit so light on the water that it will tend to blow around.

More advice from others expected…

Big Lake
I would look at the sit on tops (SOTs). They are easier to fish from and most are self bailing. They are a wetter ride than the sit ins but the large cockpit sit ins can swamp and become submarines. The large cockpits dont work that well with spray decks. 55k acres is not a small lake and can get fairly rough. There are a lot of very seaworthy SOTs on the market and the 14’ to 16’ range would work well. Check out the used market. There is a good classified section on this site.

Used market
Tarpon 12 or bigger

Manta Ray 12 or 14

Maybe a used Pungo


There’s really no one answer, especially if you haven’t had the time to get down the basics of a good forward stroke yet. Get one with some adjustment so that you can choose feathered or not and see what works best for you.

Thanks for advice
I appreicate the input. I have done some whitewater kayaking so I think my learning curve on the stroke should be fairly quick, but maybe I 'll find otherwise. Someone mentioned swamping. How likely are these models to tip over? Is there such a thing as a self bailing one with a cockpit, or are only the sit on top type self bailing? I’d hate to get out in the middle of a 160 foot deep lake and get swamped, and not be able to right it. By the way, how would one right it? I’ve done a kyak over kayak rescue in a river, but I’m likely to be alone out there! Thaks,


Self rescue
Unlike WW, flatwater paddling (should) assume the ability to re-enter the boat from the water by yourself. There boats that make it easier (SINKs with low decks and full perimeter lines) and boats that make it hard (SINKs with high sides and no perimeter lines). If you can’t get back into the boat from the water, you shouldn’t be in the middle of the lake in it unaccompanied.

A number of people have said that sit on tops handle this problem better than a rec SINK because they are easier to re-enter from the water. I am not convinced that is universally true - have encountered reasonably healthy and seemingly fit people who couldn’t get back onto a SOT by themselves.

As to swamping etc - rec boats have quite high primary stability and higher performance boats have less. But overall it shouldn’t be difficult to find a boat that feels secure if you have done any WW.

Wave or wake
I had a large power boat cut across my course and chop his throttle. The resulting wave went over my bow and flooded my SOT. The boat shrugged it off and I got wet but a large cockpit sit in would have been swamped. My wife’s skirted small cockpit sit in shrugged it off also.

I have intentiaonally
swamped my Manta Ray 14 in the middle of hot summertime by putting the leg area under a small waterfall. The small scuppers took a minute or two to drain. but it was nice and refreshing that day.

I have also flipped it in whitewater with a nice big pool to recover in. I swam it to shore and flipped it back over. I quickly tried to right the boat and had not thought it out much at that time. I went under one side and thrust upwards quickly. That just puched me under a few feet – barely moved the kayak.

I plan to try again when the water warms back up. I think if I get the kayak righted, getting back on won’t be too bad.


Over the hull
Reach over the hull and pull it over. Use your weight to your advantage. Pull the boat under you when you re-enter. Slide up and then roll into the seat. Never try to get in by using your knees. You can also get on over the back if you dont have stuff in the way. I have seen some people use a paddle float to help but it really isnt necessary.

Sacrilege - Costco Kayaks
OK, I know I will probably be ridiculed by even mentioning this to a group of what sounds lke hard core enthusiasts, but I saw a model in Costco which is a 13 ft 4 inch SOT self bailing, tandem called “Equinox rotomolded” with a dihedral hull for $449. Earlier in this thread you guys advised a 12-14 ft kayak some said sit in others sit on. If I were to paddle this alone sitting in the rear, what would be the down-side? Thanks.,