beginner kayak for mouth of rivers?

-- Last Updated: Jun-02-09 7:22 PM EST --

Hi, I need advice and suggestions please on purchasing my first kayak to go birding in mouth of rivers, and lakes, and may be when I feel stronger and have more courage, to out into the sea in the first couple of waves?

I went out to the mouth of smith river for the first time with my friends, they put me in a small 9 foot boat, it was a calm day, but it was not tracking at all. with each stroke it was going left and right. was it me, or the boat?
please give me specific names and models of boats to look at. I am a beginner, and am very petite.

I'd appreciate your help. thanks, caspain

It was you and the boat
9 footers aren’t typically strong at tracking and neither are paddlers who just started kayaking. For the river stuff you could probably be okay with a 12 or 14 foot kayak, but for big water you probably want to look at a real sea kayak for performance and safety. They make several for petite women like the Eliza.

Many others, but a 14 to 16 footer that has a smaller cockpit that you won’t rattle around in is where you might want to start.


thanks, good place to start.
great, I appreciate your time and the tip. caspian

would you suggest a more economical one?
Hi, I checked out Eliza. looks awesome, but the price is beyond my budget at this point.

besides since I am so new at this sport and I don’t know how often i will do it, I am hesitant to put down a couple of thousand dollars to get started.

would you suggest something along the same lines, but more economical?

I am 5 foot tall, and weigh 106 lbs.

thanks, caspian

spend a little cash on an intro lesson. well worth the effort and gets you on the right foot…safety, efficiency, knowledge… not bad things to have.


where are you?
My club in western Michigan has several kayaks for sale called the Episea - the classic Wilderness Systems design for kids - certainly they’d be ideal for your weight and height. Because they have a single bulkhead, they DO need floatbags in the bow but those are readily available at any good paddleshop or an online outfitter. Not sure if floatbags come w. these particular kayaks, we can find out…

the Episea is beginner friendly to do what you want at this stage of your kayaking.

I believe the asking price is $300 or $350 - don’t quote me til I check w. the club. Saw them at recent symposium, very good condition, clean. The club is selling them bec. we purchased a small fleet of Tsunami SPs for the kids classes. Original poster, check the prices on the Tsunami SP 125 in your area also a very nice kayak for very petite people. It will cost more than the Episea but less than the Eliza.

If anyone else is interested, there are a few of these kayaks for sale.

Drop an email with your contact info (name, email, phone) & I’ll put you in touch w. the right people.

Club is West Michigan Coastal Kayakers Association

Would you…
consider building your own boat? My wife is your size and she paddles an Osprey 13 from Pygmy Boats. She loves this boat and she was a beginner when she first used it. The problem she had with other boats is that she could not keep up with other paddlers and always felt like she was holding up the group. Now she has no problem keeping up. It is a great begining boat and a great boat to develop your skills with.

Building your own boat is within the skill set of almost anyone if they are willing to try. Building your own boat also gives you a composite boat at a fraction of the cost.

The draw backs to building your own boat is that it takes time and you need the space available to build it.

Good luck;


Sure, the WS boats are nice
Look at the shorter Tsunami SP and the Tsunami 135 on the WS site:

Also, this thread on pnet has some lists:


Perception has the Carolina XS, a 12’2" “kids” kayak that has a max capacity of 200, which would be perfect for your weight, and since your on the shorter side, the small cockpit should be ok, too. If you have big feet though, forget that one…

Or there is the Perception Tribute series, which have a bit bigger cockpit, higher deck (more foot room), and a little wider, as well as a stern bulkhead for storing gear and keeping it dry. The tribute looks a little more stable for birding…

Im sure other manufacturers have equivilent kayaks, I like Perception, for what they are.

Also you get to demo different boats …
I’d take flatpick’s advice and take an intro class, so you can try different boats.

Also when starting out it’s a good idea to buy used —you could get a used poly valley avocet for a fairly reasonable price. Also consider the Ocean Kayak Venus sit on top for getting started.

It wasn’t you at all
In a nine foot long wide rec kayak with each stroke you wiggle in the opposite direction.

Look around for a boat that is 12 or 14 feet long and if you can, try it out.

You will be quite surprised at the difference.




– Last Updated: Jun-03-09 11:12 AM EST –

besides getting a headstart on good technique and trying diff boats, you can get advice on how to fit the boat you eventually get to your size.

Just about everybody customizes their boat(s) and at your height/weight you are considered a very small paddler. You will have far fewer choices. Learning how to outfit your boat will be really valuable to know and help you modify the kayak you do get to your needs.

13-14 footers
good advice there.

another nice choice to try out is the Tampico 135S by Hurricane Aquasports. It’s light, low decked, easy to carry and easy to paddle. It comes w. good thigh braces and a comfortable low seat back (two good things for enhancing your boat control).

It’s a small paddler’s daytouring boat great for rivers, inland lakes and coastal exploring. Used ones do show up occasionally and the list price is between

roto plastic and fiberglass.

It is a kayak you won’t outgrow rapidly as your skills and interests progress.

thanks, if you see used let me know
thanks all for the wonderful suggestions and your time. I am learning so much by just reading about these.

I am a skier,and I also realizing that this sport is like skiing, I have to get just the right one,for optimum efficiency and performance for my size and ability, and it seems like one is never enough, when you get into it :slight_smile:

for now, i want to find a used one to get me started and hopefully feel successful enough to get hooked. If you find any thing on sale, let me know. and I’ll look on craig’s list in my are. Portland + Medford, oregon areas. Thanks, caspian

With kayaks, many people want
- Speed (length)

  • Lightweight
  • Cheap

    You can pick any two.


:slight_smile: under a 1000. is good
well, I didn’t say, cheap, or fast.

I said I was looking for a beginner kayak for small framed woman that tracks well and is economical!which is

different than “cheap” :slight_smile:

You’d think, there must be something out there for me under $1000.00 :slight_smile:

Tsunami 135
would be a great model to try out in your price range. my slim teenager paddles one and I paid under $800 for it (last year’s model). and it is pretty fast for its size :slight_smile:

used Tampico 135s
have been listed for $500-$700 depending on the usual conditions. There is/was virtually model differences between the early ones (~2002) and the ones made now so a good used one has everything a brand new 135S has. Don’t confuse this w. the 135L, btw, the L has a bigger cockpit, no thigh braces and a higher backband that gets in the way of good stroke development, putting on a skirt, and rescues.

A new 135S lists for ~ $1100 MSRP IIRC.

Happy Hunting!

Setting a budget does help point you in
a particular direction and I think the boats mentioned are good starting points for you to look at and try. Weight is almost always a factor for petite women and if you’re planning to get out in the sea you’ll want some length, probably in the 13 to 15 foot range. Beyond that, length will mostly just add weight and resistance for you.

Good luck,


thanks for all the help. I feel like I know what to look for now. I am on my way now to try out some kayaks.

I appreciate all of your suggestions and feedback. caspian