Beginner set-up / intermediate

Been reading through a lot of the posts and first want to say thanks to all the members for all the information so far!

I’m slowly migrating myself away from extreme sports (mountain biking and kitesurfing) and looking to really set myself up with an ocean kayak. As with most sports I enter, I always seek something I can start with and progress into an intermediate level without having to swap gear.

170lbs, 5’10", 37 years old

Most interested in long ocean day treks as a form of exercise and exploration. Start in Hampton Beach, NH and head south and just paddle my ass off. Possible overnight trek, but not at first. I will be using this in lakes as well, but mostly just for practice.

$4,000 budget. Seeking glass with a day hatch, all around ocean performance. Need a good balance between keeping it agile enough to cut my teeth, but also some speed for the long treks once I get established.

Haivng spoken to some dealers, what I am looking for now is just user-to-user opinions. With the following list, are there any others I should be considering? Am I on base with any of these?

-SEDA Ikkuma 15

-SEDA Ikkuma 17

-Valley Nordkapp

-Valley Avocet

-NDK Romany

-P&H Capella 163

Thanks for any help. Hope to see some of you on the water.

Buy used, resell, buy used, resell…
Don’t go for “THE” kayak just yet. You’ll fit most - and may will work fine for what you describe, but doesn’t mean they’ll fit you. By that I mean the personality/details/preferences stuff that no one can answer for you, and that more importantly will change over time as you progress and interest goes where it will.

Besides, going through several along the way is a lot of fun and very educational. You can generally get near what you pay for used sea kayaks in good shape - so it becomes a series of extended test paddles. With your budget you could have two at a time (and decent gear) so you’re never without and can have some variety as well.

Side note. paddles are just as important, or even more so, for overall paddling enjoyment (where the work gets done, and you have a lot more nerves in your hands than your ass!). Get a couple good ones (the spare bing another option to have some variety vs only being a backup).

I think the Ikkuma 15 might be a touch short.

Have you tried any of the others? I have paddled them all except the Ikkuma 17, and you could get any of them as a beginner and use them well into your paddling career.

The Nordkapp is probably the fastest boat on your list, but it’s also the longest. You might also consider an NDK Explorer.

skipped Aquanaut… also other gear
Aquanaut fits between Avocet and Nordkapp. Between paddles, PFD, jackets, wetsuit and/or drysuit, car rack, etc. you may want to budget up to $500+ up to $1000. Used boats are a great deal and you can often sell them for what you bought them for later. Also they often throw in paddles and PFD.

Glass boats are nice, but most of the same boats you list also come in plastic (and Valley has good quality plastic). Plastic isn’t really a lot slower than glass and will let you explore more aspects like surf and rocks (oh yeah, don’t forget a helmet too) without as much fear of damage. I suspect half/most that have glass boats also have a plastic one for certain occasions.

Tempest 165
but move the seat back 2 inches. You’ll love it. Don’t waste your time or money on a Euro paddle. Get a nice Greenland paddle.

See if you can try one out if anyone in your neck of the woods has one

It is faster than the boats you listed, and handles great in rough water.



Don’t buy into the Brit boat thing from the get go. Your list includes excellent boats but there are other boats that if you tried them might work better for you. In addition to the QCC 700 there is the Epic 18X. Both of these are quite a bit faster than anything on your list, are expedition boats, and handle conditions. You might also test an Eddyline Falcon 18, another non-Brit boat that paddles nicely.

Given Your Background…
you’ll likely get bored out of your mind after a short while of developing your skills.

Take up surf kayaking or ww.


Impex Force 4 or 5
I have not paddle one myself, but the reviews have been very good on these boats. Fast yet very manueverable.


buy used
You can pick up alot of stuff used if you watch the boards - paddlers often upgrade or find themselves with too much gear and sell off. Check the boards - several clubs in your location. Or go out to MICKO in p’land ME to check out and demo boats. $4000 is a nice budget.

Also bear in mind that sea kayaking can also be an extreme sport!

I agree. Kite surfing morphing into
sea kayaking will make your hair turn white. Take up whitewater or surfing. There are many great sources of instruction in your area. At the same time, start boning up on your navigation and general seamanship issues. That’s the core difference between sea and river paddling. You will probably end up there as sea paddling is an outstanding pursuit on its own.


“Extreme”. The problem is that if your
seamanship fails, you get dead right quick. It takes a bit to learn that. If you are an adrenaline junky (I am speculating, not indicting) making a mistake in the sea is a disaster. Jumping into an ocean sport without proper training and reflexing back to adrenal mode may not be a good thing. River paddling is not exactly the safest of all sports, either. However, the advantage is that it is a great venue to learn about boat control, reading water and identifying hazards with a team.


This is my take
All the boats listed are great, some you may like better than others. Other posters have ID’d some other cool toys. Ain’t about that. Some guy pulled up to the beach the other day with an old Easy Rider that was bought back in the day. He could have been the cover shot of the 1985 Sea Kayaker magazine. He had no less fun than anyone else that weekend.

If you go the sea route, buy a used but functional boat and a really good paddle. Buy a quality dry suit. IF you start with a Greenland stick you will limit your instruction to those that know them and others that think they do but sometimes misunderstand them. You can make one for less than 20 dollars and find those instructors as you find your way in the sea kayaking world, but they are in the minority.

Spend your money on decent instruction and find a club. Don’t put the gurus on a pedestal. They swim, too. They know a few things, though, so listen in. You are a kitesurfer so I’m assuming you like catching air. For 300-500 bucks you can buy a used whitewater boat that is reasonably current. Everybody on a message board who is discipline specific will be really passionate about that discipline and their chosen equipment. You probably figured that out already.


Other boats

– Last Updated: Jul-21-09 1:20 PM EST –

First thing, if you are willing to sacrifice a little straight speed for maneuverability (and fun), at your size I'd try at least sitting in a Capella 161. I know guys bigger than you who like them as a day boat, nice and lively but still reasonably forgiving, and it'll carry enough to camp. I spent two days in one on Muscongous Bay and it had nice manners while still being spritely.

I'd rethink the Nordkapp. My husband has one, and it's a boat that takes attention. A lot. So it may not be the best bet at times when you want to think about what you are doing rather than the boat. If you do get one, make sure the roll is the first skill you nail in it. You'll be getting a lot of practice.

Most of the other suggestions are fine. Bottom line, at some point you'll have to choose between maneuverability and tracking. For example in the Chatham line, you could get the 16 which is a great fine, very playful boat or the 17 which is the all-around expedition boat. Both good boats (and by the way also available in plastic, used and cheaper), but with different strengths.(Oops - add them to the list.)

I like the idea above of getting some seat time and a couple basic lessons to get some feel for this yourself, and going used. One thing that often happens is people go for a real tracker at first, then start getting skills and find they want a more maneuverable boat for much of that work. Some time spent in the seat will make it easier for you to sort that out.

wow, lots of opinions…
…and some are heading off of what you are after.

On boats, it all comes down to personal preference. So I suggest you get your butt in to some and try out. Take lessons (education and butt time). If you are lucky enough to have a good dealer with many of the boats you are interested in in your area, work some sort of rent to own deal (where you pay to demo boats, but get to put the money you pay into buying a boat). Most shops have this type of thing.

Plastic isn’t a bad choice. I’ve only owned one glass boat, and sold that. Only have plastics now (enjoy being in rocks and surf too much).

The thought of getting used is also good. Both of the boats I currently have were bought used. Usually you can get for about 40-66% of the new price.

One thing I definitely agree with the others on is getting good paddles and other gear. You will want 2 paddles (one good, one can be cheaper as a spare), good PFD, gear for the weather (3mm farmer john wetsuit, paddle jacket, maybe a dry suit if you want to extend the season more, booties, etc.), spray skirt, pump, and paddle float. VHF radio would be smart, particularly if you are paddling alone. Could easily be $1k for all this without a dry suit.

Now Now
My T165 whipped up on a QCC700 about a month back. I surfed considerably more wind waves than he did and finished way ahead.

Greenland Paddle

Boat or paddler?
The 165 is a good boat. But I suspect it was you rather than your boat that won. :slight_smile:

On the right track!
Wow…I’m impressed. Everyone is so helpful on this. Real nice too.

To be clear, I came as close to death as I wanted to during a recent kitesurfing trip where several lines managed to wrap around my neck and I was being ripped underwater. Not fun.

So this is NOT an extreme interest for me. Long slow paddles, mellow out, poetry, camping…LOW KEY nice and easy.

One thing I had not thought about was the surf and rocks. Tons of this around here, and when traveling up in Maine islands I would guess rocks are an even bigger issue? So the Glass boats just don’t cut it as a beginner in these conditions?

As far as local clubs go, any suggestions? I’m 100% down with some lessons and seat time.

Here is my updated list:


Epic 18x

Ikkuma 17

Falcon 18

Impex Force 5

NDK Explorer

NDK Romany

Capella 161 (wow!)

Valley Aquanaut / Avocet

I think there is a place up in Peak’s Island Maine that has a lot of demos. Let me know if there are other shops I should check out as well.

One last question. Is there any MAJOR demo event in New England between now and Oct or did I miss it?

I Like the Way You Think.
I dunno… this guy whips up on me on the road bike but he’s a brute strength kinda guy. I’m a finesse - strategy type. My strategy was “surf as many waves as possible and get as much free ride as possible.” I’m sure his strategy was “paddle harder.”

Maybe the 165 is a better surfer? It’s a foot and a half shorter.