beginner with the bug needs advice

Just getting started & looking to buy something to keep me reasonable happy for a few years. The intended use will be mainly local lakes & rivers, with the yearly vacation to the coast. So we will be using them on the intracoastal waterway. Planning a Vermont trip also, so Lake Champlain is on the horizon. Will spend several hours at a clip in whatever I buy.

Looking at the Necky Santa Cruze 12’

the Necky Manitou Sport 10’11"

Wilderness Pungo 120 or Pamlico 120

Any advice between these 4?

Wilderness Systems site says the Pungo is more stable, but says the Pamlico can be outfitted with a child seat and a rudder.

Anyone know if the Pungo can be outfitted with a child seat or rudder?

How important is a rudder and floatbags/bulkheads if you won’t be in much surf or chppy water?

Is it common to let a small kid sit in frony of you in a boat with a larger cockpit without a child seat?

Sorry for all the questions & thanks for everything.

I’m into bikes, and don’t want to make the mistake of buying the kayak equivalent of a comfort/ hybrid bike.

Congrats on wanting to kayak, but a couple of cautions.

I wouldn’t advise taking anything you list on Lake Champlain, unless you stay within ten ft from shore in an extremely protected area. It can get quite impressive when the wind blows for a while at a good speed from the north or the south - we’ve encountered 3-4’ waves getting out from Button Bay and maybe taller up by Burlington when sailing with friends. Lake Champlain should be considered a true sea kayak lake, with appropriate skills.

As to the boats - having a child in front of you within the same cockpit (intended for one) strikes me as extremely dangerous should you flip. While I’ll be the first to argue that staying in a boat upside down is usually harder than falling out, trying to untangle two possibly panicked torsos and sets of legs upside down from inside the boat isn’t a pretty thought.

You may not flip over for real for years, depending on the conditions etc, but you shouldn’t get onto the water in any boat assuming you won’t.

As to the boats listed - all of them have somewhat high decks and large cockpits, but as long as you don’t plan to try for the higher performance stuff like rolling and Greenland stuff they’d get you around. Some folks in our local club have one or another of these. You should have/add flotation in each end, or you risk having your boat turn into a 12 ft long buoy if if flips over and one end fills with water. It takes something on the order of a motor boat to move a kayak once it is pointing straight down in the water. If you contemplate going further than basic paddling around, you’ll find yourself craving a higher performance boat after the first rolling lesson. (I road bike as well, though this just hasn’t been a year for it. Have the Waterford higher end RS bike, whichever number it is.)

Where in VT? My sister and her husband have a place in the White River Jundtion area, have rec boats that they get on the water a lot around there.

Most likely near Burlington. Colchester, Malletts Bay.

Do you think the child seat is a good idea.

How important is a rudder?

What is the shortest boat you would take on champlain or the IntraCoastalWaterway for that matter? The Pungo & Pamlico both come in 14 foot versions.

Thanks again.

By the way, having a Waterford and not riding it is just wrong.

Maybe Old Town Castine for solo.
I just bought a couple and they seem to track well and turn very quickly when leaned on edge. They seem very stable. I have a friend that’s had his for four years and uses them on both rivers and lakes. Some of the reviews of the Castine report using them in some ocean conditions. The lady I bought mine from used to rent them in Florida for use in the Gulf, so some people do use them in the ocean, but I haven’t done so. I bought mine used, but I don’t see used Castine’s advertised very often.

These are definately one person only boats. They have front and rear bulk heads.

I haven’t paddled any of the four boats that you listed, so I can’t comment on them.

Length, and about not riding…
My bike is feeling quite neglected and agrees, but there are only so many hours in a day and this is the year that I seem to be hitting it on my kayak skills. That’s two weeknights and a weekend day, then there’s the dratted thing of having a job… it’ll be a better riding year next season, and I’ll go for a fall season after Labor Day. Yeah - Waterford makes a darned sweet riding bike.

As to boat length - it’s a matter of hull design as much as length, because for water with waves you care more abut secondary stability than primary. So far no one has figured out how to design a boat that has both in very strong and equal measure, as far as I know. But though there are exceptions, you tend to hit boats that have hulls more designed to handle waves (ie focus on secondary stability) at about 16’ in length. Think about degrees of heel in a sailboat, that’s the idea of secondary stability. Except that you don’t have a few hundred pounds or so of iron keel holding the boat at an angle.

That’s the Lake Champlian answer, at least for unsheltered areas.

As to quiet ponds, rivers… it comes down to tracking efficiency. Ie, how hard do you want to work to go a certain distance and stay straight doing it. Very roughly, longer is better though there is a huge variation between individual boats. 14’ gets you a reasonably efficient situation, some 12’ boats also track like a train so paddle fairly easily.

Inter-coastal waterway - a tougher question since I’m not familiar with that. Do you encounter large boat wakes, or strong current around locks? Then you’d probably want more boat - better secondary stability and stronger tendency to track straight. But you’d probably know better than me.

As to rudder - please check the archives of p-net. You will find far more info than you ever wanted to know, and opinions, under any thread with rudder in it (including the dreaded rudder v skeg question). In summary, the less strongly the boat tends to track straight on its own, and the more likely that you’ll find yourself in very windy situation, the more likely it is that you’ll want a tracking device (rudder or skeg). The rudder (or skeg) is only as important as your difficulty in managing the boat without it.

Personally the longer I paddle a given boat the less I use any of it - these days I usually have to remember to drop my skeg once in a while to make sure the rope cord is still free. But some use the heck out of them - it really depends on you and the boat.

Don’t do it!
You’re not looking at comfort bikes, you’re looking at tricycles, those big 26 inch things with the basket on the back. :slight_smile: I’ve done everything you’re asking the hard way (well my kids actually swamped the boats in the middle of the lake – on purpose).

$: Kayaks start at $250 ($99 walmart ten-speed) to $500 (adult tricycle). You then get into the comfort bike zone $500-$900 with real plastic boats starting around $800-900 and topping out at around $1500 (Trek bike in the same price range). Some are more and some less- close outs are good. For Instance: Dick’s Sporting sells the Pungo 120 under another name for $399 retail/$349 sale. Nice lightweight composite boats cost the same as their bicycle counterpart.

Little Kids: If the cockpit is big enough (the Pungo and Pamlico are) then the kid can sit on a throw cushion in front of you- don’t worry they aren’t going to be there a long time. Try this experiment- sit in a quite room with the child on your lap, facing away from you- and just sit and talk, no bouncing, no tickling- just sit and talk- how long did you make it? Scenery too boring- Sit in your red wagon backwards ( if your looking at Wilderness Systems or Old Town I assume you have a little red wagon and some of those shoes with rubber over the toes  and put the child behind you while someone drags you around the block slowly- “for several hours at a clip” . Kids have a blast for a short time, in my experience, they then tell you to get out and give them the paddle. The seat doesn’t matter just make sure the cockpit length is large enough- one of the Necky models you have listed is 39” – that is not big enough.

Rudder: Look for a integrated skeg over a rudder, you,re not going to find much at that price range but it doesn’t hurt to ask. There are more rudders than skegs at the low end -Why you say- because newbies think the rudder is for turning and the kayak manufacturer can add $200 for $20 of aluminum and plastic. Test drive the boat, if it goes straight without the rudder then don’t get it. The hard thing to test is weather cocking which of course is what the rudder fixes. Some of the comfort boats (like the Dagger Blackwaters) have such poor tracking that the skeg was integrated into the design. Dick’s sells part of this line also under another name.

Float bags: If your going out farther from shore than your longest rope (probably your throw bag) then you need to have floatation in the front and the back of the boat. You can buy fancy inflatable ones or you can buy drybags from the REI outlet and use those. A kayak without floatation at both ends is impossible/very difficult to handle when swamped in water over your head.

My recommendation: Find a good dealer (paddle shop) and buy a real kayak in the day touring category. My personal recommendation would be the Prijon Capri Tour. Lightweight, tracks straight and normal cockpit keyhole. Then twist the dealers arm (you’re going to spend a lot more money on paddles, life vests, more kid’s kayaks…) and get a good deal on a Pungo 120 (under any name) or get a low end SOT and take the kids on that. The SOT has the advantage that they make really nice portable swim platforms. (The dealer didn’t tell you to get a rudder on the Pungo because it would be redundant- they like to go straight) Advantages- you have a real kayak, you also have something to give the kids a ride on. The kids have something to play with at the beach while you go for a two hour paddle. You want the kids to paddle to- that’s in another thread.

Almost forgot Tandem: think tandem bicycle- one of those nice ones – put the seat all the way down and flatten both tires- have fun.

Yeah Babay Yeah!
Genuheart, I agree with genuifume. The Capri Tour is a spectacular German made dense poly 12 footer with great tracking rudderless and about $699 full price and the reviews on Can order from Prijon at wildnet site but call and speak to Ivonna and she will give you great insight. (they ship for about $100, no sales tax unless youre in Utah!)You have to see it to know what I mean that, at 43 lb and HARD plastic it is a very fine, easily cartopper vessel. I own two and love them with kids and wife. I also agree with poster that stated, you;d better stay close to shore in the Great lakes unless you have talent and at least 17 feet under your butt. Party on, Garth!