Best boat for me?

-- Last Updated: Apr-01-13 8:51 PM EST --

I am a former member of the Canton Kayak Club in Baltimore, and have had a fair amount of experience kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay. I always used club kayaks, however, and have never owned my own. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast now, and I am ready to make a purchase.

I am now a Mother of a 3 year old and I want to buy a vessel where he can share in my adventures. I assume a canoe is best for this, but correct me if I am wrong. I am a petite female so I want something lightweight, but I plan to store in right by the water so hopefully I will not have to haul it much.

I am accustomed to ruddered kayaks, so I am want something with excellent maneuverability and tracking, even though I will be the only person propelling the boat for a while. I will be using the boat primarily on calm, sleepy bayous and rivers, but we may also venture into the ocean. The ocean here is quite calm because most of the waves are blocked by barrier islands. I could drop the ocean goal if it conflicts to much with other priorities.

I don't anticipate that we would need to haul much gear. An overnight trip is a possibility. We won't be fishing. I would prefer not to spend more than 2K, but I would consider stretching this for the perfect boat. Thanks in advance for all advice! Let me know if I left out some key info.

Have you considered rowing?
A nice little row boat might work better with a youngster of that age. I have seen people put a little kid, or dog in a hatch compartment, but I’m not sure that is very safe.

Half in Half

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 12:56 PM EST –

Open kayak, covered canoe - best of both worlds ?
Something with a wide open cockpit like this ?

just a thought

This is more $ than you want (if bought new), but it gives an idea of a possibility – has a rudder, too! I think you can get a smaller seat that attaches to the back of the front seat so it faces you.

sit on top kayak

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 8:13 PM EST –

Sit on top kayak comes to my mind first. For you and a 3 year old, a decent sized single could work. When they get larger, maybe a double would be better. They do come with rudders. (Edit - some models can have rudders, but often are optional)

Canoes are great for carrying gear and such. But for recreation use, one concern that comes to my mind is safety in conditions. You said gulf coast, so to me that means open water. I'd personally go with a SOT over a canoe for this.

not an add for eddyline, but

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 3:55 PM EST –

they make nice boats!
Here's their sit on top.

I had that same thought

WS Pamlico, perhaps
Double, with sliding bow seat, for single use. 13 1/2 or 14 1/2 foot versions, available with rudder.

These are exciting suggestions. There are so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. Thanks for pointing me in some promising directions. I will take a closer look at all of these.

Hobie Oddysey

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 8:28 PM EST –

Sit on tops sound like the way to go on the warm gulf coast paddling with a little one. Tandem sit on tops are not light, but if you just can drag this to the water it would work well. You can move a seat to the center position and paddle with your child in front of you or paddle with two adults with your child in the center. I owned one of these when I had smaller kids and it worked very well.

Check out the pictures and videos.

2nd on the Rowboat
A small rowing craft can be a real joy. I spent endless hours every summer as a youngster rowing around a large lake in an uncle’s small runabout, and used an eight-foot dingy pram as a tender when we were into sailing. Both were stable, seaworthy boats for their size that were a lot of fun to use. A decent little rowboat could suit you and your son’s needs just fine.

A smaller canoe - something in the 14’ range - is another possibility. If you find one with reasonable beam, a double-blade kayak paddle can make paddling solo a lot easier. I’ve also seen canoes equipped with modifications that let them be rowed. I’m not a big fan of canoes on salt water, but then the ocean around here can get pretty rough pretty quick, and the water’s always cold. A decked kayak is, i.m.h.o, no place for anyone who can’t escape a capsize and re-enter unassisted - i.e., children, beloved dogs, aged aunts, etc.

Great to see you and your son looking to the water for a way to grow together - our two girls grew up camping and canoeing with us, and those memories are what binds us all together. Enjoy, and take care out there.

Best For You?
Give this one a a look too. Mick

I paddle both canoes and kayaks, and
recently I’ve done some bayous in Louisiana and Mississippi.

I do not consider any solo kayak suitable for carrying my 2+ year old grandchild. And trying to do that in a SOT or a tandem SINK is non-optimal, too.

I think you should consider a “solo” canoe for the Wolf River and for bayou expeditions. There will be a few occasions when you can cautiously paddle out onto the gulf waters. But the simple fact is that kayaks are not set up to carry non-paddling littlies. It’s a packaging issue.

We started our kids in tandem or solo canoe when they were between 18 months and two years old. With chase boats, we even took them on easy whitewater. The rule is, with a kid in the canoe, you just don’t do things that might result in a swamp and a swim.

A smallish solo Wenonah or similar would carry the kid and the gear, and could be paddled with a double blade when conditions are windy.

No link

– Last Updated: May-06-13 4:49 PM EST –

Which one, Mick?

Eddyline Shasta looks most enticing at this point, if I ignore the price. Thanks tetonjohn! I wonder if I can find one used?

A sit on top would be safest
Getting back in an open canoe should you tip over is a rather difficult task if you are not close to shore and with a little one in tow… Though, tipping over might not be very likely either in calm waters… But a canoe is more spacious than a sit on top or a tandem kayak and a kid will have more room to move…

With my daughter, when she was small, I just had her in the back of a 12’ Cobra sit on top and it worked well, just not much space to move about, so a longer SOT might be better for 2. When we rented canoes, there was more room and a drier ride too…

2 Possibilities?
Old Town’s Dirigo rec kayak line has an option for a child’s seat on their tandem models, but I do not think you wish to purchase a tandem.

Also, I have used and greatly enjoy the Perception Sport Conduit 13, which has the option for a $200 rudder. It is a hybrid between a rec and touring kayak, and so has a large cockpit which should be able to hold both of you.

Its average length should allow you to get into decently tight spaces, as well.

I have a customer that uses a SUP board with a Crazy Creek sling type chair and a kayak paddle. It’s his 25lb SOT. For warmer climes it could be an option and you can always stand on it to see what’s around the next bend.

Just an idea.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Wenonah Fusion worth looking at
13-foot canoe propelled with kayak paddle. Within your price range and not heavy. A friend just bought one and used it on a camping trip here in NC. It’s beamy enough to have some decent initial stability.