Big Enough Kayak?

I was wondering if anyone had any experience paddling on the Eastern Shore around Maryland and VA? My Dad lives in Wallops Island and my wife and I were thinking of taking out kayaks down when we visit. We are both beginners just starting this year. I have a 10.5’ Perception Hook and she has a 10’ Pelican Trailblazer. I was wondering they would be sufficient to paddle around Chincoteage/Assateague and explore around Maryland’s eastern shore as well. Thoughts? Advice? Any knowledge would be appreciated.


Not optimal

– Last Updated: Jul-29-16 1:25 PM EST –

Such small boats, short, wide and flat bottomed, are not ideal for coastal conditions and have some safety issues. Neither of the boats has sealed stern and bow bulkheads, so you should purchase flotation bags to insert under the hulls to keep them from becoming swamped and sinking if you capsize. And capsizing can be a real problem with recreational style boats. What makes them stable in calm waters makes them unstable in steep waves. And they can be very difficult to paddle back into shore if you get too far out where winds and currents impede easy forward progress. The overly large cockpits can't really support a sprayskirt that would keep waves from washing into the hull. They also generally lack perimeter lines so they can be difficult to get back into if you are washed out of them in deep water.

You can use them, with some considerations of their limitations, in sheltered bays and coves, but you need to be aware of how tides effect those waters as well. In open waters, I would stay out of surf zones and not paddle them any farther than I knew I could swim to shore. It would also be prudent to practice getting back into the boats in calm waters and be confident that you can do this before taking them out in the sea.

Honestly, in some areas I have lived in the coast guard has actively discouraged people from taking small recreational kayaks out into coastal waters. They have good reasons to do this as there has been an increase of people using them getting into trouble and requiring rescues, as well as paddlers in rec boats drowning when conditions changed or they were unable to regain capsized boats.

You would not drive a golf cart onto an interstate highway. Keep that in mind when you contemplate paddling your small kayaks out into the ocean.

We used to take our little…
nine foot long Keowees to the coast, ( before we got longer kayaks) and had a lot of fun exploring the estuaries and not going too far off shore, but they had flotation in them.

Like the post above says get enough flotation in them to keep them and you afloat if you capsized.

Also check the weather prior to going out and ,make sure you have a whistle, PFD, and a suitable bailing device.

jack L

Anywhere you would swim
I would not take those boats anywhere I would not swim. That goes for distance from shore, waves, open water, water temperature, etc.

So take them with that in mind and you will find many places to use them.

Flotation bags mean that you will have a much easier time towing the boat back to shore when you tip over.

Depends where they live. In Anne Arundel, MD the smaller rivers that feed the bay would be fine but they are all private access. The only public access is onto the bay which is just too big and rough. It am not sure if it is the same on the other side of the bay.

Bogues Bay OK, not on the ocean side
I just looked at the map. It appears you have a very well protected bay available to you inside of Wallops Island municipality. Assuming you could swim in case of a probably unlikely capsize in either Bogues or Watts Bay, you would probably be fine.

But the ocean side is way open, decidedly not a place for the recreational boats you describe. Even with float bags, if you are beginners you could find yourself being taken by wind or tide someplace you had not planned.

It appears you will be within easy range of some launch points around Chincoteague. I see one spot that, were I to decide to paddle down there, would prompt to check resources on tides. The gap between Wallops Island and Chincoteague looks like it could get challenging at the height of a tidal flow, especially since you would likely be sharing that space with motor or working boats. I haven’t pulled up charts but I don’t see any other place for them to go if they want to pass into Bogues Bay from the ocean side.