Big paddler narrow boats thought?

I am big dude with lots of upper body at 6’1 and 225. I’ve been trying to increase my skill and spend most of my time in boats with a 23-24” beam. I’m talking large touring sea kayaks.

I want to love boats with a narrower beam but feel out of control and unsafe. This isn’t for the initial hour until I get them feel of things. This is ongoing and I’m doubting I am built for them.

Anyone else built like me have wisdom to impart? No offense but unless you have empirical evidence of big guys you won’t help me if you are 5’8” and weigh a buck twenty wet.


Me 6’ 235 big chest. 38" waist. I have 4 Current Designs that are 21.25" x 18-10".

It takes time to conquer. I started with a SOT 15’ OCEAN BRAND KAYAK. Few months a CD Solstice 17’-10 x 24" it wasn’t bad I rented one fairly comfortable fast. Then I rented a CD Extreme now known as a Nomad. I rented it for an hour and was back in 40 minutes. I was exhausted from twitching in the kayak. I would calm down for a few minutes then the cycle would repeat again. The same year I saw an Extreme which I drove hours for. I did get use to it after a while maybe 5-6 hr. Nervous but better didn’t feel like I was going over ever minute. That’s like 8-9+ years ago.

Now I’m comfortable in them. The wider Solstice 24" still feels little better but the Extremes @ 21.25 are not bad. I get into some good choppy water and stay upright. It just takes time. I never flipped over unintentionally in any of them. Stay in calm water when you start off and build gradually.

I have a CD Expedition similar to the Extremes dimension wise but bottom is rounder. It’s faster but a notch up in my nerves. So I put 10 lb. of sand in the hatch. It made a world of difference. Now I’m going to cut sand in half and the dump it all out soon.

Just takes time I’m 68 now. Still fast in them. Thought about a surf ski maybe 19" wide but don’t want to buy a 4 grand experiment.

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I really appreciate your point of view. It’s funny you mention it because the boat I really want to love is a CDI Extreme in Kevlar I bought last year. I’ve been putting ballast in it but still feel out of control. I will keep at it then!

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Expedition paid 900 excellent shape.

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Don’t think of it like picture below :rofl:

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Wish I had this one

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Practice by relaxing even with your arm in a low floating dock. Move the hull side to side. Take a deep breath relax lean forward to lower your center of gravity. It builds confidence and muscle memory. Brace your knees on the hull to gain control and Rick the hull while at a dock. Even shallow water where if you tip you put your arm down in 10-12" of water.

What did you use for ballast? I used a black garbage bag with sand and duct taped it to pancake shape. I never used ballast in the Extremes. You can do it!

I am 6’5" and 230. I don’t get to paddle as much as I’d like to. I had a Stellar S18S that I was usually OK in but never felt totally relaxed. I felt like I could never quite become one with the boat , so it moved on.
It was 21" beam.
I now have an S14S I have yet to paddle that is a few inches wider.

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I’m 6’ 1/2", around 195 lbs. I just had my CD Extreme out today - very briefly.
I changed, loaded up, drove down to the beach. Grabbed my paddle, my kayak off the roof, walked down into the waves. I plopped down into the kayak, reached for my skirt…reached for my skirt…Oh no!!! How in the world did I get this far without realizing this?!! I don’t have a skirt! This is what happens when I spend too much time in a canoe.
In that canoe sort of spirit, I did my best to time my way out from the beach without filling the kayak. I did pretty well, but a kayak doesn’t have much freeboard compared to a canoe. So realizing I was just taking on too much water, I landed, and carried the kayak back to the car.
It was a dissappointment for sure, as I love paddling the Extreme. I have been paddling it in the ocean since I bought it new, in 2004 or 2005. I have less stable kayaks, and don’t remember this kayak ever feeling particularly unstable. Maybe nicely stable for a performance oriented kayak. But I had a solid roll either side when I bought it. Extra weight settles it down, so your 225 pounds in it will be more stable than 200 pounds, which will be more stable than 185 pounds, at the same height and proportions. I do not add ballast, and like the performance better without extra weight. But it’s still my favorite for distance and camping. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon how you feel about it, it is definitely a skill thing. It is not that people shaped like you are not meant for this boat. I hope you’ll take that as good news.
Balance in a sea kayak doesn’t really come naturally to most folks. It’s definitely a skill. One part is gaining a feel for secondary stability as the kayak goes on edge. Another part is your ability to keep your body weight centered over the kayak at different levels of edging. Another part is blade angle control, which will allow support any time you go a little off balance. And there’s the part of being able to bring you body back in balance over the top of a re-balanced kayak with just minimal support provided by that blade angle control. As you develop these, most sea kayaks should feel safe and in control.
You can probably learn to feel safe in it simply by edging it from side to side regularly for a while to get a feel for the secondary stability. It will help your muscles to relax and trust the boat. It’s a very fun and seaworthy kayak. I paddle several sea kayaks that are less stable, and feel very confident in the Extreme.

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Well I have paddled more sea kayaks than I can even remember, but I have tried to remember the ones that I was impressed with the first time out. One was the Current designs Prana. Then there was the Valley Nordkapp, P&H Cetus, Current Designs Gulfstream , some of the Tide Race boats, the full sized Stellar Intrepid , a few of the Sterling boats. All of these boats felt right and were solid in the stability department, but the boat that I chose for my all around longer distance paddling in variable conditions was a boat that I was not particularly taken by it’s overall feel the first time out.

That boat is the NC Expedition, which took a little getting used to, but this boat is exactly what I was hoping it would be–fast, isn’t bothered by any waves from any angle and it goes where it is pointed. It does take a bit of learning to do a 180, but that is to be expected in a 19’-2" boat. As for stability–as I siid, this boat takes care of that and all you have to do is provide the locomotion.

I should mention that I used to be just a hair short of 6’-3" and 239 lbs, but at 78 I’ve lost a lot of weight and a couple inches.

My best thought is that you can probably get used to almost any boat, but if it is a model that has been around for awhile, it’s probably been thoroughly tested and proven. Lots of time in the saddle under a lot of hairy conditions seems to make a good boat a great boat.

You probably just need more time paddling. I’m your size and just 10-15 lbs lighter and prefer sea kayaks 21.5 inches or narrower, i.e. NDK Explorer or Latitude or similar sea kayaks. And I know lots of shoulder heavy guys who are much larger than us who paddle similar kayaks.

Have you taken any formal ACA or BCU lessons? They may help if you haven’t. It could be something as simple as the way you sit in a kayak and an experience instructor can spot something like that.

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As said above use a good stroke as a partial brace. Few lessons are worth every penny. Sometimes you may think you’re doing something right but you’re not really. Another set of eyes on your from a certified instructor will set your on the right track. What part of the country are you in?

You’re not that big.
I started kayaks at 6’ 265lbs. Currently 6’235lbs, 49 chest, 38 waist with a overhang :slight_smile:
To do what I wanted to do I needed a boat that would haul a lot of stuff, and me. I got a used Sea Lion at 22.5 W that carries 400lbs and learned to paddle it. Its still my boat and until I get more time to take it out, it will be my boat. When I first took it out, my hips were involuntarily oscillating. Since it is what I needed, I worked through it.
Get a skirt, learn to edge, fall out a few times. Once you can get them up on edge, they get more maneuverable and fun. Once you fall out a few times you realize that it isnt the end of the world.
You can still pick up a poly sea lion on searchtempest for around 500.

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I had a Scirocco at 6’5” and 285lbs and it was not great. I was “flooding” the hull, displacing it too deeply so it upset the initial stability and the handling and I was constantly fighting it. I moved to an Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5 and it was a bit of an over rotation as it was extremely stable. I liked my Nighthawk but always wanted a more nimble lower volume boat.

I never got to my happy medium, stopped paddling for a while and looking at getting back into it but the lesson I learned is that it’s all about the hull design as to whether it performs well given your weight and then also when taller your weight over the top of the boat as well, the center of gravity.

It’s a balance of the initial stability due to your center of gravity and then the buoyancy of the hull vs your overall weight.

Another big annoyance is trimming up, I have dense heavy leg build with a 37” inseam and getting centered for the hull is another pretty impactful irritation if it is not right.

I don’t have a boat to recommend unfortunately I’m still wading through what is out there now and hoping I don’t take the big hit that I did with the Scirocco to find out it didn’t work for me.

Solstice HV or a Solstice Titan if you can find one used.

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Height and weight stack the odds against you balance wise. I am 6’5", 190lbs, do TRX, lots of core, steel maces, am in fantastic shape doing something active at least 2 hours a day most days a lot more and have been paddling for 16 years. I paddled for almost 4 hours yesterday and didn’t even feel sore if that tells you anything. And even after all this I feel like I can’t handle boats that go much past the “recreational” level. We have a Wilderness Northstar which is awesome but obnoxiously heavy, a pair of Tsunami 120/125’s which are wonderful and last year I picked up a 2nd hand Stellar S12. I just tried an S14 G-2 which was a little tippy but seemed OK. Anything more than that I can’t even get into the boat without flipping it and want to GTFO and run back to shore. I can’t seem to find a boat that is “fast enough” for my strength & endurance without being too tippy. Tired of “more seat time” I think I’ve hit my glass celing either that or I have yet to find my unicorn. The rest of life is really nice when you’re tall though this lack of stability is a cheap price to pay for being over 6 feet.

I’m 5’11" amd 250# +/-. I primarily paddle 24" wide boats. I tend to be top heavy. Stability follows boat movement through the water fwd or rev.

On a 26mile paddle waiting for the slower boats I stopped in the marsh popped the skirt and raised a knee to relieve leg pain. Take a drink…kersplash!! The knee was too high. Just keep moving . Your paddle on * the water can increase stability.

  • spell check…in the water moving

Except for economy seats in the airplane, I’m guessing.

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Aisle seats have been my solution. I stretch out my legs there and never take the window seat.

Also certain countries where people are short are not that great. I was from a “short” country and grew up there as an anomaly, always banging my head on stuff when I visit family.

I’m 5’ 6” but you’re going to have to fight me for that aisle seat. :wink:

Aisle seat my favorite except for when all they others are stuffing big stuff in the overhead. I had a lady drop a suitcase on me. Thus I try to be last on the plane with only a back pack that fits under the seat.

One of the nice things about being retired. I don’t fly near as much.

a 24 inch beam is reasonable for a boat if you want to travel.
I am your size.
Work on your braces and balancing with your hips.
Try putting some camping equipment in your boat to lower the center of gravity.