Bigger boats in following seas

-- Last Updated: Dec-27-05 9:25 AM EST --

I've trimmed my composite fleet to one (Explorer) as others in the household have not been as involved in paddling as I. There is still some interest in a second boat, but if it happens I would like it to double as a day boat with good manuverable skills and reasonable stability. Smaller boats like a Romany/Avocet are a tad tighter (6' 230lbs.) then I care for a fit. Some that fit me, but haven't tried in various conditions are..

1. Tempest 165 (I might sink it a little to deep for playfulness)
2. Tempest 170 (works well for me, but maybe too similar to the Explorer. Don't know how it is in following seas)
3. Boreal Ellesmere (good fit and lively, but heard it needs skeg in following seas or will broach or weathercock)
4. Skerray (never paddled one and wonder if I am getting too close to the Explorer again or is it a big man's Pintail)
5. Chatham 17. Know nothing about this one.
6. Saw an ad for a used Hurricane Aqua Sport Tracer, but know nothing about it outside of the fact I fit in it.
7. Suggestions and comments? Particularly how any of these boats (or others) will respond to various seas from various angles.

Viking Expedition
Kajak Sport Viking might be a good day boat to try. Somewhat larger than Romany and Avocet and very well behaved.

skerry not an explorer

We had a skerry RM for awhile. Great boat, very nimble. In fact that’s why it ended up going away. My wife wanted a boat that tracked better. It’s a fun kayak though.

I have paddled an Ellesmere in following seas and it was very well behaved. It had a skeg but I preferred not having the skeg down. All you have to do is edge it a bit and it handles the wave with ease.

Tracers are made from
thermoforming Hurricane’s proprietary blend of ABS plastic. They also come in a couple of variations - older versions have a bit more hull rocker and were set up for rudder installation (the stainless steel rudder gudgeon is install and “nipples” for routing the cables below deck were molded in). The newer versions have a little less rocker and a built in skeg (skeg kits are aavailable for the older models).

I got one about a month ago (couldn’t pass up the bargain price for this size & type of boat) but the weather and my lack of cold weather wear have prevented me from anything other than a brief christening in the salt pond at the end of my street. With that in mind and my limited experience (no real big breaking waves and high winds) my initial impression is that it’s reasonably stable and fairly responsive, but will weathercock in wind (needs the skeg or rudder for tracking if much wind on the stern quarters).

Mariner Express

Early Tracer
You might want to start hunting the skeg kit or rudder for the early Tracer as it is almost impossible to paddle it in a following sea. I couldn’t believe how bad it handled, three strokes on one side then a stern rudder on the other. After the skeg was installed it was a fairly nice handling boat.

second that

– Last Updated: Dec-28-05 4:46 PM EST –

got mine as a day boat. very happy with it. smaller boat feel with no compromise in speed. really well mannered.

a bit roomier than the romany/avocet, but you'd still be at the very end of the height/weight spectrum.

certainly worth a try.

y'might take a look at the force series from impex too.

I already have sources for both
Hurricane sells a “skeg kit” and fittable rudder kits are available in a number of places. It’s just a question of how much I want to spend & how difficult a job I want to make out of it.

I’m no stranger to highly rockered boats, my Heritage Nomad, which at 16’is almost as long as the Tracer, is considerably more rockered and has a more round bottom than the Tracer - I’ve found that it’s weathercocking is manageble in moderate following seas until the wind gets up over 15 knots.

I’d like to try the Tracer in some varied conditions before I do anything I can’t undo easily (i.e. skeg) so I’ll probably do a rudder first and then reassess the situtation as I get more familiar with the boat. I’m also not sold on the reliability of skegs - during the past year I paddled regularly with a group that had several skegged boats (Necky, CD, P & H) every skeg in the group failed to deploy at least once when needed (maybe attributable to the gravelly texture of a lot of our landing spots) but I’m not sold on skeg reliability which would be important for me as I do about 50% of my yakking solo.

Chatham 16?
Was this too small or tight? I haven’t checked its specs, but it is supposed to be more manuverable than the 17 by a good bit and has some real fans. The Chathams I’ve been in tend to have a less tight cockpit than some of the equivalent Brit boats.

Romany HV
I am surprised no one has mentioned the Romany HV. Sounds like it would very likely provide a great cockpit fit and it has the characteristics you are looking for. It is one of the most versatile shorter kayaks. Absolutely a great boat in following seas, I find it is so agile I can make it go faster in following seas than much longer boats! The HV is just enough wider and longer than the regular Romany that with your size body it will perform nearly the same as for a smaller person in the smaller Romany. Also a great boat to learn edging and rolling in too.