Boat comparisons

I am in search of a boat that fits best for my requirements (not the perfect boat :)) and would like some input and advice from the communtiy.

Background: I paddle/row on the South Puget Sound, protected cold water with some interesting tidal rips and confused water, waves/chop can get 2-3 feet. Opportunities to get out on the water are often solo, or with sea kayaker friends. I currently own a 15’ Adirondack Guideboat that I row; it is a great boat, but am looking for another boat, kayak or canoe, that I can better explore, play, and see where I am going. I am a beginning paddler, have done classes, but do not have a roll yet. Have paddled 3-14 mile distances. I like to go faster, more so than meander slowly.

Problems: I have not found a kayak I am both comfortable in for multiple hours, and like. I seem to be more comfortable with a straighter leg position than very bent, but then often don’t have enough thigh contact for bracing. Paddled a Feathercraft Whisper that I was comfortable in, but felt too slow for me and didn’t seem to edge or track well. Not comfortable in Tempest 170, Sterling Illusion, Impex Assateague, Necky Looksha. I am 6’2" and 210-215 lbs with size 11 feet.

The boats: In my searches I have come across the class of decked canoes whose advocates praise their speed, stability, comfort, and safety. Leading examples are the Clipper Sea-1, the Kruger Seawind and Dreamcatcher, and the Sawyer Superior Expedition. I have never seen or paddled a boat like this, but am intrigued.

The question: Considering comfort, safety, and ability to keep up with sea kayaking friends, what opinions/advice do you experienced paddlers out there have? My concern for kayaks is finding a good fit, and having doubts about my ability and the time needed to develop a “bombproof” roll. What other kayaks should I look at and try out? Anyone out there in the northwest with one of the decked canoes that would be willing to show it off?

Sorry about the long post.


rolling open boats
Most people paddle kayaks on the ocean because of the relative ease with which they can be rolled and come up virtually dry. Unless a canoe is completely decked, even if you roll up, it will have a significant amount of water in it which will need to be expelled with a bilge pump. Increasingly, open boaters who expect to take in water (i.e., whitewater open boaters) install electric battery-operated bilge pumps to facilitate this.

Another critical difference between canoes and kayaks in potentially rough conditions is that a kayaker has a strong brace immediately available on both sides of the craft. A canoeist does not.

I haven’t paddled those long, sleek, partially-decked boats, but if your technique is decent and the canoe is equipped with a rudder, you will probably be able to keep up with your friends in their sea kayaks, unless they are real speed demons.

If I were you I would look around and try a few more kayaks if possible. Those specialty canoes are pretty expensive, not that high-quality sea kayaks aren’t, but you will have a much larger selection with kayaks, a larger potential resale market, and a larger used market to choose from than you will with the specialty canoes.

straight legs in a kayak
There’s no reason you can’t brace with your legs straight, and on the bottom of the kayak. That’s how Greenland qajakers do it.

You can either look for a boat with a small ocean cockpit, or just make a foam masik insert for a keyhole cockpit. The foam insert is a piece of foam you shove under the thigh braces, just above your knee, after you get in the boat. It gives you more of a Greenland leg position when you’re in a British-style boat.


If your trying to keep up with a group in sea kayaks, your going to need something fast. Your average canoe or rec yak isn’t going to do it. Also, from your description, wind would be an issue if your in a canoe. IMHO, you need to be looking at a long lean kayak. Struggling to keep up just makes for a long , tiring and frustrating outing.

Boat comparisons
In light of a few recent posts attempting to compare different hulls, a few thoughts on boat comparisons.

It is unhelpful to compare hulls of different waterline lengths because we gain 1/3 mph per foot of waterline length. I the longer boat isn’t faster either the designer has failed or we aren’t comparing similar hulls.

It is useless to compare gel coated boats to Vacuum Formed or rotomolded hulls. The names may be the same but the shapes are different due to manufacturing constraints. Data from and ABS hull offers no input what-so-ever on a composite hull of the same name.

One cannot compare used hulls with new hulls. A moderately used hull may have half again the skin friction of a new one and hence skewed data. I have had national champions claim we’ve done something to make a model faster; nope, just a new hull.

We need to use a set course for speed, set buoy system for turning comparisons to yield comparable results.

We need a fair number of testers to eliminate bias, but they should be grouped by skill level.

We need use a heart rate monitor to approximate similar effort.

Reliable comparison tests require a bunch of friends, a bunch of new and similar boats and some buoys and test equipment on a day with steady weather. Anything less is anecdotal data; worth, maybe, the paper it prints on, except we don’t use paper anymore, so…

I do own a Kruger
and they are super boats as far as comfort goes.

If you paddle a lot and are in decent shape, you will have no problem using one of them to keep up with the kayaks.

I wish you were closer to MN. I would let you try mine. I also have a QCC 700x, and I paddle it maybe 50 miles a year, compared to the 1500-2500 miles the Kruger gets. As far as bracing issues go, the Kruger is so much more stable than the kayaks it is unbelieveable. You would have to be in some horrible conditions, or deliberately trying to swamp one. Hopefully you get the chance to try one. They really are “all that”