Can u get used 2 tracking of small boat?

I bought a 10’ kayak and I can immediately see that the boat is all over the place compared to a 12’ and a 14’. (even though it got 5 stars on the L.L.Bean website)

Is it possible to get used to tracking with the shorter boat? And eventually be more efficient / have more control over it?

I ask because the 10’ boat is more convenient for me to pop inside my suv and go on the lake.

Yes, with a proper sized paddle
and practice, a short kayak can be paddled pretty straight.

A too long paddle combined with strokes that push out to the sides, rather than along side the boat will make it wiggle waggle all over the place.

A stroke that travels parallel along the keel (center line of the bottom) will result in straighter travel with less wiggle waggle.

Probably not
The designer I’ve worked with across six canoe companies claims not; a hull needs be about 12 feet long to track, turn and have any forward speed. Sorry, LL Bean is relatively incompetent concerning paddlecraft. [Look at the hulls they offer!]

You’ll need foam blocks or a top carrier and a longer boat to reach a destination happily. Sorry!

Yes. With time working on it, you will learn t paddle such that the boat goes straighter. People can paddle short 6’ white water boats straight, so a 10’ rec boat is possible also.

In addition to the above…
Use your body against the braces to counteract the steering tendency. Where you insert and remove the paddle makes a difference as well.

Just takes practice
All of my surf craft are less than 9’, I usually paddle an 8’ waveski. As stated above, if you use a short paddle with a high angle stroke it’s really pretty easy to paddle straight. You need to learn how to push on the foot pegs and edge the boat from side to side a bit sometimes. I’ve Paddled 6’ 8 inch playboats straight. So just hang in there and get a paddle that you can do a high angle stroke and practice.

I have a 9.5’ Perception Swifty
that I keep around for the same reason and it tracks pretty straight. The bow does move from side to side a little with each stroke but you get used to it. The Swifty actually gives me a much better workout than my longer kayaks because you have to constantly paddle to keep it moving.

Which model did you get from LL Bean? They were selling Swiftys a while back but I think they were called something else.

Be sure you’re ending your paddle stroke at your hip, and not continuing it toward the stern of the boat, which will make it yaw.

Your 10 ft boat is not going to be fast or track really well, but it will be stable and maneuverable and easy to transport.

You can get used to it, but …
it will never track as well as a longer kayak

Jack L

More effort to go straight than a longer

But yes you can paddle a straight line in a smaller boat. I will advocate that it will develop your technique faster. Never bring the paddle blade past your hip and use torso rotation and watch that you have your hands equidistant from each end of the paddle.

For two years I paddled a Keowee three times a week for a 14 mile outing. At under 10 feet it taught me a lot, including when it was time to go to a longer more seaworthy craft! But straight line travel was something I did learn.

Don’t try to go too fast…the boat will spin out.

review stars
You should always take buyer review stars on vendor sites with a grain of salt, especially with “entry level” gear like recreational kayaks. Most of the people who post their impressions of their new “toy” have no experience of any other boat and are just pleased to have it out on the water (as well they should be). But their personal enthusiasm should be interpreted with that limited awareness in mind.

I used to help teach a beginning whitewater class. At the start of the first day nobody could get th boat to go straigt for more than a couple of strokes. We saw dramatic improvement in a few hours of paddling.

Sit up straight

Use a high-angle stroke and keep the blade close to the boat

In at the toes, out at the hips

Look well ahead

Make small corrections with every stroke – don’t wait for a turn to become obvious.

Straight ?
It seems as though some are not straight,

others are. Read CEWilson again, also JackL.

I notice that among kayak users there seems to be a strong impulse to rate one’s kayak very highly, no matter what the kayak is. Pnet is full of 9 and 10 ratings.

One reason for this could be that in fact the buyers chose wisely for their specific needs. Another could be that once you’ve committed yourself to a purchase, there’s a strong subconscious need to believe you bought the right item. It’s also possible that people are just plain uninformed about kayaks or kayaking or unskilled. Finally, people aren’t always truthful, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Ratings are all about perceptions and there are many things that influence our perceptions.

I am straight
and I respect the others opinions. However it IS possible to get a short boat to go straight. Its easier with a long finer tracking boat, but the OP has other issues re transport that seems to null that possibility.

For a beginner a short boat is not that going straight friendly but with stick time it will come.

anything can be paddled straight

In addition to what others have said, the more you paddle the boat the more your brain learns how to make corrections without explicit thought. So small things like changing the blade angle on a stroke a small amount to add a bit of turning force become second nature. Sensing that the boat is about to turn uncontrollably because of how the bow is behaving and correcting before it is too hard. Many boats, especially WW boats, but short rec boats ass well, have a greater tendency to turn the faster you go. So to start out with go slowly. Have a coach or experienced paddler watch you paddle and give you feedback on whether your strokes are symmetric, your paddle angle is high, and whether you are rotating.

"In at the toes, out at the hips"
this is the key. As a beginner it’s often best to exaggerate at first to get it right. So try really reaching far but keep the stroke short by pulling out of the water even before your hips. Any stroke behind your hips contributes little to speed but tend to turn the kayak. A key point on the higher angle of the paddle is to NOT accidentally be sweeping the blade wide which will turn the kayak. Periodically practice this with exaggeration then go back to just having fun. Be patient… eventually you’ll just notice you’re going much straighter than you used to.

Take it back
Unfortunately you bought a crappy boat, and as several have pointed out it is especially crappy for you because of your diminutive size.

Fortunately, LL Bean has a painless return policy.

Take it back. Get a boat that is better suited for you.

You’ll be much happier.

I agree.
A much nicer boat, also 10 ft, is the Eddyline Sky 10. Basically a Skylark but two feet shorter.