What I mean by 'real' sea kayak is a boat that you'd actually take out into the ocean in any real conditions... 4-5 ft waves, Force 5 winds, etc. I
In other words, not a 'glass water only' boat, or a 'calm lakes and slow-moving rivers' boat.
I ask this because even though I'll be buying a nice new (and not cheap) boat before the end of the year, I may want a second boat for friends/guests, and it'd be nice to get something with some performance overhead, in case a friend or family member really gets into the sport (which would be nice).
NOTE: Said friends/family members WOULD NOT be subjected to big-time ocean conditions unless/until such time as they progressed in skill enough to be able to handle them. And they would take classes, etc.
I simply want a '(fairly) cheap guest boat' that they would not outgrow, assuming they progressed as far as significant ocean conditions.
Also am more interested in hearing about specific models... generic 'buy used' or 'build it yourself' recs are nice but pretty obvious in retrospect.
Used or kit
Yes, look for a good used one or buy a kit from Pygmy and build it yourself. Their kits run around $1,000. If you build it with care, you will have a boat that is just as good and strong or better than most FG or kevlar boats out there, lighter and definitely more beautiful for a lot less money. The pride that comes from building it yourself and adding a custom touch here and there is a bonus.
For Purposes of Thread, Assume No Used
Besides, if you think about it, the cheapest ‘real’ sea kayak new is likely to be the cheapest (or one of the cheapest) used, all else being equal (age, wear, etc).
I’m not sure that the ability to go in
4-5 foot waves, Force 5 winds etc. should be a priority in a boat that you want to use to introduce new paddlers to the sport. I’d place easy maneuverability and relative stability above those. A boat that meets your criteria may be somewhat intimidating to most newbies. If they do take to the sport they’ll be buying their own boat. I won’t go into 4-5 foot waves and Force 5 winds in a boat I’m not familiar with, and I certainly wouldn’t take a newbie out in those conditions.
I’d look at a Prion Calabria or a Necky Looksha Sport if I were looking for a relatively inexpensive kayak to introduce folks to the sport.
Rwven hit it
You’ve got conflicting criteria with performance undefined.
Used Plastic Sea Kayak
You can find a decent one quite cheap if you look aggressively. Like in the hundreds.
But... are you talking about taking out friends who are not likely to be accustomed to waves etc? If you plan to try that, can you get a panicked person back into their boat in those conditions?
I've had issues with people who are freaked out in flat water rescues, sometimes finding it takes two people to get that one back in because they really are not able to follow instructions. I'd think carefully about the environments in which you might be responsible for others.
The best loaner boat is your own beginner boat. I kept my first, very docile, sea kayak and it is a perfect boat to put rank newbies in, and I still enjoy giving it a ride once in a while.
PS - used composite is a great way to go - there's a used Pachena in the p-net classifieds that would fit the bill very well, although it may not be anywhere near you.
I think you are proabably posting this as a hypothetical informational challenge rather than actually planning to plop newbies in Force 5 winds so I will treat it as such (and avoid lectures on the dangers of big water and novices.)
You are likely looking in the $1000 to $1500 range with high sales volume RM boats like the WS Tsunami family or the similarly priced Venture Easky or Perception Carolina lines(exact model/length for each would depend on the approximate size range of your projected paddling buddies) .
Personally, I'm a fan of the Easkys' sort of hybrid Brit/Greenland styling for "bang for the buck" and for confident handling in rough water, though I admit I have never had mine in conditions as severe as you describe. But I have heard feedback from others who own an Easky and report using the model in challenging Pacific coastal conditions. The only drawback I would see to the Ventures in conditions is the vulnerable rubber hatch covers. I would add a deck mounted security strap across each one if I was going to take it in conditions where a cover could possibly be wrenched off. Lack of a day hatch is annoying but you are talking about a basic good value, not all bells and whistles.
Most of our local dealers have these models on sale this time of year for 10% to 20% off (I scored mine 2 years ago for 30% off).
Of course the absolute cheapest would be to build your own Yost boat or traditional wood and nylon/urethane skin on frame. But if you did that you would probably love it too much to loan it.
new vs used
"cheapest ‘real’ sea kayak new is likely to be the cheapest (or one of the cheapest) used," This isn’t necessarily true. The cheapest new may likely fall apart of over time and not be sold for used. Or you may find a very nice (read expensive new) one sold by a very motivated seller such as after a divorce or loss of house leaving no storage options. Some friends have bought very nice used glass boats for as little as $300 (not common, but…).
novices in boats
On the other hand, when I've taken out groups of relative novices (back when I had a full fleet and could outfit 5 or 6 people), I would match the least experienced and most vulnerable people with the most bombproof and safety equipped boats, for their own safety and my peace of mind. For instance, a couple of my "loaners" are folders with float bags rather than bulkheads and another was a more open cockpit, semi rec style boat. I have always put the more experienced paddlers in those because I know they are less likely to capsize and even if they do, these folks have demonstrated they will maintain their composure and re-enter and pump out the boats without much if any intervention from me. Newbies who were really nervous I always put in my old Dagger Magellan, a 17' plus fully bulkheaded big water cruiser that would keep them solidly upright no matter what hit them and give them a secure platform to clamber onto (with my help) if something did go wrong.
So I think it more strategically safe to overequip novices paddling with you rather than put them in a less competent boat than you are using yourself.
Nope, do not plan on killing any friends
"But… are you talking about taking out friends who are not likely to be accustomed to waves etc? If you plan to try that, can you get a panicked person back into their boat in those conditions? "
Please to re-read what I said– a boat for friends and family who ‘GET INTO the sport’.
I’m not going to suddenly toss them into the Pacific Ocean way before they’re ready for it. I simply want a cheap boat they won’t outgrow any time soon, as they learn more and more skills.
Again, do not plan on killing anyone
"I think you are proabably posting this as a hypothetical informational challenge rather than actually planning to plop newbies in Force 5 winds so I will treat it as such (and avoid lectures on the dangers of big water and novices.)"
As I said to Celia, pls to pay close attention to what I said in the OP: this is a boat for friends/family who GET INTO the sport.
They would be brought along slowly, not pitched into the Pacific on one of their first outings. I am no executioner. o_0
Your recommendation of the Venture Easky as being a cheap ‘eventual ocean boat’ is appreciated. I think those are even on sale at my local dealer right now.
Consider transition boat
Something that has the safety features of two bulkheads and full perimeter rigging. It is enough to leave someone comfortable and a good paddler can make these boats do a lot in the nastiest stuff. A lesser paddler will find they want to go back to shore when things get nasty - which is a good thing.
Trying to purchase a sea kayak that will:
Fit an unknown range of possible paddlers in size,
Have the desired blend of tracking and maneuverability,
And be forgiving in nasty stuff
is a very expensive order.
By the time anyone you want to paddle with is out in the conditions you name, they should have acquired a bucket load of skills on their own as well as a boat that fits them well and the gear. Have you been in the conditions that you name yourself by the way, done rescues in them and all of that?
Over time you will acquire more boats anyway, let that process occur and at some point you will have a good array of guest boats.
I bought my first 4 kayaks used., the first 3 were plastic Necky Lookshas that I got for $500 each (the 4th was an unusual boat, so not really relevant to a conversation on prices of available boats). Seems that if you watch, you can get a plastic boat in the $500-700 range.
Could be good to get one that you would like as an alternate boat. if your boat is a composite touring boat (17ish feet long), why not get a plastic play boat (14 foot or so), like a Necky Looksha Sports, Dagger Alchemy, P&H Delphin, etc.
second boat as play boat = great idea
if you spot a 15LV on sale
If you go to your local dealer with the Easkys on sale and spot a 15LV, let me know. Been looking for one for my BF, who loves mine so much after I let him borrow it a few tomes that we kind of fight over who gets to use it when we go paddling now. Depending on where you are located, it might be reasonable for us to drive to pick one up.
My local dealer has Easkys on sale this weekend for 20% off, but has no 15’s in stock (end of season sales are typically “in stock” only.)
I actually bought the Easky as a personal alternative playboat. My fave kayak is a $4000 folder (Feathercraft Wisper) and the Easky was the closest to the Wispers dimensions and performance in a rotomold that I would not mind beating up. I have no problem using the Easky in conditions that would make me cringe with the folder, like dragging over gravel bars or even bouncing off rocks and scraping ledges in some open rapid Class II streams. I like the lightness, too, only 44 lbs (10 less than a similar Tsunami).
Second looking for Divorce Sale.
I got a fantastic deal once from a lady who was really pissed at her ex. She was told to sell the stuff in garage and send a check by his lawyer. I ended up paying her more than she asked but I do have some ethics.
Perception Sea Lion.