Composite Sea Lion vs kevlar Q400X

-- Last Updated: Dec-30-07 12:27 AM EST --

I'll be taking possession of a brand new in box kevlar QCC Q400X with Smart Track rudder and thigh braces soon, probably this week, and am wondering if there are good reasons to hold on to my fiberglass Aquaterra Sea Lion with rudder rather than selling it to help pay for the Q400X.

I'm 5'6" and about 155 lbs fully dressed and rarely carry much cargo and do mostly day trips varying from an hour to 5 or 6 hours.

Most outings are on small lakes with minimal wind and waves. The largest lake I paddle on is about 5000 acres and it does get waves up to 3' trough to peak and winds up to 30 to 40mph. We had gusts up to 50mph yesterday. I may never paddle on Lake MI or the ocean, but Lake MI is a possibility in the next year or two.

I've never tried to roll, but may get some instruction this summer.

I hope to convince my beginner paddler wife to try the 400X. The only other kayak she's solo paddled is our Old Town Castine. She doesn't swim and is afraid of water in which she can't see bottom.

The Sea Lion was my 1st (Edit: sea) kayak and I've only had it for 1.25 years (August 2006) and I think I've only been out in it about 5 or 6 times. I find it to track well enough without the rudder and to maneuver quite well and to be somewhat fun to play around in on the small waves that we have around here. Edit: I've paddled a Phoenix Isere for about 5 years and rec yaks for a few years before that.

I also bought a 1997 fiberglass Caspian Sea (basically a Q400X) this last spring (2007) and have only paddled it on small lakes without much wind or waves, so I have no idea how it handles in those conditions. It doesn't have thigh braces or rudder or skeg. I find it to track pretty hard and turn ok with a good lean. Don't perceive it to be a fun or lively boat as I perceive the Sea Lion.

My basic question here is whether the Sea Lion might have any characteristics for someone my size that might make it a better choice in some situations that would make it useful to keep around.

I also bought a Sawyer Loon this summer (2007) and have paddled it more than any of the kayaks since I brought it home. It's more comfortable than any of my kayaks and easily handles the conditions I've had it in so far. The sea kayaks are mostly for making it easier to keep up with other sea kayakers on the larger lakes.

Lack of storage space and funding are issues, so I'll be needing to sell at least one kayak and possibly two or three. The Caspian Sea and the Pheonix Isere are also candidates for selling.

Feedback from anyone who's paddled both boats very much would be most appreciated - especially if your anywhere near my size of 5'6" and 155 lbs.

Feedback from anyone with much time in either one or the other would also be welcome - especially if your anywhere near my size of 5'6" and 155 lbs.

I don't have a whole lot of seat time in either the Sea Lion or Caspian Sea and have never paddled them one after the other on the same day.

I'd keep all the boats if I had the space to store them.

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful input.

I would keep the Sea Lion for its more
all-around qualities compared to your new QCC.

Regarding your wife’s reluctance to boat and her non-swimming status, I hope she will contract with herself to overcome that barrier. As a boy, I had failed several times to learn to swim under the tutelage of poor teachers. Then I watched a film on a TV show about learning to swim in shallow water, and went out and learned on my own. In calm, shallow water such as in some Illinois swimming lake, one can have the confidence to float and swim because one can simply swing one’s legs under and stand at any time.

My wife is the original high-float water baby, and will swim across lakes I would not attempt, but she doesn’t like whitewater much, and it takes some terrific scenery for me to get her out on whitewater.

I am leaning toward keeping the Sea Lion
And selling the Caspian Sea.

Good weather today, so I got them both out of the garage and looked them over and sat in them. The cockpits are very different feeling. The Sea Lion cockpit is much more intimate feeling. There’s only a one pound difference in weight.

My recollection is that the two boats do handle quite differently and I guess that is good enough reason to keep the Sea Lion around If I can afford to. I don’t recall perceiving either of them as being particularly speedy, but that could just be my relatively weak motor compared to the motors of those whom I paddle with. I’ve never used a GPS in either to measure speed.

I considered seeing if I could trade the new 400X for a 600X so that I could have a more efficient boat for myself, but then I wouldn’t have a boat suitably stable for my beginner wife or my 75 year old dad if they should decide to give something other than the Castine’s a try. I got a very good deal on the NIB 400X on ebay. It had been won by the seller in a sweepstakes.

I still need to conjure up a means of storing another boat in the garage until I can sell one or two.

My wife does paddle with me in the tandem canoe and kayak and enjoys solo paddling the Castine.

Thanks for you input.

Brought the new 400X home today.
The 45.2 lb weight sure feels nicer to carry than the approximately 56 lb Sea Lion and Caspian Sea. It’s amazing how much difference 11 lbs less makes when carrying and loading a kayak.

Now I just need to attatch the rudder, adjust the seat and foot pedals and find some liquid water rather than ice.

The garage is really crowded now.

Still haven’t decided for sure which boat(s) to sell. The Sea Lion and Caspian Sea have very similar teal colored decks, so they look good together, but I don’t need both and could use the space and the money.

The 400X doesn’t have the thigh braces
as the ebay ad advertised. The seller was probably describing the boat as was described in the sweepstakes from which he won it.

Now I have to determine whether I want to keep it without the thigh braces or invest another entire day to wrap it back up, crate it and return it to the seller who is 260 miles round trip away. It would also cost me another $35 to $40 to drive it back.

Uncrating the boat took over an hour by myself, crating it back up might take up to two hours.

I’ll start a separate thread regarding people’s preference for thigh braces or not in their 400X.

I’ll also call QCC when they open back up Wednesday to get their view on thigh braces or not in the 400X.

I’m 5’11 and 165 lbs. and have paddled both the 400X and the Sea Lion. The advantages of the 400X without thigh braces are the ease of getting in and out of the boat and the fact that you can easily move your legs and knees around when paddling. (Experiment with paddling with your knees upright and in the center for more leg drive and more power from your torso). Most 400X owners probably do not have paddling styles or paddle in conditions that make thigh braces much of an asset. At your size, the cockpit fit will be somewhat loose, even with thigh braces.

That said, if you want to roll the 400 and paddle it aggressively, you might want the thigh braces (which you could pad out with additional foam).

The 400 is very stable and well-behaved in wind and waves. The rudder will be a plus when the wind comes up. Me? I think I’d keep the 400 and the Sea Lion and sell the Caspian.

I’ve never tried to roll.
Pjumper and I will teach you. It’s not hard.

teach her to swim
She’ll enjoy being on the water more.

get the 300 or 600
sell the sea lion for top dollar