Confused newbie

-- Last Updated: Aug-21-14 8:34 AM EST --

I'm sure this has probably been discussed here before, but I've searched the message boards and haven't quite seen what I'm looking for. Basically I'm a relative newbie to kayaking - never owned my own boat, only rented. Living in central Missouri, I've decided I'd like to make it a goal to train for the MR340. The trouble I'm having is on deciding what size kayak I need to buy. Where I live there are only small creeks and streams nearby so a large touring kayak is not the best option. However, I'm about a 45 minute drive from Truman Lake and about an hour from Lake of the Ozarks. Both are pretty large lakes with LOZ having a lot of ton of boat traffic making it pretty choppy. I figure the majority of my training will need to be done on these lakes even though it is a bit of a trek to get there.

After searching and reading quite a bit I am still unsure on what kayak size I want. Storage and transportation are a concern. There's room for a large 17 or 18' kayak in the garage, but it will definitely be tight. Also, I really don't see many kayakers around here and I'm having trouble picturing a 17 foot boat strapped to the top of my SUV.

To train for the MR340 it seems that I need a sea/touring kayak of decent length to carry the supplies I'll need. But since I'm brand new to this, I could just be making it more complicated than it needs to be. There's a store here in MO that has been advertising Wilderness Tempest 170's for $900. I've been considering that as an option, but again I think it seems awfully large and I won't really be able to use it on my local creeks/rivers. Anyone have suggestions? It seems that for regular use something in the 14' range might be better, but is that going to handle something like the MR340? A little about me, I'm 6'2" and #180. Any info is appreciated! Thanks!

17’ Tempest
If you can get a new 17’ Tempest for $900, I think that sounds like a deal too good to pass up, but be very careful that it isn’t a problem boat. I’m assuming it is a plastic boat. If that’s the case, it could be warped, or bent and probably wouldn’t be a good buy. If it is a composite boat, it might be one that has a leaking skeg box, which should be fixable and if that is the case, it would be a heck of a good deal.

As to whether a 17’ sea kayak would be usable on your local creeks and rivers, it is entirely dependent on just how small and how shallow these rivers might be. If these rivers are very shallow, swift and full of rocks, I would say a sea kayak would not be the right boat, but if they are a few feet deep and relatively slow moving, there’s no reason the Tempest wouldn’t be fine.

river paddling in a sea kayak

All depends on the river, then you, then the kayak.

You need a 18 foot sea kayak
and plenty of training in it.

Two that would be suitable are the Epic 18, and the QCC-700.

What ever you do, don’t settle for any thing less then 17 feet.

I carry two eighteen foot kayaks and a canoe on my little Suburu, (all at one time)

Get a good rack system - not the one that comes on your vehicle.

I also have to travel an hour and a half to a good size lake for my training.

Jack L

I agree, a new Tempest for $900 is a good deal and would be great for the race. If you are going to train for the race, best to have the sort of boat that you will be using.

I would suggest for additional paddling and fitness outings in the streams nearby that you check Craigslist in your area and see if you can get a used older whitewater boat too. These are usually around 12’ long and narrow with no deck rigging. A common used older kayak model like this that can often be found on CL is the Perception Dancer. They often turn up in my area for $150 to $200. They don’t track well for open water but are great for narrow shallow and twisty streams.

Like JackL who answered above me, I also haul 17’ and 18’ kayaks on a small Subaru. I have a friend who hauls a 20’ surf ski kayak on a SmartCar!

ditto the option of 2 kayaks
… paddling is paddling, and it is always easier to take a kayak which works on your closest water source out, and get in a little workout. It’s always easier to be spontaneous than doing the Vision Quest Routine, with loading The Large, Serious Kayak, and then driving an hour before you can even launch. Because then after 2 - 3 hours have elapsed, you still have to reload and drive another 45 min to an hour before home, and there can be commuting traffic overlaps/meal time overlaps and stopping anywhere for gas burns up more time. After 5 hours of “kayak time” and you still have to do dinner/chores you REALLY start to appreciate the ease of a 2 hour elapsed time total of the “nearby” training trip of 10 min to load, 15 min to drive, 10 min to launch, 1 hour paddle, return trip. Even if it’s not in your big, lovely totally awesome touring yak. 'Cause you get more bang for the paddle in the shorter boat.

Oh, and if you can fit one yak in a garage, you can always fit 2 :wink:

If you are seriously training for a big kayaking event, you’re going to be wanting to do this paddling more than 1x a week, with rest/recovery/crosstraining days in between the kayaking sessions.

Also, cross training, a combination of core strength exercise and something that makes you move fast lower body, plus flexibility, is very, very important and will really, really help.

Confused newbie
You are all basically saying what I’ve already thought…17 or 18’ is where i probably need to be. All of my friends think I’m crazy though and can’t imagine why anyone would want a kayak that big. But again, this area isn’t really known for good kayaking. The creeks and streams are pretty shallow, windy, and full of rocks/debris. I may drive over and look at the Tempest.

It’s at a kayak shop down on one of the bigger rivers in the state and they have it listed as “like new”. I’ll be sure to check it over as well as i can as Magooch suggested, but being such a newbie I’m not sure I’ll recognize a problem when I see it. The Epic and QCC look really nice, but are more than i want to spend at first until I see if I really enjoy this as much as I think I will. I have seen some used glass sea kayaks online in the area for $1,000-$1,500. It’s tempting to go look at those as well. The idea of an actual rudder sounds nice for a long race like the MR340.

p.s…would love to see a 20’ surf ski on a smart car! Ha!

2 kayak option
Very good point. One that has been weighing on my mind. As you said, if it’s too much work to load the big kayak, drive, etc I may end up just not going at all. A second small kayak may indeed be the way to start out. And then after I get some hours in I could shop for the larger boat and start training more seriously.

When you start, it’s 80% boat and 20%
paddler. You’ll have lots of boats as you grow in the sport. Keep in mind that you will be buying and selling so look for a good deal as well as the right fit. As you grow, it becomes 80% paddler and 20% boat.

surf ski on SmartCar
Not my friend’s car but it looks the same:

dont know
If you are set on a kayak. But a good solo canoe is a great option for the Mr340. Train hard and just keep paddling.

Don’t go under 17 and I’m with Jack. Qcc, epics, stellars and any other go fast 18 footer is your best option.

Thanks to everyone!
Wow, I am really amazed at the response I’ve gotten and how helpful everyone has been. If this is any indication of the type of people kayakers are, then I’m going to really enjoy the sport. I am somewhat of a cyclist as well and have posted into cycling forums before. On those, if you get any response at all it seems to always be people with snide remarks or superior attitudes that make it a point to let you know they’re better than you. That is why I avoid cycling events altogether.

Based on what everyone has said today I think I’ve decided what I want to do. I’ll look for something a little smaller, 14’ or so just to get on the local water this fall/winter. I’ll keep my eyes open all winter for the right sea kayak to use for the race. With any luck I’ll find a deal on a sweet boat like the Epic’s, QCC, or Stellar that were suggested. Hopefully by early next year I will have found the right boat and begin training more intensely as soon as the ice thaws.

I’m pretty excited about this adventure. Thanks again to everyone who took the time out to comment. It’s greatly appreciated! Also, the picture of the smart car with the boat on top is now saved on my phone. I’ll use it to show all of my friends who think I won’t be able to haul around an 18’ boat :slight_smile:

Tempests have different sized cockpits
based on the overall length. For instance, my bro is 6’2" and a 170 fits him perfectly, but I am 6’5" and the 180 fits me. You probably don’t want a cockpit that will swallow you.

One more question??
Alright guys, everyone has been so helpful I thought I’d give it a shot and ask one more question. There’s a used boat for sale that I’d previously disregarded because of it’s smaller size. Now that I think I want a smaller boat to start using on the smaller local water I am considering it again. This would basically be my ‘everyday’ boat and then pick up a larger one in the spring. It is a Current Designs Andromeda, but it’s only a 14’ version. Everything I see online talks about a 17’3". There is one person who reviewed a 14’ here on this site. This boat would only be for local day trips so no need to haul massive amounts of gear. But again, i’m 6’2 and 180 so is this going to be too small even to use for small creeks/streams? Local streams have probably zero rapids but the lakes do have some waves from boat traffic. I don’t have full specs on it since I can’t find a link anywhere. Last question I promise…it sounds like the Andromeda’s are not good beginner boats. Would I be getting in over my head, or since I intend to work up to a large sea kayak anyway would this just help me to advance my skills a little quicker? Thanks again for everything!

It’s 17’3"

– Last Updated: Aug-22-14 9:52 AM EST –

Derek Hutchinson designed that boat, and there was never a 14' version. A quick google search pulled it up in KC. If that's what you're looking at, that's the standard 17'3" X 20.5", even though the ad is listing 14' for some reason. Shoot them an e-mail just to double check. But that sure looks like the 17' Andromeda to me.
He designed that with basically the same design as the P&H Sirius. You can read about it in his sea kayaking book. Those were both based upon his same design with a tweak here or there. I own a Sirius. I hopped in an Andromeda once, and it had a very similar feel.
I learned a lot in my Sirius. The stability profile is such that at the time I first bought it, it took me a while to get comfortable in it. I think it's a great boat to learn how to control your edges, because there isn't much secondary stability resistance, so it forced me not to rely on the kayak holding me up, and to become much more fluid with my hips and edging. I then learned how incredibly valuable that is in breaking waves. Now it feels perfectly comfortable to me, and I can really appreciate the design.
I consider this design a good-tracking cruiser. It's good in wind, and gets pushed around very little by waves. You can keep a solid cruising pace, but it's not a racing hull at the highly competitive level. If I remember correctly, I felt the Andromeda had a slight edge on my Sirius for carving turns, but it's not on the easily maneuverable end of sea kayaks.
If it were in my backyard, I would buy it at that price, and enjoy the heck out of it. But it takes a commitment to sea kayaking skills to get comfortable in it. I personally advanced my skill set in the similar P&H Sirius more than any other, but I'm really into it. Most never get to a level where they're comfortable in that style hull.
The V-bottom does not lend itself well to scraping bottom in rocky creeks. Great fun to paddle where you have enough water. I have no interest in paddling water that shallow. You need about 3' of water to not feel the drag holding you back in most any efficient kayak. So shallows really aren't good areas to get into race form anyway. Some love po-dunkin in shallows, and I do on occasion. But when I'm trying to take a pace, the drag of shallows aren't that great for me, but it feels like you've been set free when you get off the shallows into deeper water again.

Great feedback on the Andromeda. I did contact the seller this morning but have yet to hear back. If this really is the 17’3" Andromeda and not something else then I could possibly have found my MR340 boat. The reviews are great. Even though it’s probably above my skill level, I’d like to think that I’m trainable and willing to work hard enough to make it a success. I’m also not afraid of getting wet a few times. If I find out that i suck at it, you may see a used Andromeda for sale in the classifieds soon :slight_smile:

Would I be getting in over my head