Crossover or Touring/Sea Kayak?

Hello from Australia and apologies for the length of my first post. Wanting to provide some background to enable you to advise me on my proposed 2nd boat purchase - crossover or touring/sea kayak?

Proposed use: 1-3 day trips, picking around the coast, on our local bay in choppy waters and windy conditions, and in the ocean not very far offshore. The occasional surf; quite a lot of touring rivers up to class II, perhaps the odd class III. Would prefer less than 15’ and must be polyethylene. Budget is up to AUD$2000.

About me: 5ft 6, 143lbs, 51 y.o. female; fairly fit and just getting back into paddling after a decade’s break. WW paddling experience is mainly class II-III. Survived a few class IV runs back in my college days, thanks more to luck than skill. Flat water: coastal, bays and lakes in all kinds of weather. A bit of surfing. Last formal instruction was 2003 in WA state (Lake Union and Green River) where I lived for a couple of years. I’d say I’m a rusty intermediate paddler who can read a river well, has good bracing skills but needs to brush up on rolling. Not much ocean experience; used a few hired sea kayaks on guided and independent day trips over the past few years and didn’t feel my paddling was efficient in any of them. Contemplating doing a sea kayaking course but probably not before I purchase, and only if I buy a touring/sea kayak. Planning to buy all the necessary safety gear for coastal paddling and need to update some of my existing gear in any event.

My first, only, and current boat is a Perception Dancer bought new in 1994. My experience has all been gained in that kayak. OK you can all stop laughing now but I love that kayak. It was fast compared to what my friends were all paddling WW in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it’s indestructible. At 18.5kg I can carry it on my own and I’ve fitted it out so it wears like a glove. I can paddle it straight no problems (albeit using pre-emptive corrective strokes) but it does give me a work out. For WW, I’m not interested in doing fancy tricks, just a bit of surfing and messing about in stoppers on my way down a fun river. As I’ve never really felt the need to change my kayak for WW purposes, I think I’ll keep my Dancer for those trips. For the touring I’m now wanting to do, it lacks overnight storage capacity and I never felt very safe in it in rough sea, even when using float bags. Self-rescue has been challenging for me in this situation.

I’ve been looking at the Dagger Stratos 14.5S and Dagger Katana 9.7 online. I’ve read numerous reviews on both, realise they are each designed for a different purpose and I’m familiar with what they weigh. I’ve also researched the WS Tsunami and a couple of others like it. Initially I was drawn to the crossover concept but I don’t think any of the crossover boats are going to track as well as I’d like (despite some having drop down skegs) and they don’t seem to have much storage. I’m leaning towards the Stratos due to the amount of storage and although it’s a touring kayak it appears to be quite manoeuverable, fun and suitable for beginners to advanced paddlers. I’ve watched a few gnarly videos on YouTube though, which make me wonder if I’ll be able to handle it in rough, coastal water. I’m generally attracted to these Dagger boats because they seem to be well built, customisable and most reviews I’ve read say they are comfortable. But I’m open to suggestions. Unfortunately there is only one Dagger dealer in my State who is willing to allow me a demo paddle of either of those boats (which will be on a lake). I’ve lost contact with most of my paddling buddies so there is nobody I know who has these kayaks and there are none available second hand within reasonable driving distance. I’ve contemplated joining a club and probably will do in the future, but I’m reluctant to pay the membership fees now on the off chance a member has one of the boats I want to try. So it looks like I’ll be buying new on the basis of a flat water demo.

Questions:

Should I discount the WW-touring crossover kayaks?

Are there any crossover kayaks that have more than one storage hatch?

Will the Dagger Katana with skeg down track better than my Dancer?

Are the paddling skills required for sea kayaking vastly different to those I likely already have?

Does the paddler in sea kayaks generally sit lower in the water than they would in an old Perception Dancer?

Am I unwise to contemplate taking a crossover kayak like a Katana offshore (up to 1 NM) along the coast in less than ideal weather, i.e. choppy, a bit of swell, windy with driving rain, given my skills and experience?

Will the Stratos be stable enough to avoid constant capsize whilst still allowing me to have a bit of fun on some waves (nothing amazingly huge)?

What other boats should I be considering?

Thanks very much for your time :blush:

With that kind of time in one of the best boats ever made, the Dancer, the skills area should come quickly.

There are big diffs in open water but they could be seen as an extension of what you learned to handle in WW. Weather, and the effects of fetch, become a primary consideration because if things come up fast you can easily be caught out far enough from shore that you cannot beat the weather in. So you need to acquire a fairly conservative respect for weather and shoot under the mark in terms of what conditions you can handle. Because if you do get caught in it, you could be a while fighting it to get in. And nobody’s skills are improved by tiredness.

Paddling too close to shore is not really an option if you are trying to get from point A to point B because you spend all your time countering waves. You need to be beyond the major breaks to make progress. Which also means that you need to learn how to come in thru surf, which is not exactly the same as WW though much translates.

How low you sit in the water depends on the boat. There is a huge range of sea kayaks. I frequently see WW folks get into a too-big sea kayak because they think all sea kayaks are barges. They are not - there are low decked, high decked, highly maneuverable, tracky and everything inbetween.

My biggest concern about crossover boats would be your statement that you want to do 1 to 3 day trips. A crossover is likely to be quite slow compared to a sea kayak that has a hull tuned in the moderate range between playfulness and tracking - one with moderate rocker. And there are other features of sea kayaks that are NOT optional if you are paddling solo further than swimming distance from shore, like static deck lines and two bulkheads for flotation.

Unlike WW boats, for sea kayaking you should expect to learn to re-enter your boat from being in the water. You will be further than swimming distance from a shoreline and even the best roll can have a bad day. If you have a boat with deck lines (you need to hold on to it in potentially nasty conditions) and a relatively low deck, and practice a couple of different ways of doing it, this can usually be handled. But in a boat without deck lines front and back, and the higher deck that is typical in many crossovers, it could easily be impossible to get yourself out of the water and home safe.

So yes, self-rescue skills beyond the roll come up way up the curve compared to WW habits.

I think you have great background to make this switch. But I would suggest a well fitted sea kayak, both in terms of features and so that you can have a boat you are likely to enjoy as well as you have the Dancer withing its intended use.

And by the way, a properly fitting sea kayak is NOT harder to roll just because it is longer. WW folks sometimes have quite odd ideas about this. My Romany rolls more easily than my Innazone, the Nordlow even not well fitted out for me rolls as easily as my Piedra. It is the shape of the hull and the fit, the length is not all that important because the ends of the boat will come along with the middle part that you are sitting in.

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I think you would be happiest in an ocean play boat - like the mentioned Stratos, P & H Hammer or Volan, Jackson Journey or Karma RG. A ww crossover - Dagger Katana, Wavesport Ethos, Jackson Traverse, Liquidlogic XP, etc - will be way too slow for multiday trips on saltwater. My two cents is to keep the length between 11 and 14 ft if you also want to use the boat in ww. Otherwise, a Delphin might be a good choice.

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Ditto what Celia wrote.

As far as your the Stratos and Katana comparison, I have a Stratos 14.5L and LiquidLogic Remix10 (only because I could not find a used Katana 9.7 which I have paddled in surf for a few days). The Stratos is a really nice, shorter sea kayak that I will gladly take on a multi-days of 20 mile paddling coastal adventure. Throw in some surfing for fun too. I am also comfortable in some WW up to Class 2 in the Stratos. I would not want a 14 ft kayak in greater than Class 2, but that is due to my very limited WW skills.

The Katana 9.7 was fun in surf (as my Remix is on flowing rivers and surf) but I cannot imagine covering lots of mileage in a multi-day trip coastal sea kayaking adventure in that hull. As one who paddles mostly longer distances in sea kayaks, I would not be concerned if someone showed up to paddle in a Stratos. I would not accept guiding of someone who arrived with a Katana for a multi-day coastal trip if we had legs longer than about 5 miles per day or if we had an open water crossing. The Katana is not built for open water rescues which impacts the safety of the individual and the entire group.

Basically, the two kayaks are for different purposes. They “can” do a little of what the other does, but they do not do it well.

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@Celia
how far off shore are you travelling ? or do you mean unlike white water you are further from a get out point ?
i paddle 20 miles and most of the time i am less than 2 hundred yards off the coast. you read the conditions some parts from out crop to out crop maybe more but she wants to do a 3 day paddle not a race, so hugging the coast is fine.

as for cross overs ? yes a sea kayak is faster but depends on how far kelisea wants to travel daily ? so speed may not be a problem ?
@Kelisea you can get shorter sea kayaks :wink: for the budget you have you will get a nice low volume sea kayak. i have a shoreline fuego which is 15’ 11" and fits on my car nice :wink: i’m same size as you :slight_smile:have a look on gumtree there are some nice bagains to be had…
example

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@onlysme4969

I could name islands in the bay where I go where being 200 ft to the southern shore line at low tide on a day where the wind has come up is a very bad idea because of the ledges. And worse trying to cross a spot where a river empties into the bay. I try to avoid this but have nonetheless bounced thru that spot with steep close waves solidly over my head when I missed the timing.

I can name the same for islands in other bays in Maine, where 300 feet from the shoreline at low tide has you alternately dodging car sized rocks or sitting on the sand waiting for a wave to come in and get you floating. Between the car sized rocks. My husband and I tested our first fiberglass sea kayaks in exactly that situation in a pea soup fog that the outfitter said would lift. Famous last words.

I don’t go far against my younger paddles. But the nearest islands I want to paddle around are a mile away from my launch point, the more fun ones that I still do when I have a lot of head room on the weather are further. Granted the nearest ones are less than that distance from the southernmost point of the mainland - it is a very irregular coast.

But one that makes a great lunch stop has a 2 mile open crossing between it and the nearest other island that is in my path of travel.

You also said something with which I would disagree anyway. On the ocean is on the ocean as far as I am concerned, being within 300 feet of the shoreline IMO does not relieve anyone of the duty to be able to re-enter from the water. Lest wind come up that is blowing you away from land and is near impossible to counter. I have been in wind that we measured at 29 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Really, really bad judgement that day, yes.

We got lucky and the wind was blowing the raft of two of us supporting the swimmer (other paddler got their boat) towards the opposite shore. So our major problem ended up being finding a ride back to our cars. But we would have been seriously bad shape if the wind had switched 45 degrees to the north.

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like i said read the conditions :wink:
i am in the uk on the English channel side
An island that is surrounded by different water and weather conditions… English channel, the irish sea, the bristol channel, the North atlantic ocean, the north sea the Celtic sea,
the highest i have paddled is force 6 - 7
Kelisea is in australia so dependind were she will be paddling depends on the conditions…

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here is the 360 view of where i live

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@onlysme4969

I already looked, Plymouth on the southern coast.
I do not doubt that you have to handle tides and conditions.

That still does not mean that my experience is being able to stay that distance from shore. I just looked at the map of Australia and it appears that, depending on where the OPer is there are some very tempting trips available to islands.

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we are sheltered from most winds in here but still have to plan some trips for weather conditions ? a lot of club rec paddles get cancled because of weather :frowning:
even in here it is open to change, and more so when out of the sheltered water due to the change in tidal flows because out into the elements of the English channel…
@Kelisea where abouts in aus are you planning to paddle ?
and don’t forget the pics from the trip :wink: :slight_smile:
another place to look
https://used-kayaks.com/australia

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Crossover boats are trying to bring aspects of 2 types of boats (recreational, touring, or white water) into 1 do-it-all boat, and generally don’t do any well.

Because you have a white water boat already, I would lean toward getting a playful touring boat. With decent (not talking expert) skills, these could be taken on easier class II rivers, but really if you were on the river you would take your Dancer.

Dagger Stratos 14.5S would be a good option.

Some other 15’ and less kayaks to consider, if you can find:
Dagger Stratos 12.5S - 12.’ version of Stratos, has whitewater bulkeads, which you may prefer coming from WW background
P&H Hammer - one of the best surfing kayaks in this class, but beaslty heavy
Dagger Alchemy - this is what the Stratos replaced, so likely only available used. The sizing is different than the Stratos such that you could probably fit either the S or L versions
Jackson Journey - either 13.5 or 14 would fit
P&H Delphin 150 - heavy boat, surfs well.
I have heard a lot of good about the P&H Virgo, but don’t really fit in it to try it myself
Valley Gemini RM - probably the least playful/maneuverable of all of these, but great smaller person sea plastic kayak.

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Hi Celia, thank you so much for your detailed advice. You have reinforced my gut feeling that I should get a sea kayak and not a crossover, for all the reasons you mention. Some I had not even considered so I have learned a lot from your reply. Thank you again!

I live in central Victoria, the State down at the South-Eastern end of Australia, right above the island of Tasmania. The coastal areas I will be paddling are Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Corio Bay and Barwon Heads. Around the Mornington Peninsula. The ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula (Bass Strait) has pretty dangerous conditions in many areas, even in fine weather. I will be building myself up to that very, very slowly and will keep to the safer areas, as I am conservative in nature. It is also habitat for Great Whites which make me quite nervous. I have had encounters with aggressive wildlife in the Dancer in the past and do not wish to be on the menu. Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory, Lakes Entrance and Cape Liptrap are other areas I am keen to explore by kayak, plus Mallacoota and up the far South coast of New South Wales (e.g. Eden and Pambula) where I surfed in my kayak with playful dolphins alongside me - very memorable. Looking forward to putting my car on the overnight ferry to Tasmania again, to re-visit the beautiful areas I have explored in the Dancer (such as Freycinet Peninsula, Tasman Peninsula) but felt too limited to go as far as I wanted.

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Thank you for your advice @Ben, and for suggesting some other models of kayak for me to consider. I am going to have fun researching them. Agree with the general consensus that a sea kayak would be more suitable than a crossover.

@kayakhank glad to meet someone who has a Stratos. I might have some more specific questions for you about it soon, if that’s ok.

@onlysme4969 thanks for the links; I’ll peruse accordingly :grin: I’ll also look up the fuego which I had not heard of yet. I don’t have a speed in mind or a firm idea of how far I want to travel daily on my overnight trips. I expect I will be wanting to explore a bit around the rocky outcrops when it is safe to do so (weather/my skills) on some trips and on others I will be wanting to get from A to B fairly expediently. In my reply to Celia I mentioned the places I will be paddling. You live in a very pretty area, lucky you to be on the coast.

@Peter-CA thanks for your ideas on other boats. I will look them all up!

I am so glad I have found this group, thank you so much for your patience with me and I will no doubt have some pretty dumb questions coming up :laughing:

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Hands dow get the Stratos. I have the Alchemy (dagger doesn’t make anymore but replaced with the Stratos) and she is a dream in most water. Up clad 2 rivers, easy to handle and great for surfing. WS secondary is to rigid for surfing (i tried and failed miserably) and ton of storage. I used the Achemy in Lake Ontario in open water crossing. It was perfect and handled 6’ swells easily.

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@Hetzlerm1 thanks for your comments and I am glad you like the Alchemy. Sorry if this is a silly question, but what does “WS” stand for please?

Wilderness Systems

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@Celia - thank you :hugs:

@Kelisea, quite a few of my friends have the Seabird sea kayaks. One friend owns three of them! They are well known in Aus and would be easy to sell again if it doesn’t suit you.

If you are wanting to go touring, possibly overnighters, and cover serious distances with ease, then the sea kayak is the way to go.

I’m an Aussie, grew up in Tassie so I know what you’re saying about the paddling there. Now I live up in FNQ with the Coral Sea and the Family Group of islands as my paddling playground. Dunk Island is a lazy 40 minute paddle offshore!

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@kimbo1 thanks for the tip; I’ll research Seabirds. Lucky you to be living up there in FNQ!


I have paddled in Vic as well!

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