disappointed in new kayak

I just bought a used kayak for paddling on the Great Miami river. I took it out for a test run yesterday and was gravely disappointed! I couldn’t get it to track straight at all. Once the bow started to veer to the left or right…even the slightest amount, it would turn sideways. I would concentrate my paddling on the side that should correct it, to no avail. I would have to back paddle on the opposite side, stopping all forward movement before it would start to straighten out. then it would typically continue past straight and start to turn sideways in the opposite direction. I tried different techniques to no avail. I spent the entire journey fighting the kayak. It is 14.5 feet long and about 2 feet wide. At first I thought it was the slow moving current I was paddling against, and would be easy coming downstream. Not the case. I fought it all the way back too. I did have reasonable luck paddling backwards, it stayed straighter and I could cover more distance easier going backwards than forwards. It has fiberglass repair to the bow that needs to be sanded smooth…but looks even and reasonably smooth. I wouldn’t think that such minor imperfections would have such a pronounced effect. It also seems top heave. It takes a little bit of work to keep from tipping it over. I capsized it in the first 3 minutes on the water. Then 3 more tines while out for about 5 hours. I have never capsized a canoe. This has really put a bad taste in my mouth for kayaks. I wanted a canoe, and now really wished I had waited and spent more money for a canoe. I took pictures of it, but I haven’t seen any pictures yet on this forum. Any wisdom will be appreciated!

What make and model is it?

disappointed in new kayak
I don’t know. It has a number on the side, embossed into the fiberglass, but hard to read…painted over. No name brand that I can find. Can the number help identify it? It also has a stencil painted of a livery in Milford, Ohio with a phone# that I could call and maybe find out.

With all due respect…

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 12:33 AM EST –

You can't rue the purchase and condemn the sport if you purchased a used boat that you don't even know the make of. If someone bought a car (without a test drive) without knowing the make or model you'd wonder what they were thinking. Same thing here! I've tried out at least a dozen boats now and still am not sure what I'm looking for when I finally make a purchase. Don't suppose you can return it? Or maybe you can turn around and sell it for something else. I suggest taking boats out for tests at outfitters or rental places before you buy.

I actually did make that mistake earlier this year. Bought a used boat for cheap having only researched it online. It's fine and fortunately I didn't pay much, but now I see the error of my ways. I'll hang on to it as a spare but now I know to be MUCH more careful moving forward.

Um yeah
You can’t blame all kayaks if you didn’t even confirm that what you got was a boat designed to match your needs. There are kayaks that are supposed to very turny, because that is a good feature for the water they were intended to be used in. No way to tell if you got a crappy kayak, or something just not designed for your prupose.

All kayaks are not equal.

Getting the boat to track
As an Instructor I have learned that not all boats track the same. The most frequent causes of boats not tracking straight are human error,

1 Make sure you are sitting in the center of the boat. Sitting just a little to one side will cause the boat to turn.

2 Make sure your paddle strokes are the same on each side, both in length of the stroke and distance the paddle blade is from the side of the boat.

3 Make sure the boat is trimmed correctly to prevent weather cocking.

Finally the best way to get the boat go straight is seat time in the boat learning correction strokes and when the boat is wanting to veer off and making the correction stroke prior to the veering.

You said that the boat had some sort
of repair in the bow.

If for some reason your boat is bow heavy, that would cause exactly what you are describing, and if you could keep it going straight when paddling backwards, that almost confirms it.

I hope you didn’t buy a pig in a poke!

Before condemning kayaking, you should go to a livery and rent a boat and see if it is in fact the boat, or you.

Jack L

Yes the # might identify manufacturer
And along the same line of thinking as trim, perhaps you are not heavy enough for the boat? Try putting a couple jugs of water in the stern compartment and push them all the way back to fight weather cocking. If you are a light person and it’s a large boat put a couple jugs in both ends and see what happens.

Brand new to kayaking

Used boat of unknown type or origin


Repaired, maybe


and you are having trouble…

Whoda thunk it.

You need to start out at least with a idea of what you need and what you are buying. Doesnt matter if it is a kayak, a motorcycle, or a hammer. Using a light ball peen for framing will turn you off of carpenty quick.


Also …
How long is the paddle you are using. If it is quite long and you are doing low angle paddling the bow is going to swing with every stroke. Make sure your back, butt, knees and feet are making even contact with the boat and watch a few videos on proper “Forward Stroke” for kayaks on youtube.

What does the hull of the kayak look like is it rounded or does it have defined surfaces that meet at angles? Does the boat have a lot of rocker (is the bottom of the boat curved so the ends are higher than the the middle?) If so the boat will want to turn with each stroke.

River currents
It could be something as simple as river currents

I did the same thing…
…but with a mail order bride :frowning:

least you got country of origin.

now for the big question:
how much did you pay for it?

New camera
My new camera takes crappy pics like my old one – very disappointed that it doesn’t select better things to take pictures of. :slight_smile:

What you describe is classic for a…

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 6:01 PM EST –

... boat that is heavy in the bow end and light in the stern (including the part about it tracking better in reverse). Other boat-shape attributes will affect how squirrely the boat gets when unbalanced like that, so some will be more trim-sensitive than others. I have no guesses as to why the boat would be bow-heavy, but I agree with the person who said start by adding weight behind you, and see if that changes things.

This wouldn't by chance be a tandem kayak, would it? Does it look like there might originally have been room for two paddlers? If so, I bet the seating position you are using is too far forward (okay, so I came up with ONE guess as to the reason the boat could be bow-heavy).

Bow heavy…
Perhaps there’s an overweight Grey Thing in there.

otoliths ?
are your otoliths healthy ?

My skills are intermediate but then I paddle thru tidal rips.

However, after a layoff, driving long distances…into the water sometimes the balance for paddling is out of whack. Hull feels not gliding thru water but gliding on the keel along a cable.

An hour, then my otoliths readjust.

Renting another hull would pin down the problem.

?! maybe include with stretching exercises before launch some balance activity ?

could it be you?
The good news is that it could be you - your balancing, your technique, etc. If that is the case, you can eventually get to know your kayak better and get used to it and fall in love with it.

Put it empty onto a flat water area on a windless day. see if it stands correct in the water with no list. Give it a straight push and see if it slides straight or turns on its own. Try it in different directions to make sure there is no wind or current influence.

If you find the boat to be true, then just paddle and paddle, and learn more about how to ride it. Often, the most finicky boats at first become the best of craft once you get to know it.