Epic v7 as first boat ever?

Hello again folks. I’m still doing a lot of research getting ready to purchase kayaks for my wife and myself. We started out looking at mirage drive hobies but quickly have migrated into exploring paddle boats. I really like the price of the epic v7. It looks like a fast boat that would be really fun in our bay. We really want to be able to work our way up to long day trips covering as much as 14 miles but I’m not sure if that would be comfortable in a surf ski. At least thus one has a storage compartment. I understand the learning curve may be steeper jumping right into the surf ski but many reviews say the epic v7 is as stable as you can get. So what do you think about total beginners starting out with v7’s? I can get two for about 600 more dollars than a solo mirage drive! Below I’m going to list some really newbieish questions that I hope can clear up some info I need.

The sit on top design of the v7 would be easier to remount than a sit inside kayak in the event of a capsize correct?

How comfortable will we be in the surf ski on a full day tour? Are they really designed for long distance paddling?

I’ve seen reviews about the soft hatch cover failing and becoming flooded. Forgive my ignorance but how big a issue is this? If the hatch floods can the boat sink? I know thats probably a dumb question to you but like I said, we are really green when it comes to this stuff.

I understand that a pair of epic v7’s probably aren’t ideal for starting out but I would sacrifice having a steeper learning curve to have more fun in the long run. We enjoy the challenge of learning a new hobby. Thanks for any advice over my last few threads. I wish my Ocd would just let me decide already!


– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 6:39 AM EST –

Tell us more about yourselves. Active, fit, age?

You have picked boats far apart in design. I would lean toward the Epic just because the Hobie is a barge.

Thinking back.. I sure would have hoped someone talked me out of the Hobie as my first choice if I was interested in touring.

I’m 220lbs, 5’11. Decent fitness, I’m a boilermaker, 12 hours a day 7 days a week when on the job. So I’m fairly active. Wife is 125 lbs. We are both mid 30s.

On your questions

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 7:50 AM EST –

"The sit on top design of the v7 would be easier to remount than a sit inside kayak in the event of a capsize correct?"

No - a sit inside sea kayak with perimeter rigging may be easier to remount from the water than a surf ski, especially for smaller women due to where their weight lies (lower than guys) and basic things like arm length. The rigging gives you something to hang only. And a regular sea kayak will tend to be a bit more stable while you are getting yourself settled thus reducing the likelihood of recapsizing.

Now, that said, if it is two of you it might make a difference. I don't know if the advantage would be the same as with a sit inside - where one paddler can help stabilize the boat while the other gets back in. If there is something for the "helper" paddler (or in the first re-entry maybe swimmer) to be able to hang onto, it could matter a lot. But that is generally perimeter rigging and surf skis don't have it.

This is the kind of thing that you simply have to get into the water and try out.

"How comfortable will we be in the surf ski on a full day tour? Are they really designed for long distance paddling?"

Surf skis are used over longer distances, more often than not by people who may race and are coming into it with some solid work on their paddling. That can include a lot of core strength. Yeah they can do it - whether you would find them comfortable over the distances you are talking about is hard to answer given you are talking as a newbie.

You can't be as inattentive to balance if you stop to stretch your back out and do something like check a chart as in a sit inside, because surf skis gain their greatest stability when they are up to speed. But for someone with good balance that should not be a big deal in calm conditions.

"I've seen reviews about the soft hatch cover failing and becoming flooded. Forgive my ignorance but how big a issue is this? If the hatch floods can the boat sink? I know thats probably a dumb question to you but like I said, we are really green when it comes to this stuff."

A boat filled with too much water can become extremely unstable. One of the more prudent exercises for a sea kayaker is to learn to paddle with at least a flooded cockpit, in case they have to paddle out of a situation with something like a failed skirt. That is why the bulkheads at each end. I don't know the Epic well enough to be able to say whether the amount of water that could get in would have a major or a negligible effect on its stability. It is worth confirming how much water could get into it in terms of weight. Maybe on the negligible side.

I think the Epics at that price would be a good deal for two more aggressive newbies to get onto the water. My concern is that you are spending all your efforts worrying about speed and distance rather than the skills required to do that safely. That will bite you in the ass, salt water has a way of doing that.

Very informative thanks.
Seems that with every post here I go in a different direction on what I think we need. I guess that’s from just not know enough about the hobby, but I’m learning with every new thread. What sea kayaks would you recommend in the same or lower price range as the epic v7?

Difficult probably
Though it is worth asking why those two Epics are up for sale so cheaply. Were they more boat than the purchasers felt comfortable with once they got them on the water? Or are they people who are aging out of their intended us? You might want to ask.

The best way to reduce the price would be to go with plastic sea kayaks used. You would take a significantly larger boat in terms of weight capacity than your wife, also she can be very stable in a narrow one that would have you swimming before you made it 20 feet. I suspect the price would come in more like $1000 for both boats.

Unfortunately it seems that you are not in the best spot to find loads of used proper sea kayaks. I really recommend that you go to the outfitter recommended above, make it a weekend getaway and see what they have in the way of demos or used boats for sale. And get into some. The worst that happens is you find something you want to go home and hunt for on Craig’s list. First boats are just that, no need to get too wedded to them.

echo everything Celia posted

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 9:26 AM EST –

I demoed a V7 last summer and found it pretty stable, but I've been paddling a sea kayak for years. Definitely more tender than my sea kayak. It seemed relatively easy to remount ONCE you knew how to do so. I could see dismounting and remounting to take breaks on longer trips if the water were calm (and a reasonable temperature). It was noticeably faster and took less effort to maintain a higher speed than my kayak.
I'd ask why they're so cheap. I've heard that the V7 is not selling well so that could be it. The hatch made me wonder as well but I haven't noticed an epidemic of complaints. Someone really should make a custom thicker neo hatch for that boat, maybe it'll happen.
But it'll require some commitment on your part to climb the learning curve. If you're not apprehensive about that and go about it safely I think you'd be much happier than in the Hobie.

Apples and oranges
To some extent, comparing a surfski to a touring kayak is somewhat of a non sequitur. Oh yeah, the ski will get you on the water and would be a kick once you got the hang of it, but you really need to try before you buy.

To start with, 14 miles is not a long cruise for a good touring sea kayak–once you get used to the boat and get in paddling condition. Resolve yourself to the proposition that becoming a kayaker is a multistep process and it happens over a period of time. Along the way, you will probably change your mind about what is important for you about the sport.

There will come a time when you will look back and wonder what your life would have been if you hadn’t discovered paddling. It can be a very big deal, so don’t be afraid to let it consume you.

My suggestion is to think sea kayaks for touring and surf skis for playing.

My V7 experience.
Paddled a V7 for 10+ miles on Lake Huron last summer. I found it very stable and easy to paddle - and I’m essentially a beginner paddler.

It’s a wet ride compared to my SINK. The bailer in the cockpit works nicely. While I didn’t use the hatch, when I examined the boat I thought the cover was really flimsy - it came off too easily while we were still on the beach. Epic needs to fix that.

Initially I loved the seat because it’s slippery and easy to rotate. After ten miles, my butt was numb. I think it’s a great boat for fitness paddling and would buy one if I could find one used and at a reasonable price. I would do something about the seat, though.

I wouldn’t use it as a touring boat because it is wet, there are no deck/parameter lines, I don’t like rudders, and it’s not a boat you can relax in should you want to stop for a snack or lunch. Sometimes I like to sit back and hang my feet off the sides while munching. Can’t do that in the V7 but you sure can go fast in it.

Different kinds of beginners
You have seat time Rookie, considerable, even if you can’t do some of the fancy stuff. OPer and wife are starting from zero.

My very limited surfski experience.
I’ve only taken a more advanced surfski for a spin for a few miles, and a touring oriented surfski - the Epic V6 - I did a quick surf demo.

The difficulty getting in would refer to someone having problems scooting themselves up over the boat from the water. I’m in pretty good shape at 44 years old, and I’m fortunate to have no problems with that thus far. Given that ability, it is decidedly easier to remount and go in a surfski. In the more racing performance oriented ski, it was really bringing my legs up into the boat where it became much more unstable. With my legs still dangling in the water to the sides, I was able to stay upright without so much attention. When I spilled out a few times, it really went without consideration to swim myself over the seating position, straddle the boat, and sit up with my legs still in the water. To be fair, I should say that I do a fair job keeping myself upright in my sea kayaks in waves, so I didn’t experience this as a beginner.

In the Epic V6, when the whitewater of a surf wave would pull the boat out from under me as I tried to turn back over the wave, due to nothing there to strap yourself to the boat, I remember just quickly hopping back on and going. Much, much easier than dealing with a sit-in with a flooded cockpit. Simply no comparison. And I’m a sea kayak guy.

I did an ocean race on a small craft advisory day with 6’ seas. As can be the case in races, you hear the gun and start racing, instead of reading the waves. So a number of us got spanked on our first attempt out through the surf. I remember being envious watching the surf ski guys hop up and continue paddling, while I dealt with washing in to shore with my kayak to empty the flooded cockpit so that I could restart.

So your logic on the remount and go for a surfski is mostly sound. But there is certainly validity to the potential difficulties brought up above.

The owner of that V6 on a different day, towards the end of a long tiring day of paddling in the waves, needed help. An able-bodied person, he was just tired out when he overturned in the inlet waves, and appeared to be just floating next to it. So I yelled to him to ask if he needed help. He accepted. Another friend was closer, and the swimmer was able to reach over his V6 and grab the perimeter lines on the sea kayak to help pull himself up.

I helped a woman another time when she capsized on a windy, choppy day in the Cape Fear River, and couldn’t get herself back onto her sit-on-top.

Granted, these would both have been assisted rescue situations in sit-ins for the same reasons. But deck lines can really help you not slip in the process of trying to mount the boat in a self rescue.

As mentioned above, the best you can do is give it a try. So think about this:

I hold the kayak away with arms extended as I swim my body and legs to the surface - swimming first.

Don’t skip “swim first”. Everyone just wants back into their boat, and they start straining their attempt because in their haste, they skip swimming their body and legs to the surface. Train yourself from the start that swimming comes first, always. I think it also helps your mental state. You change your mindframe to that of an in-control swimmer, you are now meaning to swim, instead of the mindframe of a capsize victim. It goes a long way towards relaxing, which in turn, saves tons of energy.

Next, I get my head right up to the kayak, extend my arms across the boat so that I’ll hook the other side of the kayak with my fingers, or a deck line on the opposite side, and lunge forward, pull my hands and elbows down, and a combination of pushing my body up and over the kayak, and pushing the kayak down and underneath of me. I think it’s more helpful to think about bringing your arms and elbows straight down underneath of you - pushing the kayak under you. You need to give attention to keeping the boat level, as not to be trying to slide onto a hull that’s tilted upwards. Keep it level as you push it underneath of you.

This next thing sounds, feels, and looks silly, but doing it is 100 times more useful than just thinking about it. If you were to lay on the floor on your stomach right now, you can experience that keeping your arms together straight out, and then keeping your arms together as you bring them down underneath of you, you probably have a lot of strength, you definitely have the most extension, and the most leverage doing it that way. If you can bring your arms underneath of you on the floor this way, you should be able to do it holding onto a boat in the water this way. Remember that your life jacket will have to clear the edge of the boat that you’re pushing underneath of you. People commonly get caught up on their life jacket. You want to push that boat under/lift your body over, all the way under your pelvis so that you’re balanced over it, in one motion. I find that if I don’t succeed in one motion, it takes less energy for me to fully dismount and try again than it does to wrestle with a state of unbalance and a weaker position to continue to try to adjust onto it.

So that initiates your position to continue your self rescue. I’m not going to say the rest is easy. But this is the part folks have referred to in terms of difficulty self rescuing without deck lines. This is that first step. So all you can do is just get out, and see if you can do it.

Exposure is hugely different between sit-on-tops and sit-ins. In a sit-in, I have a waterproof skirt tunnel starting just below my chest, and I’m pretty protected from wind/weather all the way down. You are considerably more exposed to the elements sitting on top - a cold rain, wind, wave, splash - on a sit-on-top. It’s not being secured within the boat, eliminating a lot of boat control, and the added exposure, that have kept me favoring sit-in sea kayaks overall. But I see advantages to both.

it’s a good beginner boat
The lack of back support means you will develop a stronger core. Leaning on a back band while paddling is terrible form anyway. The caveat being it will take some fitness to paddle all day though 14 miles in a surfski doesn’t take that long. a ski cruises at 6-7 mph.

Your legs will obviously be wet so in cold water you need neoprene. 3mm neoprene pants or 1.5mm NRS hydroskin are the standard in the NW with 50F water.

Beginner surfskis are popular beginner boats in other parts of the world. We paddle year round in Seattle with winter temps in the 40’s and water from 48-55F.

As far as safety after a capsize. If you work at it you can remount in under 30 seconds. The Sidesaddle remount is super easy to learn. Look at Epics youtube channel. I know 80 year olds with replacement hips and knees who paddle skis regularly .

You need to spend some time on the water
Try to find a dealer or outfitter who gives paddling lessons and has a wide variety of kayaks to try out.

At this point you have very little idea of the real world of paddling.

I would suggest for your first year you take a few classes and do some guided tours with outfitters and get a feel for what you like and don’t like, then worry about investing in two boats. Also I would suggest buying your first boats used, and you and your wife will probably end up with very different boats given your size differences.

Paddling a surf ski is a gas but it’s a very dedicated kind of intensive paddling. Give it a try before you spring for two skis.

Cool thread
I’d like to try a V7 myself. As for your question about which poly sea kayaks fit you and your wife everyone will have an opinion depending upon your intended use. I’ll start those suggestions with a Wilderness Systems T170 for you and T165 for your wife if you can find them to rent.

125 lb woman in a Tempest 165?
Seems a bit large for someone that size.

Tempest doesn’t come any smaller
And as far as cockpit fit it is a good match for me at ten pounds heavier.

With others weighing in
I may have overshot the mark on difficulty re-entering a surf ski, though it appears that balance to get fully seated back up can still be an issue. Sorry about that. Though it remains that once the paddler is tired all bets are off. Have encountered even healthy fit younger guys unable to get back on a SOT without assistance once they were tired enough. Supposedly can’t-fail type boats, leading to a very funny set if pics several years ago when a 120 pound wife had to tow her husband in hanging onto a SOT - she was in an old Swifty.

But the point about the wet ride… it is a very wet ride of course and you really need to assess well whether your wife would like being that soaked. Not that kayaking is a dry sport, at all, but in a SINK with a skirt there is some sense of cover for your body.

I will say this again, to everyone

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 6:30 PM EST –

All the comments about stability and learning curve are good - but only relative. If an individual is athletically inclined and has a good sense of balance, their feedback may vary within that relativity. Yes, one still needs to develop good skills.

I was warned about my first composite kayak being tippy, but it never felt that way to me, and I was taking photos out of it on the second week. My demo paddle of the V7 was my first demo of a ski, and I was able to balance quite easily, whether still or moving. Certainly a part of that was my kayaking experience, but not all of it.

The best answer for whether a boat is stable enough is for you to try it yourself.

The 165
The reason I suggested the 165 is as Celia mentioned the outfitting. It will lock down tight enough to fit my 5’ 95lb wife comfortably and still paddle ok. The Scorpio LV I have she can’t reach the pegs on and is no where near the thigh braces. The only other small poly boat I’m aware of in North America is the Alchemy S which we haven’t tried for fit yet. Big hole in the market for the petite entry boat. I do have a Statos S sitting beside me in the living room for my wife’s friend and the thigh braces and foot pegs fit my wife well with the leg lifters up. Unfortunately it’s a lot wider than it needs to be for the truly petite. I’d love to see WS offer a Tempest 150 at 15’ 20" wide with a 10" deck, basically a hair smaller than a composite Eliza but with an Impex Mystic height deck for people under 5’6. Opinion here is that it won’t sell though, I think it would. I would understand if they increased the width to 20.5 to fit a broader market.

"I’ve seen reviews about the soft hatch cover failing and becoming flooded. " For what it’s worth, the 2016 models have two changes - a hard hatch for greater security and a plastic rudder for greater ruggedness.