Explain why I cant use my rec yak..

Now I’m getting kinda confused. I took a WW class this past weekend. I asked why I couldnt just use my America 13.5 for runnig class II water like Perceptions website says. From what I understood it comes down to the risk of being pinned. I’m now looking into buying a ww boat simply to run the rapids and NOT for playing. Since I’m a big guy 6’5" 300#'s I’m thinking a SOT would be my best bet. Some people have suggested the WS Tarpon as a good SOT to run ww with. I looked at the Tarpons design and it looks like Pungo without a deck. So my question is this. If people are saying the Tarpon is good for WW whay isnt my America 13.5?? Is it because I can just fall off of the SOT rather than dump and have to “wet exit” the SINK? I would like to let you know that enough paddlers have told me not to do ww with my rec boat but most of them cant tell me why? I have no plans to run class II with my America because of this. There’s gotta be some truth to what everyone is telling me.

WW kayaks are built with inside supports to keep them from caving in and trapping your legs if they get pinned. Your America could fold up and hold you if it got “wrapped” on an obstacle.

So it’s not so much…
the hull design as it is the caving factor? That makes sense to me. If I were to get the Tarpon It wouldnt cave on me but I still could get pinned none the less.

Let’s just
relax a little bit here.

  1. An America has a large cockpit. That much surface area could implode with a good sized wave coming over it.
  2. Generally Rec boats don’t have pillars inside to keep the cockpit from collapsing on you.
  3. A SOT has the potential to be more structurely sound because of its unibody construction.

Define your class II, please.
Here in the lower penninsula of Michigan, our biggest class II is pretty boney or the water volume is normally low (ie: waist deep). PA’s got some good high volume rivers, and I can see class II there being a little more risky if you swamp. That said, I think you’re more likely to be ejected from a rec boat than held into one. Trust your gut, and ask yourself if you’d take a non-WW canoe through it.


SOT "unibody"
Yes, because the deck surface and hull are continuous with no opening for the cockpit, SOTs are highly resistant to wrapping even without internal supports.

Here is why.
Even class II water has its dangers and minimizing or avoiding that risk is just common sense. Your boat is much less maneuverable than a specialized WW boat. That means you are less able to avoid obstacles (like a pinning rock), less able to catch eddies (important for controlling your speed through a rapid and hence avoiding problems), and unlikely to be able brace effectively unless you do a large scale job of outfitting that big cockpit. All of this means as well that you are more likely to wet exit and swim (always dangerous in any rapid), and more likely to strike your head because you are more likely to tip over. Finally, self rescue with that kind of boat filled with water is enormously difficult.

class II defined.
3-5’ waves with a few boulders thrown in for good measure. when I dumped yeaterday the water was anywhere from 2’ to over 6’ deep. in the class II that I was in.

That’s the answer I was looking for.
I’m smart enough to realize that when I ton of experienced paddlers tell me “not” or “you shouldnt” do something theres a good reason behind it. I wasnt challenging their judgment I just wanted to know their reasoning. Thanks again.

I think it
would be difficult to get pinned in a America. Thay have rather large cockpits. A few rivers I paddle are rated class II. I do so in a rec. boat. I can see the boat getting swamped real easy though, if ya do flip.

There are a lot of different Class II’s and III’s. I’ve been down a couple of class III’s that were big water, but nothing that might get you pinned (Mulberry River near Birmingham, AL). As a matter of fact, I took my Dagger Cortez 16.5 down it, it was a blast. Dumped once, drove right through the one Class III (called 5-0) with no problems, 'cept I thought I was going swimming for sure. I asked the outfitter up on the Hiwassee about the Class III there. He said no problem, if you have to swim, you’ll be fine. As a matter of fact, some folks get out after paddling through it and walk back up and swim it for fun.

A suggestion
If you like your America for paddling other than whitewater, keep it, and get a used old-school WW kayak. You can get them real cheap.

Something like a Perception Pirouette, Prijon Hurricane, or a Dagger RPM would be fun in rapids & not set you back a lot of $$$. They’re also easy to roll, which helps if you want to learn it (Also makes paddling ww MUCH safer).

Just a thought.


put in a pillar
I would suggest that you form and glue in a foam pillar to prevent the deck from collapsing on your legs. Long ago kayaks didn’t come with pillars and every one had to outfit their own or find someone to do it for them.

the america has a foam pillar.
I always wondered what that was for. :slight_smile:

Dont worry…
I like my America plenty. I LOVE flat water and lakes. I simply want to add to my fleet and want the right tool for the job.

It would be easier.
Its length means it can be easily pinned between two rocks. If you mean it would be hard to collapse it, that is hard to say. I personally would want some reliable data before I took that chance. Getting pinned on one rock or two always carries a drowning potential. The boat rotates to upside down and stays next to the rock(s. In the one-rock case the current on each side tends to fold the boat in half and trap the paddler inside. In the two-rock case there is not the same danger of folding the boat but it will be impossible to get off the rocks without getting out of the boat while it is upside down with current right where you are.

5’ waves on a class II?
Well, regardless, it sounds like you’re thinking in the right direction; an old school river runner would be a good, cheap way to go. I don’t think I’d want to take my wife’s America on that water.

5-0 on the Mulberry is not class III
The river is rated I-II by American Witewater and 5-0 is clearly only a class II rapid.

Ok…let an America owner try and answer
Let’s go back to a class II run down a calmer stretch of cattaragus creek in western n.y. in june of 2002.

Hit a ‘hole’ spray skirt popped, america immediately did it’s best impression of the titanic and I wound up shoulder to boulder smashing into something the size of a stove…“Could quite possibly be the ‘why’ behind the shoulder problmes sidelining me this season”.

Americas are…too big, too slow, and too devoid of bulkheads to make them viable for fast water with twists and turns…

Sure, there’s probably more than a few here who’ll disagree…but those few have the prerequisite skills required to get this boat to ‘do something’…

That said: I still have my america…I find it a great creek boat and have no qualms about doing class I or very mild class II or some 2’ chop with the skirt on.


very good point McYak
My 9’ er does ok because its a shorter boat. I don’t really play in the rapids either, just shoot down em. If I were to try and play in em I think my skeg and track strips would fight me hard against the current. lyons42, the foam is flotation to keep the boat from going all the way to the bottom.