Family new to Kayak's

My family is very new to kayaking and we are looking for a few kayak’s. We have a 10 year old daughter we’d like to take out with us. I will also want a kayak for fishing. I have talked with a few people on what brand/models to llok at and have received mixed messages on some. Can anyone point me in the right direction - do i go 1 tandem, 1 single. Is a tandem wasy to work as a solo (if our daughter doesn’t come)? Which are good for fishing in lakes and rivers.

thanks all!!!

As a rule Tandems do not paddle well
single. As far as recomending boats go test some out at your local dealer. There are just way too many boats that will suit your purpose. Where in Northern California are you located?

Also for family paddling, fishing
You may find you want a sit-on-top kayak,

There are models like the Hobie Oddysey that is a tandem that paddles fairly well from the middle seat solo. It’s good for families and fishing.

Goto and check out the forums and articles there.

Have you considered

– Last Updated: Jul-18-05 2:29 AM EST –

getting your daughter her own kayak. They make at least a couple of good models for kids - and they are reasonably priced. If I remember right one stood out when I was doing my own first time buyer research - I think it was called a Carolina. Maybe someone who knows more can verify, but then you could each have your own for your own needs :) There are lots of fishing Kayaks out there. Just google it or look for them on this site in the buyers guide. I liked the look of the Dirigo Fishing version. If I remember right you could put a child seat in it optional.

Look at the Loon
from Old Town. the tandem can be used easly single by moving the front seat towards the back.

it paddles fine in wind w/o a rudder. And it is more than roomy enough to fish from. Also it will be comfortable enough for you wife and you, for those romantic moon lit cruises. Shop around, you should be able to get on for a good price. The only down side is that it is on the heavy side.

Loon 138T?

– Last Updated: Jul-23-05 9:46 AM EST –

Your daughter would probably enjoy paddling her own kayak, but there are a number of reasons to consider a tandem. The Loon 138T might give you the best of both worlds.

The Loon 138 is a very nice, stable single kayak. You'll notice some very good reviews on this board. I've paddled the 138 and really liked it.

The Loon 138T is the same boat, with a smaller seat installed forward. This forward seat is too small for an adult, but it might work for you and your daughter. In the future, you could remove the forward seat when it was no longer needed.

I own a Loon 160T that I paddle solo quite often. I really love this boat, but it is close to 80 lbs. If interested, check out the reviews. And, make your first accessory purchase a kayak cart!

There is also the Twin Otter. I have no experience with that one. But after reading the reviews, I passed on it and chose the 160T.

You mention that you are new to kayaking. Others have posted that some tandems do not track well, which can really frustrate a newbie until they learn how to paddle straight. So, you might want to consider a rudder if you get a tandem. For this reason, it would be wise to try before you buy.

Local liveries often rent Loons [probably without rudders], including the 138 and 160T. Check them out.

Good luck.

BTW, you'll probably own a couple more kayaks in a few years anyway.

For Coastal Paddling
In Northern California the Loons and other rec boats are not a good idea. Check with your local dealers on the kind of boats suitable for the paddling you will be doing, take an intro to kayaking class, usually taught at dealers and rent a few boats to get a feel for how much paddling you would be doing in a tandem. IF you let folks know where you are paddling in Norcal you will get a lot of useful tips on where to go for help and shoppping.

lakes and rivers
if all your paddling is smaller lakes and rivers then go with a tandem rec boat. But if your fishing in the ocean (or an area with large waves or decent whitewater) then a rec boat wouldn’t be my first choice.

I have a Wilderness System Pamlico 145 that I primarily solo for fishing on lakes and rivers - works as well solo as a Pungo 140 or a Loon 138.

I also have an 8yo daughter that sometimes comes with me fishing and camping. Plenty of room for that.

With 2 adults it is a little tight and the performance isn’t great (too much weight). But for an adult that likes to take a kid/dog extra gear along on not too hairy water then the pamlico 145 is hard to beat.

I have also used the some of the perception tandems, dagger tandems, old town tandems, and a couple others from WS - hands down favorite was the Pamlico 145.

You’ve made a good start coming here, realizing your initial questions. And here’s a few more:

First, ask –and answer –the following questions.

-WHAT are you looking to “do” in a yak?

-WHERE will you be thinking of paddling?

-HOW WELL will you/you both/you all actually BE paddling when you first GET your boat(s)?

-What are your general LEARNING CURVES re: thinking about whether your initial boats will suffice after a few months or so.

Tandems… Well, while some do just fine in them, they’re not called “divorce boats” for nothing. The majority of tandems don’t do nearly as well as a single for a single paddler. That’s a decision you’ll need to consider well…

For newbies like you sans equipment, a kayak is not a “kayak”, it’s a PACKAGE:

…The boat(a),

…The paddle(s),

…The PFDs…

…PLUS… all that “other” other equipment depending on

…The type of boat (SOT, SINK, surf/wave ski, WW, rec)

…The function YOU want the boat to fulfill (casual/light paddling/recreational, half-day to day touring, overnight touring/maybe camping/expedition, angling…)

…The number of people you’ll USUALLY go with (single, double, more…)

…The ‘material’ of the boat (plastic, glass, Kevlar, composite, wood)

…The TYPE OF WATER you’ll paddle (flat, oceanic or Great Lakes, running -slow currents, intermediate stuff, raging WW)

…WHEN you want to do it

…Time of day (day/nite),

…Time of year (summer/winter/spring/fall


…Boat & personal gear (above items)

…Vehicle gear (supports, racks, trailers)

AND, of course, what you’re WILLING TO SPEND.

Good advice well worth heeding?

Do a search for “newbie”, “beginner”, “just starting out”, etc. on these boards -you’ll get a LOT of good, numerously given and and VERY OFTEN repeated “OLD” information here.

DEFINITELY go to: (off to the left right here at P.NET)

Scroll down the list –most questions you wonder about –and some (possibly many if not most!) you might never even think about will ALSO be answered.

Then try

Then make some decisions.

DEFINITELY try try try BEFORE YOU buy AND cry (over a poor choice because you didn’t actually sit in/on and demo the dang thing before you bought it), augment the NOB (no octane boating) watersports sector of the economy (BUY the boat already…OK?), and by all means, let us know what ya’ll did!

So take a look around the site, read up, become better informed, and then have fun as you learn, try, buy, and


-Frank in Miami

Depending on familys weight
I’ll toss in the eddyline carbonlite falcons…Hard chine, great finish, large cockpit, good speed and handling…nice seating. and low low weight.

Re: As a rule Tandems do not paddle well
Thanks for the advice. We are in the Sacramento area - close to Folsom Lake and the Americas River (Rainbow Bridge in Folsom). Also have a cabin in the Tahoe region (up hgway 50).

Thanks again.


Put her in her own boat
Kids have more fun in their own kayak

We are a family with four kids, the youngest is now ten. He is average height but solid. He has three boats now, only two are really used. For whitewater, creeking, day trips, and general putzing around he uses a Wavesport Evo. He loves it. For lakes and river touring he has a Carolina 12. He can paddle the Carolina as fast as everyone else in their 12 foot boats. I had to put in a backband- nothing comes with it. Also there are no bulkheads so we put in flotation bags front and rear.

Our Old Town Loon 86 has been relegated to the guest kids boat. It serves this purpose well, It has enough straight line tracking speed to help keep up with experienced paddlers in whitewater boats putzing and the cockpit is big enough that we don’t half to worry about someone being stuck in the event of a capsize.

His next boats will be a Pyrana Sub 7 for whitewater and a Riot Stealth for river touring. My girls were bigger than my boys at age 10, if your daughter is big enough you may want to try her in the Stealth. It is a boat designed for a small person. In this area one dealer still has the SUN/Flight version available at discount. I would get one with hatches and bulkheads at both ends and the skeg option.

Carolina 12: Advantages: Price $399, weight, long and narrow, small cockpit Disadvantages: No floatation, no backband, thin skinned, low freeboard, requires deck bag to keep waves off spray skirt.

Stealth: Advantages: seat has backband, thick skinned, tracks well, turns quickly when heeled, front and rear bulkheads, front deck sheds some water, thick plastic, strong boat Disadvantages: Price $699, backband is the cheapest design I have ever seen (we have the Sun version), The standard dry compartment sealing method – rubber gaskets on the hatch covers is a complete failure- inexpensive fix- $7 set of Riot neoprene hatch covers under the standard covers. Weird Keel

My kids have paddled over 40 different hulls, we visited 5 paddling stores and paddled multiple boats at 3 (we had a great time) and purchased boats at 4. The boys who are younger got the Carolina 12 and the Stealth. The girls who are older got the Prijon Capri Tour and the Combi 359. They made their own decision for a boat for 50+ mile unsupported kayak camping on the Buffalo river.

The Carolina max weight is 120 pounds- if your daughter is tall and close to that weight it would be hard to justify getting a Carolina over the Stealth

Carolina/Stealth Length 12’2”/12’5” Width 21.25”/24” Weight 38/45 Cockpit 30x18”/32x19” (the weight of the Carolina with seatback and floatation will be close to the Stealth)

WS 135T
Check out the Wilderness Systems 135T. We really like this kayak. The best place in Sacramento we have found to purchase kayaks is Advenure Sports @ 1609 Watt Ave.

I do not prefer tandems but for a different reason than posted above. I like paddling side by side with my kids. Not unlike when paddling a canoe you’ve got to turn around from the bow or yell. jmho

Thanks all & still finalizing decision
Thanks for all the advice. I am leaning towards a few solo kayaks and could use a little more advice.

My wife is 4’11 95 lbs and my daughter is 10 yrs old and 60 lbs, I’m 5’8 185.

Question 1 - could we get away with a Tarpon 120 for me and a smaller yak for my wife; while my daughter sits in teh front of thw 120 or will that not be good?

Question 2 - what is a good small yak for my daughter, say 8 footer? Sit-on-top or Sit-in is safe for child?

We’ll kayak in lakes and rivers in Northern California - Sacramento and Place County.

Thanks again.

Why SOT?
Q1 – What is your daughter going to sit on the front of the Tarpon, does is it have another seat? We have a Yahoo it is only 10’5” to the Tarpon 12’ and 53 lbs to 58 but I think they are similar; There is no where for a child to ride- sit or hold on to on the front of the Yahoo. I’ve seen a lot of kids on it (the record may be 8) and they were having a blast- but it didn’t look comfortable.

Q2 – You may want to look at a Perception Acadia Scout. My son hasn’t paddled one but we have had him in it a couple of times to try the fit. It is a recreational sit-in that at 10’ is 2’ shorter that the Carolina 12. It has more freeboard, higher foredeck and much thinner plastic. It has the same terrible seat like the Carolina so plan on spending the time to put in a backband. I think it is a little less money than the Carolina. Remember two things a) storage and hauling constraints are determined by the longest/heaviest kayak you have and b) your groups distance and speed is limited by the efficiency and endurance of your weakest member.

I am puzzled by your leaning towards SOT designs for your intended use. Unless you are on completely calm water your rear end is going to be wet. I just don’t see that many fishermen squatting down at the side of the water cooling off their caboose (as my wife’s grandmother used to say). Although there are plenty of times we get wet on purpose, there are still instances where we go kayaking and stay dry.

I think you also consider the weight of the kayaks- SOT tend to weigh more- much more than sit-ins. That takes a toll for loading/unloading, carrying to the water, and paddling efficiency (it maybe just their acceleration which makes them feel slower). Maybe you could look at the Pungo and Pamlico lines from Wilderness Systems to compare to the Tarpon. That way your get similar fit and finish while doing the compare.

Don’t know really. For some reason I had my mond set on SOT for wife and daughter, but now I’m thinking sit in. I will continue to research.


Check Used Boats
We have apretty lively local trade in used boats around NORCAL. Check the classified ads here on PNET

family paddling
Last year I bought a Old Town Otter for my then 9 year old son. Now he’s 10 and is very adept at paddling everywhere in it. Sometimes it’s like there’s a motor in it as he goes so fast! For my petite (5’) wife I got a OT Solitude (similar to the otter). And I’m a large guy and got a Walden Scout for myself. There all rec kayaks and I carry all 3 on my minivan ('03 Mazda MPV).

Need to learn about SOTs
Your comments may apply to a small number of boats but your comments in general are not correct. There are SOTs that are great for fishing, and not heavy, and paddle faster than Pungos etc.