Fast Plastic Rough Water Boat

-- Last Updated: Apr-05-10 6:38 PM EST --

Dear Folks:
I need assistance in choosing a relatively fast plastic sea kayak that handles rough water well. My main objective is fitness paddling for day trips only, (gear storage not an issue). Something that is responsive... will edge and roll well and I will not quickly outgrow as my skills improve. I forgot to mention that I'm 5'8" and weigh 155. Looking for something around 16' or less.

Thanks in advance for your responses.



– Last Updated: Apr-05-10 2:41 PM EST –

What's your height & weight?

Do you want plastic for the conditions, or for the price? Used composite boats can often be found for the price of new plastic boats. Something like a used QCC 700 might work well.

What boats have you paddled that you liked/didn't like?

A plastic Tempest, Aquanaut, or Scorpio in the appropriate size, or a Chatham 17, might be a reasonable place to start.

Romany RM
I think it would be great in rough water. Certainly fast enough for fitness paddling. Planning on trying one myself in the future.

I’ve loved paddling my RM Chatham 17 for quite awhile now. It’s got a much lower volume deck than it’s rivals for less windage (and storage), but that seems to suit you fine. Less rocker than her 16’ sibling so she’s faster, but also very stable in rough water for a 21.5" wide boat due to full chines. I believe many west coast rental fleets use em for rock gardening - might be able to pick up a used one for cheap if you’re in cali…

“relatively fast plastic sea kayak…”
“relatively fast plastic sea kayak that handles rough water well”

Relatively fast compared to what? What kind of rough water do you anticipate paddling? Do you wish plastic because you envision lots of rock gardening or because of cost?

There have been more composite than plastic sea kayaks in most surf and rock gardening sessions in which I’ve participated. Used glass boats can cost as little as new poly.

Romanys and Avocets are the most common rough water boats among most paddlers I know. NDK Explorers are also very common. None of these is ‘fast’ on the flats compared to boats of less rocker. Chatham 16s are often considered unsurpassed for rough water handling but are also not ‘fast’ on flat water.

For normal ‘rough water’ it is hard to beat an Aquanaut for confidence and speed, though it is not as nimble as some other boats for surf and rock gardening.

2nd Aquanaut and consider and LV
An aquanaut won’t win a race on flat water, but in 3’+ wind waves it will be up in front. I also do play with mine in surf with adequate results. If you really don’t plan to take multiday camp gear and if you are too large then an LV model may be even better for your needs.

As others have said you may want to better define both fast and rough water and maybe any other boats you’ve already tried. Folks definitions of these varies wildly so you need to mention things like wave size, wind speed, how confused, etc… Knowing just WHERE you paddle may partly answer this.

P&H Scorpio LV
Check out the Scorpio LV. 16’7" / 21" , maneuverable and plenty quick.

CD Sirocco
Great rough water boat and reasonably fast on flat.

You might look …
around for a Point 65N Crunch Rocket (discontinued). Pretty fast plastic boat at 16’ 3".

Another good option would be a
Wilderness Systems Tempest 165.

also recommend Aquanaut
I have RM Aquanaut LV. Well, technically my wife’s boat, but I use it, especially if I’m going to be banging around rocks. I love it -good balance of speed and handling and a great rough-water boat

You can save a bit by getting the “Club” model, which I think omits the day hatch but otherwise is pretty much the same construction, as I recall. The quality of the plastic, skeg, decklines etc looked identical as far as I remember.


– Last Updated: Apr-06-10 1:09 PM EST –

Given your size, you should be looking at the "smaller paddler" or LV(low volume) models. Tempest 165, Scorpio LV, Aquanaut LV, etc.

A used composite Aquanaut LV would be a nice find.

16' or less would be boats with less top-end speed potential, but still good in rough water. The Avocet RM or Zephyr 15.5 would be in that group. Going shorter, something like the Alchemy 14S might be fun. With shorter boats, you're more likely to "hit the wall" where paddling harder doesn't significantly change your speed.

And there's always the build-it-yourself option.

If fitness is really the goal, why does it need to be fast? Are there other factors you are considering that make you want a fast boat?

love the sirocco
but at the OP’s height and weight its gonna be huge.

Cape Falcon F-1 NM

"fast…sea kayak that handles rough…"
The fastest sea kayak in rough water I’ve paddled is a Nordkapp LV. If you have the intestinal fortitude for it, good bracing skills, and a reliable roll the Nordlow is a blast in dimensional seas.

There have been Nordlows showing up used with some regularity since shortly after their arrival on these shores.

Cobra Eliminator
It might not be exactly what you are looking for, but may be worth a look. The Cobra Eliminator is essentially a plastic surfski. So it’ll be fast, but it’s a sit on top, so rolling and edging aren’t necessary. But if your main goal is fitness paddling, it could be exactly what you are looking for. It’s 16’6" long, 42 lbs, plastic, and has a rudder for turning.

Just a wild guess
I bet he is 5’8" and 155 lbs.