First boat help

I am looking to purchase two boats for my family. My wife and I, our 7 yr old son and 4 yr old daughter. We will do day trips with a couple of overnighters each year. We are thinking of kayaks but are open to a canoe. We are just getting into the sport but want boat boats we can grow into. We would like boats that can be paddled solo as well as with the kids.

Am I asking too much? Your thoughts are welcome.

Asking too much!
Unless you all wear the same size pants, if you do, you can also “wear” the same size boats. If not, someone needs to compromise.

Have to say with two adults and two young ones, get a canoe to start and see where that takes you.


Canoes Are Station Wagons…

– Last Updated: Sep-30-08 8:56 PM EST –

...kayaks are sports cars. When our daughters were young, we had the 'station wagon', as befits a young couple with two children and an occasional friend, the dog and camping gear. Great times, great memories, and we still have a couple of canoes that admittedly don't get a lot of use since we started kayaking about eight years ago.

For starters, a good roomy 16 footer might do the trick; there's lots of good designs out there, and we've always been able to find good deals on used boats if we took our time and looked around. We rigged back-to-back seats amidships, one facing forward and one aft, made from the seats of discarded plastic chairs. Worked just fine for years...

For that phase of our lives, the canoe made absolute sense, and it still does if there's gear to be carried on freshwater camping trips. More and more, tho, we seem to head out on the salt water for day paddles, and the kayaks really come into their own for that purpose. Whatever you decide, you and your family are in for a real special experience - our daughters, now grown and on their own, still talk about specific trips and are both keen 'water-rats' and outdoors-women...

buy two smallish tandem canoes
unless you want to go on Lake Superior–you dont need decks

Its not about the boat; its about the paddler. Learn Canadian Style Solo.

of course you could always buy four kayaks. Four is not too young an age.

I admit that Im biased towards canoes
I can take any combination of friends, relatives, and the kids for a trip. If I get uncomfortable, I can just move around or stand up and stretch. You know…all the standard canoe arguments.

Now here is a point you wont find spoken often. (particularly by people fond of kayaks) Canoes can be just as fast as a kayak if you buy the right boat.

In a recent five mile canoe/kayak race, in my area, consisting of about 40 boats of all types; we placed 6th overall. Only the all out racing kayaks beat us. We were in a Minnesota 2 with double bladed paddles.

Check out this pic and take a look at the wake we were pulling. This boat is FAST.

Anyhow; I have a few canoes that I have acquired over the years. I have cheap beaters such as Colemans and I have more upscale boats like a Bell Yellowstone and, my favorite, a Wenonah Minnesota 2.

No boat does everything, but some do enough to suit most people.

I forgot to mention
I have no problem soloing any of my canoes. Regardless of design or weight.

You can use a double bladed paddle or you can learn to paddle Canadian style.

Canadian style paddling is an accomplishment to be proud of. Check this guy out. I envy him.


– Last Updated: Sep-30-08 9:40 PM EST –

Most rec tandem kayaks have seats that adjust for tandem or solo, and most tandem canoes can be soloed. Soloing any tandem can be a handful in anything but fairly calm conditions. Canoes are easier to load/unload if you're going to be carrying stuff. You can always use a double-blade paddle in a canoe if you don't mind the drips. Canoes can be fitted with a fixed or removeable center seat or a kneeling thwart for solo use.

Best bet is to try each and see what you prefer. Used boats would be a fine way to start.

For canoes, I'd look in the 16' range. The Old Town Penobscot 16 is one good solo/tandem compromise that you won't outgrow, but there are many boats that might work for you.

Seda Amigo
The Seda Amigo kayak was designed for exactly what you’re talking about:

I’ve never paddled it, so I can’t comment on how it paddles.

I have two canoes that are rocket
station wagons.Make that 3. The Malecite cooks with 2 paddlers.

Dirigo 140 w/ child seat…
My daughter-in-law got an Old Town Dirigo 140 this spring that came with a built-in child seat for our 5 year old granddaughter and it’s great…and VERY stable! The seat can be also be easily removed if you want to use the boat for fishing or to carry gear.

I’m not sure if they are still making the Dirigo out of Poly 3, but that is what she got (from LLBean) and it makes a nice rigid, solid kayak. Though it won’t win any races, it is surprisingly easy to paddle and holds it own quite nicely.

Child "seat"
I have a Dirigo 140 and found that I like having the kid with me WITHOUT the child “seat”. We bought a foam pad and she just sits on that.

I HAVE kicked around getting/making a cheap little backband for her to have something to lean back against.

Wenonah Solo Plus might work
as its apparently designed to handle both solo and light tandem use. Might check the reviews. In Kev-UL its pretty light but pricey. A while back a friend had a royalex Dagger Legend tandem that he fitted with a solo saddle and all for his solo adventures. Probably work with many tandems.