First Kayak

I’m thinking of buying a Santee 100 by Hurricane Kayaks. I’ve heard it’s good for a beginner. Any ideas and thoughts you veterans would like to share would be appreciated.

Nice kayak

– Last Updated: Nov-23-07 7:27 PM EST –

The Santee 100 is a nice kayak, very lightweight -- and for many people, light weight means a kayak that will be used more often.

You'll find, however, that a 10-foot kayak is going to be slower than longer kayaks, and if you like the sport and discover other people to go kayaking with, you'll be wishing you had a longer boat.

"Beginner" doesn't necessarily mean a smaller boat.

Two somewhat wobbly rules of thumb: "beginner" flat-water kayakers start with short boats and quickly upgrade to longer boats. "Beginner" whitewater kayakers start with longer boats and quickly upgrade to shorter boats.

Best bet is to paddle whatever you plan to buy, to see how you like it.

And one final rule of thumb, which I know is true: no man can have too many kayaks or too many shotguns. If you like kayaking, you'll have more than one boat for different kinds of water.

Paddling Locations
I live in Eastern NC and will mainly be paddling on slow moving rivers. From time to time I may head for the coast and try out the sounds. I’ll probably do a lot of paddling alone because I like the peace and solitude the river provides, so speed is no factor.

Answering your question is difficult
but my experience here in Atlanta on the local rivers and lakes is that paddling a 10’ boat is fun and great until you meet paddlers who have longer boats. Most who have 10’ boats are slow in groups and struggle to keep up which makes it unpleasant for all.

Knowing what you are going to do with the kayak and also looking at what other paddlers are using in the same area is a good mix.

Paddlin’ on


Hurricane Yaks
The manufacturing plant is in Warsaw NC and you can plan a tour if you call ahead.

My eyes are on the Phoenix 14 for spring.

If near Wilmington, you can flash a credit card to Great Outdoor Provisions Co on Oleander Drive and borrow a yak at no fee for a weekend; not sure if they have your model.

No experience w/ them on the water.
But I’ve looked at them at a local dealer. They look like top notch construction. I’d second what the others have said about length. I started a year and a half ago with a 10ft yak, and I’m up to my third already which is a 14 footer.

I think the Tampico line might also be worth a look for you, and at 23.5" vs the Santee 100’s 30", you’ll have a much easier time paddling with others if you find you want to, and be able to go farther even when you don’t.

I, like you, mostly paddle on slow moving rivers, and I’ve found with the longer boats, I can paddle up river quite a ways, and often eliminate the need to arrange a drop off or pick up with my wife. I simply go up and back down, putting in and taking out at the same place. That was nearly impossible with my shorter yaks.

Try a 116.
I tried one at Great Outdoor Provision. Didn’t care for it myself, but different boats, etc. Actuallyt, the boat has a lot of plusses. It just wasn’t what I was looking for.

WS Tsunami…
I started with a Loon 111 which was OK until we joined a kayak club…now I have a WS Tsunami 140 and I wish I had bought it in the very beginning…and the Loon is now just a “guest” boat!

First boat, beginner, etc…
I don’t know what kind of kayak rental and retail shops you might have nearby, but if you haven’t already paddled several different boats, I would recommend doing so if at all possible.

In general, I’m wary of the “beginner boat” approach. If you have a good idea of the types of water you’ll be paddling (you mentioned slow rivers, and perhaps some ocean paddling), I’d recommend trying as many boats as you can for a while, then making your first boat choice one that will take you where you can imagine going; rather than thinking of the boat in terms of your own “beginner” status. The boat you mentioned may be fine for the slow rivers, but you would probably want something else for going out in the ocean. If you get a boat capable of paddling on the ocean, it will do very will in the slow rivers as well.

“Beginner” status can change quickly if you really get into paddling, and though you can still be a “beginner” after a few months of paddling, your idea of a boat for a “beginner” can change drastically along the way. Three months after I first sat in a kayak, I bought my first boat; a CD Caribou. I knew I wanted to paddle all sorts of water (ocean, slow rivers, and lakes), so the Caribou was a great choice for me, as it allowed me to paddle anything from quiet wetlands, to slow rivers and lakes, to very lively coastal and open water conditions.

Don’t be fooled by someone telling you that a certain boat has “great stability for a beginner”. Most people can get used to the stability of a wide range of boats in a very short time. This is one of the many reasons it’s a good idea to paddle as many boats as you can find for a while before deciding on your first boat. During this trial period, you’ll also develop your skills a bit, and this too will help you as you consider various boats.

Why get a boat that might only make you happy for a few months, when your first boat could make you happy for years? I’m glad I didn’t go through the “change boats every few months” process.

Finally, if budget is an issue, you can get more boat for your money if you can find a used boat that will take you all the places you want to go. Try many boats, decide what you want, then look for a used one in decent condition. Most people take pretty good care of their boats, so there are many used boats in very good condition (don’t be bothered by a few superficial scratches; you’ll collect your own scratches soon enough anyway).

Good luck, and happy paddling!


Our background

– Last Updated: Nov-24-07 9:45 AM EST –

The problem with a 10 ft boat is that it tends to be a very short time before you'll feel the burning urge to replace it with a longer one, given that your paddling venues extend beyond the local half acre pond. That can be frustrating and expensive - it's the reason many here advise that the first boat be used since it is the most likely boat to be replaced soon.

We are a few boats ahead of you at this point - have sea kayaks and WW boats in the basement and under the porch - but did spend a lot of summer vacations in 10 ft boats. They happened to be Swifties, but a 10 ft boat is a 10 ft boat. They are so wide compared to their very limited waterline that they really can't track and get up forward inertia like a longer boat. As is pointed out by Georgia Kayaker above, they will invariably be frustrating if you get into paddling in a group.

Yeah, people could hold up for you - but in any group there seem to be at least a couple of paddlers who figure the experience has to be about going as fast as you can in a given direction. They often dominate.

We also regularly took those 10 footers in an ocean bay - a lot more than we should have. We got away with it, but it wasn't smart.

The other factor is safety - like having bulkheads and some amount of deck rigging if you are likely to be paddling alone. You want air in each end in case of a capsize so that the boat doesn't end up pointing straight down to the bottom, and some amount of deck rigging to help hold onto it and aid in re-entry. If you are thinking about ocean sounds, you'll likely be too far out for a swim home. You can replicate the effect of bulkheads by putting float bags in each end, but they can be difficult to secure in the really basic boats. Storage compartments with hatches are a lot easier. Even if hatch covers leak a bit, it's still easier to get a float bag jammed into a fully bulkheaded compartment than trying to secure them to footpegs and seatbacks.

The part that you haven't mentioned is whether you are interested in learning certain skills. The summary of a much longer discussion is that the wide, big cockpit rec boats like this don't support more advanced skills well like many boats in the closer to 14 ft or so range might. Have you thought about some of that? If for example you really think you'd like to learn to roll, finding some pool sessions over the winter might be a good first step to get a better sense of what kind of boat will work for you.

Abandoned boat
is what you may wind up with in getting a Beginner Boat. (Who made the rule that beginners should have a certain kind of boat?) I’ve had far too many paddlers come into my showroom Upgrading because they are no longer the same paddler as when they got their Beginner (usually a rec. boat). Take some lessons or go on a trip or two with different kayaks that will fit the performance and safety needs of what you are looking to do + one level better. Don’t know what that means? Ask the instructor or guide.

A Pamlico may be an excellent choice for you but try to buy your last boat first. Or at least a permanent one that you’ll keep in your quiver.

Welcome to the sport and the toys!

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

1st question
When I started to look at kayaks, the dealer said the first question even before where and what kind of water you wanted to paddle was “How are you going to transport your boat?” In many cases this is the limiting factor or at least something to consider.

It is a lot easier to put our rec boats in the back of my truck than it is to put the racks up to transport the touring boats. Even thou they are much slower, the rec boats get used a lot more because they are easy and quick to load and unload.

Consider longer

– Last Updated: Nov-24-07 6:26 PM EST –

I agree with the previous poster who sugested the 116. You'll get a little better tracking and speed with the longer hull, for just a little more money and weight.I know you said you weren't interested in speed. But speed = efficency = less energy used to cover the same distance. I started with a 9.5 footer, then bought an 11 footer, then a 14.5 footer(To long for smaller waters). I hardly ever use anything but the 11 anymore.I paddle mostly small rivers and creeks and to me an 11 or 12 is perfect for that. I have taken the 11 to the Gulf Coast several times and paddled the bays and back-waters with no problems.Hope this helps !