First Post and Which Kayak?

Hello folks,

I’m new here and new to kayaking but I’ve been visiting and digesting a lot from this site for a few weeks now.

I live in N. Ga. and think most my kayaking will be done on Lake Lanier and nearby rivers…most cat.I and II for the most part.

I’m looking at three used boats and wonder if any one stands out as a good boat to start with?

Kestral 120

Santee 116

Tsunami 12 (Duralite)

I am a guy, on the small side; 5’5 130 lbs. The only kayak I have ever paddled is a Necky Tikani that I demoed the other night. Almost capsized it and found it pretty tippy…but ended paddling for about an hour without incident. I found it pleasantly fast, but felt a bit insecure the entire time.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.

one thing

– Last Updated: Aug-26-10 7:15 PM EST –

I really don't know the rec boats, and others will pitch in. I don't know the Tikani, either. But, generally, don't be too put off by that insecure feel; it passes. That is, if you don't have a particular need for a wide, short boat, then keep the longer, skinnier boats under consideration. They'll grow with you, and will be faster, too, if you enjoy that aspect of paddling, or ever expect to be paddling with other long, skinny boats.

If you do decide to consider long/skinny, don't go crazy. 14 to 16 foot range is what I'd suggest.

Skip class II for now

– Last Updated: Aug-27-10 7:57 AM EST –

By class II you need some degree of boat control and responsiveness from the boat to do more than barrel down the middle of the current out of control. Not that people don't so that, but it doesn't do much for your paddling or the safety of others on the river. None of the boats you are looking at lend themselves to that kind of handling in moving water - it's just not what they are about. More experienced paddlers can do more with these boats, but as a newbie you aren't there yet.

By class II it starts making more of a diff whether you are going out with a group as well, for help in a capsize. A club may be the best idea there. Also a source for used WW boats.

For the lake/class I, these are all rec boats with rec boat limitations in terms of performance and speed. OK to get you on the water, but is just getting on the water your goal or do you have specific things in mind you'd like to be able to do? It's worth asking yourself because even in Georgia colder weather is coming and the summer vacation season is closing, so there may start to be used boats coming up from outfitters before very long.

Echo the above - the concern for stability is often overrated for new paddlers. Especially for smaller people, you tend to get acclimated very quickly.

Check out these folks maybe....

have paddled all three
they are all, as noted, rec boats, altho w. the Tsunami you’ll get thigh braces, which allow you to edge and control the boat more with your lower body.

all have two bulkheads, so when you do tip over the boat will remain far enough above the water that you can climb back in (you practice that) and you’ll have less water to empty out. Plus you can carry things in a relatively dry environment.

The Kestrel has a big cockpit, really big actually. For the kind of water you want to to that’ll be fine. Stick to Class I & II (those are the rivers I paddled them on) and calm inland lakes and enjoy. CD build quality is very high.

The Santee series is nice and light. Gotta like a boat in the low 30 lb range that is durable and w. a little care keeps its good looks. If you are a birder, a fisherman or a photog the nice long cockpit facilitates getting at your gear. I found the Santee more agile than the Kestrel and easier to turn. Due to the little “built in keel” on the stern it is a very nice tracking boat.

My personal experience is that Hurricane Aquasports boats keep their value a bit higher and longer than many rotomoulded boats of similiar type. They don’t show as much wear and clean up well.

The Tsunami series is a very good one that has a range of boats to suit all bodies. And they incorporate a lot of good features, like adjustable thigh braces, full perimeter deck rigging (like the Kestrels)and the dual bulkheads already mentioned. The Tsunamis like the Kestrels have a decided V hull up front which makes tracking easier and gives you more glide w. each stroke. I also found the Santee 116 very easy in that regard, and it accelerates quickly cuz it is so much lighter than the other two. Once you learn to paddle efficiently and get in a groove that little Santee will get up and go!

but I would pass on Duralite… it will still be the heaviest of the three you’re considering, and Wilderness Systems discontinued offering Duralite due to many customer issues regarding the thinness and durability of that particular material. It’s basically thinner rotomould, with consequential higher occurrence of warping, punctures, etc. A Tsunami in their regular rotomould will be less likely to have these issues in that frequency.

Oh, and all three have a sucky high seatback.Plan to ditch it in favor of a low backband - or nothing - and enjoy the freedom of full torso rotation and a healthier lower back :smiley:

Stay away from Duralite
I have heard negative things about this material and as it is discontinued, there most likely were a lot of problems.

Is the Tsunami a 120 or 125?
There is no “12” model. 125 is higher volume for big paddlers, so at your size, a 125 might be too big. 120 on the other hand would be a great boat for your size. I agree with the duralite comment. If you plan to paddle rivers with rocks. Flatwater paddling with duralite is fine, but they don’t take a pounding.

Tsunami’s are great boats for beginners with interest in advancing.

I read the specs on the Tikani - 13’ 10" x 22.5 inches. Pretty good, on paper. Can you get any more time in it? Is it for sale?

Redoux on the Tsunami
Just realized that the Tsunami name was truncated… the 125 is too big for you, the 120 is closer but at your size you’d probably do best with the 135 because it is 2 inches narrower. That’s a good diff in being able to get a more comfortable stroke for someone your size.

Probably the most advancement capable of the three as long as you get into the right size.

Maybe a hybrid
You might be served better by a crossover style boat if you really want to reach up into the Class II world. It needs thigh braces and a small enough coaming that askirt is practical. And it doesn’t need a hard keel.

Look at the Dagger Approach, LL Remix XP9, Jackson All-Water, etc.

If you are doing a lot of lake stuff the skeg will help.


kayak choice
I found a local outfitter who did trips and would include a kayak from the demo fleet with the trip. The trip cost was 40.00, we would meet at the put in, paddle 3 to 4 hours, then they would load the kayak and I would go home. The kayak that feels stable at first will be to stable after a few weeks or months. Test paddle several kayaks and try to get a feel for what feels best. When I finally test paddled the WS zephyr I knew it was right from almost the first stroke. I may want something different next year, but for me it was perfect for central Florida’s mix of paddling opportunities. It would not be good for fast narrow rapids, however. Good luck. See of any local outfitters offer classes. They often include the kayak as part of the class. John

Thanks for the suggestions
Sorry not to get back to everyone sooner, been looking for a job as well as a few other fires to be put out.

Thanks for all the good advice. I’ve talked to a few locals and digested what has been said here. Also did some kayaking at the Outer Banks. Other than Hurricane Earl, what a sweet place.

It does appear that for the river running I’d like to do with occasional trips to the lake, I’d be better off with a crossover boat or at least something a bit shorter than 12 feet. The Remix XP10 seems to be a fave in this area but the only thing I’m concerned about there is the large cockpit. At 5"5 and 130lbs I think I’d like something that fits me a bit tighter. So…still checking around and would prefer to find something used.

Thanks again,