First Purchase Advice

Wow I’m Overwhelmed!
Thanks so much for all your replies, I’m appreciative & a bit overwhelmed :slight_smile:

@Sapien, I ran Kelly’s Ford to Motts Landing, the classes I am going by are those listed in the watertrail map offered by The Confluence being most challenging along with the area around Cliff Island.

@CoffeeII while a put in/out is indeed anywhere you make it, the Rappahannock is bordered by private land with high sides & often a mile or so of bushwhacking from public roads. At least this is how I’m reading the topos. I will say it made it nice & peaceful, little evidence of roads or even housing.

Folks seem to be very focused on Class 3 where I think this will a small part of my kayak use. Primarily I think I would like to camp & fish out of it on relatively flat water. From what I can tell the rivers I may end up on are mostly Class I & II with maybe some occasional III. Also I could see perhaps using it to drift fish the sound in the Outer Banks but don’t think I would take into the ocean.

@Celia, what I liked about the kayaks I saw was the ability they seemed to have to maneuverer around obstacles in the river. At times it seemed the boater could pause a second, choose his path & continue. I think currently I view the boat as a method of transport rather than something to play on waves with. I want to get through rapids safely & successfully, not play on them.

@willowleaf not worries on coming across as a gadfly. I came here for honest opinion to make an intelligent choice. If I wanted hype I’d base my purchased on the totally rad ExTrEmE Youtube videos.

I hope I answered all the questions directed at me & clarified a bit my wants & needs. Thanks again so much for all the advice so far, I really do appreciate it & trying to take it all in.

As an aside, a buddy who went on the trip with me was in a Native Watercraft Ultimate 14 (?) and while overloaded due to his size seemed to do better steering in rapids than I could usually manage in the canoe. (He seemed to have a much smaller turning radius)

So to sum it up, kayaks are always behind canoes…in every way and category.

Think you said that before many times.

access points on the Rappahannock
are indeed few and far between. there’s only one bridge between Hwy 15 and I-95 (a 30-mile stretch), and big tracts of farms, private land, and a wildlife management area, as well as an undeveloped buffer zone along both sides of the river. Some parts like the Confluence (with the Rapidan River) are gorge-like, and access to the nearest road is very difficult.

Makes for a great overnighter that feels quite remote even though it’s near a very populated area.

a solid Class II run
and a couple of areas like you noted can be II+ when the water is pushy. The confluence is very technical, and I know exactly what you mean about navigating it in a canoe. There’s also a ledge drop downstream of the old Ballard’s Dam that can catch you by surprise.

For some true Class III, if you were to continue downstream of the Mott’s takeout, the river gets real interesting… ledges and rapids come in quick succession, and then you get 2 miles of rock gardens and endless routes through the fall line. If you hear about a rapid called “Randy Never Saw It” – a pourover by a big rock midriver that can drop 3-4 ft depending on the water level – it refers to Randy Carter, the father of whitewater paddling in VA/WV, who never experienced this stretch because it used to be impounded by the Embry Dam.

With more info…
Part of the reason that the kayaks were more able to stop and put themselves somewhere precise then move on was the paddlers, but no small amount of it is that WW boats are tuned to have low hull speed. It is a lot easier to control your path of travel if you are coming in with less speed to start with. But a boat designed to be slow in terms of forward motion gets unsatisfactory pretty fast if you are talking about long flat water stretches. You are killing yourself to make speed while people in other kayaks seem to be just breezing along.

Your buddy who had overloaded his 14’ kayak had probably effectively slowed his hull speed by sinking it more deeply than intended, so he was pushing water in front of him. Automatic braking mechanism.

A boat that will do the majority of what you want will likely be one that is limited in two ways for moving water. The first is that you will find it technically much easier to follow the green water straight thru rather than to stop and view the standing waves. Not that it can’t be done, but it takes more from you as a paddler. The other is that it is a boat that should not be in class 3 because it will lack some design features that go to safety and get critical at class 3.

A boat intended to handle WW generally lacks sharp ends that can get caught and pinned between rocks, and is heavily reinforced as well as having reinforcing pillars in the midsection. This is so that a hard slam into rocks won’t collapse the bow and or stern and leave you stuck in a boat that is suddenly getting smaller and wrapping itself around rocks. Touring boats and rec boats lack this feature and can be crushed by an event like this.

Class 1 and 2 are relatively forgiving, and while bad things can happen anywhere, the really big events are less likely. But at class 3, if you review the ratings carefully, you’ll see that the difficulty of avoiding obstacles and the likelihood of injury take a noticeable jump. You also need to be aware of regional diff’s. There is class 2 and class 2, and the southeast has some pretty impressive white stuff.

This make any sense?