I am in the market for a kayak that I’ll be using on the northern great lakes, inland lakes and some river usage. I plan to fish, cruise, and possibly do some weekend long trips. A potential trip to Isle Royale, or BW is also a possibility.
My debate is between a recreational kayak such as the Pungo 140, or if I should get a larger sea kayak. I’m 6’, 200lbs, beginner kayaker with some experience in rec models.
The Pungo looks nice enough, wide, stable. But I have concerns about the cockpit opening along with whether the bulkheads have the capacity for a weekend / week long trip.
As far as the sea kayak approach I have been looking at anything from a Necky Looksha, to a Pygmy Arctic Tern kit. I like the lines better, though I don’t know if they are stable enough to fish out of and if it is too much boat for me.
I’d like something I can use for awhile, I’m afraid I may grow out of a rec boat but am afraid the sea kayak will be beyond me as a beginner and I won’t use it much.
I really like the Pungo 140
I don’t have one but if I did I think it would be a keeper. A retired friend has one and has no problem keeping up when we do out marathon on the lake. I think it is a great boat for anywhere you might use a canoe. When the water gets too rough you need to get off the lake or bay and wait it out. A pungo will fit just as much gear as a sea kayak because it is wider but not as long. A lot of the gear can ride right in front of you in the kayak.
It is a stable and fast platform for fihing and photography. If you got a shorter rec boat you might not keep it forever, but I bet you’ll keep the pungo as long as you are still paddling.
Buy a cart with it, they are heavy. If you stay out of the surf, out of big breaking waves, and paddle 25 miles a day or less you may never need a different boat than the Pungo 140.
If you are not planning on fishing then go ahead and get a skinnier boat like a Tsunami or a Zephyr or the sea kayak of your choice. You’ll get used to the tippiness in about 10 or 12 hours.
Some ideas . . .
I have paddled with friends who have the Pungo, and as described above, it may be a good compromise boat for your needs. I especially like the looks of the older models and you might find one for a good price, if you look around.
As for your other considerations, I’m quite a bit shorter than you and I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 for touring (though I put a flush Scotty Rod Holder mount behind the cockpit)and bought a Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12 Angler SOT for fishing, light whitewater (inescapable in western NC rivers) and free-diving from. I can fish from the Tern 14, but it’s not as stable. The Manta Ray can be used for light tripping/camping, but it’s not a boat that will go long distances in the time a touring boat will. They both admirably perform for their intended purposes, with some compromise outside that.
A lot of people first buy a boat that fits their strongest interest, then branch out, buying boats for other specialties. I am moving toward being in the market for a whitewater boat. Maybe even a canoe someday. It’s all good.
I don’t have one but I am hearing great things about Native Watercraft’s Ultimate series and am looking to buy one when the time is right. Great for standing up in and fish spotting. Very stable fishing platform.
were U at elw ? I have a NW Ult 12 for sale . I'm In upstate NY. On topic...I would vote on the Pungo although it is not a rough water boat IMO. As another poster said, U would need to park the boat if waters got too rough. Pungo has a big cockpit opening,and U can get the tray , nice options for fishing.
Thanks for the replies
Thanks for all the replies! I have decided to stop looking at the Pungo 140 and am instead looking at the Tsunami 140.
I have an opportunity to purchase a Valley Skerray, fiberglass, for a song but am not familiar with the model and I can’t find much online. Anyone have any thoughts on that versus a Tsunami 140?
Skerry and Tsunami
The Tsunami may be kinder to you as a beginner - it'll likely take less management if you get caught out in wind. The Skerry is an older model which is a popular find because they tend to be available cheap for a usually well made kayak. It is on the maneuverable side for its length.
Neither of these boats will be as good for fishing as the ones that are designed for that purpose.
As to your thoughts about how much boat because you are a beginner - I personally disagree with the idea of getting a rec boat to start just because you are a beginner. I can see going there to save money, or if you have some serious concerns about your ability to
be comfortable in a craft that'll be more confining and jiggle around some on the water. But if you feel you want to get to a sea kayak longer term, you may as well get close on the first try.
Getting a boat like the Skerry, or the Tsunami, probably means you'll have to learn how to self-rescue and nail a couple of basic strokes sooner rather than later, but you'll want that anyway. Your profile says upper peninsula of Michigan - that water can get quite interesting quite fast.
There are at least a couple of outfitters up that way that take out trips, give lessons - I suggest you give them a look.
Thanks for the advice Celia. I was thinking along the same lines myself.
I would much rather have a boat I could grow with, rather than one I would grow out of…
Just watched Paddle to Seattle last night, now I thinking a Pygmy
The water isn’t going anywhere, I might as well take my time and make the right decision. Thanks again!