Flatwater kayak advice

Hi all.

I’ve been paddling an Advanced Elements convertible inflatable kayak this year. I’ve really enjoyed it, but I think I’m ready to move on to a hardshell. I’m up in Oregon, and paddle flatwater - usually 7-10 miles on lakes, ponds, wetlands, and sloughs. Am looking to probably stick with that type of paddling, maybe check out some protected bays on the coast next year.

I’m 6’0", 160lbs. I’ve been looking at the Dagger Alchemy 14S, Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, and others of that type. Also saw a good deal ($675 w/skirt, paddle) for a Necky Manitou 13 close by on craig’s list that seems tempting…

My priorities and preferences:

  • Stability and relative ease of self-rescue. By this I mean, is something like the Manitou, with only one bulkhead, more difficult to re-enter and pump out since it will take on more water?
  • Speed is not a huge deal to me although being able to keep up on club trips would be nice.
  • I’m not really looking for a boat that can do whitewater at all (I already have an IK that I’m happy with for that) so that isn’t a priority. Seems like the Alchemy is at least partially slanted toward this…?
  • Weight: The relative lightness of the Manitou (45lbs) is appealing as I’m not used to wrangling a hardshell onto a car just yet…

    Can anyone recommend other boats I should take a look at?

another model
I always suggest anyone considering Tsunamis and Manitous check out the Venture Easky 15 if they get a chance. Similar specs to the other two but lighter than the Tsunami, fully featured with skeg, dual bulkheads and rigging, and (at least in my opinion) and little faster, better tracking and more fun to paddle than either. Pretty much the same price point. We’ve got two of them (a regular 15 and a smaller LV model) and find them very versatile in a range of conditions, from small streams to coastal touring.

some answers

– Last Updated: Oct-02-13 5:03 PM EST –

Yes, the Manitou with one bulkhead will be harder to re-enter on the water. At the very least, it will take more to drain. But there is also the risk that there is not enough flotation for you to get back in on the water and keep the combing above the water line (in which case, you never would be able to drain the boat). I've not tried self-rescuing in a Manitou to know how it acts, but having a boat with bulkheads front and back pretty much eliminates this concern.

The Dagger family of Confluence Paddlesports boats (also makers of Wilderness Systems, Perception, and others) is geared toward more moving water, but not white water (they have the Wavesport line for that). That said, there is a lot of overlap and the Alchemy is not a white water boat at all.

I wouldn't trust the reported weight of any of the manufacturer's boats, but instead check them yourself. For example, not all manufacturers weight their boats with hatch covers or gear installed. Some brand are known for being exceedingly heavy, but Necky, Dagger, and Wilderness Systems are not and are likely all within a few pounds of each other for similar length/width boats.

If weight is a serious issue, consider looking at different material than rotomolded plastic. The next step up is thermoformed plastic (Wilderness Systems has some, and Eddyline and Delta only make boats in that material). Takes 5-10 pounds off, and adds $400 to the price. Next step is Fiberglass, which takes another 5-10 pounds off and adds another $500-1000. Carbon or Kevlar are next step, with similar changes. (rough generalizations for weight and price changes - many exceptions to this).

Ah, yes, then the Manitou is definitely not for me. At least not the 13. The 14 has a front bulkhead I believe…

Good point re: the weight. I will definitely check a bunch out in person before making any decisions.

I will definitely add this one to my list to watch for!

kayaks are also worth taking a look at if you have the space to build one. They are a wood core fiberglass composite stitch and glue construction kit. I’ve built two. woodworking skills are not really needed. There are lots of hull choices, but it sounds like you might be looking at the Pinguino series. Their headquarters and store are in Port Townsend, Washington. Web site is here: http://www.pygmyboats.com/boat-kits.html

Note: in my experience with these boats they are NOT delicate and fragile. A quick sand and a new coat of varnish every so often keeps mine as good as new.

I’ll second the Easky.


– Last Updated: Oct-03-13 11:34 AM EST –

I don't think the design target for the Alchemy is whitewater, but more someone who likes to play in surf and currents and "textured" water. It's for someone who values maneuverability over tracking. A Tsunami would be the opposite -- designed to track straight, and takes a lot more work to turn. The difference is obvious when you paddle both.

And just a note on stability: a wide flat-bottom boat will feel stable on flat water, and might be fine for the paddling you do. Something with more of an arch will feel less stable on flat water, but may be more comfortable in wind & waves. And a lot of the perceived stability is the paddler -- a common theme in posts here is how "tippy" boats magically become more stable after a few hours on the water.

check the classifieds here

– Last Updated: Oct-03-13 9:00 AM EST –

There is a used Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5 in WA in Carbonlite for a great price (in your range). A bit more boat than you might be looking for but IMO not an unstable kayak. You'd climb the learning curve a bit slower but that might be a good thing.

This is a kayak you could also eventually take out on the ocean.

Jackson Journey 13.5?
A Jackson Journey 13.5 has come up on craig’s list @ $825. Looks like a boat in the same class as we’re talking about. Anyone have thoughts or experiences with this one?

Not bad at all
I’ve paddled this boat quite a bit. I like it. It is a bit heavy, but just by a few pounds.