from rec boat to ?

Hi all

I’ve been reading a lot of the posts about kayak choices and upgrades and enjoying them.

Would you all consider giving me some names of kayaks that you think would be suitable for me? I currently have a Necky Manitou Sport which I have used frequently this summer in flat water. Last summer I had an Old Town Loon 100. These 2 boats are the extent of my experience except for my use of a Dagger Magellan on a group tour I did this summer on the coast of Maine.

I’ve been considering getting a different boat for use in lakes, ponds,streams and now- protected bays. I’m not interested in open ocean or whitewater. I enjoy paddling near the shore for the scenery, the environment and just seeing what nature has to offer.

My height is 5’5", weight 142, and am female.

The weight of the boat would be best kept at 45 pounds for ease in car topping. Plastic is probably the best I can afford at this point in time.

Thanks for the input and I look forward to seeing the responses for winter dreaming!


In the 13.5 foot range
I like the P&H Orca 14 (about 46 pounds I think) and the P&H Easky 13. There are longer versions of both of those but they would weigh more. The Easky is wider (more stable) but lower volume, so it might fit you better. Just an idea. Good luck.


Consider Building vs. Buying?
There’s a ton of good stitch and glue designs out there, and most of them are available as kits. Since many potential builders will be first-timers, assembly is usually pretty straightforward, requiring surprisingly little in the way of skills, tools and special knowledge.

The 17’, 25" beam S&G sea kayaks I build weigh about 40 lbs., are great coastal touring boats, and cost about $500-600 Cdn. for plans and raw materials. A first build with a good kit should take 40-60 hours of work; working from plans and raw materials, allow 80-100 hours; the next one will take 50-80 hours. The kit saves time but costs money. Working from plans and raw materials saves money, but takes time.

Building your own’s a lot of fun, you get a light, tough boat that’s tremendous value for the money, and you get to tell people who ask “Where’d you buy that kayak”? that “…you don’t buy these, you build 'em…”

Interesting profile
When I saw the S&G mention in this posting, I got curious

Never saw VOLKSKAYAKS mentioned before

Got a website you could direct us too.

Pygmy Tern 14
would be my first pick for you among the kit boats.

For light weight, the Hurricane boats seem like a good value.

Where in Maine?
I am somewhat familiar with the mid-coast region, and based on my personal experience would tend to suggest that you go towards a longer boat, like 16’ for those bays. The reason is that there are a lot of places similar to Muscongous Bay, where you can still be well within the bay (as in not open ocean), see islands beckoning from pretty close by and encounter some pretty significant tide action without going way out there. The shoot between the mainland and Hog Island, for example, which is pretty close and has people going out for picnics, also has a has a significant tidal current at the right phase. And river mouths thru there are something to pay a lot of mind to. Crossing the mouth of the Medomak can be a dicey trip at times, and the Damariscotta more so.

We tried a 14 ft boat in that stuff for one vacation, which lasted exactly 4 days of our two weeks before we found out that we needed more boat in something that came up within a half mile of shore, between nearer islands. We came back the next year with 16’ boats.

In sum, I’d not go less than a 16’ boat with full deck and perimeter rigging, sealed bulkheads front and back, both to get into something that’ll work well and to be safe. So you are probably talking used, with this being a quite decent time to look around.

As to car topping, with a roller-loader, decent rack and a little kayak cart you can cartop heavier than you think. If plastic even better - no harm if you drop it accidentally. You’d be OK with a plastic Avocet, Chatham 16 or Tempest 165 used, all boats that’ll be solid in conditions in ocean bays in Maine and can be found used.

What do you like/dislike about your current boat, and what are your hopes for your next boat?

Thanks, Braintrust
I’m wondering if I should consider a boat with a little more length though so that it will have sealed bulkheads front and back for safety reasons. Although maybe the boats you recommended do? I’m not familiar with them.

Thanks for your input.

building a kayak
Sounds interesting but would not be for me-no time or ability. Thanks for your suggestion though.

Hurricane boats

Yes,I read of these recently in another post and it was a positive sounding post. Sounds like a possibility. I don’t know anything about them other than that they seem to be a little lighter in weight which could be to my advantage. I’ll put them on the list of potentials.


Mt. Desert
Celia- Probably for the next year or two any Bay exploration would be off of Mt.Desert Island, or the Blue Hill area,Castine, Penobscot, etc. I live within 60 miles of these areas. I’m considering moving however within the next year or so and then would be looking at the Portland area, perhaps. This is really an unknown right now. The group tour I did was a lot of fun and although I never had any interest in paddling in salt water in the past, I’m finding myself drawn to the beauty of the coast. Plus I still enjoy the lakes as well. It’s all good!

Right now I have a Thule Slide and Glide roof rack system on a small car. Works good for my rec kayak. I’m really hoping not to have the additional expense of changing that system.

Thanks for your suggestions and input. Please keep them coming if there are others you can think of.


As a novice paddler what I like about my rec kayak is the ease of car-topping and getting it to the water by myself. It tracks ok, although I don’t have much of a frame of reference. I wish it had bulkheads front and rear for safety reasons. It has lots of bungies which is good. When I paddled with a friend a couple of times, who has an Old Town Loon 138, I had to work a lot harder to keep up, I noticed. It does turn easily-a good thing.

However, I don’t feel it’s a safe boat for any conditions that might come up while on a lake or for paddling in sea water. I don’t plan to camp or anything like that so I don’t need a lot room for stuff. I guess I would just like to be reasonably certain that my boat will handle conditions that might arise beyond what a rec boat is capable of handling. Whether it be Bay, Lake, or River. Thanks for asking.

what Celia said
I agree with Celia’s suggestions of 16’ plastic sea kayaks. You will have a lot more options on where you can go. Tempest 165, Avocet, and Chatham 16 would all be good choices for your size. Don’t worry, your glide and set system is great for them. Add a rubber backed bath mat or rollerloader to get your kayak from the ground to the rack, maybe a cart to move it from storage to car to launchsite and you are set. I’m shorter than you, and have no problem loading a 16’ plastic kayak alone.

Go to these folks

– Last Updated: Oct-19-06 11:44 AM EST –

)Emailed this, but in case your filters shut me out am posting it here as backup)

Go see Mark Schoon and Mel Rice at Aquaterra Adventures in Bar Harbor. They will be heading to Georgia for a symposium the weekend after this coming one, so it may take a moment, but you should DEFINATELY hook up with them if interested in sea kayaking (later add - as in kayaking on water that is salty, however far or near to shore). They'll set you up right and are both highly respected sea kayaking coaches, can hook you up with skills work you'll want for this coming spring.

They may also know of a used plastic Avocet that could be available in about a month, when the sea kayaking stuff shuts down for all but the truly hard core with drysuits etc.

Aquaterra has been around for a while, but Mark and Mel only made their presence permanent up there this last year. They'd been running their own operation out of Virginia for half the year.

Also, bookmark the weekend after Labor Day this coming year. They will be running a second sea kayaking symposium then. This last one was quite wonderful, the coaching was great, with four days classes on the ocean and on Great Long Pond covering all levels.

By the way - once you start wandering a little offshore in a more capable boat, it is surprising how quickly those islands that seem pretty near get very, very tempting. Then the next island, then the next one... we went thru that in Muscongous Bay and the Mount Desert area offers the same kind of views. Even if you don't think you'll be there now, the island hopping quality of stuff especially those three in a row right off of Bar Harbor's sand bar will likely change your mind.

the lure of the ocean…

– Last Updated: Oct-19-06 12:12 PM EST –

It sounds as though you're being seduced by the ocean, and that sooner or later you'll want a sea kayak. The transition to paddling one will be easy -- the biggest obstacle is figuring out how to deal with a 16', 55-pound boat on land. the good news is that there are many laoding & carrying techniques for small paddlers, many involving nothing more exotic than a bathroom rug. A good dealer or instructor should be able to help you figure out what'll work for you and your equipment.

It sounds like you're ready to look at, sit in, and demo boats. Numbers on a page make a lot more sense if you've got some hands-on experience. Don't be afraid to demo boats that are out of your price range -- you never know what might show up used. I just saw a used P&H Vela listed for $1500.

If you're in the area, another dealer worth visiting is the Maine Island kayak Co.
Don't be intimidated by the high-end gear -- they're nice folks who really want to help you make the right choice.

As for boats, I'd agree that the Avocet and Tempest 165 are good options -- I've got a plastic Avocet, and have enjoyed paddling a T165. Any boat will probably require some cockpit outfitting(padding) for a proper fit, which is something the dealer can help you with.

are a good idea. The Orca has a stern hatch/bulkhead. The Easky 13 has bow and stern hatches/bulkheads.

Longer isn’t a bad idea, but keeping within your stated weight range in plastic would be a challenge. Can’t think of any right off that would meet that requirement.

Hurricane is a good possibility for you. Forgot about them because I was thinking plastic.

The Hurricanes are nice boats and cost about what a plastic one would. I think you should definitely check those out - you might like the Tracer - a 16’ kayak coming in at 46 pounds isn’t bad. The shorter Tampico is a nice looking boat too.

Used Lincoln Chebeague
I saw this used Lincoln Chebeague listing today - it might be appropriate for you - at least the type of water it’s meant for is up your alley. It’s a used $2050 boat for $899 and only weighs 33 lbs. I considered this boat when shopping for a light touring boat earlier this summer, but bought something else. I would have bought this one if available at the time.

Here’s the p-net listing:

It’s a little short for a sea kayak, but you’re on the small side so maybe that’s a good thing.

Maybe it’s close enough to check out — carpe kayak…

Maine Sea Kayaking
The coast of Maine is one of the premier sea kayaking spots anywhere.

If you get less than a real sea kayak, you will probably be replacing it within a year. Talk to people. Demo boats. Accept that is seductive as all get out.

There are great resources for information, training and boats along the coast of Maine: is Mark and Mel’s operation in conjunction with Aquaterra in Bar Harbor. They have boats, expertise and experience. They are also fun people. is John Carmody and Steve Maynard’s operation in Boothbay. John and Steve are two of the most highly regarded coaches anywhere. They are great sources of knowledge, wisdom and experience. is Tom Bergh’s operation on Peaks Island off Portland. Maine Island Kayak holds a special and important position in the development of dedicated sea kayaking in the USA. I don’t know what sea kayaking in the Northeast would be like now if it weren’t for Tom’s work over the past 20 years.

The sea is seductive. Being on the sea in a kayak is sublime. The coast of Maine is a superlative locale.

Wow, thanks everyone for all the terrific information. You have given me a lot to check out and think about. Maybe it’s a good thing that winter is on the way. It will prevent me from impulsively rushing into getting something that isn’t appropriate for what I want to do. 16’ sounds like a lot of boat to me, but the consensus seems to be that that might be what it takes for safety purposes.

Celia’s intuition about seeing the islands and wanting to go a little further for exploration purposes is certainly right on the mark as well. It IS kind of fun to look into what might be around the corner, so to speak. I really appreciate all the responses- kind of overwhelming, actually.

Thanks again! I’ll keep you posted. If anyone has any further ideas, please let me know.