good beginner kayak?

i live on the shoreline in ct so most of my paddling would be done in the sound or small, slow moving rivers. can anyone recommend one that would cost maybe in the range of 500-700 new or used? thanks

The Sound
Unless you go used and plastic, you are unlikely to find a boat for the Sound at that money. Consider this option and you have a shot - you’d still have to find a good price but that’s possible.

That price for a new boat gets you a relatively no/low frills rec boat that can be a lot of fun on protected waters, but isn’t a good boat for a newbie in the conditions that can occur in the LI Sound.

thats what i figured. so i will most likely go used then. any suggestions are appreciated though, regardless of price

kayaking the sound

I have an Old Town Loon 138,which is a rec boat,but I bring it anywhere. I take it out to Duck Island with no problems. This kayak is plastic,so I can run it aground(which I have for 10 years,with no ill effects)without worrying about my $2,000 toy. New these go for about $750,but I know of an even better model used,it’s a 14 Ft. Nantucket,going for $700,with the spray skirt and cockpit cover(no paddle included,the guy needs it for his new boat). E-mail me if you’re interested,Ron

Depends somewhat on your size
And I agree with Celia, a used plastic boat would probably a good bet. Valley makes good plastic boats, which include the Skerrey, Avocet, Aquanaut, and even the Nordkapp. CD Siroco is a good boat that is beginner friendly, but you won’t get bored with it when your skills imporve. Also, P&H Capellas would be a good choice. I’d stay away from the true rec boats. They’re fine for calm water, but will not perform very well when the waves kick up.

Where in CT

– Last Updated: Feb-20-08 11:06 AM EST –

What would be your most likely launch point for a day paddle? While the third of a mile to Duck Island may work OK with something like the Loon with prudent weather watching, you can move east a bit and be in a world of risk very fast as you move out towards Fishers Island.

Also, would you like to learn skills like rolling etc with this boat if possible? If yes, boats like those that have been recommended above by ckayaker11 would be apt. It'd be tricker to get these under $800 used, but it might be worth considering.

They would also be heavier to load and unload than a shorter boat of course...

beginner kayak
I have a Bic Bilboa - it cost less than $500 new and it’s a great beginner kayer - it also has a wheel on it so it’s easy to walk right to your destination. It’s a sit on top model.

Price Limit = Danger
Long Island Sound can be a dangerous place. A beginner should proceed cautiously. If you have decent coordination, some seamanship skills and know how to swim you may do alright on day one in any real sea kayak. Finding that real sea kayak for less than $500 will be the challenge. Don’t forget you will also need a good PFD, paddle, Paddle float, perhaps some training classes, etc…

For typical L.I. Sound waters, I suggest avoiding those short recreational kayaks with large open cockpits. Many people will mistakernly think of these boats as beginner kayaks. I suppose they are if the beginner has no aspirations for real open water sea kayaking. These are fine for protected coves on nice days. But if you see yourself paddling proficiently in open water then you need to think about longer kayaks with real cockpits, bulkheads, etc…

I just checked the classifieds for CT, MA and RI. The only boat there that I think was suitable for you was a Greenlander Pro. This is not necessarily a “beginners boat.” However, I assume most paddlers skills will improve quickly to suit their boat. I think it was $1,500. This is probably the price range for most real used composite sea kayaks that are designed for open water use.

I think a plastic boat like a Tempest 165 or 170 would be a good choice, however I would expect even one of these to be closer to $1000, used in fair to good condition.

$500 does not buy much in the way of serious sports equipment whether you are a biker, skier, snowboarder, sailor, windsurfer or kayaker. But these are also sports where you are relying on your equipment for your personal safety. I guess what I am saying is that you need to be careful not to let your limited budget put you into a dangerous situation.

Asses your goals, determine what equipment will alow you to achieve them safely, and then be willing to pay the appropriate price for the proper equipment. I would hate to see a strict price limit create a dangerous situation for you. You may have to just be very patient and diligent looking for the right boat to become available at the right price.

guilford or branford would be my launching point. i found a 14 foot necky looksha on craigslist, would this be suitable?

Meaning of suitable

– Last Updated: Feb-20-08 2:23 PM EST –

I see a point between Branford and Guilmont that could provide a lot of protection if you stayed inside it. I also see a string of small islands just east of there that would be awfully tempting to paddle to on a lovely day. That is in general a very open part of the bay. I've taken the ferry into Port Jefferson from CT, not way far west of there, and had interesting rides.

But it's time to stop talking about the boat for a moment. As someone on this board will say before long, a less than ideal boat in the hands of a very skilled paddler will be a safer combination than a really hot sh*t sea keyak in the hands of someone who can't paddle well. If you want to get out into open water, your first step should be figuring out how to find a paddler's club and/or outfitter that you can go out with, get some skills work with, that kind of thing. Many paddle clubs run skills sessions in nice warm pools over the winter as well as having sessins outside once the water temps get more tolerable. These tend to be relatively low cost ways to getsome basics down, and they are not a bad source of used boats either.

If the Sound beckons, you should probably start looking around for that.

If you are willing to stay in protected water, the aptness of the 14' Looksha will have a lot to do with how well you fit it (your height and weight) and your specific goals for what you want to learn to do with it. A hugely large boat for you, for example, won't be as kind about helping you learn skills as one that is a little better matched in overall volume. And that isn't about length, but about hull design and fit in the cockpit and other things that can vary wildly within the same length of boat.

However, for just going up and down a protected river or inland pond almost anything will work.

It might be worth your while to find out how strongly the tide affects the rivers thru there, for example whether the current gets squirrely in places or you have to work a bit to paddle against it. In that case, something that has a little more speed could be helpful.

$800 would buy you
a (new) 2006 plastic Tempest 170, on sale now in Monterey

Presumably you can find the same deal in other parts of the country

would that be suitable?

check craigslist

Put the idea of buying a boat on the shelf for a little bit, and join ConnYak ( I think it costs about $20 for a year’s membership. You will be exposed to a wealth of information, skill building, and good people to guide you safely with this sport. My guess is that you will know exactly what to do before long.


but this is better
and it’s in Connecticut. At twice the cost. From the classified ads:



(CT) Azul Sultan 18’ Brit style kayak - fast, best of rest group after QCC 700 and Epic. Made with Nomax kevlar honeycomb material- very stiff and light- 48lbs $1500 – Submitted by: ret603

Info on the Azul Sultan:

Paddling in the ocean and in small, slow rivers are quite different.

The reasons most people don’t suggest “recreational” kayaks for the ocean is that they usually don’t have adequate built-in flotation, which makes self-rescue difficult. The large cockpits are vulnerable to waves, and the fit is usually so loose that edge control is difficult. If you’re going to paddle a rec boat on the ocean, you should have the discipline stay close to shore and to only paddle in good weather.

What’s your size and weight?

im 6’0" 200


– Last Updated: Feb-20-08 2:58 PM EST –

The original Looksha Sport(14'?) was fine for an average-to-large paddler but too big for a small one. Very maneuverable, would be fine for rivers. Weathercocked badly without the rudder deployed. Don't know about the current Looksha 14.

2008 Specs
Cockpit 35" and change by 16" and change wide. Load capacity appears to be substantial, though there aren’t numbers. I think I saw thigh braces, maybe optional.

Question is whether the one for sale is for a 2008 model - sounds like they may have changed the boat around a bit for this year.

Strictly speaking the 2008 description sounds like it’d work for a 6’1" 200 lb paddler. (It wouldn’t even be close for me.) “Work” meaning it turns, has decent floatation and rigging for self-rescue and goes forward OK enough to keep up with other paddlers… as long as they aren’t in a Sultan - that sucker is fast :wink:

Agree with Lou - check out ConnYak and see if three are any pool sessions in basic skills you can get into. The absolute best way to figure out what everyone is talking about is to start working with boats, and the water’s still a little chilly for those without drysuits, skills and paddling friends.

March 1 - Paddle Smart Event
March 1 Paddle Smart event might be of interest to you.

Here is some info:

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Boating Division, in cooperation with ConnYak, the City of New Haven Department of Parks and Recreation, and the US Coast Guard, will present an afternoon of safe paddling demonstrations and information sessions on Saturday, March 1, at the Wilbur Cross High School, 181 Mitchell Drive, New Haven from 1 PM to 4 PM. All demonstrations take place at the indoor pool.

The event is free of charge and will feature in-pool demonstrations and other topics including self-rescue, choosing the right craft and communications.

Here is a link to info: