Got a Few kayaks in Mind, need help

-- Last Updated: Mar-17-06 11:02 AM EST --

I am going to buy my first kayak next week, but I can't decide whether to go with My first choice the Old Town Cayuga 160, My second choice the Old Town XL 160, third choice Dagger Specter 15.0 or last the Perception Carolina. While I am 5'7" 220 I am looking for a combination of speed and comfort. I have used several old town models over the years, but I have also used Dagger, as well as others over the five years I have been kayaking. Can anyone advise if any of those listed above is better for growth. While I have been paddling for five years it's been only on the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries. I want to be able to load up the station wagon and diversify, but I must say I love the Chessie and Potomac and will spend alot more time there again.
Anyhow, any advice is appreciated!!!!


Wow!!!! What great advice from you all. I would like to thank all who offered their advice.
Truly there is a great diversity among the paddlers as there is a variety of people in general.
Anyhow, I have a friend who lives on a tributary of the Bay that is also the primary approach of the Delaware Canal. While freighters are abound, it is a complex waterway that leads into the canal/Bay. This is going to be where I would store my boat but it has also been the source of my experience. My father in law lives in St Michaels MD and where his property is, is a creek that is just above the confluence of the Choptank River and the Bay. So in the five years I've been paddling these are the two places with instant water access. Unfortunately I have had to rely on their availability and that more unfotunately their yak availability. So, while I have been at it for some time, I am not hat experienced. Within this vein, I made a decision due to the stressful nature of my life at present
to channel my frustrations into a more constructive endeavor. My times kayaking those tributaries of good ole Chessie Bay are the most peaceful, relaxing, sedating and wondrous times of my life. It is thus that I am making a committment to getting a boat that is within my price range and get some lessons from a local instructor, get a roof rack, and every two days I have off, one will be spent with my yak ! The other with my Guiness drinking Goats!!!
With all of the above in mind, would a sea kayak be good to learn in, be good to grow in, and most importantly something I can afford. Oh, and could I take it moose watching which is the next goal I have is to save for a moose watching paddling excursion!
If anyone knows any kayak clubs in Maryland, or Kayak instructors in Maryland, please let me know!


Buying a new kayak
Be smart, of your listed choices buy the Perception Carolina. I live in ME, I am a Master Sea Kayak Guide. We try never to sell or put people out in Old Town products that want to do more than totally protected small pond, gentle flatwater rivers, and small coves. They are slow, wide, and very, very stable. You will grow in the sport so please buy a boat that is a bit more money but that will have great resale value when/if you have truly gotten bitten by the kayak bug and want a boat that meets your new needs. The Perception Carolina will offer you stability now and the abilty to handle most types of waves and wind conditions that you are likely to encounter as you start in the sport, yet move along easily with others that have touring sea kayaks. If you haven’t taken a lesson or two and know how to paddle correctly and do a wet exit with a solo reentry back into your boat - PLEASE DO.

try some other boats too
The carolina and the spectra are similar style boats (maybe the spectra is a bit shorter).

My highly-biased opinion is to -try- a “true” sea kayak before you purchase any of these boats.

What I mean by a “true” sea kayak is 16+ feet long and 22-23 inches wided. Some reasonable examples (there are -many- of these boats) is the Wilderness Systems Tempest and Perception Eclipse. You might find that these kinds of boats have a bit more room to “grow into”.

There should be places in your area to demo these kinds of boats.

By my preference, the carolina and the specter are two wide and a bit too short. (not that they are bad boats).

Note that all that I am suggesting is to try some other kinds of boats. You might hate them and prefer the carolina or specter (that would be OK by me).

congrats !!!
congrats on getting a new boat soon !!!


– Last Updated: Mar-15-06 2:18 PM EST –

Hi mooseydog,

I'm not sure if "next week" is just an arbitrary moment you chose for purchasing your new boat, or if you need to launder some cash soon (just kidding! ;-)), but after five years of paddling, if you still can't quite make up your mind on a first boat, perhaps you're either suffering from fear of commitment issues or the right boat for you just hasn't found you yet.

I'm the type of person who doesn't mind listening to my intuition, and the times when I'm most in tune with my intuition are when I'm most passionate about something (as with musical instruments and boats). There's something that always goes through my mind when I'm approaching a decision like this: "If I look hard and well enough, it will find me." In both cases (purchasing either musical instruments or boats), I've always been patient, and I've always listened for the very distinct "Here I am!" If you haven't yet heard those words either whispered or shouted into your heart, perhaps you're still looking to be found?


I agree with the 2 above posters that said shy away from Old Town other than for protcted paddles and to try a sea yak 16-18 feet.

You will rapidly outgrow an Old Town anything for the padling you intend to do. My pop has one, and although he loves its stability, it is slow. A 160 would have an excessive cockpit for you, and it will be hard to fit a srayskirt and such.

Try a sea kayak. For instance, a nice 23-24inch beam Prijon Seayak (16 feet) is a wonderful kayak for conditions you mention… very exceptional blow molded plastic ( see pnet reviews and )

Try a sea kayak.

Check out a Current Designs
Pachena DX in fiberglass. It is a bit more expensive than the boats listed ($2200) not on sale. I bought mine at end of season last October for $1800 new. Glass glides very nice and this boat is stable enough to fish out of. Although I have not had it out on Lake Michigan yet, I believe it is capable as long as you are smart. The hull is a similar design to the Solstice series, just four feet shorter. I had several plastic boats before I got this one…I like it much better. Demo a bunch…I am about your same weight and could not comfortably squeeze into a Prijion SeaYak, but maybe you could. I even think 220-lbs is pushing the top end of Prijion’s recommended paddler weight for that boat.

Chesapeake Bay

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 5:56 PM EST –

Go for something that is intended to be a sea kayak. We've paddled a little of the Chesapeake Bay area, in what would normally rate as a somewhat protected area (St Mary's River and to the mouth), and have encountered fairly serious conditions from the long fetch that the wind has down there. When we were out last year we were very glad to be in 17 plus foot boats for the return trip. One guy, a local lawyer who was a regular in the local paddling club, turned into a statistic just a peninsula away from us on that trip.
Just came back from a few days visiting, and flew down rather than drive with our boats this time. It was just as well - for two days and one night St Mary's River was in a condition that would have kept us limited to the creeks and rivers that fed into St Mary's anyway. Winds constant at solidly over 20 mph with gusts to 30 - the stuff that can be paddled but there has got to be an awfully good reason to work that hard.

Dagger “Specter” not fast
I am a bit heavier than you, and have paddled the Dagger Specter. I was not impressed at all.

When I put some effort into the paddle strokes, to build some speed, the water curled up from the bow, like snow from a snow plow. It felt like someone was putting on the brakes. I believe it would be better for a light weight person, but not for someone our weight.

The Old Town Adventure series is a lot better for what you have in mind.

Or go to Composite, and look closely at what “Impex” has to offer.

Happy Paddling!

is right… I did not see your weight. The Prijon Kodiak would be the boat for you, moosey.

Many on here saying demo, and don;t be afriad of a sea kayak, even for protected waters and wide streams and lakes.

Love your name, makes me smile.

Don’t rely to heavy on the advice from this board. Not that it is bad, just that it is quite diverse and you may end up more confused. Set your budget (sounds like you have already done that with your current picks. If possible, demo any of these that you can to narrow the choices. Find a couple of reputable gear stores and get there advice as well.

  • Cool Dr… You continue to give advise based on your only experience and your “water”. It’s OK that you have an opinion, but remember that not EVERYONE needs a sea kayak. There are tons of folks who have a fantastic time in a $500 rec boat. Don’t feel the need to discourage every prospective buyer because it is not “YOUR” boat.

    Moosey, have fun, don’t have a stroke over this decision, and most of all, enjoy the buying process. It is often as much fun as the purchase.

    Best of Luck,


jboyd, check your reading glasses
NJKayaker was first to suggest sea kayak, and celia and others have seconded that.

I am glad you are happy with your rec yak.

A bit of this and that…
Hi Jay,

“mooseydog” did mention, after all, a desire to find a boat that would allow both “growth” (paddling skills, I presume) and “diversification” of paddling venues, so considering this, I have no problem with people recommending that if he hasn’t already, perhaps he could at least try some “full grown sea kayaks”…just to see what he thinks of them.

As a “full grown sea kayak” enthusiast myself, I can say that with the exception of Class II-III+ rivers and creeks, dedicated shore break surfing, and perhaps some tight spaces in the more claustrophobic of sea caves and rock gardens, a “full grown sea kayak” is indeed one of the more versatile types of “kayak” available. I paddle my 17’8" and 18’ sea kayaks in small wetlands, canals, slow rivers (both small and large), lakes (both small and large), along open coastlines (including some sea caves and rock gardens), and on wide open water several miles offshore. These boats really do “take care of me” in all sorts of conditions that all these venues I mentioned can offer up. In all sincerity, how many types of boat can claim that kind of wide ranging versatility while maintaining such a high level of seaworthiness and an opportunity for the growth of skills?

At the same time, I can fully understand and appreciate your concern as expressed, as I don’t think that any of us would like to feel responsible for discouraging anyone from enjoying their time on the water; in whatever type of boat they might prefer (as long as we felt that reasonable safety concerns were also taken into consideration).


It was the Chesapeake Bay part
What little paddling we’ve done down there has given us a good bit of respect for it. If Moosey had not mentioned that part, I’d not have recommended the longer boat. If someone has experience paddling the more open areas of Chesapeake Bay and honestly feels that more of a rec type boat will get you home in the local conditions, they should weigh in.

Prijion TourYak may also
be your cup of tea. It is a bit shorter than the Kodiak and has a larger cockpit opening for enhanced comfort. It is rated to handle a 220-lber.

Points taken…
And I was not suggesting that a sea yak is not needed. I was just suggesting a more relaxed approach to buying. My Bad.

BTW…Cooldoc, you are wrong, though I have had rec boats, i paddle a Mamba 8.5 Not a REC Boat, so don’t assume.


Capella or pintail on a class 2
river no big deal!

jboyd, did I do something to offend you?
Save your venom for a noble cause, like saving the wildebeasts or something. We are having an intelligent discussion here to help moosey, thank you.

No one has mentioned…
Necky kayaks. Built for big water and bigger guys/gals. I would have recommended the Necky Kyook+, but it is no longer made. Maybe you could find one used. A great sea-worthy kayak for a beginner or advanced paddler. Save the Wildebeests? Now that’s a worthy cause!

More options…

– Last Updated: Mar-18-06 9:49 PM EST –

Mike, lots of options out there. So here is my $0.02 worth. It sounds like you want to get a boat for paddling soon, think about a used boat as a temperary step for the next season or two while you take some lesons. This may end up being a rec or SOT. I've enjoyed both myself. I got a used Loon 160T for cheep, that we paddle around quit a bit. I don't take it out to the ocean, but we have fun in it none the less. In between I've tried on and demoed different boats.
As far as other options, Necky's reputation is for bigger cockpits. See for various models. I've demo'd a Necky Eskia that I fit in, I'm 6-4, 250. Its got good stability for a 16 foot sea kayak, but other's noted that it weathercocks a bit. Which seemed to be the case for me too.
Also, Wilderness Systems Tsumani line they refer to as transitional touring.
I've only sat in one, but again the cockpit is bigger than most of the rest of their boats. Their seats seem really nice and supportive, and the Tsunami's are supposed to not weathercock so much.
I'm leaning towards a Tsunami 165/175, but waiting for WS to ship one to the local shop (southwind ;o) for their rental fleet. Also I'm looking at an XL160 if I can figure out where to demo one.
Finnaly, my experience with Perception's Eclipse is it not as stable as I need at this point as a newbe. Others in a class I was in noted they thought it was too tippy for them too. However, if you have lots of experience in true sea kayaks, you may like it. I only say this, as I believe someone mentioned the Eclipse above, and it doesn't sound like you have a lot of sea kayak experience. If I'm wrong on these two points, I appologize. Enjoy your new boat, and happy paddling, Don