Greenland Style Kayak or not

I am looking to get a kayak for day paddling and potential touring. From my history of paddling I have a thing for the Greenland style of boat but it seems like they are not made as much nowadays. The rare exception is the Seda Glider which claims to deliver safety via speed. I take this to mean it is faster so you will hopefully get there before the weather hits. This implying that it is not as stable or safe as maybe some other shapes?

A little background on my experience: I am middle aged out of shape, moving to the coast and want to get back into some serious ocean kayaking. I used to lead kayak day trips in college 20 years ago. 10 years ago I paddled class 4 white water and taught others to kayak. I think I would have intermediate kayak skills after a few days out.

Boats i am currently looking at:

Seda Glider

Northwest Pursuit

Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 170

I am looking for a 17-19 foot boat for day trips and possible touring down the road. Should I consider a composite greenland style kayak or are there better more modern designs?

loaded question
Here is why - most British style boats would be described as “Greenland Inspired”, with different levels of volume.

When people on this board talk Greenland style boat, they are more often speaking of lean mean rolling machine type of boat.

Here is boat that is “Greenland Inspired” -

But, this one is similar as well -

This one, actually has “Greenlander” in its name-

This would be classified as composite rolling machine -

From a safety point of view

– Last Updated: Jun-15-11 4:38 PM EST –

There is very little difference that you can attribute to speed b/w most 16-18 foot kayaks. Of course, if you plan on "cutting it close", then a split second matters too...

What matters a lot more to me is that some kayaks are much more "user friendly" and protective than others. To me this means: stable enough (to not require constant attention but not more stable than that), easy to roll (low rear decks, low cockpit in the rear and far enough away from the seat so you can actually benefit from it, hull shape/volume distribution that helps you go up...), bulkheads, decent behavior in wind and waves (so as not to require a constant struggle to keep on course should your skeg or rudder fail), comfortable, etc.

Speed is good but I would not look at speed as the primary component of safety (though it can be handy in some currents or waves).

they are out there
But as suiram points out, the term has been applied more broadly as a marketing tool.

Perhaps if you reveal what boat(s) you’ve paddled in the past and what you liked about them so we can narrow the field of comparable kayaks?

Thats what I thought
The boats are fast but at a price. Easy to roll but likely to need to roll in rough conditions. Also the need to me more vigilant with a ready brace when it gets ugly out.

Thinking I should look for something a bit less specialized for my first sea kayak. Now i got to figure out which ones to look at.

many options
There are a LOT of 17-19’ sea kayaks that might work for you. It might be a good investment to pay for a couple of rentals to clean up your rusty skills, putting you in better shape to demo new boats.

The most popular models among “serious” sea kayakers probably include the Explorer, Aquanaut, Tempest, & Cetus They’re certainly worth demoing as a “baseline”.

If you want a rudder boat, the QCC700 might be worth a look.

wait, wait!
Have you seen any SURF kayaks yet?

One thing I got to say - there is no 12 step program from kayaking affliction

I’d Cross Off The Cape Horn
I think your skill level is a little high for the Cape Horn. I tend to think of it as a beginner boat. Just my opinion.

Speed thoughts
It was mentioned that there isn’t a huge difference in speed. I would also add that if paddling with a group, which is safer, you would want to stay with your group anyway, so if you are in a fast-but-tippy craft and your friends are in moderate-but-stable boats, you would be at a disadvantage.

Why 17-19ft.?
I paddle a 16ft NDK Romany and love it. Very good primary and secondary stability. The rougher the water the better the boat performs. As far as speed goes; once again, it is more a product of ones stroke and not the boat. I`m sure you will get many on this site that disagree with that. BTW, the Nordkapp is not a greenland boat.

Mostly WW boats
The last time I paddled a sea kayak regularly it was a scupper for surfing and whatever aquaterra was making 20 years ago for touring.

I have paddled some boats here and there at demos but not sure what I want. So far I have been searching the used market in SLC Utah and San Diego where I am moving to. I picked a Carolina 13.5 but intend to leave this boat for my wife to paddle. At 5’10" and 210 lbs I figure I need at least 17 feet long and 22-23 inches wide. I would like to get a composite boat but would consider the right plastic boat as well.

I like the looks of boats from Seda, Eddyline and Wilderness Systems. So I am keeping my eye out for these boats, but check out any boats reputation in my size range to see if I like what people have to say about them.

I am already an addict
No question I am an addict when it comes to water sports. My house in Wyoming has a raft, canoe and 3 different kayaks in storage.

I was trying to sell off one of my WW boats before moving to the coast but found out one is a good ocean surfing boat so could not get rid of it. If you mean by a 12 step program, owning 12 watercraft I am on my way to being cured.

There’s a Mariner Max for sale here on the classifieds - this is a legendarily awesome sea kayak, good at most things. If I was a thousand miles closer to Colorado I’d go buy it this weekend. Seriously, read the reviews about it, and maybe the description at

Demo Lots of Boats
Check out the local paddle shops and take advantage of their demo days. Test out lots and lots of boats (for free!) One of 'em is bound to grab you. I wouldn’t cross off 15 and 16 foot boats, either.

At your size …
… I see a Tempest 170 in your future -:wink: (smoke rising from the crystal ball)

Demo first

– Last Updated: Jun-16-11 8:01 AM EST –

Seadart has it above (oops, below). Try more current boats in the planned conditions then decide. There is a reason that WS is selling more Tempests than Cape Horns now, that kind of thing.

The lower profile boats marketed as Greenland style are plenty stable. Stability in waves is about hull details that are quite varied within the large number of boats that kayak manufacturers are calling Greenland style.

They are often also more maneuverable than the go-straight, higher decked older designs like the Cape Horn, and a hell of a lot easier to roll. Older hand WW folks seem to expect a sea kayak to be a big non-responsive thing. Isn't so, at least with what is out there now. And the lower profile, more maneuverable boats are a lot more fun on the water. That's why you are out there, yes?

Unless you have some particular interest in speed for its own sake, you may want to rethink your length requirements. There are some really nice, fun, solid boats that'll get you home with length 16 ft and change. Also, you usually can't outrun a really bad weather change on the ocean. You either got in ahead of it or you are getting creative on how and where to land.

If you've paddled class 4 WW, you should find a roll in one of the lower profile sea kayaks to be a piece of cake. It's a lot easier to roll the narrow profile around your hips of these boats, thnt the box shape of many of the Play boats. A capsize in and of itself should be no problem. (and salt water is a LOT nicer on the sinuses)

When you actually move to San Diego …
Go down to Aqua Adventures on Mission Bay and test drive several boats. Seda Glider is fast but certainly not very good for coastal paddling in waves. I don’t think you have a real good grip of what paddling in coastal conditions is like. Best to try some different boats and then start shopping.

Great advice
I just got done with a sinus infection and used salt water to clean out the sinus passages, wish I could just have gone sea kayaking instead.

I bought one of those new WW play boats and never got the hang of rolling it consistently. I would have gotten rid of it if it was not a good surf boat.

I guess i am just looking for a good deal on a boat to get back in the water as often as I can. I hope paddling very often will get me back into shape, get my paddling skills up to par and let me choose the right boat for a skinnier, stronger me.

I am still half way between SLC and SD so I can look in both places and submit recommendations when the boats come available.

An actual Greenland hull
The Current Designs Caribou is a hard shine hull which means it tracks well, but turns very well when put on edge. It is (maybe too)roomy for me At 5’9" and 180#.

It’s speedy. I have never had trouble keeping up with groups. There may be one or two faster people in the group, but they are not faster boats just faster paddlers.

At 21.5" wide it sounds tippy, but is actually quite stable, shallow V bottom and hard chines. It’s fun in serious wind kicking up 3 to 4 foot wind swell with whitecaps breaking on top of me, getting air off of one wave and the bow plunging under water back to the cockpit. It wallows this way and that with a rear quartering sea, but with the skeg half way down it tracks true. I have to brace occasionally, but I need no course correction. (I know, that’s hard to believe. I didn’t believe it myself the first time it happened.)

Also, it garners lots of admiration from other kayakers.


Oops! Forgot. It rolls well and judging by my backpacking experience I could stuff enough gear and food inside for a week, maybe more.