Hi there! Noob from north shore Massachusetts here. Been lurking for some time absorbing the amazing knowledge here and finally joined, so wanted to be polite and say hi.

I started paddling 6 years ago by joining local clubs that run river and lake boathouses and rent out to people. They give lessons and tours too, and over the years I’ve taken a few of those and loved them. I’ve been slowly exploring and learning flatwater skills and gaining confidence and am finally really wanting to take the step into more.

My goal is to eventually be able to commute via Kayak when I want to. For me that means down the mystic, along the inner harbor to the Charles Locks, and up to the Kendall MIT Boat Docks. To do this safely I will need to start learning Sea Kayak skills, which is great because I also want to start doing some trips both along the coast and to local islands. Also inland, including kayak camping.

My favorite boats so far are Neckys. I just adore how smooth and slippy they are, how easy to connect with and edge. Given I haven’t tried more than a small selection. I’ve yet to try and Eddyline and am told I’d love them too.

My problem is I’m a small middle-aged woman and am pretty much on my own. None of my friends paddle, and those friends who might be interested are either in other states or other countries. I don’t have a car with a roof rack either, though I am saving for one.

My solution thus far has been my Oru. I love it’s mobility, though it’s incredibly slow. However, I can’t use it for the lessons and skills I am about to start learning, and I wouldn’t take it out into salt water past certain areas of the inner harbor. So, after having a good look at one, I decided to pull the trigger on a Pakayak.

After I get my car, I plan to get a Hullivator and a solid one-piece Kayak. That planning is going to take a few years though, and I don’t want to slow my progress in learning and moving out into new areas. So for now, this is a really good option and may even be a viable commute boat later…

Anyway, that’s me. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all the great knowledge and information here! This site has been an important part of my journey thus far, even if I haven’t been active in it. IDK how active I will actually be either… though it would be nice to get to know other paddlers in my area. =)

Hi, and welcome! You have some estimable ambitions there – kayak commuting into the Hub! (I grew up in Waltham – Dad was a BU prof).

I’m a VERY middle-aged female (69 – guess I will have to call myself “elderly” after my birthday this summer), though fairly average sized. There are some other “ladies of a certain age” on the forums who will be able to offer you good advice as you tune in to what you want and need from a boat.

My own tastes trend towards the light and portable. You already have experience of that with the Oru – if you want to look at a more seaworthy folding kayak, PakBoats based in New Hampshire has skin on frame folding kayaks that might be worth a look, even a weekend drive up to their location for a test paddle in Enfield (2 hours from Boston) once the weather warms up. Unfortunately they discontinued their Quest 135 which was a touring kayak tailored for smaller folks – I have one (and have owned 4 other Pakboat models). But they still make the slightly larger Quest 150 (15’ long, 31 pounds) and you can sometimes find used 135’s for sale.

Welcome to the community! Sounds as if you have a well thought-out plan in place and that’s great.

Do you want to commute by kayak to your work? Doable for sure in the right area; I recall reading about a guy who lives in NJ and paddles to his job in Manhattan.

You mention you’re a small woman, so you might consider looking into low volume boats designed for small paddlers when you’re ready to shop for a hard shell one piece boat. Always fun to demo as many as you can. Sometimes you get lucky and find one used.

Completely understand how hard it can be to find paddling companions. Sometimes there are kayak meet-ups in a given area but on the other hand, solo paddling can be quite rewarding as well.

Let us know how you like that Pakayak.

I did neglect to mention that you are in a prime area for being able to test a range of models and makes of boats as well as to find a good selection of used kayaks. Find the various kayak dealers around town (and there are some really great ones in Maine as well) and connect with them. Most dealers will have Spring demo days where you can test models on the water. When you are outside of the “average” parameters of adult size it really is important to be able to “try on” kayaks. Having a boat that is properly scaled to your body metrics makes a huge difference in comfort and performance.

Plus, those of us who can fit in smaller scaled low-volume boats benefit from them being slightly lighter than the standard versions. My only hardshell plastic kayak is a 15’ long 22" beam Venture Easky LV (low volume) that only weighs 45 pounds so I am still able to lift it onto my roof rack without mechanical assistance.

But I do much prefer my folding kayaks and skin on frame boat which are mostly under 30 pounds. Unlike with the Oru, it is possible to carry an aluminum framed folding kayak on the roof rack. I often leave my folding kayaks set up all season and carry them on the roof. It takes about 30 minutes to set one up and about 10 or 15 minutes to break them down, so unless I have to fold them for secure storage I tend to leave them set up.

Also, dealers are a good source of information on local instruction (my local dealer runs the lessons on technique themselves including offering winter pool sessions) and they can help you connect with local paddler organizations and outing clubs.


Thanks so much for your replies! Awesome you know the areas I’m talking about then! =D

Yes, I have heard of Pakboats. I looked at them for a while, because I love the portability of the foldables too. I kind of wish I had gone with them instead of Oru actually. I picked Oru because of the backpack, faster setup and take down time, and the lighter form factor - and it’s hard-bodied, though not so much so as the one-piece boats. What they don’t tell you is the neoprene cuffs at each end create incredible drag! And make the boat super noisy to boot. It’s a great boat for a leisurely paddle or if you want to train your stroke and core strength. And great to get into lakes in the middle of a woods somewhere without nearby parking and access aside from paths. That’s about where it ends though. Still, I do love it.

Perhaps the next time I look at a foldable/portable I will go with them… I will certainly give one a test drive.

The biggest reason I went with Pakayak for this purchase is its two fully sealed bulkheads. I really wanted that both for safety flotation and for packing gear for trips. Because that’s another goal - I fully intend to start doing full day trips this year and either by the end of summer or next year start doing some Kayak Camping. I love camping and through hiking, so kayak camping hold a huge interest for me.

You’re so right about this area having a load of kayak sellers. Many actually run boathouses that rent and then sell their kayaks used. One of the groups out of Cape Ann has a lease for the summer and then buy if you like it program that gives you a bit of a discount on the boat. I thought that was a super cool idea, and they do carry Eddyline I think… I’d really like to try one of them. Most places though seem to all have the same stuff brands. Old Town, Perception, Dagger, Wilderness Systems and Ocean Kayak. I definitely haven’t been able to visit everywhere I want to yet though, so I’m sure I’ll eventually run into more. =)

Thank you for the advice about dealers being a good source of info on lessons! I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I know most of the clubs in the area - who as I mentioned also sell - do have lessons. I’ve taken a couple from Charles River Canoe and Kayak in past years and plan to take an intermediate course with them this summer. Essex River Basin Kayak has a great course for Sea Kayaking, but you need at least a wetsuit and possibly a drysuit - I have neither yet. (These courses don’t start until summer) I am looking at both though. If I am to start training rescues and rolls in New England Coastal waters, even in summer I think I will definitely appreciate a dry suit.

I say I’m small, but maybe I’m more average? 5’3". Still I feel like I’m smaller than many people active in the sport for more than a year… perhaps my poor perception.

Absolutely right about fit of a boat though! That really can’t be emphasized enough. You really do need to try everything you can and make sure the boat you choose fits you.

Hi! Thank you for the warm welcome!

I’ve heard about that guy in NJ too. There’s another guy here in Boston. He commutes down the Charles to the dock where I would be commuting to as well… at least he used to. IDK if he still does it. He was on the news for it here some time back and that kind of gave me the idea. I’ve done the commute route a couple of times now just to feel it out and for fun, and man, it would be SO much nicer than the commuter rail or the bus and subway… :smiley: At least it would in nice enough weather… :laughing:

What defines “Low Volume” boats? I find I am most comfortable in 13’ to 14’ boats. I can handle a 15’ but prefer not to if possible. And aside from one Necky I tried that was a 16’-er, I dislike anything above 15.5’. They’re just too long for me to steer well. I have attributed that to my size…

The length of the Pakayak was a draw for me. It’s hard-bodied, had two good sized bulkheads, and is a 14’-er. Right in my comfort zone. And it’s honestly not that much heavier than any Manitou I’ve lugged down a ramp, though because it’s in sections I can carry it in halves or by section if I wanted. I’ve gotten to try it out on a couple of occasions, put it together, took it apart and packed it up, and rolled the case and attempted to carry it - not very far though. LOL It’s definitely manageable and with some more strength training I should be able to do better on the carrying part should I ever need to. I’m very much looking forward to when mine gets here and when I can get it in the water. :grin:

I am definitely looking forward to trying out more brands and models of boats in the future though. It will still be a while before I can get a single-piece hard bodied boat, but when I do I will still want it to have two bulkheads with hatches.

I did join a couple of meet-up groups for Kayakers last year and then didn’t think to look at them. Earlier this week I went to check them and one has been inactive for some time, but I found the other is doing winter pool lessons not far from my home town! For free. This is exciting. When my boat arrives I think I’ll sign up and go check it out. They’re also having a free 4-class series on safety and rescues in all kinds of water. The last one is in ocean. It’s starts in April but I already signed up for it. Refreshers are always great and I usually learn something new, and they’ll also be covering beginners skills in areas I don’t have experience in. It’s perfect. And maybe I’ll meet some paddling and practice friends too.

Not that I mind solo paddling - I agree, it’s very rewarding.

Hello S4ltcid (how do you pronounce that name?), welcome to your coming-out-of-lurking-mode party!

If you’re using commercially available boats, and especially if their cockpits are a bit too roomy for you to properly “wear” the boat, it’s never a bad idea to do some custom outfitting. So much of boat control, comfort, and confidence comes from a boat that fits you really, really well. Short of building your own boat and custom designing it to fit your every measurement, it’s usually not entirely possible to simply “choose a boat” that will “fit”, as is. I’m sure many here will be happy to help you with ideas to customize the fit of your cockpit(s) when you’re ready for it.

Happy paddling! :slight_smile:

Hi, S4ltcid.

Those pool classes sound great. Nothing like warm water in the middle of winter.

Low volume (LV) boats generally are narrower, have lower decks, and have lower volume overall. Knee/thigh pads are more readily accessible for our shorter legs and hip pads fit much better. The manufacturer will note the model’s paddle fit is for a SM paddler (or sometimes SM-MD).

As watersprite mentioned, good cockpit fit makes a world of difference in boat control. A well fitting cockpit allows you to hold the boat on edge and carve turns, regardless of the length of the kayak. It needs to be comfortable as well, since you’re sitting in it for hours.

What model Eddyline are you interested in?

Hi Watersprite! Thanks so much for your reply!

Huh, I thought I had changed my name on here to reflect the correct spelling… S4tcid was a mashup I came up with for my Gmail account. The handle I generally use online is Salticid, which is the scientific name for a certain creature I quite love. (Many don’t so I’ll avoid triggering anyone by leaving it at that. =) ) Pronounced “Salt - ih - sid”.

Simply Salt or Salty or Hey You also works. :grin:

Yes, this is exactly true. I fully expect to have to make modifications to the cockpit - in fact I will be doing this repeatedly over time as I’m on a fitness and weight loss program and am gradually shrinking… :smiley:

I have found though that even with commercial boats, there’s ones that ‘fit’ and require mods, and ones that really “Fit!” and would require far less modification. Finding those requires trying various makes and models, but also when you do buy making sure the cockpit and seating/padding that comes with the boat are as close to your needs/measurements as possible. So to a degree it’s possible to find a “fit” in a commercial boat. Just that fit will most likely need to be modified on top of what you buy.

That said, I feel like “fit” is also more than that. For instance I’ve paddled some Daggers that had cockpits that were really well padded at hip and thigh so that they arguably fit me far better than the Looksha I love to paddle at my local club. Yet I really disliked the feel of them, I still found them more difficult to edge, track and turn fast. I feel like the “fit” of a boat is also the “feel” you have in controlling and connecting with it, and that doesn’t seem to me to only be in the cockpit size and the padding that connects you to the boat? But also in the design and shape of the boat. IDK…

I would LOVE to have a custom built boat someday! That’s far out of my planning and price range right now though. One day. I can dream! :grin:

edit to add: I would love some ideas and help when it comes time to mod padding. I’m looking forward to it.

Ah, I see! Thanks so much for explaining Rookie.

For now what I’m mainly looking for is a boat that handles the way I like and then I can deal with cockpit padding - though yes, I know that’s key. Honestly the Pakayak is a compromise, it’s not ideal no, but it’s good enough for what I am able to manage right now - meaning storage, transport and such - and I do intend to mod it. The cockpit isn’t as huge as it looks though and is actually pretty comfortable.

I wish I knew what model… I haven’t tried any kind of Eddyline yet, I’m just told I’d like them. I haven’t found a place here that demos them yet, though I think there may be at least one up on Cape Ann, so I am hoping I get a chance to get up there this summer.

Do you have any recommendations?
My favorite boats so far are the Necky Manitou and Looksha. I’m so sad Necky is gone. =( But I might look for a used boat one day, when I do start looking for a one-piece boat, if I don’t find anything I like better by then.

Edit to add:
I found a post after replying where someone linked to a video on cold water paddling dress tips - they had an acronym, “Be WISE”.
I don’t cold water paddle and don’t plan on it any time soon, but water temp safety is always of interest to me because it’s so underestimated and important. So I clicked.

Turns out the video is from Newbury Kayak and Canoe, which is the place I mentioned above who is doing the free pool session and the free 4 course intro series later this spring!

I had never heard of them before finding those session on meetup the other day… So I went to their You Tube Channel and there’s not a lot yet. But there’s a shop tour too, so I decided to just Google the store for a website. Their site says that even though it’s winter, the water is open and so are they. I think I may go up there to check it out -Newbury isn’t far from me. Not this weekend, this weekend is PAX East. But maybe next weekend.

Anyway, long story short, they have and potentially demo Eddyline! :smiley:
Among a bunch of other brands I have never seen before.
It sure is putting the cart before the horse - I won’t be able to get a boat like that till at least winter of 2021, probably spring 2022. And that’s being optimistic. But, I am really exited about that store and the possibility of getting to try some of those models!

I see what you mean about Low Volume, it looks like they have a low volume model called Rio. And it looks interesting to try. But considering I want to get into Kayak Camping, I might end up going for something larger… The Journey actually looks really good to me.
Knowing me I am likely to try every model though. :grin:

The Kayak Centre in Rhode Island is another good place to snoop. It is in Wickford year round

The Eddyline Rio is a recreational day touring kayak – at under 12’ it is not really suitable for what your stated goals are (coastal paddling, commuting and hatch space for gear for overnight trips.) Though the Rio is probably the most efficient short kayak on the market, shorter boats are just slower than longer ones and you would be working harder to get where you wanted to go with most of them.

Sea kayaks are generally longer and narrower than day touring designs. A 15 foot boat can have the same volume as a shorter boat because shorter boats have to be wider in the beam. You have to have a boat’s hull displace a volume of water sufficient to support the weight of the paddler and their gear. So shorter boats can be a problem for us smaller folk because the added width to get that volume means the cockpit is too roomy for us and (worst for me) the wider beam and sometimes deeper hull means that my hands hit the gunwales (sides) of the boat when I am paddling.

I am 5’ 5" but have a short upper body and arms so functionally in a kayak I am closer to 5’ 3". I have found the boats under 23" beam work best for me. I currently have kayaks that are 12’, 13’ 6", 14’, 15’, 15’ 7" and 18’. (four of them are folding kayaks). The 15’ kayaks are the most versatile for me, and I used to feel that I would not be comfortable in coastal conditions in anything shorter than that, but the 13’ 6" Pakboat that I have only had for 3 years has impressed me enough that I would be confident in taking it out in big open water. I live inland, so I don’t get onto the ocean or Great Lakes unless I take an extended trip to those areas.

Hull design has a lot of impact on the handling issues that you have cited. A hull with rocker (having the keel curved rather than straight) will turn more easily even though the boat is long – there are sea kayaks designed to play in surf that have a lot of rocker.

You mentioned bulkheads. Since I mostly paddle folding kayaks and a rigid skin on frame kayak, I always use inflatable flotation bags to fill the stern and bow cavities so they can’t fill with water in a capsize.

There is another aspect of Pakboat kayaks that is rather unique: the Quest 150 can be paddled with or without the deck, which is separate from the hull and sealed when installed with industrial strength velcro. They are probably the easiest kayaks to pack for camping because you can peel the deck back from either end to stash or access any gear and supplies that you bring along. Or, in hot weather and on quieter waters you can leave the deck off and use the kayak open like a pack canoe. I find Pakboats easier to set up than other folding kayaks I have owned or used because you assemble the frame inside the open hull skin which is less hassle than having to reach inside and align everything as is necessary with folders with one piece skins.

I just read that Alv Elvestad, who has been the US dealer for Pakboats for many years, is retiring and sales will be direct from ScanSport in Norway going forward. They will still have the New Hampshire office open and handle customer inquiries and parts but won’t be stocking all the boats there as they had in the past. As you’ve already discovered with Necky, brands come and go, though Pakboat has a long track record and has a well established global market.

The Rio is a recreational kayak, not a sea kayak. While all EDY kayaks have two sealed bulkheads, the Rio doesn’t have sufficient storage for your camping gear. The Journey (a discontinued model) has a large cockpit and might not fit you well.

If available, try the Fathom LV and the Sitka ST. An Eddyline Samba (renamed the Sitka by the new owners of Eddyline) was my third kayak; fourth was the Fathom LV. Both are hard chined (which I love), well outfitted, have skegs, adjustable seats and are light weight.

I think it’s helpful to paddle a demo for at least 30 minutes (longer if possible), using every stroke you know and going forward, backward, sideways with plenty of turns thrown in. Seeing how the boat tracks is also helpful. Most good outfitters will allow that; some charge per demo, some don’t. Symposiums usually have demo boats available as well.

You’ve got the right idea in trying every boat you can. It’s always fun to do and there are a number of models which will fit your needs.

I am think I am close to your neck of the woods, at least where you want to end up on your commute in the downtown area. I am intrigued that you want to commute by kayak and wonder about the logistics of where you “park” the kayak before and after getting to work.

I personally bike commute and know there are bike trails that run down the Mystic close to the downtown area. At which point, you will have to hit the bike lanes on the streets (which can be scary for those not use to Boston traffic and drivers). The logistics of a bike commute I think are far easier to handle (the trick of developing/sustaining any habit/routine is to make it as “easy” to do as possible).

I am also about your size (5’3" @145 lbs) and have SINKs and SOTs that would fit you. When the weather gets warmer and you want to meet somewhere (relatively safe water venue) to test and go over some stuff, I would be willing to schedule that.


Could be a good resource.

Looks like a great program.

Valuable information on models, thank you. :slightly_smiling_face:
Just saying though, I used to through hike years back (and am working on getting back to that) so all of my camping gear actually fits in a backpack alongside clothes and food. I suspect it would therefore fit in most Kayaks, even the Rio. At least for an overnight trip. But perhaps not?

I’m confused why some kayaks at 14 and 15 feet are called (by their makers) “Sea Kayaks” if they’re really too small to realistically be considered such. Is it just predatory marketing to people who don’t know better?

I am looking forward to getting out to some of the events I’ve been finding and to some more rental locations I haven’t tried yet and trying new boats! Definitely. I want to have a real idea of what I want by the time I do get my first one. I’ll definitely look at the Sitka, I’ve heard of that model.

I think I prefer multi or soft chines to hard chines… I think that’s why I was so in love with Neckys. :grin:

Ah! I guess I didn’t read on the store’s website that the Rio was 12’. I thought it was 14.
So far I have noticed that I tend to prefer boats with soft or multi chines and with at least some rocker.

Yes, I have floats for my Oru too. Unfortunately they take up any room you might then have used for stowing gear, so you can’t really use them for carrying a whole lot. :sweat_smile: It sounds like Pakboats are far more versatile in this!

Hi there! :smiley:

OK, so here’s another reason for packable/foldable Kayaks, if the location you want to park in is not very secure. Pack it up and take it with you to work. I said I had done the trip a couple of times in my Oru - this was when I was working down near Fort Point Channel too, so a longer trip. While it was probably not the smartest trip I ever planned due to the particular boat, it was fun and a challenge. I made sure I only went on days when the water was as smooth as it gets out in the inner harbor, I had my route plotted, filed a paddle plan, had two people I checked in with regularly, and did my best to be as safe as I could.

I would put in and pull out at Fort Point Pier. While I worked in that area I noticed sometimes there was another Kayak parked there for the day. I think it was a Perception… The owner would tie it, take out the seat, thigh pads, foot pedals and all gear, and left a laminated note on it saying “Do not move, Commuting Kayak”. It was never touched, though I wonder who would with nothing at all in it?

When I was researching about doing this and about the dock itself and other potential landing areas (or generally places I might be able to get out and abort), I learned that Massachusetts (or maybe just Boston?) has a somewhat little-known law about building along historic waterfronts. If someone buys land there and develops it, there must be a public access dock available to anyone and it must be kept up. I know there’s a lot more to it. I’ll see if I can find more about that…

Anyway, it turns out that there are quite a few public docks available in key places - some just go unused more often than not. For instance there’s one at the Scrafft Building on the Mystic in Somerville - that’s after the Amelia Erhart Dam, in the tidally locked part of the river. One near North Station behind Spaulding Rehab, near the Charles Locks. And almost all of the docks run by both Charles River Canoe and Kayak and Boating in Boston are public docks that can be used by anyone whether or not they’re a member of that club.

The dock at Kendall MIT is a public dock. You can put in and take out your own boat or SUP there at any time. You can also leave your boat there all day, in the little tie up areas, if you want and they can’t stop you. I’ve seen people actually do this - I frequented that particular site in warm seasons on weekdays after work when I worked in that area and am looking forward to it again now that I’m back in that area. I’ve actually had a conversation with CCK about this and they said, “We only ask that you understand we rent rights from the city to run a business there, and so expect that you may find it crowded and have patience if there are crowds on the ramp.”

You can use that dock to put in on the evening of July 4th and go sit under the fireworks too. This is an amazing way to do that BTW, if you never have. Cool air on the water, no packed crowds of thousands of sweaty people jockying for position on the lawn, good music, gorgeous sunset, and you’re right under the fireworks. Of course then you have to deal with the crowd of other paddlers getting out at the same time as you but that’s kind of fun. Pack up and drive home with very little traffic. It’s lovely! The big fishing boats, yachts and other motor boats have to stay anchored and are not allowed to leave the area till the next morning so you don’t have to contend with them at all.

Sorry, I derailed. :sweat_smile:
So my plan is with more skills and with the Pakayak, I could potentially pull it out at that dock and pack up and take it to work - about 3/4 of a mile from the dock. Or, just leave it there till I head home. I think it’s something that will be a “see when I get there” decision…

Currently my commute is via rail into North Station and then I run/walk into Cambridge from there. I have a few colleagues who bike commute! One even does in serious snow, though there’s none of that this year. I admire that. I do like to bike, but I just can’t do it so much that I could make it my commuting method. I’m more of a hiker and occasional distance jogger.

I’d love to meet up sometime when the weather is warmer! That’s very kind of you! I live quite near Quannapowitt and Spot Pond, and not far from the Mystic Lakes, though I’m happy to drive anywhere.

OK, first, thank you for the link to that club! North Shore Paddle Network, I have not found them before! That’s awesome! I think I’m going to join!

Interestingly, that workshop looks very similar to the one that Newbury Kayak is doing, only Newbury’s is literally the day before! :joy:

Seriously, I should go to both. That would be a super fun weekend. :smiley: