Help choosing a beginner to intermediate

Hi ,

Looking to get some advice on buying a kayak .

First off I am 6.3 and weigh 240

My budget ideally would be not more than $750.00

Kayaking in the Seattle area - bays, Puget Sound ( close to shore ) and lakes.

Possibly a tandem, but adjustable if it is just me ?

Thanks !


Puget sound versus lakes
The tandem with adjustaable seats is something only found in recreational kayaks and sit on tops. Recreational kayaks would not be appropriate for Puget Sound, but may be on lakes (depending on size of lake). A SOT could be appropriate for Puget Sound, but you will be exposed to weather both above and below (the ocean water will splash up and get you wet). So you should allow some money for thermal protection in your purchase choice. The Puget Sound water is always cold (year round) and if you swim for more than a few minutes without a wet suit or dry suit, it could be deadly. Even a quarter mile offshore could be more than many people could swim before the water temps get to them.

Touring/sea kayaks are about the norm for Puget Sound.

Lakes vary depending on size of lake (so how large waves could become) and water temperature. Sea/touring kayaks are generally good there, but you could also use rec boats and SOTs in many cases.

Fix you first
If the Puget Sound is on your list you really should get yourself to a shop out there and spend time in boats with a proper outfitter. It will give you some seat time, more importantly it will give you some in-person discussion about why Peter above is not going to be the first person to tell you a tandem paddled solo is not a good idea for that water.

People unfamiliar with being on the sea in a small boat often say they will stay near shore - not understanding that puts you right in the gnarly surf zone when you are talking about the ocean. If you go beyond the surf, you still have to get back to the beach through it.

You need to be prepared as a paddler for the Sound - that is a tougher climb than choosing a boat. Waves and wind are not the only issue. That area has some of the more interesting tidal behaviors to be found on any coast in the US. A simple look at the map will tell you why. On every tidal change you will have water coming in or out from the larger bay area through relatively compressed, narrow passages. And you are likely sharing those passages with sport or working boats coming out of smaller protected harbors, so you have to stay out of their way when the current is going to try and put you right in front of them.

There are probably decent outfitters with sea experience and apt boats to demo within a reachable drive from you. Start by taking advantage of those resources, or scratch anything salty off your list until you are ready for it.

It all depends.
There are parts of Puget Sound that only differ from lakes in the makeup of the water. However, for a beginner, it might be better to get started on one of your local lakes. Lake Washington as you probably know, can get quite rough at times, but I would say with a little judgement it is a great place to get started. Lake Sammamish should also work very well.

For $750 it’s possible to find a very competent used sea kayak if you do some looking. It might even be possible to get a pfd and paddle included. The first step should be a visit to a real kayak shop to get familiar with what constitutes a proper boat.

Just for the fun of it, I would recommend a little drive down to Tacoma to the NC Kayak factory. You’re not likely to find your first boat there, but you will see what your first boat might lead to. If you get to talk to Doug, you won’t find a nicer guy to give you some pointers.

Issue with newness
I admit I may have overshot a little there - but if I already paddled there locally I would know how to tell the non-controversial parts from the challenging ones. For someone who sounds as new as the OPer, they likely lack the experience to know which is which themselves.

sea kyak
For WA state you want a cockpit. For $750 I would be looking for a used Eddyline fiberglass boat or the equivalent at least 15 feet long.

used Tsunami?
The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 and 165 are larger capacity Tsunamis for bigger folks; the Tsunami line is beginner/intermediate; they are pretty popular, so might be available used; I suspect the 165 might be better for Puget Sound, but I ain’t from there. There are other possibilities, but this one occurred to me.

Best canoe type for puger sound waters
I am shopping for a canoe that would be used in Puget Sound. What am I looking for ? What will handle the waters here the best. Long, short how many feet long ? wide beam, narrow beam etc.

Thanks in advance for any info