First post here. I’ve been reading the forums here non stop for several days and the amount of useful information I’ve found is staggering! I’m very thankful I found this site. It prevented me from making an uninformed and impulsive purchase of my first Kayak (a Pungo 120) this past weekend. Allow me to explain.
My significant other and I have become quite fond of kayaking this year. We went on two guided tours (on smaller rivers) in Williamsburg, VA in May and did 2 days at Deep Creek Lake in MD. On both of these trips we were in Perception 10.5s.
After doing some rudimentary research, it seemed like the Pungos would be a good fit for us, so I rented a 120 for me (5-11, 190#) and a 105 for her (5-4, 150#) for an 8 mile float down the Susquehanna here in Central PA this past weekend. We both had a blast! I felt the Pungo 120 fit me perfectly. We both loved the huge open cockpits, the dashboard, and the overall stability of the boats. If we didn’t pull up 5 minutes before they closed, I might have purchased at least a 120 for me because they are on end of season sale.
We have some local friends who go out several times a year on the various rivers and streams in the area, and we intend to go with them on most of their trips next year, as well as several trips of our own creation on larger bodies of water (but NOT big water at this time). Most of our friends have hybrids, and just enjoy the floating, fishing and camping (hybrids seem to have a massive storage capacity).
Based on our experiences so far, we both enjoy paddling more than floating. The larger (but still calm) body of water, the better. Our friends are the opposite. They prefer to float (and drink).
Based on my research here, I don’t think it is a wise decision to go out on a pair of Pungos with their single bulkheads on any large body of water, no matter how calm it is. We paddled those Perceptions out into the middle of the widest part of Deep Creek, and didn’t even consider what might happen if one of us flipped. Being novices, I don’t think either of us would be capable of swimming or towing a waterlogged boat and passenger more than a couple hundred yards, let alone a half mile or more.
I’ve been researching like crazy the past few days, and a touring boat seems like a more ideal purchase for me seeing how I prefer larger bodies of water. It will be faster, track better, and with training I should be able to get back in it in deep water. On the other hand, a 14 foot touring boat seems like a bad choice for smaller rivers and streams due to lesser stability and being harder to turn.
One of the first things I learned reading here is that no one boat does everything well. My true dilemma is that for the foreseeable future, we will be doing 50/50 of smaller streams/rivers and larger calm lakes, and each calls for a different boat. As our experience level increases, we will probably invest in some proper training on paddle techniques, rolling, and recovering from a capsize, but for now I would like to make an intelligent decision that keeps us both safe while we learn (and practice) this wonderful hobby.
Sorry for the long post! Any advice is greatly appreciated.