Help please-first purchase

-- Last Updated: Jul-20-09 9:17 PM EST --

I am looking to purchase my first kayak. I have a twofold problem.
The first is transportation. I have a 2005 Chevy Aveo. Putting a carrier on top is simply not an option at this point. I have seen Malone Handiracks on line and actually had a dealer recommend them (said she uses them herself on her car with good results). Only issue is if it rains some leakage. I'm wondering if anyone else has used them and how they have worked.

Second issue is what to purchase. I'm trying to keep the amount I spend down on this first one since I realize that after the first couple years I might think it's not exactly what is working for me. I am a 49 yo female with over 40 years canoeing experience. I have used SOT's several times, but wish to purchase a sit inside kayak for many reasons. I don't have a problem with initial tipping and would rather have a kayak that has good final stability. Oh... my car is only about 12 1/2 to 13 feet long from stem to stern and 65 inches wide.

So, there are issues of length, brand name and a variety of other issues relating to sealed hulls, cost, used vs. new, ease of putting up and taking off my car myself (I'm a fairly strong woman, but if it's awkward and unwieldy it could pose a problem), etc. Also, is a skirt necessary? What about folding kayaks? I have already looked at inflatables and decided against them.
I am in Ohio, and plan on kayaking on Ohio and Michigan lakes and rivers mainly, however I'm sure I will go also into neighboring states and eventually want to try white water. There is a kayaking club in our city that I'd like to join and I know they do white water and I'm very interested.
All input will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

You need to break this down into
several questions.

How much can you spend?

How tall?Weight?

How do you intend to use it? day tripping,distance ,conditions?

You need to find an outfitter or call someone like Piragis Outdoors who can get you started in the right direction.

Still need help
$ Looking to spend between $300 and $600 on the kayak itself. I am 5’5. Weight 285, although I’m usually at about 260. I lift weights, and am in process of shedding.

So, as far as distance, in beginning obviously not too far, but I do intend to work up to longer distance with it. Mostly just day trips I think. I do go camping, but probably will camp somewhere, take the kayak out, and come back to the campsite in the evening. Not really sure at this point. Another reason why I don’t want to spend a large sum of money. After I have had it a couple years, I might take to doing overnights, but I don’t know.

Conditions: As I said, I know I’ll be on Ohio and Michigan inland lakes and rivers. While there isn’t quite as much “white water” as you might find some places, there is some and I’ll probably be heading in that direction eventually.

I’ve been to five different kayaking shops and have gotten some info. I’m looking for some info from people who aren’t trying to sell me something so I know I’m not being steered in the wrong direction. In other words… “buy me, I’m expensive” vs. “this is all you really need for now”.

I’d really appreciate some words of advice from someone who’s been through this.

Thanks again.

Used boats
In your price range I’d look for used boats on Craigs list in the 13 to 15 foot range. Maybe you could find a wilderness systems pungo 14 or an old Walden passage 15 that would work well for you. The nice thing about used boats is that you can sell them for about what you bought them for. It’s really like renting it for a long time for really cheap. Just get on the water and start saving for your next dream boat.

What about length?
Do I have to worry about car length? My car is only a little over 12 feet long. If the kayak is 13-15 feet long it will be longer than the car. How do I handle that? Will it just stick off the back and do you just hang something off of it, like a signal? Do I have to hang a glow light on it if I’m traveling at night? Not sure how far I can have it hanging over the hood of my car. As I said, transport is part of this situation, as far as length.

size doesn’t matter
If your car is 12 feet long and the boat is 13, that’s only 6 inches on either end. Anyone tailgating closer than 6 inches deserves to get hit. Sometimes I’ll put a red flag on mine, but it’s more decorative than anything else. It’s no going to help in practical terms, and rare to nonexistant is the cop who would care.

I saw the inflateable Malones in use
a couple weeks ago when I traded canoes. The guy using them seemed to think that they worked well enough.

Besides the potential rain leakage from the straps going between the door and the frame and then through the car, the firmness of the inflation may also change some with changing temperatures.

Regarding rain leakage, even clamp on roof racks clamp beteen the door and frame and can be a soure of leakage in the rain.

not much
Ive seen a double sea kayak on an Audi TT. In many states, if something extends more than 4 feet from the end of a car, you have to put a flag on it. So in theory, you could put a 17 foot kayak on your car and not need flags.

WW not the same boat

– Last Updated: Jul-21-09 1:42 PM EST –

For the moment, borrow a WW boat and focus on the longer one that'll handle the lakes and rivers. And if you want to try Lake Michigan, yes you'll want a skirt. Also some bigger water skills.

I strongly suggest that you find some local situation where you can rent kayaks, take a couple of lessons, then pick up something used at the end of season sales when you have a better sense of what you are doing. I see some people coming from canoes who get into unsatisfactory barges for the first kayak they get, because they don't understand the contact points and how that translates to mananeuvering the boat. Personally I think that canoeing requires more paddling technique at the basic level, but kayaks have a very different fit. A proper start in how these things work and seat time is the best way to avoid that.

I just read up and saw your height and weight. I think I second the idea of a boat in the 13 to 15 ft range, basically considered transitional touring boats. These boats have some bigger water attributes that you'll want as safety factors for paddling alone - perimeter rigging (to grab the boat if you capsize), two sealed bulkheads (so it'll float right if you capsize) and generally hulls that can carry some load. You'll be putting most of the 10 footers down too far into the water and they lack these features anyway. And these transitional boats tend to have larger cockpits than the longer boats.