Help! Which Boats to Buy for beginner to moderate experience

Hey guys. I have a couple quick questions I’m hoping you more experienced Kayakers can help me with. My fiancé is inexperienced and I have two years experience paddling a garbage Sundolphin Aruba 8ss and a Pelican 10 on rivers and large lakes. We live in California now and want to make an introduction to sea kayaking… we won’t be on crazy water and will mostly be paddling sheltered Bays like Morro Bay, Suisun Bay and the connected estuaries. I’d also like boats we can use for paddling calm rivers and inland larger lakes. As we progress I plan to eventually pick up 2 17 ft Eddyline Fathoms but in the meantime am looking for cheaper beginner boats. I currently have two options… the first is a pair of Venture Easky 13 with carbon paddles and life jackets for 1300 bucks. They are 2012 models and in great shape but these were the models before the Skeg was added. The second option is a set of WS Pungo 140 for super cheap 600 for the set and they look like they’ve never ever seen water… show room clean. Interested in hearing your recommendations on which boats are the better buy? Thanks!

I’m not familiar with the 13’ Easky, the longer Easky models would be great starter kayaks. If you actually plan on paddling on the centra coast skip the Pungo. I would keep looking. I would also offer $1000 for both Easkys if you decide to go for them. I would also suggest to visit Central Coast Kayaks in Pismo Beach area and see if they can make you a deal or if they have some used boats in stock. I suspect a lot of kayaks are going to come on the market in the next few months, so it’s going to be a buyers market. No reason to buy a Pungo right now.

Thanks. The price for the Easkeys is 1000 but then the additional 300 is for 2 carbon fiber paddles and two nice PFDs. The prices them out and paddles were 250 each new and jackets were 100. The boats originally sold for 1200 so retail new was 3100 for all. That’s why I was thinking 1300 was a good deal? They were originally asking 1700. I’m afraid to jump straight into 15-17 foot boats since my fiancé has only been paddling once on a small lake. It would be my intention to keep these boats for inland and river paddling and in a year or two after a bit more experience add a couple true Sea Yaks to the fleet. Thoughts?

The paddles are Letman

You want to buy boats now that will allow you to learn the skills for your true goal of sea kayaking. Otherwise you will find yourself paying more lesson or rental fees to access boats that you can use to practice.

That means two bulkheads, deck lines and narrower boats

The Pungo is not even close. They are great boats for what they are, but the use you describe even in sheltered bays ain’t it.

The Easky 13’s accomplish that if what I am reading about them is correct.

You have an opportunity to learn basic rescue skills together, which will make you both safer on the water. Get the right boats to be able to do that. And get started by going to an instructor who is practiced at handling hesitant paddlers about the capsize part. I know major operations are shut down right now, but my husband and I started our more serious skills work by digging local coach out of retirement. We were uncomfortable with the swan shit that was all over the nearest area in the region to get that training via group lessons. I suspect you could find someone who would work with you one on one.


Enjoy the search and learn much along the way. Regardless of your choices in boat, paddle and PFD - please make sure each is the best physical fit for you and fiance. Meaning that her boat/paddle/PFD might be too small/big for you and consequently a “package deal” of identical stuff might be a poor choice resulting in gear that does not suit. While it does help to hit the home run first time to bat, accept that as your skills progress your gear might need to change too. Also be aware that longer boats can present storage and transportation issues. And please paddle often and safely!

Obviously some limitations now, but in normal times I would have said take an Intro to Sea Kayaking class before buying.

The Venture Easky 13 definitely seems like a more appropriate boat than the Pungo for what you have planned. But that lack of skeg may be an issue, especially as CA goes into the windy summer period.

Morro Bay has strong tides, particularly up near the fishing docks and old power plant.

I bought the longer and narrower Easky 15 LV in 2010 – it came without a skeg or rudder but is outfitted with the mounting equipment to add a rudder if I wanted one – I don’t know if they did that with the Easky 13’s of that era.

I agree with the previous comment, that if you could find a couple of Easky 15’s they would be more versatile. I have a number of kayaks and the Easky 15 is one that I have often put friends and family in, particularly beginners. Everyone I have ever put in the boat loves it. I’ve used it in coastal open waters, large windy lakes and even in mild class 2 whitewater. Very well made and well outfitted boats.

You did not mention you and your partner’s metrics. Knowing that would be helpful. If your fiance is on the petite side, the wide Easky 13 might not be a good fit. The Easky 15 LV (low volume) is scaled for smaller people and is 4" narrower. (An average size woman or slender guy would kind of swim in the cockpit of a 26.5" boat like the 13.) The 2’ longer 15 is going to track better in wind and open water and strong currents than a 13. I honestly would not venture out in the sea or any large reach lake in a kayak under 15’.

The standard Easky 15 would be better for someone over 180 pounds or taller than 5’ 10". My ex boyfriend was 5’ 8" and about 180 and he loved my 15 LV, even somewhat preferred the snugger fit to the regular Easky 15 he eventually bought.

It’s a shame Venture stopped selling the Easky 15’s outside of the UK a few years ago. For the money they are really a nice boat and one of the most versatile I have owned (and I have owned 14 kayaks by now). They replaced them here with the Islay models, which I have heard are nice to paddle but they are substantially heavier than the Easkys, model for model.

Bottom line, the Easky 13’s would definitely be an upgrade to what you have been paddling and you would have fun with them to start with, but if you really want to progress in skills and have the option of open water paddling in a range of conditions, you would probably eventually need to trade up again. If you can find a couple of 15’s you would be more open ended in developing skills and branching out into a wider range of waters, but still have a pair of boats that was really fun on milder waters.

The difficulty, of course, would be finding any for sale in your area.

I have the chance to pick up 2 Current Designs brand 17 foot boats for 900 but they are 2006-2008 era boats. They also come with paddles and in addition have rudders, cockpit covers and spray skirts. What’s your thoughts on that? Better to go easky 13’ 6” that are 6 years newer with high end paddles or go for the length and rudders?

Current Designs … what?

Model is more important than make.

A lot does matter about which boats they are, and whether they fit you.

The age of the kayaks does;t matter all that much, in the range you are talking. A kayak from 2006-2008 likely is fine. Sea kayaks from the 90s or before may not have some of the safety items we take for granted now, like deck lines and bulkheads, but these were standard for major brands by 2006. A newer kayak may have a more comfortable seat and cockpit, as designs have improved over the years, but this may nt be significant.

$900 for 2 plastic kayaks in usable shape (without extra gear) is a good price.

Yes, and if they are fiberglass, that would be a great value…if they are in good shape. Check for repairs, soft spots, cracks, deep scratches, etc. BTW, my '99 CD Solstice came with deck lines and bulkheads.