Help with choosing sea kayak...


yet another paddler needing help with the choice of his first rigid sea kayak (own a Gumotex Seawave inflatable)… Sorry for the long message. Skip to the last paragraph if you only want the essentials. Here we go:

I’m 5’10" but only 140-145 pounds (65 kg), shoes size 10. Got very small bones, am overly flexible, probably not particularly strong for a man, prone to joints injuries (especially knees and wrists). For that last reason, planning on switching to a Greenland paddle in a very near future.

I’ve been taking kayaking more seriously for about two years, and I have really developed a passion for the sport. Although still a beginner, I took a lot of kayaking classes during that time, and I can now roll pretty consistently, feel pretty solid with edging and bracing, and although I believe my forward paddling form is decent, I feel I need to relax a lot more to become really efficient.

I really like rolling and practicing other technical stuff (as an activity in itself), playing in the rough stuff (tidal currents are strong where I usually paddle, up to 6-7 knots; big waves and wind; usually no big surf opportunity so don’t know yet how I’d like it; I’ve also been discovering whitewater kayaking in parallel as sea kayaking this last summer). I also like touring, in which case I’m more of a « zen » paddler : don’t care as much about speed (as long as I can follow the group) as efficiency and connecting with the elements. I like exploring the shorelines up close and personal, observing the wildlife, and geology, etc. I’d say 80% day paddle, 15% 2-3 days camping, 5% longer expeditions. Have the plan to maybe become a professional guide next year.

Except for my inflatable (which is so stable it is very reassuring but you technically rapidly stop progressing with it), I’ve mostly paddled rented Boreal Design Baffin C1 and P2. The P2 fits me better, but I feel the knee position is a bit too wide to be very comfortable, and although the stability is reassuring, I prefer something more responsive to edging (requiring less effort to keep on edge). I have also tried (on the water): Boreal Design Labrador (fast but not manoeuverable enough, cockpit felt too big for me, would need to get used to stability), Maelstrom/Boreal Vaag (favorite boat yet, very responsive, manoeuverable, stable enough, cockpit a little big but still comfortable, though I’m light for the boat 150 lbs minimum recommended paddler’s weight…), Prijon Baracuda (fast, not manoeuverable enough, never got around to feel good with the stability in the 30 minutes I demoed it, needed constant bracing, though I never came near capsizing in about force 2).

I’ve also sat in (but not demoed on the water): Nordkapp RM (no backband but most comfortable cockpit I’ve sat in yet), Scorpio standard and LV (prefered the LV cockpit, very snug fit, but wondering if it’s not too much: felt I’d have a hard time stretching or shifting my paddling position in long paddles. The standard felt more versatile movement wise but uncomfortably wide at the knee braces), Azul Greenland GT (very roomy but comfortable. Would have to pad it a lot at the hip…), Maelstrom/Boreal Vital (young brother of the Vaag, same feeling as the Scorpio LV: very snug and connected fit but not a lot of room to shift position).

Ok, now that you know about me, here are my questions. One of the hard thing for me is that I have an unusual shape: tall at 5’10" but very skinny at around 140-145 pounds (65 kg). Before I buy, I want to try other boats, maybe capitalizing on some used deals currently available. Looking at the Cetus LV/MV and would have a good opportunity for a used MV but wondering if it would be too big for me to be even worth trying? Would also like to hear about the NF Silouhette (would it be as unsettling stability wise, as the Prijon Barracuda?), Current design Rumour and Impex Force 3, which would all be available used around where I live. Am going to try a Vital and a Greenland GT on the water in the next couple of days. Finally, any other boat you’d like to suggest that would fit the bill, please go ahead, keeping in mind Valley and NDK are unfortunately pretty rare around here.



no idea
…if this is a good price, but saw this a day or two ago:

where are you?
I very much think it is best to test paddle a boat before you buy. Where are you located/do you paddle? Maybe we know of places that have boats you can demo that you haven’t thought about?

other choices

– Last Updated: Aug-03-15 7:42 PM EST –

You are right in the optimum design of a lot of boats but boats I know owned by friends your size have include:
Tiderace Xcite-good all around touring/roughwater brit boat
Necky Chatham- similar to above and available in plastic.
P&H Aries -play boat, does great at Skook
Sterling Progression- brand new playboat but it rocks according to the testers
Sterling Icekap/or Illusion- A couple of greenland rolling geeks I know love this boat.
Id switch to a greenland stick soon. They are super easy to roll with and use.

Most of the boats you mention
would work fine. I would probably pass on the LV’s (Cetus and Scorpio) for the fit issues you mention. It’s easy to add padding, but difficult to get comfortable in a boat too small.

I have not paddled all of the boats you have tried/sat in. Some are certainly more maneuverable than others. Based on what you said you would like to do I would recommend test paddling the Cetus MV if you can. It has plenty of speed, yet is very maneuverable, unlike some of the others on your list which are stiffer tracking. It is a great all around boat that will handle all of the things you describe quite well (except whitewater). If anything, it is overkill for a day boat, but can easily handle short to medium duration camping trips. It works very well in paddling close to shore (given that it’s almost 18’long) because it can be edged so easily. It can be somewhat more difficult to control in following seas, but that is usually rectified by dropping the skeg.

I’ve primarily been paddling an MV for about two and a half years. It is my go to boat for most of my sea kayaking adventures.

Location is

– Last Updated: Aug-03-15 8:14 PM EST –

Quebec, Canada, if it can help. Willing to drive some hours both way for the right deal, but not if only to try a boat I know nothing about. Don't know if it is apparent from my first message, but since it is a first "real" boat and I'm not very sure about my preferences, I would prefer buying used for now. Especially if composite...



Thanks for the suggestions.
Some of those I was not aware of. Most are unfortunately not really available locally. Still, I will keep an eye out. Especially for the Tiderace, which was on my short list before I started looking at the local availability.


If you are anywhere close to …
Vaudreuil, I would recommend contacting Sylvain Bédard.

About the Cetus MV
I’ve been looking at that used one for a couple of weeks now. From what I read about it, I mainly have three doubts which are keeping me from calling the seller (don’t want to make him lose his time with me if there’s no chance for the boat to fit, and its a 2H drive to get there) :

  • In fiberglass, sounds like it is pretty heavy for a composite. I guess it is not only a negative (probably sturdier than most), but I need to be able to single-handedly put it on my car and I’m not particularly strong. From my experience, 55 pounds is fine. 60 starts to be harder. What is your experience with yours in that department?
  • From the reviews I read, the boat has a very high primary stability. I guess I’m afraid it is not going to be as responsive to edging as I’d like.
  • Up to now, I tended to prefer smaller cockpits. That is why I prefered the LV version of the Scorpio than the standard. Do you know how the Cetus MV stands compared to those?

    Thanks for your help. I guess I will only need a bit more encouragement to inquire about that used MV…

Vaudreuil is pretty far
but I guess I could still contact him with my P&H questions.



MV vs. LV & Scorpios
The cockpits of the Cetus MV and LV are the same. The LV is 1/4" narrower and 3 to 4" shorter, and therefore weighs a tad less (~2 lbs.). I don’t think the listed weight of the fiberglass (diolen) LV model on the P&H website is accurate. Seems like it should be closer to 57-58 lbs.

The Scorpio was intended to be rotomolded version of the Cetus. My experience is that rotomolded boats are a little thicker and therefore feel tighter in the cockpit than the fiberglass counterparts (assuming the outside dimensions are identical). This is definitely true with the Avocets. The Scorpios are shorter and wider than the Cetus equivalents and have different cockpit dimensions, so I would expect them to fit differently. The Scorpio LV has a significantly shorter and narrower cockpit opening than the Cetus LV.

Some of the weight can be attributed to build and layup options. I believe mine is a bit over 60 lbs., but includes the Kevlar keel strip and the optional wide outside deck seam.

I have a station wagon with a fairly low roof line. I load and unload to/from garage by myself. I primarily load from the side by setting the bow on the rack and the stern on the ground, then lifting the stern to the rack. This is fairly easy to do by myself. I would never refuse help in loading or unloading, however! Loading on my truck roof is more difficult, but I can use rollers from the back or the same method from the side. Just have to lift it higher.

The boat is very responsive to edging. It has quite a lot of rocker and can spin around quite quickly for a boat of this length when on edge.

I had trouble surfing it at first because it is considerably faster than my Avocet and I kept getting in front of the wave. I have learned to slow the boat down to catch waves and it does surf quite well.

If you are located fairly near the seller I would check it out. No harm done if it does not feel or fit right. You can only tell if the fit and the responsiveness feels right from a test paddle, plus you can check out the balance point for carrying to load an unload.

Thanks again.

– Last Updated: Aug-04-15 11:27 PM EST –

I have contacted the seller and will go try the MV next weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

I tried the Cetus yesterday

– Last Updated: Aug-09-15 11:16 PM EST –

and it finally was not a MV but a "classic". Still, the cockpit of the boat was surprisingly comfortable, and the feeling on the water was very good. I believe you are right Wetzool about avoiding a cockpit too tight : it is great to be able to change paddling position from time to time. The Cetus was not as responsive to edging as the Vaag, but when edged, secondary stability was great and it really turned well. It is beautiful, in excellent condition, and the price is right. In fact, I liked it enough to consider buying. Yet...

At 145 lbs, I believe I may be too light for such boat: on flat water, that was not a problem, but I fear I may be riding too high on the water for the boat to handle "as designed" in any other conditions. Am I right in thinking that? Would it be a bad move to go with the "classic" in my case (it is a good deal)?

Up till now, I seem to like boats rated for heavier paddlers than me (Vaag and Cetus "classic" are both rated for heavier paddlers), maybe because I am tall and top heavy (in my lightweight category). Am I worrying too much about weight?


Classic Cetus
this was the first- and only - model offered when the Cetus debuted. It is now badged as the HV.

At your height and esp. your weight it is entirely too large for you. It will sit higher, be more reactive to wind. Unless you throw a bunch of gear in there but is that what you want to do on every daytrip? You may very well sit deeper in the cockpit which might affect edging and rolls depending on your torso height.

The men I know who paddle the Classic or HV are all in excess of 200 lbs and some as much as 240 lbs.

FWIW if you pursue the Cetus I think you are in MV territory.

I agree w. your concern about weight for length on the Cetii. I have seen three of the same models on the same trailer and on picking them up there are notable weight differences. The P&H rep and I laughed about it.

Therefore as you demo them or for that matter any seakayak pick them up to at least waist height and crab walk them.

See if you can shoulder carry.

See how it goes if you can load and unload using your rack.

Eddyline Fathom LV may work,
if you can find a used one.

More stable and more maneuverable than the Prijon Barracuda and probably has enough foot room for your size 10s. Easily fits my size 8 Chota Mukluk Lites.

Mine’s for sale, but too far for you to try out.

Classic VS MV

– Last Updated: Aug-10-15 8:27 PM EST –


thanks for the confirmation about the weight. You pretty much sum up what I've read elsewhere, and have been told today by one of my instructors (he is familiar with both the classic and MV, and basically told me I was too light for the classic).

In fact, I was in a formation with him today, and he lent me his personal Cetus MV (which I didn't knew he has) to try for the day. It was a very calm day, almost no wind, but we played a lot in currents, practicing ferries, eddy turns, etc. We did some rescues, a bit of rolling and a lot of tight forward and backward maneuvering to work on edging. Mild conditions, but still a very good test for the kayak. The cockpit was a little bit smaller than the classic but the comfort very similar (main difference for me seemed to be the height at the feet). The feeling on the water was also similar, although I believe the MV was a bit more responsive/less stable, which to me is a good thing. I guess I'd need to be in more windy condition to really feel a difference.

What sold me on both Ceti is that although it requires a little bit more energy to edge than some of the less stable boats I've tried, it reacts to even the smallest bit of edging, and becomes very maneuverable on a more pronounced edge. Even more so in the MV. Yet, in the conditions I tried it at least, it also tracked very well. Exactly the kind of all-rounder I am looking for.

So: I won't get the classic. But I believe today I got my answer about what I want: there would be a lot more options to try, but for now, the Cetus MV fits the bill perfectly. I just need to find a well used one for sale (I unfortunately don't have the budget for a brand new one).

Impex Currituck

– Last Updated: Aug-12-15 1:44 PM EST –


even though I now know a Cetus MV would be a good choice if I can find one used, it is probably not the only choice I would be satisfied with, so I will continue trying other boats while I keep an eye out for a Cetus.

I have been reading about Impex kayaks, especially the Force series, but according to the reviews I've seen on them, they may be a bit too "expedition" oriented for what I'm looking for (less maneuverable, stiffer tracking). So now I'm wondering about the Currituck? I've seen a couple of used ones comes out for sale around here in the last few months, it gets good reviews and seems to be the kind of boat I'm looking for, although I'm a bit underweight according to specs (rated for paddlers in the 150-220 range).

Anybody who has experience with the Currituck and can contrast it with Cetus MV, Vaag or Baffin? Is it worth giving it a try if I find one even if I'm a little bit light for it?


Look at what you can try
I would hit all the paddling shops you can find and demo, demo, demo. I personally would only consider boats I can try before buying, so this may shut out a lot of options that others may suggest.

WS isn’t too heavy for plastic boats. You may be able to get some what lighter with a shorter boat.

Switching to thermoformed or composite would also cut weight, but not everyone likes these because they feel they must be more careful beaching and around rocks. That depends on how you like to treat the boat.


– Last Updated: Aug-13-15 10:22 AM EST –

Lake George Kayak (not that far a drive from you so maybe you have visited them) has a 52 lb glass Boreal Ellesmere with the small ocean cockpit --- it's a demo they are selling for $1800 ( nearly half price). It's slightly lower volume than the P2 you said you liked, with a couple inches higher bow deck than the Vital for foot room. Since it's a used boat perhaps you would not have to pay cross border duties on it.

Nice thing about Lake George Kayak is the ease of demos right from their dock. I'll be up there myself next week and plan to sample some of their wares in that way.