I and several of my kids are new kayakers and are having a blast. We started by borrowing a couple of 10’ recreational boats while on vacation this summer and when we returned home we purchased a few second-hand and inexpensive new rec kayaks. We’ve been learning the basics, getting our techniques down, practicing good strokes and braces and so forth in the calm water of the lakes around our part of central PA. We’re starting to work on rescue/recovery techniques now, while the weather is warm and everyone’s loving going for a swim.
Of course, as my strongest paddler and I have gotten a bit more adventurous and tried out the faster water of the Susquehanna river, with it’s neat rocks and eddys, we’re starting to eye some of the more interesting features like ledges and small standing waves, and I’m pretty sure we’ll eventually move into better boats and gear, and more ambitious trips.
But while I’ve done days of research online looking at the kinds of boats for sale, watching paddling instructional vids, and trying to grasp all this new info, one thing’s a bit unclear to me: what direction do you go when you’re looking to upgrade?
What I mean is, we’ve got simple 10’ recreational boats now, mostly in the 26" wide range. No bulkheads, not a whole lot of supplementary flotation. Basically exactly what you expect to get for a couple hundred bux or so. Spray skirts don’t seem to be available for these, and their suitability for “adventure” I expect is limited to pretty calm water, and playing fairly close to shore. I’m not really sure just how interesting the conditions can get before these boats really aren’t safe for it.
But as I start to look at more upmarket boats I see things appear to divide into two paths: touring/sea kayaks and play-boats/whitewater boats. Is that right?
I mean, I see SOT and angling boats, and even what appear to me to be recreational kayaks that go for over $1,000, but those still seem to be very limited flatwater, close-to-shore options.
If we were to want to, for example, take kayaks down to Assateague, and launch out through the surf and just paddle the coastline, what would be the right choice? Or, say we want to play in some of the faster currents and milder whitewater stuff, what style of boat is a good upgrade choice from the simple rec boats we have?
If I was to start saving up for some better boats after a year or two, what sort of things would make sense to look at?
(P.S. – In the spirit of expert internet forums everywhere, let me close by saying, yes we’re a safety-first-last-and-always bunch, and every one of us wears a PFD from the moment we’re in the water until the moment we’re out of it. So my questions here are aimed at the best way to be safe and have fun!)