I have the opportunity to purchase a Hydra Sea Venture for $200. I have done some research and there is not much information out there about this boat. I am curious to know if I will even fit in it. I am 6’2" and 180 pounds. Was this boat designed for my size or smaller paddlers? I also found an Aquaterra Chinook for $300. Which boat would you go for if you had to choose?
It would be impossible to render a verdict without knowing the condition and age of the boats. The Hydra would have to be pre-early 90's since they were no longer made after about 1993. The Chinooks were made a bit later, I think, but the earlier models (1980's) did not have front and rear bulkheads. I had an elderly Chinook at one point and was able to get one bulkhead to install in it from somebody on Pnet who happened to have one in their garage. The Chinooks are good big guy boats, with lots of volume, pretty stable but not very exciting. It could be too high volume for you since you are average to slim for your height. Don't know about the Hydra.
At the age of both those boats and the prices I would not be surprised if they were in rough shape, as in major oil-canning (permanent dents and/or flat spots in the hulls) and UV damage (dry-looking plastic with crazing or cracks) as well as uncomfortable or loose seats and missing and/or leaky hatch covers. You would need to check them over thoroughly. I've lucked out finding some '80's and 90's era poly kayaks in very good condition for under $400 over the years but you have to inspect them carefully.
Since the Hydra is over 16', and considering that the early touring kayaks were pretty much targeted for adult men, I would venture that it is safe to say you would fit in it, and the Hydras were reputedly respectable boats.
I appreciate the reply! Now to throw another wrench in the decision. I found a Prijon SeaYak in the same price range. I have read that these boats have been phenomenal over the years and very durable. I have talked to all 3 owners and they all assure me the boats are in sound shape as far as the plastic goes. Stored inside, etc. Things like deck rigging can be fixed easily. So all else being equal, would the Seayak trump the others as far as durability? Or should I just make a decision, buy one and get out on the water and enjoy myself?
can you test?
Ideally, it’s best to test paddle any boat before buying it, but someone selling a kayak that cheaply is likely not going to want to go to the bother of arranging for you to use it on the water. At least you should go look at them if that is feasible and sit inside. Like buying shoes, there are instances when you can tell instantly that the fit is completely wrong for your body. One cockpit may feel more appropriate than the others, not too loose and not too snug. You shoe size will figure into the fit as well.
Honestly, unless it is clearly the wrong fit from the get go, it’s hard to really judge how much you like a boat until you have paddled it for a while. And it takes some time paddling to figure out what you might want to change or improve about your boat’s performance as to speed, handling and comfort.
For as little as you would be paying for any of this it is rather a painless entry to the touring kayak activity so I would not overthink it. And I doubt they will be available for long at those prices unless you are in an area of low paddling enthusiasm. I would guess that the Prijon would be easier to sell if you decide to move on to another boat, so you might consider that if the fit is OK in it.
If they all seem to fit you well, I doubt you would be unhappy with any of the choices-- but do check the Chinook for dual bulkheads, which would be my major reservation on that model depending on vintage.
Thanks for all your help. I picked up the Prijon yesterday and so far I really like it. The deck bungees were pretty worn out, so I bought some more in bulk. The neoprene hatches were still in decent shape, even. I am happy to be a part of this community now!
Don’t skimp on a paddle - it, and you, are the “engine” that drives the boat and a cheap heavy paddle can be worse than a crappy kaya k. I have paid more for paddles than I did for some of my boats.