Is an ocean cockpit a bad idea for a relative beginner?

If you look at that boat I would look at the bottom very closely. The cracking might be spider vein cracks which can leak and be very difficult to repair. There is a reason why that boat is so cheap! I would pass on it.

OK, thank you everyone for all the interesting and truly helpful input. I have decided I’m going to keep looking.

Doug - very helpful description of the pros and cons.

McImes, I was actually most attracted to the 21" beam; I paddle a boat that’s 22" and it feels a bit too wide to me. And I don’t have an issue with tippiness, or at least have never yet, I’m sure it’s possible I could get in this boat and feel like it’s too tippy, though - there’s always a first!

BUT the ocean cockpit does kind of freak me out a little bit. I got into one once and I know what you have to do to enter and exit. I had help, though, and was with some very experienced paddlers. So it was fine then, but not sure how it would be on my own. I definitely want to be able to get in and out easily on my own, and I think I better learn more and gain more confidence in an easier boat before throwing something that adds another layer of difficulty into the mix.

Also there’s the issue of the condition, which shiraz627 and some other people have brought up, and finally, this seems like it’d be a hard boat to re-sell if I decided it wasn’t right for me. And I can’t try it out. So thanks for helping me get to a decision!

I’ll offer a bit more perspective. Doug is absolutely correct, but it’s important to point out the the Nordkapp for someone his size is an absolutely worst case scenario. It has a high aft deck and not much difference in height to the foredeck, so getting long legs in and out is an issue. I had the same problem with my old Nordkapp HM. You won’t have this issue with the Atlantic LV due to its lower aft deck and your shorter legs.

While the hull is scratched, that’s typical of boats used in this area (I’m in NH), due to the rocky nature of many of the beaches. As long as the gelcoat isn’t worn through, I wouldn’t worry about it.

New hatch covers will cost $34 to $42 and I’d recommend either of these:
http://topkayaker.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_95&products_id=1588
http://topkayaker.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_95&products_id=1214

The fact that a spray skirt is included is nice, as you won’t have to source one. The Quaser skirt is good quality.

As for resale, you’re only paying $500 for it, assuming that you don’t get it even cheaper. That’s a screaming deal for a 'glass boat! If I was in the market for a play boat, I’d considering myself.

@bnystrom said:

While the hull is scratched, that’s typical of boats used in this area (I’m in NH), due to the rocky nature of many of the beaches. As long as the gelcoat isn’t worn through, I wouldn’t worry about it.

As for resale, you’re only paying $500 for it, assuming that you don’t get it even cheaper. That’s a screaming deal for a 'glass boat! If I was in the market for a play boat, I’d considering myself.

If you look at the hull closely, it’s very clear that there are cracks in the gelcoat. That’s an issue, I had that happen to my QCC 400X. Eventually water made it’s way to the fabric.

@MCImes A smaller and narrower boat is as stable as a barge for a big person. One of my boats has 19.5 inches at the waterline. An 6 ft guy would find it too delicate, if they could get into it to start with. At 5 ft 4 and 135 lb it is dead solid for me.

An ocean cockpit is a bad idea for me and I’ve been doing this kayak thing a long time. My keyhole boats do everything I want them to do.

Your legs may be short enough to make entering easier than it would be for someone taller like me. Only one way to know for sure is to sit in it. We can’t do that for you.

I think North Shore called their cockpit a “modified ocean cockpit”. At 5’ 10" when I sit in the seat with my legs out of the cockpit I can almost bring them in, If you can sit in the seat and bring your legs in one at a time then I would consider buying it that’s if other things considered are satisfactory. If not then you may want to keep looking.

I do like the contact I have with my boat when seated. I have learned how to st on the hull and slip in feet first, but if the cockpit was 1.5" longer I could sit in the seat and then bring my legs in. It is the one thing I would change, but I use my Buccaneer the most in spite of that.

I happen to agree with everything bnystrom and Doug said. Just make sure it isn’t cracked and is just scratches. Though cracks can be repaired.

@Doggy Paddler said:
Cute dog! And thanks for the offer. I actually do not live in Boston but am passing through on my travels. Yes, I look at CL kayaks when I travel! In fact I bought my Avocet on the Cape while I was there visiting friends.

Coincidentally another boat I’m considering is an Impex Montauk. If you don’t mind my asking, what is your size and how was the fit? Tippiness isn’t usually an issue for me, for whatever reason I’ve yet to sit in a boat I found tippy.

You’re welcome!

I’ve only spent a few minutes so far in the Impex, so take my comments with a grain of salt. Lots of people love the Impex, calling it the “sports car” of kayaks. And to answer, your question, I’m 5’6" and 155 lbs.

The Solstice GTS fits me perfectly. And while the Perception is a bit big for me, it’s still a surprisingly fast boat. Perfect for my wife, who appreciates a big stable boat.

@shiraz627 said:
If you look at the hull closely, it’s very clear that there are cracks in the gelcoat. That’s an issue, I had that happen to my QCC 400X. Eventually water made it’s way to the fabric.

Gelcoat cracks are par for the course and are nothing to worry about. “Spider cracks” are common and are purely cosmetic. Water will not work it’s way into the laminate unless it’s damaged from the impact. Racing boats don’t use gelcoat and have no problems with water getting into the laminate. That said, it’s always a good idea to examine a used boat from the inside to see if their is any laminate damage. You can also tell a lot by pushing on the area with your thumb; if it yields easily, it’s damaged.

@castoff said:
I think North Shore called their cockpit a “modified ocean cockpit”. At 5’ 10" when I sit in the seat with my legs out of the cockpit I can almost bring them in, If you can sit in the seat and bring your legs in one at a time then I would consider buying it that’s if other things considered are satisfactory. If not then you may want to keep looking.

The major benefits of an ocean cockpit are only realized if it’s small enough that your knees are always under the foredeck. If you can pull your legs out while seated, you effectively have a keyhole cockpit, regardless of its actual shape. It’s certainly possible that the cockpit on this boat would function like a keyhole for a petite paddler. I’d say it would be worth her time to check it out and see.

Typical keyhole cockpits are often too large for smaller paddlers, requiring the addition of padding to move the thigh braces backward and inward to where their legs naturally sit. They also make it difficult for shorter paddlers to reach items on the foredeck (chart, gloves, hood, spare paddle, etc.).

That is a good point in regards to getting to items stored in front of the cockpit of a keyhole. Also to consider is where the seat is located in relation to the opening. Of the 2 kayaks I have, one cockpit is 26 Inches, the 2nd is 34 inches; there is not 6 inches of addition space in front of me with the 34 inch one, because the seat is more forward in relation to the back of the cockpit rim

Good point. However, seats are not easy to move in most cases and moving the seat can adversely affect the boat’s handling, since it changes the centers of gravity and buoyancy. For example, moving the seat forward will make a boat more prone to weathercocking.

Don’t forget that a boat with the same beam and even same cockpit shape can have different deck heights, a significant factor in leg position and comfort and ease of entry/exit. Most kayaks vary in deck height by at least 2-3", higher deck height:longer legs.

I never have mentioned it because I hate to come off pretentious, but Nigel Dennis praised my Arctic Hawk build and commented specifically on the Ocean Cockpits pros. He didn’t paddle it. :’( I’m a little stiff getting into the SOF but I can slip in and out of the Hawk like it’s silk pantaloons. I built up experience slowly to grow into using OC, but not exclusively.
I still have this tub, my first SOF. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jsjxVRu-4c I had the bilge pump wedged under the coaming over my knees or I would fall right out . I would say if you are an aggressive athletic beginner go for the OC.

If you are fit and athletic I’d say go for it.
I once sold a ski to a fellow that I had warned the boat was unstable. He said he was very athletic and also a member of Mensa and had faith he could handle it.
I later saw his very bad review saying the boat was terribly unstable.
At least he was smart enough to figure that out…

@bnystrom said:

@shiraz627 said:
If you look at the hull closely, it’s very clear that there are cracks in the gelcoat. That’s an issue, I had that happen to my QCC 400X. Eventually water made it’s way to the fabric.

Gelcoat cracks are par for the course and are nothing to worry about. “Spider cracks” are common and are purely cosmetic. Water will not work it’s way into the laminate unless it’s damaged from the impact. Racing boats don’t use gelcoat and have no problems with water getting into the laminate. That said, it’s always a good idea to examine a used boat from the inside to see if their is any laminate damage. You can also tell a lot by pushing on the area with your thumb; if it yields easily, it’s damaged.

Spider cracks are not common. They are caused by an insufficient layup or poorly applied gelcoat. Water will penetrate the cracks and get into the laminate. This exact situation happened to my QCC 400X.

That’s simply not true. Spider cracks are caused by the difference in flexibility between the gelcoat and the underlying layup. They’re quite common on either side of bulkheads due to the changes in stiffness of the hull in those areas. The thicker the gelcoat, the more likely spider cracks are to occur, which is why old-school “British heavies” with their generous gelcoat are prone to them. Boats with relatively flexible layups are also more prone to spider cracks if the layup is is more flexible than the gelcoat.

I’ve done a fair amount of both structural and gelcoat repairs and have owned boats with a variety of layups. Most of them have had spider cracks at one point or another and none of them have ever had water infiltrate the layup. The same is true of many other boats I’ve worked on. It simply cannot happen unless the layup is defective (resin starved) or damaged, providing a conduit for moisture to enter. If your QCC had problems with water infiltration into the laminate, it was for one or both of these reasons. Spider cracks were not the cause, but they may have been an indication of laminate damage. That’s not going to be the case on all boats and in my experience, they are generally benign. It’s typically a waste of time to repair them, as they will often recur in the same area, for the same reason they occurred in the first place.

Just to follow up, I didn’t see that boat. Decided it might be a great boat for me in future, but the combo of insecurity regarding the ocean cockpit, not having confidence in my ability to assess the hull, and maybe most of all the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to paddle the boat to see how it felt all deterred me.

The boat is still available in the Boston area for anyone interested.

Instead I ended up buying a used Impex Montauk. I got to test-paddle it and the hull was in great condition. This boat has a smaller keyhole cockpit than the Avocet RM and is a slightly snugger fit overall. My spouse’s current boat is too big for him, so now we can sell it and have two boats that fit us well. I’m not sure if the Montauk will be the boat I keep forever, but it was a great deal and so far I’m really loving it. Also it’s very light and I can car-top it myself quite easily. So the ocean cockpit still awaits me. Thanks for the very interesting reading.