Is the Ookpik suitable for conditions such as the Saint-Lawrence river and estuary or would I need somethibg longer and more high end for that?
Your skill level
How much time and knowledge do you have in the boat ?
Let’s start with the boat
Length 13 feet
Width 24.5 inches
The reviews on P.Net
I have taken a 12 ft Dagger on the Detroit River
on nice calm days with little wind and warm water.
I’ve also had “dicey” experiences with waves wanting
to pitchpole me, forcing me to muscle the boat,
tiring me out and putting me in a real bad spot.
Wind direction + Current in a river can be nasty.
Picking the “right” conditions, bail out points,
and safety redundancy gear will be key to fun times.
your skills are…?
The st lawrence is like the lower Hudson river - it can get nasty and has major commercial traffic that is not looking out for small boats. So half the question is your own skills. Can you handle wind, waves and boat wakes, and can you do an on- water self rescue?
where on the St. Lawrence
Some parts of the St. Lawrence are like the lower Hudson, but some parts are like the Bay of Fundy.
The estuary grows to dozens of miles wide, and water temps are in the 40s all summer long out by Tadoussac. It’s really ocean paddling, not river paddling, by the time you get 20 miles east of Quebec City.
The boat appears to have the bare requirements for ocean use (bow and stern buoyancy, deck lines, small enough cockpit), but skills and experience are the more important requirements for safe ocean paddling, in my opinion.
experience with ookpic
We have an Ookpik at our club at the north end of Manhattan Island. It is favored by only a few members, and they tend to stick to mild conditions (1.5-foot waves, 10mph winds). While we are technically “on the Hudson in New York City,” we are separated by several miles from most of the commercial traffic and seawalls and piers and conflicting currents that make life interesting around here. We do get strong currents, but they move in a single, predictable direction, without mashing into other currents, so dealing with them is a matter of avoiding them or hauling through them.
I haven’t paddled the boat enough to have an opinion of my own. It is so short and so odd-looking that I would be inclined to work up to whatever conditions I was going to paddle it in, rather than just inquiring whether the boat itself is inherently good enough for those conditions.
It’s probably OK
If fitted with a skirt and you have developed rough water self rescue skills. As mentioned above it depends where you are going to paddle on the river and what the specific local conditions would be. Just because a boat is longer does not make it more seaworthy. In confused seas and big waves I am much more comfortable in a8' boat than a seakayak. Issues where length are important are paddling against strong wind and current where you want the fastest hull that rolls with the punches. A shorter boat would actually be preferable in rapids.
As others have said it's the paddler not the boat. So get some paddling skills and seat time before you tackle rougher or unpredictable water.
I've been flushed down some rapids on a 7'6" surfboard in Montreal - the river is quite wide and intimidating when you are getting flushed, so knowing how to self rescue would be pretty important in my book.
It wouldn’t be my choice
for that environment. I’d be looking for 15 ft to 17 ft.