Is it time for me to upgrade?

I’ve been paddling for about a year and a half and I have become completely addicted to kayaking. It has become the singular addiction in my life and it has lead me to own my own little fleet of boats (3 kayaks) in this short period of time. My skill progression has been fairly rapid and although I lack experience, I’ve worked hard to get to the point that I am at right now. Right now whitewater (and learning to playboat) is the more recent challenge that I’m primarily focused on but I still love touring/sea kayaking. With that said, I am wondering if I have outgrown my touring kayak in this short period of time. I currently paddle a Sonoma 13.5 which has been a wonderful boat but I’m wondering if it is holding me back now. I can’t do weekend trips with it, it isn’t “sea worthy” enough to handle large crossings, and it is slow compared to the 16-18’ sea kayaks that my paddling friends paddle. As a day tourer on lakes and rivers it has been really fun but how far can I progress with it? If (big if at this point) I do decide to trade up, I am currently looking at a glass boat from either Impex or Valley. I’m fairly small (5’8", 150 lbs.) and they seem to have performance oriented boats that would fit my frame. Do I have a legitimate reason to sell the Sonoma or am I just suffering from winter boat envy? :slight_smile:

“…legitimate reason to”…

I think you’ve answered your own question already, but if you need someone to reflect what you already know back to you another way, here goes: You need the kayak that will let you learn what you want to learn and paddle where you want to paddle. From your description, that’s a 16-18’ x 20-22" beam sea kayak. Happy hunting!

Progression is great if your interests progress, as they obviously are. Some are happy with a rec type boat indefinitely as it suits their needs just fine. It does not sound like you fit that decription.

But what do I know? In about 3 years (?) I’ve gone from a 9’ inflatable to a 16’ plastic SOT, to an 18’ kevlar SOT, to an 18’ x 21" sea kayak, learned to roll (and working on more), and am now trying a surf ski. In all 9 kayaks bought, 5 sold, and have/had several standard, Greenland, and wing paddles (but no WW gear - because we have no WW locally). You think you’re adddiction is any worse that the rest of us?

Valley and Impex both make some nice kayaks, but don’t limit it at this point. There is a barely used Aquanaut (WI) in the classifieds though…

This is how it starts…
Idle speculation about moving up leads to a new kayak in the garage, I don’t care how you slice it. In short, the Sanoma is a good little boat for what it is, but it can’t compete with performance touring boats in the 16’-18’range. Period. Take a serious look at what your goals are for touring before investing a lot of money in a new boat. If you want to only take a few weekend trips a year, your needs will be different than if you plan on paddling nearly everyday and camping every other weekend. Consider if you will use it for tripping or playing. Do you want fast, seaworthy, stable, low volume, high volume…etc, etc, etc. Brit boats like those from Valley and Impex are sexy, but they are not right for everyone. I personally own a Valley Avocet, but it is not loved by all of my friends, or my wife for that matter. Once you focus on your needs and goals, do as much research as possible to narrow down your choices. Then demo all of the boats on your list, then try to strike a bargain. Let the betting begin, I give you 3 months before your driving home with a new boat, lighter wallet, and a huge smile. Paddle well…

lol thanks guys :slight_smile:
You’re both right. Odds are that within 3 months I will have sold the Sonoma (a boat I thought I would keep forever) and I will be paddling a new (used) boat. In my short time on the water I have amassed a fairly large collection of skirts, paddles (including a crappy greenland I carved), clothing, and lots of “gear”. I have gone from being incredibly unstable and frightened in the Sonoma, to running class III rapids and being comfortable in decent sized swells. I used to dream of rolling and now I have literally a dozen rolls in my quiver including hand rolls (although offside handroll still needs lots of work). Of course this is all a shock to my family and friends as I have always been rather scared of water and the thought of drowning.

As for my paddling habits, in the warmer months I get out on flat water and whitewater at least once a week each. Now that things are frozen, I help teach classes at the YMCA and hit a couple pool sessions a week. I camp about half a dozen times a year and I usually have a kayak with me. I would be looking for a Brit style boat with fairly low volume and nothing wider than 22". Also seaworthiness would take precedence over stability and it would need to have enough storage for weekend trips although not expeditions. I’ll keep my options open and I’ll have to look real long and hard at the boats at Canoecopia this year. Impex and Valley are on the list because of the good things I’ve heard of their boats but I’ll be on the prowl for any other good companies as well. I made a vow to never buy another new kayak so I guess I’ll be stalking the classifieds.

On a related note, anyone know how much a 1 year old Sonoma 13.5 in good condition would go for? :slight_smile:

shopping season is NOW! :slight_smile: To tempt you further, in case, you waver on the next long boat, someone on SZ is selling a used micro mako (HP but finless) and a Mega Trident (IC) for pretty good prices. Both boats would fit you perfectly. :smiley:

I have gone through a bunch of hulls in the past 4-5 years. I think I am a point where I truly don’t feel the (urgent) need to upgrade anything… Unless nicely priced, “certified pre-owned” Booster 50 comes along. :slight_smile:

Used boats alleviate the impact a tad bit…

The question
to ask yourself – honestly – is “Is my equipment really holding me back? Or do I need to work on skills?” In your case, it sounds like you’re doing great at the skill development, and a new boat will expand your horizons.

It takes some of us a while to learn this. In my younger days it took me a while to figure out that buying another beginning guitar book was no substitute for actually practicing…

You can put a beginner

– Last Updated: Feb-15-05 1:21 PM EST –

in an Impex susquehanna, and there is nothing that you should do in the rec boat theat you cannot do in it. A favorite boat of a couple of guides I know (yes they sell it too, but they can paddle anything) from 160 to 230 pounds it's a fun boat, now available with a day hatch. Stable enough for photos or fishing at about 23 inches of beam, the performance of the hull also demonstrates impex's love of surfing. Its not a specality surf boat but it is very competant in surf for a sea kayak.

On the other hand a valley avocet is a touch faster but you cannot put a beginner in it unless they dont mind a swim. Lots of advanced paddlers in New England have a plastic one for rock gardens.

Both are sublime boats.

On selling boats; sometimes it's nice to have extra boats around; it's all down to budget, value, and family and guest use.

When my daughter can handle her own boat the pamlico is out of my life. She will make some other folks happy and I'll buy or build a boat for my daughter out of the proceeds.

I have used four of my boats at the same time and man, were my guests happy.

Pamlico: a close friend who is a heavy lady, beginning kayaker.

NDK explorer, her 18 year old daughter who was showing off by lying on the back deck for extended periods of time.

Westside solander: the father of that family

Foster Shadow: me

I would have been able to use the fifth boat except that my wife wanted to hang out in the house where our four year old caughter was sleeping

you’re truly evil sing!
I need to stay away from the surf kayak for now. Hey, didn’t you want the Micro Mako at some point? As for the Booster, there are usually a few on Boatertalk so I’m sure you’ll find a great deal on one of those pretty soon. As for some boat advice, would I be better off in an Impex Montauk or an Impex Currituck? (Planning on demoing both of course).

finances won’t allow me to keep both
Unfortunately I can’t afford to keep both boats around although that would be ideal. Also garage space is becoming a premium these days. I like how the Avocet looks and although I plan to try it out, the volume may be a bit high for me. I also like NDK boats but they cost and weight a lot (plus quality control concerns). I’m glad I had a chance to think this through before Canoecopia. I’ll put the boat up on P-net today and if I don’t get a response by mid march, I may just bring it to canoecopia with a cardboard sign on it on top of my car. :slight_smile:

The fleet
That’s where we all end up eventually…

Our current fleet consists of:

Old Town Penobscot 16 (Canoe)

Perception Pirouette S (WW kayak)

CLC Chesapeake 16

Necky Arluk 1.9

Foster Silhouette

CD Caribou

Betsie Bay Recluse

1/3 built 18 ft Greenland style kayak that I designed

And this is after my sweetie sold her Necky Looksha IV-S…

We need to get a barn. Looks like that’s where my bonus is headed this year.


Probably more fun playing in the Montauk, though it can still pack enough for a week. The currituck, I think, falls in the “expedition” category – longer and stiffer tracking.

Build a SOF for a truly low volume day touring boat. Around $250-300, then take the money saved to get that surf boat! HAHAHA…

Yes. I had wanted the micro mako but I think my Venom is in the same size range and also an High Performance (HP) boat. The Venom is less forgiving though with it’s sharper rails and less discernable tri-plane hull than the Micro Mako. But, I’m learning and loving her more and more. Really beginning to enjoy this cup of poison. :slight_smile:



I may build a SOF one day but not yet…
Judging by the woodworking skills I demonstrated carving my greenland paddle, I don’t think I would want to try a SOF yet. Although the money saved argument is pretty tempting… NO! No surf boat YET! It’s funny, you’re the surf kayaking version of Jehovah’s Witness. :slight_smile: I’m sure I’ll get hooked on surfing at some point but until then, whitewater will have to supply the STOKE for me. Thanks for the advice on the Impex boats.

Ahh but what was the timing?
This will be my fourth boat in a year and a half. At this rate I’ll need to turn my house into a full time boat shed! I don’t think I’ll ever be in want of a “loaner” kayak though. Most of my paddling buddies have more boats than I do and if my parents ever come and visit me, I can borrow some kayaks from our club fleet. I’ve already spent way more money in this sport than I ever intended and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Help!

Sounds like you’re out of control
I’ve only been paddling a year and and I’ve been researching my second boat for a few months.

Don’t buy all the yaks at Canoecopia; save one or two for me to look at.

lol, don’t worry bruce…
I’ll leave you a couple! Actually the Sonoma was the only boat I paid full price for. My river runner and playboat both were used. My next sea kayak will be used as well so I’ll be mostly information gathering at Canoecopia this year. I know it sounds like a lot but if you think about it each boat serves a particular purpose and they widen the scope of my paddling. Still… I am out of control. Since last night, all I could think about is what kayak I might end up with. Pintail, Aquanaut, Avocet, Mountauk, Romany, Explorer, Carriteck… too many boats and too little time and money!

Thanks Schizopak
I’ll be looking at the Montauk also. I may go a little shorter with the Calabria since I paddle mainly lakes and rivers. Before Canoecopia I’d like to go to Fluid Fun in Indiana and check out some of the Eddyline Merlins. My local dealer is recommending the WS Tsunami 145 and the Hurricane Tracer and some other models.

Like you, I’ve become somewhat addicted in a short period. The number of boat options is overwhelming but fun to research.

Good luck to you.

Avocet volume…
Don’t pay too much attention to raw numbers, my man. The volume of the Avocet can be deceiving. I know you plan on test paddling as many as possible, but don’t focus too much on the numbers. This is true with many other boats as well. There are so many great boats that your decision may be a tough one, then they will introduce more new models next year! Your going down the right path trying to find a boat that you won’t outgrow quickly, and there have been some great suggestions. Don’t give into the hype or the latest-and-greatest sales rag, go with a boat that has proven itself consistently and has no production issues.

Got a hot tip for you
Carl’s in Madison has an unused 2001 Fiberglass Eddyline Falcon16 selling for just under $2000. I had a deposit on it but just can not bring myself to sell either my Nordkapp or Romany. I had a light layup Falcon. It was an awesome boat. I did lots of 20-30 mile crossings. I was planning on keeping that boat til I could not paddle anymore but I lost her in a surf incident. The fiberglass version seems to be a stronger layup.

thanks for the tip
I’ll swing by Carl and John’s when I visit Madison during canoecopia. I think that is a bit out of my range. I’m looking for a used composite boat under $1500 as I need to save some cash for a new ONNO paddle as well.

Move up - try many
Move up to a better boat. You won’t be sorry. But don’t pick one based on specs or a recommendation from any of us. I tried over 13 different models at Paddlefests, dealers and kayak classes before I found the perfect fit. So spend this season testing and testing until you find the perfect boat!