Kayak Advice

Been on surf ski for years. new kayaker. Currently in a CD Isle 18 (Greenland style).

Looking at a CD Gulfstream (British style) in a kevlar layup. It is a good price and i am addicted to paddle craft.

My question is since they are pretty much same dimensions will i really notice a difference in how they handle due to either weight difference or Greenland vs British design.

I like the Gulfstream but if I buy it and it feels same as Isle I hate to spend money just to get a 10 pound weight savings.

Anybody with experience know if I will in essence be buying an identical feeling kayak?

Soft chine vs hard etc.

Just not sure but nice to have a choice gf kayaks if I can and will notice difference.

glass Caribou and kevlar Gulfstream
I own a glass Caribou and a Kevlar Gulfstream. So about as close as you can come without actually owning the larger Isle.

The kevlar Gulfstream is the lightest kayak I own. Current Designs has always been good at keeping weight down without sacrificing the structural integrity of a kayak. Same amount of saturated cloth - while minimizing excess resin. Nice even coat of gelcoat. They certainly hold up for me as good as any. My kevlar Gulfstream is notably light.

Yes, they are different boats with a different feel. The Caribou for me feels lower volume. It has less rocker, and takes more to maneuver quickly. But with the hard chines, gradual edged turns happen effortlessly. The Caribou is fun to surf, and again, I think you feel the hard chines helping you with gradual carved directional control out in front of a wave. I do notice the lack of upswept bow, and peaked foredeck. It takes off easy enough to take off early, but you need to take off a little earlier as not to pearl or all-out dive the bow off of a wave that’s about to break.

The Gulfstream, as you’ve probably read, is very easily maneuverable. It’s got a somewhat light and smooth primary stability, firming up into a very solid secondary stability. So the secondary stability profile shouldn’t throw you many curveballs. The stability profile between the secondary firming up feels different from the Caribou - feels like a completely different hull. It’s not a racer, but it’s an efficient cruiser. It doesn’t plow like a wave-play specific kayak, but still maintains key attributes of a playful design. I prefer the compromises that don’t give as hard of a hit to cruising efficiency. The Gulfstream has more rocker, a more upswept bow, and a peak leading to the end of the bow, which is how I would design a bow for following seas and surfing. You can easily dive the bow of any sea kayak in following waves and surf. The waves just have to be steep enough. So it isn’t a matter of one does and one doesn’t. It’s just a matter of degrees. A few things will help the bow rise back to the surface more easily. Given hull length and rocker, greater volume in the bow, especially the further forward the volume is carried, will help keep the bow forced up to the surface. And the ability of that front deck of the bow to shed the resistance of the water as it sinks and pushes through the water is also significant. That’s where a peaked deck sheds that resistance and rises to the surface more quickly than a flat deck. With a flat deck, the resistance is greater, which makes the end of the bow act more like a brake, which allows the wave to push under the stern more, so everything is just exasperated in that situation by a flat deck vs. a peaked one. So I’m a big fan of the shape of the end of the bow on the Gulfstream.

It’s a really good and fun rough water kayak, and little design details like the deck of the bow help with that. It also maintains convex surfaces all along the hull without going too flat or going concave. This is good for efficiency and maneuvering.

Now with Greenland style there’s usually emphasis on minimizing volume. Eliminate the peak, eliminate some volume and windage. Once you do broach, the less volume, the less the broken part of the wave acts upon you. It pierces through waves to little higher degree, where the Gulfstream goes up and over to a little higher degree. I think Epic puts forth an argument that less up and over can be more efficient in travelling. If you’re a big person, your low volume may be pretty high volume to a smaller person - hence the bigger sized Isle. So it’s simply trying to minimize volume given the intended sized paddler.

I could keep typing. But yes, different hulls, different styles, different fun. They’re similar in that they’re both sea kayaks. But among sea kayak designs, they’re quite different. I have love affairs with a lot of sea kayak styles, so don’t ask me to go monogamous on this one. Variety is the spice of life. This will allow you to gain an appreciation for 2 very different approaches. And they’re both well-respected designs.


– Last Updated: Jul-14-16 5:57 PM EST –

is for a bigger person what size are you? I am 6' 230 and found a caribou bit tight. Isle I would be swimming in as it is to big. Gulfstream soft chine vs hard on the others hard. Cockpit on the Isle is huge vs. the others. You would feel more connected in the tighter kayaks vs, Isle depending on size.

Unless you are a pretty big dude, I would strongly suggest that you give the new Caribou a try. I tend to favor longer boats, but in comparing the Isle to the Bou, the only reason to go with the Isle is if you can’t fit in the Caribou. The new Caribou is fast and handles like a dream. So comparing the Caribou to the Gulfstream, the main difference is speed. That’s not to say that the Gulfstream is slow.

Going from a surf ski to one of those boats they have to feel like a barge. Why so wide?

Bill H.

Caribou is a sea kayak not a ski. That is not wide for a sea kayak.

Soft chines…
I went from an original Bou to a very soft chined britt boat. The most apparent difference was in a short chop beam sea.The soft chine would lift up and over the wave sort of like riding a rollercoaster sideways, very disconcerting at first. The Bou stayed much flatter in the water and seamed to take the punch which was more comfortable to me.

I thought soft chine lets wave pass under easier? Was only in a bou once in calm water. All my CD boats are soft chine.


– Last Updated: Jul-17-16 8:55 AM EST –

Yes the boat tends to ride up and down on the wave. Most noticeable to me was in the close windblown chop. The Bou would resist riding up and sometimes just take the slap.