Kayak for my wife?

Everyone here helped me choose my first kayak and I am so pleased with the results that I thought I might try a more difficult question.

I recently purchased an Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL so the wife and I could paddle tandem and an Necky Chatham 16 for my solo trips. We have only been out a few times, but my wife has had so much fun that she is now talking about getting a kayak of her own.

Now comes the difficult part.

I could never ask for a better wife, but she cannot fit into my Chatham. Not even close. I hope this will paint a clear enough picture without further details.

She would like something between a rec boat and one like my Chatham, but with a cockpit befitting her size. Before we go and try some on, I thought it might be wise to get some good advice and thereby avoid any uncomfortable situations. Or worse, turn her off of kayaking completely!

My whole family is getting hooked on this kayak thing with one of my daughters having already picked out the boat she wants (since she can’t have my Chatham). If I can get a kayak for my wonderful wife, family vacations will improve ten fold. Heck, she is already talking about Baja!

As always, your advice and time is greatly appreciated.

Is your wife too small or too large
for the Chatham?

Been there…
I really don’t think anyone is ‘too small’ for a chatham 16. I’ve sat in one and absolutely loved the fit,fits my 6’1 180 frame perfectly, my girlfriend on the other hand couldnt fit if she tried, realistically…Yeah. so me and my gf went through the same sorta deal with shopping for a boat for her. My Cape Horn 170 fit fine. so did the necky Eskia and some other boats.End result-we scored a deal(on pnet classifieds by the way) on a used Prowler 15 sit on top and shes pretty happy with it.

If you’re set on a touring sit-inside boat, try the Necky Eskia(but it’s a pig), Elaho HV,WS Cape Horn and Tsunami series,Current Designs Storm and some others. But…all n all. get her a sit on top. you’ll be glad you did every time you launch and land.

Height less than weight?
Can you give your wife’s height? I suspect that what you are trying to say is that she is proportionately much bigger around the middle than tall. I am hoping I am wrong, because I know of someone who is casually looking for a boat to solve exactly that problem and it’s a bear. What is out there with a sufficiently large cockpit tends to have the footpeg rails set way forward assuming a big, tall guy so foot reach is an issue. And forget even finding a thigh brace since her legs are those of a slightly tall woman, like 5’6".

If you do find a cockpit that fits, you’ll probably need to either have the footpeg rails moved back, may not be possible to get them back far enough. Or look for a boat with good enough bulkheads that you can put in a whole lotta foam blocks to move the foot position back.

As to the rest of the fit - if she is the dimensions I suspect the darned thing will be higher than you’d like in the deck. But that may be a necessary evil.

If you are staying in plastic boats, I’d suggest that you consider two older boats that, because of their era, may have bigger cockpits. That’s either the Necky Looksha IV or the CD Storm. These are quite serious boats both of them, decent speed, even if they may not be the ideal skinny little thing for Greenland skills.

In fiberglass… anything I can think of is going to be too big in some part of the fit issue. The Chatham 18 has a huge cockpit, but she’ll run into the brace issue and it’s probably the least easy of the Chtham boats to handle in conditions.

The CD Gulfstream may be an option, and they are even around used. While I suspect it’ll still be a reach for the braces and will be burying a portion of her torso, it’s a very kind boat that responds without someone having to have super good contact for basic leans for turning etc.

In general, if wider than taller is the issue, you probably want a soft chined boat. The hard chined boats will make her get the boat over to the chine to turn, and if she has poor contact with the thigh braces that’ll be too much to fuss with.

Try looking at
boats from Hurricane Aqua Sports. They have every thing from SOT to rec. boats to sea kayaks. And they are very, very light. Made of a thermoform plastic.

A sit on top may solve a bunch of your problems. They are coming out with a 16 ft SOT late this summer. Their current SOT is 14 ft.


They do have big cockpits, as in can handle a good sized posterior, and are very light. I am not a fan of their high decks and have experienced women not being able to get back into them, so I’d hesitate to send a woman out alone in one. But that’s a good idea - probably worth a look.

big easy

– Last Updated: May-22-06 3:13 PM EST –

I've met a couple of big novice paddlers who had Pygmy Osprey Standards and loved them -- said they were fast and light compared to the plastic boats they had tried, while still being roomy and forgiving. One was a mom who had built it in her living room with her son.

Tell her not to be embarassed if it reqires a lot of custom outfitting to get a boat to fit properly. Every experienced paddler I know customizes their cockpits -- even the "perfectly proportioned" ones.

Romany HV? I think it's still fairly low, even with the "HV" designation. I paddled one when it was the Poesidon and it didn't feel huge.

We have the same issue…
We have the same issue, and it was suggested that the Tsunami 145 may work for us (haven’t bought it yet). Anyone have an opinion? Of course we’ll want to try out the size before buying, but I’d like to know if it’s a good idea before potentially scaring her away :slight_smile:

Tsunami 145
I was working with a paddler in a Tsunami on braces, draws, etc… last week. It is his first boat, and it is very reassuring for him. The boat responds well especially for its beam.

At least one coach I know thinks the Tsunami is a very respectable boat for someone’s first boat. As I recall the Tsunami was designed by Steve (Flatpick) who also designed the Tempest series. So, it might be more of a real boat than most that are comfortable for beginning paddlers.

try current designs…
Kestrel 140,

You don’t give much to go on, size, paddling conditions, etc.

But the CD Kestrel 140 is roomy, comfortable, and resposnsive.

Great day tripper or weekender for a large range of paddlers. Not so good if you want to paddle in open waters in “conditions”.

Tried it side by side with a Hurricane Aquasports Tampico XL, and found the CD to be worth the extra dollars.


Thanks for the feedback!
I know I didn’t give much to go on, but the advice is great nonetheless.

The one thing I didn’t add was that we want to do some weekend trips together. None of this would be in what I would consider “conditions” though.

Thanks again for the great feedback! Is tis a great forum or what?

Now I am off to pack for my month long vacation down on the coast. It’s a chance to get some good lessons in and also some great paddling long the Texas coast.

no one mentioned a pungo…
i love my big roomy cockpit. and the footpegs are adjustable.


the pamlico also has a larger cockpit, but no front hatch.


not sure what the pamlico has in terms of a front bulkhead so the hatch (or lack thereof) may not be an issue.

the pungo has no front bulkhead as it comes. i’m adding one to mine so the hatch becomes a necessity for compartmental access.

What about CD Whistler??
The Current Designs Whistler has a number of good reviews here at p.net. When I demo’d it for 10 min I liked it and fit in it. I’m 250#, 6-4. Looks like its just a little longer, narrower and smaller in the cockpit than the kestrel. Try them both on for size.