Kayak (maybe with rudder) suggestion?

-- Last Updated: Jun-18-12 12:20 AM EST --

I'm looking to upgrade from my 12' Old Town Castine - maybe to one with a rudder. My usual paddle is on quiet water around New England - but I do make trips to Cape Cod and paddle around the marsh areas (along the coast) so there are some waves which is why I'm thinking the rudder option would be good in the long term.

The Castine has been great (bought it used off CL three years ago). I love having the 2 hatches for day trips.

There are so many options out there, wondering what kayaks others are enjoying.

I am female, 5'7" ~150 pounds. Lighter weight yak is better (for lifting onto the car) but isn't my first priority.

I'm looking to upgrade so my partner can "inherit" the Castine.

What kayaks would you suggest I take a look at?

Basically, I'm looking for a good flatwater boat (step up from my Castine) that will also do nicely in the marsh twice a year. I do a lot of birdwatching, so many times it's a slow meandering paddle around the lakes and rivers in Western Massachusetts.

Thanks everyone!

You really…
…don’t need a rudder to contend with waves. This will also greatly expand your choices. Rudders help most with boats that lack rocker which means they really like to go straight. With most sea kayaks this isn’t an issue.

As for what might be the right boat for you, well it’s hard to go wrong with some of the major players like P&H, Valley, and TideRace (to name a few). Any respectable dealer will help fit you properly to your (future) kayak. All those mentioned above make models that should make for a good fit.

You will have to track down some demo day events and get out on the water and test as many different models as you can. Chances are you will stumble on something nice. Sounds like fun.

lots of options

– Last Updated: Jun-17-12 5:57 PM EST –

You will likely get various suggestions on models to look at. We all have our favorites so I will pitch mine - I am about your size and have owned 8 touring kayaks (as well as borrowing or renting several other models over the past decade). If you have a chance to test one out, the Venture Easky 15LV (made by P & H) is a reasonably priced, well outfitted and nicely performing plastic kayak for the kind of paddling you are describing. At 44 lbs it is lighter than similar boats in the 15' range and it is designed (low volume) for people of moderate weight and height. Actually, it is very much like a sleeker version of your Castine, a few inches narrower and 2 feet longer, with two hatches (of course).

Mine does not have the rudder but has all the mounting and cabling channels to easily install it -- frankly I have never felt it needed one. It tracks and accelerates very well and handles solidly in waves, wind and rough water. Very comfortable seats, thigh hooks and foot pegs. I've loaned it to friends who were at the stage of stepping up from a beginner boat and they have all been very happy with the feel of it. The Easkys are attractive boats too (mine is bright spring green, now tagged "The Snow Pea"), made in Great Britain.

You mention New England -- if you are ever near Lake George in upstate New York, Lake George Kayaking outfitters has them in their rental livery and they were selling some of the rental models for several hundred off the list price (new price is around $1100.)

Waves don’t equal rudders
That is not to say you won’t want one in the end, but thinking that you need a rudder for waves tells me that you need some work on how to handle a kayak in more open water before deciding on what tracking device. If anything, the rudder is a problem in waves, not a help, when you understand how to handle a boat.

The Old Town Castine is not exactly the best boat to get a sense of what is available in more interesting sea kayak hull shapes, especially for someone your size. If the Cape is an area you regularly go, stop at Goose Hummock and set up a day on the water with those folks, in boats they have to try.

I’ll check out the Easky
The majority of boats available in my neck of the woods (western mass) are Old Town, Hurricane, Wilderness, Perception and Necky. Looking forward to branching out my search for the Easky and others that are recommended.

My Castine is yellow and dubbed ‘The Banana’.

Thanks Celia

– Last Updated: Jun-18-12 12:33 AM EST –

I only go to the Cape twice a year - the rest of the time I'm paddling on quiet water in Western Mass/Vermont/New York.

The waves aren't really a problem in my Castine. I've never paddled a boat with rudder or skeg and wasn't sure if it would be advantageous in rougher water (which I rarely go into, but if I'm spending the $$$ on a new boat why not get one with options).

From the handful of posts today - it seems that I can keep on keeping on with a touring kayak without rudder (which works for me). I didn't know if I was missing out on something!

I've been to Goose Hummock before - got a great wetsuit at their end of season sale in September. My usual stomping grounds are from Truro to Orleans.

REI near you?
REI used to sell the Easky’s, though only by special order. Don’t know if they still do. One nice thing about REi (besides the 10% annual member dividend on all non-clearance purchases) is that if you order something, use it and decide you don’t like it, they will take it back and refund your money.

They don’t have one in Western Mass. I checked on their website - and there’s one about an hour away in CT and also in Central Mass. They could be an option.

Thanks for the recommendation of the Easky - I checked it out online and it looks like a good fit.

It’s on the list of boats to check out (and really, who doesn’t love a road trip to check out boats and food - so I might end up in Lake George!)

Testing kayaks
I’m really looking forward to testing out a few different kayaks. As far as things to do - this is probably the least painful on my list.

If only the yard work was as fun.

It’s more about wind
Open water, including land near shore with all that bay or ocean to one side, often has more wind issues than in a smaller space because there is more fetch. That is, from at least some directions the wind has longer uninterrupted space it can travel.

The salt marshes around Cape Cod are part of a pretty irregular shoreline, so present more of a break for the wind than a very regular shoreline, but I’ve been in them with enough wind to be a bit of a PITA. There are ways to handle this without a tracking device - given that most longer boats tend to weathercock at least a bit, but it is a heck of a lot easier with one.

There are exceptions but most boats are designed with one of the two in mind when the designer is finalizing the hull dimensions. My first sea kayak had a rudder, but when we went out for the fiberglass boat my requirements included that it worked with a skeg. I found that the rudder was of very limited use for me and was mostly a pain to work around. Others have made a different choice.

Sent you a message about an Impex with a rudder in your area.

Lake George
You bet! Nice road trip. I’ll be driving up that way in about a month myself – my brother lives in Saratoga Springs and I’m hoping to make it up there for my twin nephew’s birthday in July. Usually bring a kayak or two and go to Lake George if the weather cooperates. Last visit there was a stormy day in late October for the boys’ bar mitzvah at Sagamore there at the north end – the service was outdoors and I could see the waters raging the whole time, a confused mass of whitecaps. Nobody out that day!

If LGK still has one of the Easky 15 rentals for sale I plan to pick one up for my boyfriend while there – he loves mine better than either of his own kayaks.

My two cents - skip the rudder
I have rudders on two of my boats and I would skip adding a rudder until you decide you absolutely must have it.

Rudders get in the way. They break and need maintenance. They rarely help a boat turn.

I do really like them for sailing and for using a single blade. Their are certain designs that need the rudder in high winds or need it for tracking. But in most cases you are better off learning to turn the boat without the rudder down.

I think the rudder is 'off the table’
Figured if I was spending some cash on an upgrade might as well think about what I might need in the future. I don’t think I need a rudder where I like to paddle, so I’m forgoing it this time around!

Collinsville CT
Found out there’s a fantastic outfitter in Collinsville that is less than 2 hours away from me. They are located right on the Farmington river and you can test out boats right there.

They also have rentals available for sale.

Saturday day trip for me!

A co-worker of mine just bought a 15’ Perception from that outfitter. She was going to get a Nceky - but it didn’t quite fit right. Looking forward to trying a few boats!

Perception Carolina?
Anyone paddle one of these? The place I’m going (to test an Easky) also carried Perception.

Try the Expression
If your Perception dealer carries the Expression I would encourage you to try it. I paddled one at a local demo day and was impressed. A lot of boat for the money and the rope skeg is simple and effective.

They do carry the Expression
And that’s the one that my co-worker got (after testing it out).

Your Castine may be fine.
I rarely use my Castine because it weighs more than I like - 56 lbs - but it seems to be a pretty capable design. I never paddled mine in any conditions that required a rudder on it.

Your Castine might be fine for paddling the coastal marsh area.

Used Perception Shadow 16.5, if you
can find one.

I’m 5’6" and 165 lbs and find my kevlar Perception 16.5 to be a very fun boat to paddle. Very capable. The plastic versions sometimes show up used for $300 to $400.

I’ve only tried a Carolina 14.5 once several years ago and didn’t like it. Maybe the newer versions are more appealing.

The Expression seemed to be a good fit for me when I tried one on for size at Canoecopia last year, but I haven’t paddled one yet.