Kayak newbie

I’m thinking of going over to the “dark side” and adding a KAYAK to my stable of canoes. I’m an experienced solo paddler, but I know virtually nothing about kayaks, including brand names. I want to paddle in the mighty Niagara River (near my house), on lakes of various sizes, and maybe coastal waters someday. Is there one boat that will handle all that well?

Id be thining of

– Last Updated: Apr-21-04 1:42 PM EST –

an impex susquehanna with a day hatch, something in the wilderness systems tempest series, an Nigel dennis romany, Current designs gulfstream, valley canoe products avocet, necky chatham, etc. But what is up with niagra aside fron the falls. Any rating on the area you want to paddle? Unless a high performance (relatively) boat like those above catches fire with you, consider buying used, and gettint a better boat as your kayaking skills improve.

some here might contend that no boat over 20 inches of beam is truly high performance but they are racing biased.

Good question…
IMHO, you may be able to find a boat that handles that variety of conditions competently, but not necessarily well. Your biggest tradeoff will probably be between needs for travelling long, straight, open water distances (which would be best served by a longer, faster, keeled boat) and needs for tight, quick maneuvering in whitewater (which would be best served by a shorter, more nimble boat with little or no keel).

I say buy two boats - a cheap rec/WW boat for the Niagara (WW if you want to do serious rapids and/or playboating) and a light touring boat for the lakes and coast - if you want optimal enjoyment for your $$$. If you want competent performance in one boat, maybe something plastic in the 10-13’ range with little or no keel might work.

A few other questions you’ll want to answer:

  • What material? Plastic, fiberglass, kevlar, exotic?
  • Day trips or expeditions?
  • One or two paddlers?
  • What’s your height & weight? Unlike the canoe, you’ll want to “wear” your kayak for the best possible (and most comfortable) performance, and you’l find tremendous variety in fit for different body types.
  • Are you planning on taking any classes in kayaking (strongly encouraged - this will also help guide your purchase and determine how “advanced” a kayak you start with)?

    Throwing a bone to aspiring kayakers, a number of kayak manufacturers have “boat selection wizards” on their web pages that factor in your answers regarding material, boat usage, number of paddlers, body type, skill level, etc. As I’m sure you already know, the amount of money the spent on their website isn’t necessarily an indicator of boat quality, but these can serve as guidance for matching boat design with the paddler’s needs.

    I could list a number of manufacturers off the top of my head, but the “Buyer’s Guide” and “Product Reviews” sections of the site provide exhaustive listings, including a boat selection wizard. Take a look there first, let us know more about what you’re looking for, and I’m sure more than a few of us will have good advice to offer… or at least advice. :slight_smile:

No-no-no WHITEWATER! The white water in the Niagara is either too close to the brink, or part of the Class “crazy” waters in the illegal-to-run lower rapids. I’m just talking about a big wide river with lots of chop from all the wind and boat traffic that it sees (the Niagara runs from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario). Thanks for the info.

well, that’s a relief…!
…I thought maybe you were looking for a boat that could survive a trip over the falls! In my limited experience, I’ve found the boats that claim to “do it all” often don’t do any of it well. Get one suited to the type of water you’ll be in most, and then maybe a second one later. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this board, it is that there is no such thing as “too many.”

Which kayak
SO I guess what I’m looking for is a touring kayak, for flat water, lakes and not too rough coastal waters. I like to paddle in to remote campsites on big lakes. I went to Alaska in '02, and WHEN I go back, I’d like to have the skills (and maybe a boat) to enjoy the water there.

Touring boat
Generally, touring kayaks run from 15 or 16ft to 18ft long. Beam under 24" and probably averages 22".

It is paddlefest time of year. Take the time to try every boat you can. Preliminary research lets you narrow the field from 1,000 to maybe 12 or 20.

The only way to choose a boat is to paddle it first.

And remember that this will simply be your FIRST kayak purchase.

Demo opportunity

Check your local dealers – 'tis the season for demo days!

Used to
live on Delaware Ave overlookin the Niagra and the lake , I didn’t paddle back then but from my recollections a tourning bout like said afore would do well . Plstc. if ya wanna keep the cost down . I’m sure there are a bunch o clubs up there as there is so much water , do a search on the net and like it was already stated go to demo’s and try before ya buy . You’ll probably have alot less difficulty goin from a canoe to a yak . I have had the oppurtunity to change alot o life long canoer’s into yakers. The response o the yak is usally the 1st thing they notice. Stay away from “rec boats” they are tubs in the water and will not handle like yer canoe.ENJOY

Go over and talk to Oren at PPP
PathsPeaksPaddles is located on Ellicott Creek road in the township of Tonawanda…Can’t miss the place. Oren can easily advise ya on what to look at (and he’s got a ton of used)as he not only paddles locally but does boundry water paddling as well. You can demo most boats right on Ellicott Cr. not far from the shop.