I had done a lot of canoeing, but had never been in a kayak…until 2 days ago. Fell in love with it! I consider myself a beginner and will be signing up for lessons that include basic water rescue.
Eventually, I will probably be buying a kayak and I need some help in determining what is right for me. I am 5ft 7, 170. I don’t want to be sealed in if possible. I would most likely use it slower rivers and calmer parts of the chesapeake bay. Storage is an issue as I live in a small condo but I am wary of the inflatable kayaks.
Any tips on how to research what is best for me is appreciated!
What do you mean by “sealed in”?
If you mean that you don't want a kayak that is way tight, that's one kind of answer. If you are talking about not using a skirt, that ultimately means that you should cross places like an ocean bay off your list of paddling spots. Wind/waves will get water into a cockpit if it is uncovered, and at a certain point the water in there makes the boat pretty unstable. So unskirted paddling is more risky.
For what it's worth, a nylon skirt will generally pull off the coaming in a capsize with no or very little help from the paddler, and they especially fall off the coaming of a plastic boat. In order for a skirt to stay on more than fall off capsized it has to have the ability to stretch, so it'll stay attached as the paddler's torso pulls if around, and only neoprene skirts will do that. And even neoprene skirts will come off most plastic coamings in a heartbeat - it was multiple boats and skirts before I got to a skirt/boat combination where I actually have to remember to pull it.
When you take those lessons, especially the rescue portion, you will learn about skirts, if that is what you are concerned about. Most beginners classes have you do a “wet exit”, which entails wearing a skirt and learning how to get out of the boat when wearing one. After you see the usefullness, maybe you will change your mind about wearing one.
perhaps by not being sealed in
you mean a sit on top? Lots of options and lots of shorter boats in that department also.
Celia gave good advice since my first skirt was nylon and came off way too easy but at that time it’s what I wanted! Later after some classes I felt safe using a neo skirt with a breathable fabric tunnel and advanced on to rolling etc. I’d look at a boat in the 12-14 foot range and skip anything shorter if you are going out on an ocean bay. Tons of choices but make sure you can lift and carry the kayak! Light is good!
looking for kayak
If you are anywhere near the Chesapeake Bay, go to Wild River Outfitters on Rosemont Road in Virginia Beach. They will show you all kinds of different kayaks and let you try them out until you find one that works best for you. That’s where I’ve bought both of my kayaks and they were great to work with.