Kayak selection advice- small paddler

-- Last Updated: Mar-15-06 9:57 PM EST --

I never thought I'd ask for advice but I sat in so many nice kayaks at Canoecopia that I am having issues with differentiation.

I am 5'9" and 150 lbs. and 55 years old with a size 9 shoe, a 30" waist and a 30-31" inseam. I have been paddling for less than two years.

I am rough on yaks. Cost is not a factor. I like to cruise at 4 MPH for 10 to 20 mile runs. I like both quiet water and the textured water of Lake Michigan.

I am leaning towards:

Capella 160- it fits. Uses good plastic and appears versatile. I am concerned it is a bit slower than other potential choices.

WS Tempest 165- Seems to have some speed. Fits me better than the Capella. Doesn't appear to have the same quality as the Capella- plastic, bulkheads, etc.

Other intriguing yaks are the Nordkapp LV and the Capella 163 in composite which fits similarly to the 160 RM which is (depending on who measures it) 16'2 or 16'4". However, I'm leaning a bit towards plastic this time if there is no major sacrifice in performance.

The QCC600 is lurking in the corners of my mind.

I will not demo, demo demo. I will use available info and buy a yak based on comfort, specs and features and take my chances and make it work.

Call me stupid but I may order one next week to have for the start of Spring.

Any major positive or negative comments on any of the aforementioned yaks would be much appreciated.

Wait until Arpil 1 and demo some at
Rutabaga. That’s only a two week wait. You can do it.

Tempest is available in composite
I have a rotomold 165 and love it. Haven’t had any problems with it, and the plastic looks fine. Hull is straight, no warpage anywhere, unlike another rotomold I used to own.

Though I think highly of the T165, I wonder why you are in such a rush? You only mentioned paddling two models, not exactly a large sample.

Aloha Bruce, another choice.
Mermaid is coming this spring.


Congrats, Pat
on getting that boat out. She’s a beauty.


Love My Tempest

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 5:02 AM EST –

I'm about your size. 5'9" and 160 - 165.

The QCC600 has a back deck that's way too high for me. If I were you and was looking at QCC, I would consider the brand new boat they have. Nanci bought one.

I'm looking at Pat's Mermaid as a second boat. It ought to be fast.

VCP Avocet

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 8:32 AM EST –

Comes in both plastic and fg. I have plastic, my numbers are almost identical to your - except for age. I also understand your reluctance to demo ;)

Depending on how long you want them - VCP Anas Acuta, NDK Romany LV,NDK Explorer LV, Foster Silhoutte. Basically you want kayaks for "smaller paddler" - you figured out as much.

When looking for a boat, I tried out Capella 163, did not care for it. Tempest 165 had very good outfitting, but felt not as maneuverable as Avocet.

money is no object but you want a plastic boat?,if you’re paddling long distances for day paddling you’d enjoy a light, efficient boat,whether you HAVE to have a low windage skegged boat is another question.

Lee G… bruce mentioned a couple

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 9:31 AM EST –

times in his post that he is rough with his boats and paddles not just on Lake Michigan, but also fairly rough terrain (sometimes even urban, a.k.a rebar, sunken barrels, etc.). I think the essence was to determine if there is a substantive performance difference between a plastic vs composite kayak for long day paddles (not an expedition paddle) enough that it is worth the risk of injury to the kayak in rough (a.k.a abusive) paddling conditions. And then determine which boat would be a good fit.

For instance, I will say that some boats have seemingly very minute differences between f/g and plastic models. For instance, Sea Kayaker Mag January 2006 issue, reviewed composite Tempest 165, and it is literally, according to the article, only about 2-3 lbs lighter weight than its plastic counterpart. A huge performance advantage? Doubt it.

Kevlar performance difference... probably. But one scrape on the old rebar and it'd be back to the retailer for expensive repairs.

LeeG or others have any ideas for bruce?

didn’t see the rebar comment
Avocet sounds good.

LeeG – is it fast?

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 9:30 AM EST –

I added the rebar, LeeG, you didn;t miss that part. :)

Thanks all for the thoughtful input

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 9:43 AM EST –

The Avocet did not feel as comfortable to me as the other models; although I recognize it has an outstanding reputation and the relatively new triple-layer plastic appears to be top-notch.

Good luck with the new boat Pat but I'll probably purchase before then.

Yanoer old buddy, it is a self-imposed rush to get it done early without dragging my feet. Delivery may take longer (especially with the Tempest) further into the season.

In terms of demoing, I'm confident that I can't go wrong with any of the boats I've listed. I'm just trying to sort out some qualitative differences.

Kudzu and Pikabike- you are both walking advertisements for the Tempest (even Flatpick indicated as such at Canoecopia). Your enthusiasm is definitely one of the factors that caused me to take a hard look at that boat.

Cooldoctor- I've received so many conflicting answers on the plastic vs. composite issue that I don't know what's correct. As you know, I demoed a well-reputed composite last year and my Calabria would have left it in it's wake.

Eddyline Nighthawk
I’m a small paddler also, and I’ve been very happy with this boat. If you try it, and like it, you may want to consider the modulus material, or even the extreme modulus if you plan on being really rough with it.

That being said, if the Tempest were available when I made my purchase, I may have bought otherwise. It fit like a glove and has some nice additional features.


the paddler has to be fast
If you want fast get a QCC600 and don’t land on rebar. To be honest I haven’t paddled an Avocet, just passing on what I’ve heard, I don’t think the Avocet is “fast” none of the boats fit that category but from what I’ve read the Avocet is efficient,that is more important for long distance paddling at less than sprint speeds.

If you want “fast” don’t get a heavy plastic boat.

From a “fast” new boat purchase standpoint I’d look at an Impex Forumula boat in whatever layup is desirable for durability before ordering a Tempest 165 and finding out if they got their production facilities together although the Tempest can fit the bill,still not clear on plastic/composite criteria. If you land on rebar enough times that “fast” plastic boat won’t be fast after awhile.

Not sure if Bruce is desiring a ruddered or skegged boat,if he’s not able to paddle in a straight line with a responsive boat then “fast” is putting the cart so far ahead of the horse.

forgot the Nighthawk
that’s a very good choice

Avocet @ 5’11", 210#
I owned an Avocet and frankly, even though I’m a huge Brit fan, I found the boat to be a bit lackluster. I like a more responsive boat. But more significant for you, I’m not a small padddler and I thought the boat fit a bit loose in my big thighs ( more to do with the keyhole cockpit configuration now that I think about it) and didn’t seem nearly as responsive as the Romanys I’ve owned over the years.

Not knowing your paddling style, if I were your size and paddle the way “I” paddle, I would no doubt own a Foster Silhouette and a VCP Anas Acuta. ( And climbing Galbraith MT on a mountain bike would be a pleasure!)

Keep in mind, these are full on, “learn your kayak skills” boats, not really leisurely kickback and enjoy the float type of kayaks.

I saw a Tempest for the first time at a retailer (have been walking right on by them for the last few years but all the talk on Pnet piqued my curiosity) and was pleasantly surprised at the fit and finnish and features.

As others have posted, I strongly encourage more demos. At your weight, a boat can really bob around like a cork and get blown even in a slight breeze. I had the privelegde of paddling Mark Rodgers very own Arctic Hawk while he demoed one of our NDK Greenlanders. With his expert eye for design, he was still very surprised by the handling of the Greenlander and found he had very good things to say about it. Its too easy to make up your mind before really spending any quality time in the kayak. The proofs in the paddling.

Demo on, Bruce!


Eddyline at "the other shop"
Eddyline is now carried by John’s Paddling Shop in Madison. They’re located right by the canal, so may have test paddles whenever you visit their shop. I’m about your specs, and am happy with a Merlin LT from CanoeSports Outfitters in Indianola, IA, but I’m not certain that model would suit your needs.

John’s Paddling Shop: http://www.paddlin.com/

Tried the Nighthawk 16 last year

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 1:08 PM EST –

and found it steady with good secondary stability but a tad slow.

Lee- I'm looking for a skegged boat and I can paddle in a very straight line; even on very windy days by using sweep and other strokes and believe it or not, edging the Calabria pretty far.

gstark- Eddyline also opened
up a dealership in Lake Bluff IL. Here’s the link (nice people):


your size
I’m your size and have a plastic Avocet which I enjoy, but I wouldn’t call it particularly fast. The Tempest 165s I’ve demoed have felt faster.

If you could find one of the old Eddyline Falcon 16s, that might be a fun boat for you.

For tough plastic – Prijon Barracuda?