Kayaks for the dilapidated

-- Last Updated: Nov-18-14 8:39 AM EST --

Growing old successfully has a lot to do with one's ability to accept compromise. Thus, I've concluded that the fifty-two pound, 18 foot sea kayak with its snug cockpit that I've been happily paddling for the last eight years must go to a younger, stronger, more limber paddler and that my next boat must weigh less than 40 pounds with a cockpit that allows easy entry and exit and is long enough to allow me to pull my knees up for frequent stretches. With these qualities in mind I took an Epic GPX for a test drive not long ago and I liked the little boat. I never thought that I'd consider owning a 13 foot kayak with a 25 inch beam but the boat seemed very efficient and I found that the wide beam allowed me to add about an inch or so of height to the seat which I find enhances paddling efficiency to a significant degree.
Another boat that has tempted me and I'd like to try is the Epic V8 surfski but the weather has turned cold now and it may be spring before I get my chance to paddle that boat which would be my first experience with a surfski.

I'd be interested in knowing what other long-time paddlers who have reached a "certain age" (I'm 73) and find themselves in a state of creeping dilapidation are doing to extend their paddling and the boats they're paddling.
Thanks, Jake

Do you need a kayak and its decks?
Pack canoe… The Placid Shadow is 16 feet long , 22 inches wide.

Sit on the bottom, double blade. Its not as fast as a surf ski but 26 lbs is nice and portable.

I personally have the RapidFire, an inch wider and a foot shorter but in my decomposition refuse to give up canoe camping… I need a little more width for packs so that is why I do not have a Shadow.

Hey Jake
Just fight it.

I’m older then you and that is what I am doing.

Although I would like to race a surf ski which I don’t have.

I have demoed them and like them, but I can’t see buying one just for racing.

Jack L

Here’s what I did
Sold my lovely NDK Pilgrim (56 or so pounds) and had a local boatbuilder make me a copy of a wonderful kayak with modifications such as no footpegs and with a recessed coaming (easy rolling). It’s 4 mm okume plywood with fiberglass like the kit boats from Pygmy and CLC. With 3 bulkheaded compartments it still weighs only 38 pounds. I can handle that with no complaints. So a local boatbuilder might be one way to go if there’s a particular kayak you’d like to replicate in lighter materials.

Here’s an option if
you would like to build your own. http://www.kudzucraft.com/designs/messabout/

Also, look at the Epic V7. Plastic surfski.

Plenty of lighter options, ginger presents a good one. Other lightweight boats such as the trak kayak which sounds more appealing to me the more I learn about it.

Body rejuvination?
Are you doing anything to recondition your body? I’m 71 and I try to keep myself in shape with bike riding and exercises to augment my paddling workouts. This past summer I think I paddled more than any other time in my life and I found myself able to do things that I could not have done a few years ago.

folders and SOF’s
I started out kayak touring with folders and only later added hardshells to the fleet. As I’ve aged, I too have sold off my heavier kayaks (like the 68 lb Magellan) and the sole poly boat I’ve kept is only 44 lbs. (Venture Easky LV) I have an 18’ skin-on-frame that’s 31 lbs and two folders, a 25 lb 12’ Pakboat Puffin for lily dipping and a 35 lb Feathercraft Wisper for big water and touring.

Besides being light and easy to load and transport, folders have other advantages for us geezers (I’m 64 now and planning to kayak until they pry the paddle from my cold dead hands). Most have inflatable seats that enable varying the comfort and support, which can help prevent stiffness on longer trips. Best of all, having a boat that can be transported on a plane or in the trunk of a rental car enables traveling farther afield with it, something that I hope to do more of when I retire next summer.

I love my Wisper though the assembly can sometimes be challenging – I’ve been eyeing the Feathercraft Aironaut, a fully inflatable, seaworthy kayak that weighs in at a slight 20 lbs and sets up in 6 minutes. That could be the kayak in which I paddle off into that final sunset.

Another boon to aging paddlers (or anyone else, for that matter) is the Greenland paddle. Just picked up a 3 piece breakdown version last year so I can travel with that too.

Excellent point
Two links to mitochondria information, one from Prevention Magazine and the other from Harvard. Both worth reading. The Prevention high mito, no-fat muscle plan is worth doing, with the addition of core exercises.



And don’t forget . . .
Kits from Pygmyboats or Chesapeake Light Craft. The Pygmys are great and lighter, I believe, than the old CLC boats (pre-Schade). You could have a long seaworthy kayak with a biggish cockpit and it would weigh maybe 36 pounds – if you don’t overdo the epoxy. And if you don’t want to build it yourself, you could hire someone – Pygmy keeps a list of people who do that work.

Try the V6 also, if considering the V8
It’s a very efficient and stable SOT and has hatches & bulkheads.

I’d like to try a GPX.

Don’t people die with no fat diets?

All about exercise, not a no-fat diet
The Prevention article advocates eating protein at every meal. Says nothing about about a no-fat diet.

The MRI images comparing the thigh muscles of a 74-year-old sedentary man to those of a 70-year-old triathlete are compelling. One shows a tiny amount of muscle surrounded by layers of fat; the other, trim and fit muscle outlined by very little fat.

A story: I live on a kettle lake. Steep bluff going down to the beach. Fifty-two steps down (and up). When I signed up for my first skills class, I was worried that I didn’t have the upper body strength needed for a re-entry, so in May of this year I added interval training to my daily treadmill workout, plus weight training (push, pull, squat, bend, rotate) and core exercises. No major dietary changes (I use both butter and olive oil in my cooking). Made a vast positive difference. Had my annual checkup earlier this month. Cholesterol report was great, blood pressure was great and I dropped 20 pounds since my last checkup. I can climb those 52 steps easily, and squat to get in and out of my kayak without falling over.

The Prevention article was published in the November issue. Was nice to read about something I had already been doing, and intend to keep on doing.

Maybe This?

SOF’s like the Shrike are great boats
My skin-on-frame, the eponymous “Willow Leaf”, is a West Greenland replica very similar to the Shrike (about 6 inches longer and a half inch narrower, same weight, keyhole cockpit and approximate profiles.) Absolutely a pleasure to paddle, fast and smooth in any conditions and tracks like an arrow without being at all twitchy. Not to mention that it is beautiful, like a semi-translucent giant sliver of jade.

And I have to admit I like the amazed looks I get at the put ins for being an “old lady” who schleps an 18’ kayak effortlessly on one shoulder.

Skin-on-frames are a terrific option for us people “of a certain age”. You can buy them custom built from many sources or build one yourself alone or in one of the hands-on one week classes offered by folks like Cape Falcon Kayaks.

I agree with Jack
I am 74 (soon to be 75) and I am very happy still with my QCC700x. I do lust after a ski but realistically that would be a big step in the opposite direction from what you describe you want/need. How is your balance? Can you sit on an exercise ball with your feet up and not fall over? Is your balance getting better?

Thankyou all for the advice and ideas
So far as physical condition goes, that’s a very subjective thing. I think I’m in pretty decent shape and live a healthy lifestyle except for my addiction to coffee. A dicey back and a couple of total hip replacements are really what is moving me to a sub-40 pound boat with a cockpit large enough to stretch my legs.

ThePlacid Boat Works Rapidfire is a lovely thing and looks to be highly efficient. Wonder what the stability would be like with the high seat option?

I like the looks of the Pygmy Peguino Sport and I’ve worked with WEST epoxies and could probably build the kit but, by the time I’ve finished, I may be too old to paddle.

The Feathercraft Wisper is the epitome of elegant grace, lightweight and…pricey.

The Shrike is a stunning boat but that cockpit looks just like the one in the boat I’ve been paddling. Doesn’t make the cut.

Of course, time will bring an end to our paddling days; that’s inevitable. The idea is to keep on paddling in a reasonably happy state for as long and painlessly as one is able. Perhaps my next boat will be the one I paddle across the River Styx.

Cheers, Jake

With patience, I found my Wisper for $2200, used but not abused. And any SOF can be modified with a cockpit of your choice. But if you’ve got the experience with epoxy and space for a build, a Pygmy would be a great option.

Interesting article
I’m pretty good about doing cardio at the gym, but this article reinforces that I need to do more weights.

I hear ya…

– Last Updated: Nov-20-14 6:44 AM EST –

I'm right behind you old man and understand your mindset. The first time I sold my Bou was mainly in favor of a lighter boat but that didn't work out and I got the Bou back after a few years.

I live on the water with great paddling so transport is not a problem for a day paddle or exorcise. However my 12YO 30some pound Pygmy 14 has also now returned and is my go-to day boat. The 14 will handle anything that I might experience on a day paddle.

So I'm looking at the Bou and while a great boat I'm wondering if I want to do any more multiday camping trips or just pass it on.

Decisions, decisions

BTW: When the GPX first came out I paddled along side a few and they easily kept up with the group as the owners sang their praises.