Lightweight touring suggestion (materials, rudder vs skeg?)

Currently I have a perception 12 foot kayak. It’s the heavy plastic material, but on the positive side, I never worry about the hull really.

My partner just found herself a great deal on a used eddyline wind dancer 17 foot touring yak. We do kayak bay waters a lot so there’s wind, tides and choppy water. So a touring boat is probably worth it to us.

So I thought I’d start looking for something for myself to better keep up with her and making kayaking water like that more enjoyable. My boat is wider and has no rudder or skeg. So something narrower might be easier to paddle for the hours we’re out on the water.

I lean toward an all-arounder. Maybe a 14 footer with a skeg or rudder. I’d love a lighter boat too, but I’m concerned about the hull because some bays we kayak in have oyster shoals in them and at low tide, getting in and out of the boat is hard without bumping into them.

How much will fiberglass or the newer composites scratch if you merely bump into things liked that but take care not to beach or ground on them?

I don’t think I’m too into a rudder, but would it behoove me to consider getting a yak with that instead of a skeg? I’m a novice kayaker.

I weigh 140 pounds and I’m 5’5”. I thought an eddyline or delta 14 footer might be a good boat to keep an eye out for. Though I never see any used ones near me really. Do y’all have any other recommendations I should consider?


People often ask how delicate composite materials are.
Most are tough as nails and easily repaired. For your use , the material is where you can save weight but whatever it is ( fglass , carbon, or combination) it is typically protected by epoxy and gelcoat.
Bows and keels can be further protected by the addition of wear strips of the same material.

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I’m also not a rudder fan but they have their place if you are paddling in currents. Since you mentioned oyster shells , tides may be a factor?
It also depends on the boat. I have a 14’ that needs some additional directional control. I can make it go where I want to but sometimes it’s a battle in wind or current.

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I’d think about looking for a used Impex Mystic. 14’ long 21.5” wide. Around here I see used ones for around $600-$900.

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Eddyline’s Sitka comes in three volumes with a skeg, but unless you’re a more powerful paddler keeping up with your partner’s 17 footer might be a struggle. The Fathom is a nice boat, but getting up there in price.
I’ve found their Carbonlite material to be plenty tough for ordinary touring and the white bottoms hide scratches pretty well. I assume your partner doesn’t want her new boat all scratched up right away, so if you both have Eddylines you can avoid the worst of it together. Several discontinued Eddylines pop up on the used market now and then (Merlin, Raven Night Hawk come to mind) and would be worth a look.

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Oyster shells or decomposed obsidian (lakes in Yellowstone NP have shorelines made of this) = scratches.

I’m your height though 10 pounds heavier. My preference for coastal waters (after owning 16 different kayaks) are 15’ to 18’ low volume boats less than 24” beam, Greenland style hull (low stern deck and hard chined) and with a skeg rather than a rudder, though I have boats with either, one model with both options and a couple that track well without either.

If you are going to be paddling with a partner who’s in a 17’ kayak, you will be at a pretty big disadvantage in trying to keep pace with them if you get a boat that is 3’ shorter. I’d advise staying away from 14’ models both for that reason and for better performance in open water. The one drawback is longer boats will usually be heavier, though the LV models shave some weight. And lighter composite models will be much more costly unless you find a good deal on a used one. Having a partner to paddle with helps mitigate the weight penalty since you won’t have to solo load the kayak, as I often must.

Hulls will get scratched and scraped, I don’t worry much about it (I suppose it helps that I have mostly bought used boats so they came pre-scratched). The fish don’t judge me (at least they are silent on the matter) and the scars are badges of enjoyable usage. Fiberglass can be repaired from more severe damage than plastic, though it may look worse faster…

You’ll get good tips on this forum on specific models that are still available new — since most of my kayaks are models no longer in production I’ve kept my suggestions generic to suggest a range of features abd design specs to consider in narrowing your selection. Your budget, local stock availability and personal fit will be the major factors in your final choice.

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I like fiberglass or wood boats with a cockpit. A rudder is optional. I like Eddyline boats and we rented some from Anacortes, WA for a salt water trip in the San Juan Islands. Some of the modern boats are too small for touring.

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I found specs on the Wind Dancer. It’s wide at 24.5 inches, and heavy at 60 lbs. So it may not be especially fast and depending on you partner’s paddling strength you may not have any trouble keeping up in a 14 footer. But in general I think a 16-17 foot touring kayak is a little more suited to the rougher conditions that you might encounter. I don’t know how abrasive oyster beds are, but a fiberglass hull will probably just get scratches in the gel coat from occasional rubs.

As far as rudder/skeg, I would want one or the other to help with tracking when the wind or seas pick up. Rudders are more complicated and many people don’t like the feel of the foot controls. I’d say rudders are easier to fix if something fails since all the parts are exposed. Skegs are simpler and don’t require special foot controls, but a jammed or broken skeg cable or pivot can be more difficult to repair, especially while out on the water. Skegs take up some storage volume if hauling gear is a priority.


If you haven’t yet, might be worth taking a day long intro to sea kayak class at a local outfitter/specialty kayak retailer before buying. Along with covering the basics likes strokes and rescues, it would also bee an opportunity to find out more about what to consider in a boat.

Until you know what you like in a kayak, which takes time paddling kayaks, you very likely will not buy the right kayak on your first (or even possibly 10th) try. So consider buying used early in your paddling career. There is a big drop in value when a kayak goes from new to used, but not much price drop after that (so long as you don’t damage it). So you can buy a kayak and try it, and if you don’t like it sell for basically what you paid. If you started with a new kayak and had to sell because it didn’t work, you’d lose 1/3rd to 1/2 its value.


Thank you. I’m one of the folks that tried out a rudder once and didn’t like the feel of the controls, but I tried out her “new” boat and the rudder deployed easily and there were three places to use for the foot pedals, so I didn’t feel “bunched up”.

I was my thought too that her new kayak was not likely to be that fast even though it was 17 feet long. I’m a rather cautious person, so I doubt I’ll be getting out on really rough water. We had winds that were prevailing at 15mph with gusts to 20 when we were at St. George island. Kayaking the bay, there were some sheltered areas where the wind wasn’t as intense.

I’m starting to lean toward getting a rudder. It also might be a bit easier to help me place the boat where I want when I put my paddle down to take pictures and want to drift into position.

Thanks for the tip. So far, I’m not seeing any retail stores within 200 miles of me that has sea/touring kayaks. There are lots of recreational ones, lots of fishing based ones, lots of rotomolded ones. But nothing over 12 feet and nothing focused on touring/sea based excursions.

I think REI in Birmingham used to carry some, but I don’t think they do any more. I will have to call them to find out where they suggest I look.

Where are located? Since you mentioned Birmingham, probably the closest shop with a decent selection of sea kayaks will be Tybee Island/Savannah at Sea Kayak Georgia or Savannah Canoe & Kayak. Both are good shops!

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Thank you. I’ll give them a call. I live in Tuscaloosa, AL. So they’re not close, but they’re closer than anything else I’ve found!

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And Savanah is a great place to visit, historically speaking with great seafood.


You may also want to check Everything Kayak in Gulfport MS. They specialize in fishing kayaks, however EK usually has a few touring kayaks.

It is a local shop where I regularly buy kayak accesories. Drop me a note if you are ever in town.


I agree with others that you want a kayak of similar dimensions if you want to keep up with your friend. You also probably want something longer than 14’ if you are planning on paddling in bigger open water.

I wouldn’t worry too much about cosmetic scratches on the hull if you will be primarily paddling with your friend, as she is unlikely to want to paddle in areas where her hull is roughed up as well.

As far as rudder or skeg, that’s one of the big debates and there are several topics on this site discussing people’s preferences. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You definitely want one or the other for paddling open water with wind.

The complaint about rudder foot controls generally refers to the sliding footpeg controls. These were found in earlier models of Necky and I believe Eddyline and a few others. These have been universally been replaced by gas pedal type controls with adjustable, but fixed footpegs, made mainly by Smart Track and Sealect. The old sliding footpeg controls are easily upgraded to the newer style.


We just got back from St. George Island. It was our third year going there. But next year, we’ve already booked our fall trip to Ft McAlister near Savannah. We’re stoked to see a different place and kayak a new area.

Thank you for this info.

FWIW, my partner has a Looksha IV (plastic version) also. So she’s considering letting me have it. I feel like it needs some refurbishing, but maybe that would be a good winter project. It would certainly be cheaper than buying new!

Maybe I could make the rudder work a bit easier (it’s really stiff), change out the deck lines, upgrade the seat, and while I’m at it, polish the boat a bit, clear off the scratches on the bottom and apply a bit of polish to make it “shine” a bit more. I’ve never worked on a kayak before, but from what I can tell, the Looksha might be worthy to sink a bit of time into.

The Looksha IV has many fans out there. I had one several years ago - liked the boat but hated the seat. A neighbor made me a good offer so I sold it rather than mess around replacing the seat.

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