Loaner kayak

I’m interested in getting a kayak that I can use to take beginners/novices out in. I would like it to be something comfortable for a potentially large range of sizes - say up to 200 lbs but also give the feel of a “real” kayak as much as possible.

Right now I could pick up a CLC-17 cheap, but I’m not sure about the quality of the design. Sounds like it would be plenty big. How does it edge? Does it handle ok in wind?

Any other suggestions? It would have to be something I can stand a chance of finding used. Wish I had kept my first boat - a Looksha 4, although it might be a bit tender for some larger or nervous folks.


Price range?

– Last Updated: Oct-21-07 12:06 PM EST –

Beginners/Novices intending on learning rescues or beginner/novices with no intention on getting wet?

The Necky Manitous are good. As much as hard tracking kayaks appeal to beginners who can't paddle in a straight line I'd suggest some degree of maneuverability requiring some BASIC skills or the opportunity to learn them in the first 30minutes.

IMnotsohumbleO the Chesapeake 17 is a marginal design for beginners in that it doesn't compensate for weathercocking with a lean very well and HAS to be outfitted for thigh bracing as it's a BIG cockpit. Even with adequate bracing it's lean-to-turn characteristics only work within a narrow range from vertical. As the wind picks up above 10mph a beginner will begin to struggle, above 15mph I doubt they could keep a course without a rudder or skeg. My experience having built and owned a 16,18 and paddled the 17,17LT,16LT, 18LT is that beyond about 20degrees from vertical the turning effort doesn't get appreciably better, the curve of the chines and lack of rocker aren't sufficient to change the underwater shape when leaned. For anyone under 175lbs or about 5'9" height will feel swallowed up. Someone 150lbs and 5'6" with little experience will be strugging in 10mph wind. For a 200lb person loading up with 75lbs of gear it's fine.

In other words it's handling envelope won't enable a beginner to experience normal lean-to-turn characteristics and is just as likely to inspire unwarranted confidence leading into rough conditions with less than optimum aft deck height for rescues(kinda tall). It's marketed as a "do-all expediton kayak" when it's primary design goal is a sea kayak kit that says "I built it myself". You could throw on a rudder but you could throw a rudder on a lot of other boats with better handling in wind/waves. Also it's best with a 225lb paddler. It's a BIG boat. From what I"ve seen most first time Chesapeake constructions have a LOT of sharp edges. If you are the rescuer it'll make a BIG difference if you have to drag someone across a low or high aft deck.

Manitou 13,14
QCC 400
CD Pachena

Don't get stuck on linear dimensions. If you get a boat with a rudder change the footcontrols to pivot type immediately.

Feathercraft Kahuna
No storage problems and then you would have a boat you can take with you.

Schooling Boats

– Last Updated: Oct-21-07 11:54 PM EST –

Explorers are based on the Romany, an ultimately reasuring boat, and are available fairly cheap (for a glass boat) used thse days if you are in the right area. A lot of coaches have used them for this reason, that you can put a newbie into them and it'll get them home safe.

The other thing that may work is a used CD Storm or other out of the Solstice series. Tho' I think the Storm would be the most flexible of the lot. Very reassuring boats but they will still do stuff. Should be easy to get used and inexpensively. Not as heavy as the Looksha IV either.

PS - The Looksha IV has brought many a paddler home, but it weathercocks more and is less manageable for someone who is undersized for it than either of the two I mentioned.

Another newbie friendly boat…
My first boat, which I still have, is a CD Caribou (pre-skeg model). I had only been paddling for three months when I decided on this boat, and for the next five years after that, it brought me from novice to happy sea creature. I’ve introduced many friends and acquaintances to paddling using that boat (first time they ever sat in a kayak), and they’ve all loved the experience.

As touring boats go, I consider this one to be relatively “medium volume”, and it can accommodate a wide range of paddler sizes and weights. It has comfortable stabilty for a beginner, it edges nicely, so it’s good for learning that aspect of boat control. It can also surf, roll, and maintain a decent cruising speed in all sorts of conditions. This boat may no longer by my idea of “the ultimate boat”, but it certainly is a “user friendly” boat in many ways, and from personal experience, I can say that it’s a nice boat to have around for both novice and more experienced paddlers to use when they come to visit.


Second the CD Storm…
As an all around loaner. Large enough for almost everyone and with the rudder it is easy to handle for a smaller person, Stable and a pretty boat in the water. When guiding nubies and beginners it was my goto boat that made life easier. I learned to roll in a Storm.

Second the Pachena

– Last Updated: Oct-22-07 1:40 AM EST –

I have a CD Pachena that I've mostly grown out of, but have been loaning it out regularly. It has all the normal sea kayak features, but at 25.5 inches wide, it's dead stable. It has all necessary rigging for rescue practice, two bulkheads and a rudder. I read somewhere that it's a shortened version of a Solstice, but I don't know if that's true. Over this past summer, it's been used by:
woman 5'4" 130 lbs
woman 5'8" 150 lbs
man 5'9" 200 lbs
man 6'0" 240 lbs
It functioned pretty well for everyone, and is well behaved in confused seas, which tend to scare the crap out of beginners - this is why I bought it, actually, as the confused water and wakes on the Hudson and in LI Sound were really getting to me when starting out. This boat has seen me through some truly nasty conditions. Plus you can relax and eat lunch on the water if you need to, and even make a stab at a leaned turn.

There's also the Breeze, a rotomold version of the Pachena, and the new Vision series of transitional sea kayaks by CD, which might be good also. I do think shorter boats in the 14' range are good for beginners, as they're not paddling anywhere particularly fast and the greater maneuverability builds control skills.

PS I just checked and a CD Vision 14' boat is $350 less and 12 lbs lighter than a Pachena.

Thanks all
I appreciate your advice and suggestions. The reason I was considering the CLC was almost completely based on price ($350). Too bad it isn’t an Arctic Tern.

I could see a Kahuna if it weren’t for the price and the fact that I have a partially finished Yost Sea Rider for my low volume folder.

Celia has a good point about the Explorer - especially since it could be more storage space boat for me than my Tempest 165. Especially thanks for the advice regarding smaller paddlers. This boat seems to keep people of a large size range happy. One thing about the Looksha is that I think it is great for learning edging. You can edge and get a lot of turning performance and still have tons of secondary for security. I was watching a novice after I explained edging and she soon had it over so I could darn near see half the hull. Agree that it could be a lot better in wind.

Ah, the 'bou! I did like that boat when I was shopping for my first and think I’d like it now. Another good possibility to pick up used, but might not be right for the heavier paddlers. Aside from that boat I’m not a huge CD fan although the have plenty of ok boats to keep an eye out for. So good suggestions. I’ll have to try a storm and pachena sometime.

Problem w/the Pachena

– Last Updated: Oct-23-07 7:07 AM EST –

Just one comment on the Pachena - the cockpit size and height make it so large around an average sized woman that there'd almost no useful contact for someone that size to do much with edging. I can verify that the contact points in the two boats I mentioned exist, even if they are not ideal. And as Greyhawk mentioned, this is a place where a rudder can also be very helpful should a surprise wind come up.

If the goal is just to have someone just get around, the Pachena may be fine. But it sounds like you tend to like to encourage people to go out and play with things like edging, and I don't know if your likely smaller paddler starts at an average sized guy or woman.

That’s a good point about the cockpit size - the two women who borrowed the Pachena were first time paddlers, and the body control issue is far in the future. They’d need something more tailored to progress. But it is a stable boat that just about anyone can get in and noodle around in without freaking out, which is something.

I hear you
If the Pachena is the fg Whisper that makes sense. Still my sister (relatively robust so to speak) had fun playing around with strokes on her first kayak trip in it.

But what was really funny was on a beginner tour, my instructor friend was in the Whisper due to some boat swapping. As she went in for a rescue, she tried to edge around and fell right out, too.

gotta narrow the categories
6’ beginner willing/not willing to get dumped.

HAS to fit a 5’4" 120lb woman or HAS to fit a 6’ 225lb top heavy man.

Someone is going to miss out.

Check out a Manitou 13 in glass and plastic. I’ve heard of installing thigh braces on a Manitou 13.

If you want a BIG persons sea kayak for only $350 then the Ch17 fits the bill,for big guys. I took a 6’2",235# fellow out to demo a Ch17 who was from a whitewater background, he said he wouldn’t want a bigger kayak.

Seen that happen

– Last Updated: Oct-24-07 12:50 PM EST –

Only it was at a more embarassing moment. My husband was supposed to demonstrate a roll at demo thing with a goodly number of people standing around the pool and watching. But the boat he'd been put into was some RM WS boat that had a significantly larger cockpit than his own boats. It was one of the touring type boats - well under 16 ft.

He fell right out, even with the neo skirt. The crowd got a free extra demo of an assisted rescue, tho' some left a bit confused about how one is supposed approach a roll.

I was teaching a woman rolling and she brought her brand new Scirocco.

Except her thighs were too short to contact well to the thigh braces. I pointed out the problem and she took my opinion back to the shop she bought it from. She was short enough and stable enough in the Scirocco it would be like me in the Pachena but she expected to learn how to roll in it.

Stuff, if it isn’t one thing it’s another.

good point

– Last Updated: Oct-24-07 3:46 PM EST –

and to expand on it, I've taken beginners out loaning them my Explorer. The responses ranged from "man is that thing tippy" to "this was easier than I thought".