Looking for a new yak, need some advice! P&H Virgo

Currently paddling a Tsunami 140. I actually can’t complain about anything, although I’m a little tired of the color (it’s yellow/black/gray).

I’m looking for something a little longer and a little narrower. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything like that in the Wilderness lineup. I like stability, and I think going to something like a Tempest would feel too tippy.

I stopped by the local shop today, and they had a P&H Virgo MV, which actually seems to be what I want, as far as length and width are concerned. At a bit over $2K, it seems a little pricey for a plastic boat. I sat in it, and it seemed comfortable enough. However, the length of the seat is a bit shorter than my Tsunami, so there wasn’t much support for the back of legs. Not sure how it would be after several hours. If there’s one thing I need, it’s a comfortable seat. A crappy seat is a deal breaker.

The only color they had was lizard green, which I guess was OK. Not sure I like the look. Also, being all one color, the boat just looks a bit plain Jane and generic to me. Aesthetics aside, my main question is, would the Virgo be enough of a difference from my Tsunami from a performance standpoint? Mainly, I’m looking for a bit more speed.

If you have suggestions for other models, let me know. Also, I’d be very interested in hearing from someone who’s paddled a Tsunami and a Virgo (or similar P&H).

Are there many places to buy P&H online in the US? Seems rare.


Lizard green is very visible and Tempests aren’t tippy from my perspective. I am 6’5" with a very high center of gravity and the Tempest I borrowed for a day wasn’t tippy at all.

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I don’t know where you live nor your size, but here in the Spokane area there are several nice used composite boats on Craigslist, probably in your price range. That might be true elsewhere.

In most cases, ‘tippy’ boats become stable with seat time.

If the kayak is great other than the seat, it’s not a big deal to modify or replace the seat. In my own case, I must often mess with the back band.


If you are questioning the fit/comfort of the seat after only a few minutes, be afraid. Be very afraid.


It was hard to tell because I wasn’t wearing my usual clothes and shoes, and I probably needed to tweak the adjustments. I did feel nice and locked into position. However, the seat wasn’t very padded, and I have a bony butt. Wish I could’ve tried it out in the water.

Tipiness, with new paddlers or when upgrading from a super stable Tsunami to a more performance sea kayak, is usually quickly overcome by you paddling the new kayak more. You will grow into the new kayak after a few days paddling. After 28 years paddling & over 10 instructing, some tipiness still happens from time to time in new hulls I test.

Not knowing where you are or what your paddling objectives are, it is difficult to offer alternative hulls or shops to visit.

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I would probably get used to something like a Tempest, but not sure I need that much length. It’s hard to say without actually trying one. I’ve read they have good secondary stability, but I’m not sure I’d like a lot less initial stability compared to my tsunami. I don’t do rolls or anything fancy, maybe just a little edging when turning.

One other thing I like about the Tsunami is the replaceable keel guard. I had a 120 without it many years ago, and eventually, the plastic wore away to the point that water was coming in. I don’t drag the boat, but when I launch, it’d usually from a concrete boat ramp. Also, when I put the boat up on my SUV, I have a rack that slides to the rear. So, what I do is, put the bow up on the roof rack first, and the stern rests on the ground. Then, I pick up the stern and slide it onto the roof. I’m guessing that doesn’t cause wear to the boat. Rather, it’s the launching that does it. Sure, it takes years to happen, but I typically kayak several times a week. I guess I could more careful when launching, or try to get in sideways and push off. That said, I really like the replaceable keel piece.

I forgot to mention before, but I’m in OH, and do most of my paddling on Lake Erie. It’s great when it’s calm, but I have no issues going out in 3 footers or more.

Update: been doing a lot of reading this evening, and there doesn’t seem to be many option that’d fit my needs. A Tempest is tempting, but I can’t demo one around here right now, and not sure I’d like the lack of primary stability. The Virgo does seem like the best fit. My main question is, would it be enough of an upgrade over my current Tsunami 140, especially for two grand??

The Virgo will be a much more “high performance” boat than the Tsunami in that it is much more maneuverable, and more capable in rough water. It won’t be significantly faster, so if that is primarily what you’re looking for, it may not fit the bill. And ditto on what @Buffalo_Alice said about comfort.

If you want more speed, you need to go longer. The Virgo is about the same length as your Tsunami. Tempest, as others have suggested is a good starting point. If you’re concerned about stability, what about a Tsunami 160?


If you’re used to the T 140 in the current version (the color indicates it’s a current iteration) a Tempest 170 won’t feel unstable. It’s a bit beefy to pick up , but if that’s not a concern, it’s not a bad option and shares the same seat base as the Tsunami.

I’m with the earlier poster that if it’s not comfortable in the shop it won’t become so on the water - that said you can carry a small foam pillow to place under the legs to help provide the support the long seat shelf in the WS boats provides, so that’s not necessarily a deal killer.

A little longer gets you into 15’5 territory - not a ton of options in that size, but if you can, try on a Delta 15.5 GT, which does a great job of boosting performance from a 14 day tourer while not being uncomfortably narrow, and has a very comfortable adjustable seating system. Price would be around $2300, but that’s for a thermoformed boat with a skeg, which will drop a considerable amount of weight while offering a capable open water design. There’s also a 16 in the Delta lineup that narrows to 22" but can still comfortably fit paddlers up to 6’ 2 and 220 lbs.

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I’ll add another suggestion to not rule out a tempest 170. I have two of them, one plastic and one Kevlar (the “Pro” model). Neither feels tippy. I weighed the plastic one at 61 lbs., more than Wilderness Systems’ claim of 57 lbs. the Kevlar one weighs 50.5 lbs., but they haven’t made that version in years.

A useful thing on the Tempest is the adjustable seat. You can adjust the amount of thigh support, the back band position and the position of the thigh pads.

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Budget buster: Swift Saranac 15
IMO, Swift seats are among the most comfortable. You can get almost any color you want, and the Kevlar version (without skeg or rudder) comes in at 38 lbs. Price is north of $4K (US), however. :scream:


<<I forgot to mention before, but I’m in OH, and do most of my paddling on Lake Erie. It’s great when it’s calm, but I have no issues going out in 3 footers or more.>>

Just a thought: those conditions, especially on Lake Erie, are advanced conditions with the short period, steep waves on that lake. Three foot waves are head high when you are in the trough. Below are ACA’s Level 3 (Intermediate) skill conditions.

The ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Skills Training and Assessment is designed for paddlers who want to be safe and effective group members in an open water environment including:

 10-15 knot winds
 1-2 foot seas
 1-2 foot breaking waves

$2K is pretty much the base for a decent new poly kayak. “The Power of Water” in Lansing, Michigan has a couple of P&H Scorpio’s in stock that would give you an increased speed. They are listed at $2,599.

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You don’t mention your metrics (height and weight) so it might be too big for you, but there is a nice looking used Perception Eclipse (17’) on Craigslist in Pittsburgh for $700. Might be worth a Sunday drive to Finleyville off I-70. Known to be a fast model and it looks to be the lighter resin hull. I have that model’s similar little sister, a 16’ Avatar the same age (2004) and find it very fast, stable but not stodgy and with a very comfortable seat and cockpit. those vintage Perceptions are very well designed, oufitted and durable boats.

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Thanks for the replies everyone! It does sound like the Virgo might not be different enough from my Tsunami to make it worthwhile. I’m not too interested in more playfulness or maneuverability. My and my buddies mainly just cruise in a straight line, and may do 5-10 m miles a day, or a little more. I think what I want is something that’s comfortable to sit in for 2-4 hours (or more), and that has good ease of paddling and efficiency.

My local shop has a P&H Leo, which might be more up my alley? It’s the HV version, though. I am about 6’, and 155-160 lbs. Basically, a pretty skinny dude, but some muscle definition. Other than the Leo, maybe a Tempest would be good. It just worries be a bit because I’ve seen some reviews on youtube saying it’s primary stability is not so great. The closest shop doesn’t have any Tempests in stock, either. They do have a P&H Leo. Not sure how that would compare to a Tempest?

Also, these longer boats are starting to get heavy. Not sure I’d want to lug around much more than my current boat weight. 60 lbs might be OK.

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Current Designs Solstice GTS. Fast great boat. Should fit you well. Usually fairly easy to find used for 1,000 or less depending on the year. Should be 48 lb.

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I was a Swift dealer, and I think the Saranacs are the best of their line. Excellent weight, tracking, turning, following seas, surfing. Swifts are quality boats (both canoes and kayaks) and if there’s a problem they will make it right. Can’t say enough about the Saranacs.

It looks like a Tsunami 160 would be up my alley. Unfortunately, I guess they are no longer made?

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As an aside, here’s why I really like the keel guard on the newer Wilderness Systems boats. This is after several years of use. I don’t drag my boat (only for a few feet when getting out of the water) which is usually at a boat ramp. Sometimes it’s on concrete, sometimes on a mat. I guess most of the damage is from launching. I typically put the front end of the boat partially into the water on the ramp, get in, and shimmy forward a bit to get fully in the water. Over time, it wears on the boat. Since my Tsunami has a V-hull, I think I’m usually leaning to the right a little when launching, which would explain why it’s unevenly worn on that side.

None of this is a big deal since I just pop a new guard on, but it would worry me with other boats. What is the best way to launch from a concrete boat ramp without messing up the bottom?

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Someone else said it above but I cannot find it now. When landing at a ramp, launch & land alongside the ramp without running the bow or stern ashore. The kayak should be floating as you get in/out.