Looking for advice for new kayak

Hello all, this is my first post. I have used paddling.net for reviews and have seen many posts over the past two years I have been interested in kayaking.

I moved into this beautiful southern Maryland area with its many inlets and bays and rivers years ago. I originally got into kayaking because I wanted to get out into the rivers and bay area and a kayak was much cheaper than buying a motorized boat (especially one long enough to handle the waves). Of course I fell in love with kayaking and also love the health benefits of the exercise.

I use my father-in laws Aquaterra Spectrum and have found it to be great for doing what I need. I have kayaked every other day in the summer for the past two years; also have no idea what skill level that puts me at. It is tidal waters, with some strong currents and I want a kayak that tracks a bit better, hopefully with a rudder. I have tried a few other cheap kayaks from friends and I do not like wide and short kayaks (unless that is irrelevant and I’m mistaken). They are too influenced by strong currents and not fast enough to go anywhere in open waters.

What are my main gripes with the Spectrum… well, if it is getting close to high or low tides, the current is so strong that I might be almost solely paddling on one side. Not sure if it is the “oilcanning” on the bottom of the kayak that makes it track so poorly at times, but that gets old quick. I cannot always afford to time the trip with the tides. When I get to time the trip, it tracks decent enough… I can keep it straight, but it requires effort to do so (effort I no longer have to think about because I’ve used this kayak for so long). There are other minor gripes, such as the seat is horrible, even with an aftermarket addition or two, and it is starting to get older and show its age. It hadn’t been stored too well over the years and honestly… I want my own kayak, and not needing to borrow one.

Also, is it normal to have to lean left to go right in a kayak? Because that’s how this kayak is.

I know I’m writing a novel here… but some more information: I’m 6’2", 235lbs, deal with some choppyish water (water can easily swell over the kayak in what I consider decent conditions), I travel about five miles in about an hour (unless there’s a strong current I’m fighting against). I’m looking to be able to go a farther distance in my allotment of one or two hours. Also would like to be able to do more of a day trip eventually, but would be difficult to do in these waters with this kayak.

Thank you for any and all advice!

learn what you don’t know
My suggestion right now isn;t toward a specific boat, but instead for a way to help you figure out what boat would work for you. And the first step for that would be to take one of the day long intro to sea kayaking classes offered by paddling shops.

Much about paddling is pretty self obvious, which is why most anyone can hop in a boat and paddle away. But there are also areas which are not. So taking a class should help you be more efficient and safe on the water.

Added benefit, most intro classes are at retailers, and they are more than happy to let you demo different boats as part of the class.

Well coolhand
First, I’m thinking you are in for a real treat, if and when you experience “the right boat.”

Do not make the mistake of thinking you have to have a ruddered boat to do the job. You didn’t mention how much money you are prepared to spend, but for a person of your size, I can suggest at least one boat that I believe would do exactly what you are looking to do for a very reasonable price. That would be the Current Designs Sirocco. There are many others, but I strongly recommend you take a look if at all possible.

Now, if price is not too restricted, I could rattle off a bunch of boats that you would be thrilled with, but, any improvement over the Sirocco would be a matter of opinion.

I have actually been thinking about this, and have a local shop I’ve already talked to over the phone. It’s on my to-do list! Yes, I get what you’re saying. I learned the hard way that I needed to improve, torn rotator cuff. Got some instructions from some guys who’ve been kayaking for quite a while.

I’ll have to see if this place will let me try out their kayaks like you said. That would be a win-win

$1,000 or so would be ideal. I saw a brand new Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Kayak for sale privately for $990 and was thinking about that one. $1200 would be around my limit for now, but I have no problem continuing to use the Spectrum for the summer and save up for a better one next year, or in the fall.

I had never heard of the Current Designs Sirocco, nor that brand before, but it does look like it has everything I was looking for.

good deal

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 1:22 PM EST –

$990 for a Tempest 170 is a great price since they list for around $1650. That would be a fast and very seaworthy boat for a guy your size.

I've owned a couple of Aquaterra kayaks in the past (Perception stopped making that brand in the 1990's so they are all pretty old by now.) They did tend to track poorly and if your boat is oil-canned that will exacerbate the problem. I think the Spectrum was deisgned with more rocker than most touring kayaks too, so it will tend to want to wander off course. Paddling a 22" wide Tempest could be like going from a Dodge Dart to a Corvette. It might feel tippy to you initially but if you get some good technique instruction you will quickly get past that.

Just in case.
If you might not have read through much of the comments on these forums, I will repeat what I think is absolutely essential when looking at any polyethylene boat–new, or used.

  1. Look very carefully for any distortion in the hull, or deck.

  2. Always turn the boat upside down and sight down the keel from stem to stern and visa versa. The keel absolutely must be straight, but don’t confuse straightness of the keel line with rocker.

  3. If the hull has more than a few minor scratches (very few), and any deeper gouges–forget it.

    I don’t drag any of my boats and I would never buy one that has obviously been dragged. Some here might disagree, but a dragged boat indicates boat abuse and a huge reduction in boat value. The performance could also be affected. Rough bottoms are not good for boat speed.

    Either resign yourself to carrying the boat, or get a cart. Learn how to get in and out of the boat in the water.

    Now we need to talk about a proper paddle …

additional info
I always get in while in the water, with just the rear tip resting on the sandy shore (please advise if this is bad form).

I use the paddle as a stabalizer off to one side (flat side resting on the water of course) and then I get in.

I also do not drag the kayak, but man, I should take a picture of the spectrum’s underside… I don’t think dragging it will hurt it any further at this point. It might have been stored on some wooden beams (best reasoning I can give for the severe dents in it).

Advice on a good paddle would be well received by me! My current paddle is a bit too long to do a high angle paddle… of course my technique likely needs improving… or I just might need technique period. It is a nice light paddle and does a good job for me looking like a newb…

Why would scratches deter you from a kayak? Just wondering.

Also, is it customary to test a kayak in the water before purchasing? Because I sort of want to test it before buying it… even if from some random guy on craigslist. The Tempest is claimed to be brand new with original packaging…

Here’s a pic of what I mean by oil canne
Here’s a pic of what I mean by “oil canned”, hopefully it’s what you guys mean by it:




No, I don’t treat my kayaks that way… it’s been like that since I’ve had it.

And my wife would kill me for posting our yard like that… we’re tearing down that house to build a new one this month. Totally irrelevant… yet somehow important…

sorry, repost

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 4:30 PM EST –

This got put further up the message chain. Meant it to be the "latest" post.

Here's a pic of what I mean by "oil canned", hopefully it's what you guys mean by it:




No, I don't treat my kayaks that way... it's been like that since I've had it.

And my wife would kill me for posting our yard like that... we're tearing down that house to build a new one this month. Totally irrelevant... yet somehow important...

That can be fixed–maybe.
The warping you have in the hull can probably be fixed with hot water, towels and some bracing. If you can access the inside of the boat to place a brace to push the warp back into shape, then place the boat upside down, and pour boiling hot water onto a folded towel on the warped area. The heat from the boiling water should reset the shape. It looks like you would have to repeat this at each problem area.

Learn to get in and out of your boat with the boat floating free of the bottom–4 to 6 inches of water parallel to the beach. You won’t need the paddle, or anything else to brace the boat. Stand nest to the boat on one side–like getting on a horse, or getting into a low slung sports car. Place one foot into the boat, but keep your weight on the one in the water. As you slide your one foot on down into the boat, simultaneously plop your butt into the seat. Now lift your other foot into the boat. Stay loose and trust the stability of the boat. This will probably take a bit of practice, but it soon becomes second nature and you don’t even have to think about it. You might get wet a few times before your body learns the routine. I think it is best to learn it from one side and maybe call that good. Getting out will also take practice, but it should be one smooth action and here again, best to train from one side only.

Hey, I know this topic is archived, but I have been trying what you suggested for my new boat. I did buy this boat, and I love it. It had a bit of a learning curve for me, due to the rocker shape and that it has almost no primary stability. Now I am quite comfortable edging and getting up on the side of the boat.

I have indeed practiced getting in the boat and without a paddle too. It is something I have been practicing for a long time and I have had no issues getting in the boat this way. Fortunately no falling in the water with this one. I did fall out of the kayak once getting out, but that was mostly due to the ground being extremely rocky and I lost my footing (and I hadn’t gotten the footpegs just right and my leg was asleep).

This kayak was a great purchase for me and I am getting together with a local kayaker to help me learn more basics and advanced maneuvers. So far, I’ve taken it into two foot waves and now that I trust the kayak, I’ve enjoyed it. My first time out… not so much, but like you said, I had to start trusting the kayak.

I will also try your method with the old kayak and see if I can’t get rid of those buckles!