matching kayak types

I just bought a used, older model perception 17’ ocean kayak and am looking for a good match. I need two kayaks that will work well with each other, kayaking mostly on the Chesapeake Bay. I have two dagger zydecos that are great on the rivers, but want something more substantial for the open waters of the bay. Here’s my question,“If I’m in the 17’ ocean kayak and my partner is in a ‘transitional’(so-called good for both types of water) kayak about 14’-15’, will it be awkward for us to keep up with each other? Should I just be looking for another ‘true’ ocean kayak in the 16’-17’ range?

Thanks for your opinions.” Pam

The other paddler
If you paddle as though it’s a race or hard for fitness and tend to be pretty fast, then this could be a real issue. If you are willing to take a more leisurely pace, then this really shouldn’t be an issue unless the other person is in something like a Swifty.

Other considerations that occur to me -

Would the likely paddling partner be someone who had time in kayaks and could handle the same conditions as you, or someone who needs a boat that will provide very comforting stability?

If you should have to do an assisted rescue to get them back into their boat (assuming you can), how big a cockpit full of water do you want to be dumping out?

Start your questions with who the other paddler is likely to be and what kind of help they might need. Then get a boat that addresses those issues.

Anything in the 14 to 16 foot range
that isn’t a barge will probably be okay. Make sure it’s a little tougher to paddle so your pal will be more impressed with your excellent paddling skills. Maybe get something with a bent rudder… :wink:

Obviously it need to work okay on the bay which probably means no canoes, no Pamlicos, etc.


Try Atlantic…

…kayaks in Alexandria.

Been a few years, but I hope they are still around.

They are good to ask, and will lead you right.

Another is Brad at Stark Moon.

Check out the Baltimore canoe club. Good people.

All are sources for reliable information.

One Couples’ Experience

– Last Updated: Jan-08-08 11:31 PM EST –

I paddle a 17' VOLKSKAYAK, a S&G ply/epoxy sea kayak. My wife paddles a poly Cape Horn 15. The VK is consistently faster, EVEN when we switch kayaks.

Normally, this isn't a problem - the lead boat prowls around a bit, or just slows down. In one situation, however, it's unnerving. This Labour Day, we ended up facing directly into a really stiff wind and nasty short, sharp seas while crossing a kilometer-wide open neck of a large saltwater lagoon. The Cape Horn fell behind rapidly, despite my best efforts to slow the VK -at times, the 15 footer seemed almost stopped dead in the water. The boats got separated far too widely for my liking - if she'd capsized, it would have taken time to get back alongside. For more details, check the post "A Bashing At Bellevue" on my blog...

We've agreed to getting her into a VK this summer, so our speed on the water will be better matched. Gotta say, tho, in all fairness, that the speed factor is about the only knock I can put on the Cape Horn 15 - otherwise, it's an excellent kayak for the sort of alongshore paddling we do, very solid and capable and forgiving...

Seek knowledge, not marketing
Look realistically at the engines, and start there. Do NOT assume that longer is faster for a given engine! Some engines “net” faster overall speeds in 15 ft. boats and get blown all to hell in higher Frictional Resistance 17’ boats of equal cross sectional profile.

Get beyond simplistic, and wrong traditional thought based on marketing and well meaning zealouts, and deal with sound hydrodynamic principals and trial and error testing. It’s both science, and feel. You will be faster in a boat you are comfy in. Few of us would really be fast in an Olympic K-1! We’d be swimming, so consider all the variables, skill level, conditions, engine power, even emotional preferrence… BUT

AVOID absolutist thinking that will put the wrong boat around the wrong engine. Again, seek expert advice, and try boats out. The weaker paddler in their most efficient choice will never be as fast as the fitter paddler in their best matched craft, so the fitter paddler ultimately has to mellow out, and dats just da facts. No boat can make a weaker paddler as fast as a fit paddler…no matter what. What you can do is intelligently maximize the weaker engines performance overall with an appropriately matched hull. Then it’s a case of conditioning. Good luck and have fun.

where’s pamlico 14?
you just had to go stirring the hornets nest didn’t you?

Who are you going to have for a partner or partners?

I have my old Sealution 2 and Capella for friends.

The sharp paddlers can hop in the Capella and are fine, folks new to the sport will be using the Sealution 2 with a rudder and will have a wonderful time with its great initial stability and the rudder helping them navigate until they adopt the sport.

What ever you plant your friend in, trust us they will be delighted.

You may have to slow down and perhaps carry a tow line regardless what they paddle.

Good Luck.


Oh, The other thing you could do is buy a really nice glass boat for yourself and lend your friends that 17 foot Perception. That is what I keep doing.