Moving From Rec. Kayak to Sea Kayak

Hi Everyone, I have been a Recreational Kayaker for about two years, as a recreational kayaker I d0 mostly long trips (10 – 20 miles per day) on flat water with an Old Town Loon 120. I would like to buy a Sea Kayak. I would like to buy a kayak that:

  1. Fits me (6’-0” 190 lbs size 12 feet)
  2. I will not soon grow out of
  3. Well built, High Quality
  4. Glassed in bulkheads
  5. Is quick
  6. I can learn to roll in
  7. Will perform loaded or empty
  8. Can be used for long open water crossings safely (Portsmouth NH to the Isles Of Shoals, for example-12 miles)

    After purchasing a Kayak, I will take Sea Kayaking courses to learn the skills that I will need to Sea Kayak safely. I understand that I will have to sit in and paddle several kayaks before making a purchase decision. I plan to buy the kayak this spring. I have done quite a lot of research and I have narrowed my list to the following Composite Kayaks in the order listed:

  9. Seaward Endeavor
  10. P&H Sirius
  11. Boreal Ellsmere
  12. CD Gulfstream
  13. Impex Currituck

    Is my list above appropriate? Or are the Greenland & British design kayaks too much for someone moving from Recreational Kayaking to Sea Kayaking? (I do want to be challenged) Are there any other Kayaks that I should also consider? Do you have any other advice concerning moving from a Rec. Boat to a Sea Boat?

    I will appreciate and consider any advice that you can offer. Thanks in advance.

Demo demo demo
a sirius is a handful and you will never outgrow it. A gulfstream is a great boat for a beginner that is capable. (Glass bulkheads are only an option, not standard.) The trasnition to a gulfstream will be almost effortless. Need to learn how to handle wind.

Sounds reasonable
I don’t think you are setting your sites too high. I only paddled an Endevour when I was first looking for my first kayak. I found it rather “lively”. I think the Foster Legend is better behaved. Other boats to think about are a Tempest 170, Aquanaut, Explorer, and maybe something from Kajaksport.

… So I guess you haven’t narrowed the list all that much.

How did you narrow the list down?
There are lots of kayaks that I can think of that meet your qualifications. Are these the ones you can test drive easily? Or are there other characteristics?

I don’t know how much paddling experience you have but after a little over a year with my Loon 138 I decided it was time for a touring kayak late this summer. I was able to test paddle some boats (a 3 hour one way trip) but my problem was I just didn’t have a good frame of reference for more serious boats and paddling. They all felt pretty good to me.

I really didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a new kayak just to find out after some useage that it wasn’t right for me. There isn’t really anyplace around me that rents kayaks either (at least nothing more then rec boats). What I ended up doing was buying a used Current Designs Sirocco in great shape for $750.

I don’t think it’s the right kayak for me in the long term (I think I’m a little light for it) but it still performs very well and I’m having a great time with it in flat water and in the wind and waves. By the time next season rolls around I’ll have had some good experience with a touring kayak in different conditions so when it’s time to test paddle more kayaks I’ll know what I do/don’t like and just what I’m looking for. I don’t expect to lose much on reselling the Sirocco either and it will be well worth it in the experience it will give me. Probably more beneficial and cheaper then renting multiple times.


Test Driving Kayaks
I narrowed down the list by reading catalogs and reviews. I tried to narrow down the list so I don’t wind up trying so many kayaks that I can not keep them straight. I picked the Greenland and British Designs because I plan to use the Kayak off the NH and Maine Coasts. I have Worked, Sailed, and Boated on the alantic ocean for most of my life. I have a very good idea of what conditions I may encounter. From what I have read, the Greenland and British designs seem to be the most capable when conditions go to hell. A skeg seems to be a good compromise between nothing and a rudder.

To test the Seaward I would have to travel about 160 miles, the rest I can try locally. Seaward has such a great reputation for quality and performance I had to include it. I will look at any quality boat that the dealers have to offer, but, the sales people often don’t know, or are too conservative about what they try to sell.


you’ve left off your list what I believe to be the two best boats for your stated size & intentions,

1)NDK Explorer

2)Valley Aquanaut

Impex Force 4

what peter k said

– Last Updated: Oct-08-06 11:49 PM EST –


And test others you may be interested in, if you run into a good deal it might be worth broadening your scope. You also want the fit and comfort right for you.

A few pieces of advice:

1. If you want to be challenged then pick a boat with a learning curve rather than something you might be comfortable in right away. The tradeoff will be worth it. I started in a boat a bit beyond my experience level but I love it now and it didn't take me long to adapt.

2. Don't buy a kayak that depends on the rudder to go straight.

3. Plan on learning and plan on wanting to buy yet another boat ;)

Add Tempest 170 and Maybe 165

– Last Updated: Oct-09-06 6:57 AM EST –

I would suggest trying low volume boats as well as higher volume. Also try to test them out on windy days. How the boats behave in the wind matters a lot. When you demo, paddle at different angles to the wind. Pay special attention to how the boat behaves with the wind coming from different angles BEHIND you.

If you plan to do unloaded day trips 90% of the time, by all means get yourself a low volume boat and just go rent a higher volume one when you need it.

List Is Large
I am close to the same side as you are, I am 185 and 6’. I bought two QCC’s two years ago, my first kayaks. I had rented and was in pretty much the same situation as you, though I had less experience. The QCC700 has met all of the criteria that you listed and a lot more. The boat constantly shows me that it can do much more than I can. It handles flat water and rough ocean waters well, have learned beach surf landings and launchings, the boat rolls well, I have paddled several 20+ mile day paddles, QCC offers a great warranty, the boat came with the best demo paddle around (try it for 30 days and can return with no questions asked), and the quality of the parts used on the boat help keep the boat going well. That said, there are dozens and dozens of boats that fit your requirements.


Buy Something You Can Grow Into
Meaning: Buy a 'yak that is beyond your current level of expertise; one that will allow you to learn and experience things you never dreamed about in your current boat. And whether it has a rubber or not, learn to paddle the new 'yak as if it had no rubber or skag.

That being said: I’ll add to the growing list of “Try This One”: Boreal Design Fjord.

“Any day on the water is a great day.”


Necky Chatham
I really like the Chatham. I have a 16 and I’m 6’3’ 200#. It behaves well in a variety of conditions, rolls pretty easy and the skeg is handy in certain conditions. Lots of storage. Try one if you have a chance. And BTW, the customer service is exceptional!

won’t be as tough as you might think. My first kayak was a sirius. It has a reputation for not wanting to turn, but once you get used to edging, its no problem.

Add Impex Force 4

– Last Updated: Oct-10-06 8:05 AM EST –

Newer design, in many ways more capable than the older Curritiuck ESP'LY when you get to the learning to roll part.

As to the rest of the list, Sirius is a good fit for a rather smaller paddler than the Gulfstream, though you'd fit in both. And I think that the Sirius is a very challenging boat compared to say the Curritiuck, I think you might be a match for the Foster Legend also available thru Seaward, the above boat list goes from hard-chined (Ellesmere) to no chine (Sirius) - in sum I see your list as still kinda all over the place and mayhaps it is too soon to be narrowing it down.

As others have said, congrats on wanting to be challenged. I just think you need to get a better focus on the kind of performance characteristics you'd prefer - the balance between tracking and manuverability, how it needs to be put on edge, etc before cerating a short list.

good for you.
I did the same a few years ago. I would add Nigel Dennis Explorere, Romany or Romany HV to your list. I’d also take a serious look at Wilderness Systems Tempests (you would want to paddle both a 170 and a 180 and decide from there).


Explorer and Aquanaut are the standard

– Last Updated: Oct-10-06 7:40 AM EST –

for dedicated paddlers your size by which you can judge other boats. There are a number around the New England coast so it shouldn't be difficult to demo these models.

The Force 4 is a much better behaved boat than a Currituck. A Nigel Foster Legend can get you Seaward quality in a design that is usually considered better mannered than an Endeavor.

I would hate to be in your shoes with so many good boats to choose from…years ago i decided not to get choosy and to start a collection and I’ve got boats that are similar to the group you have narrowed down to. There is one other boat I would ask you to consider and it is in your area, it is the Lincoln Eggemoggin…of all the kayaks I have it is the best design…I say this over my QCC700, and my Nordkapp Jubilee. Lincoln’s kevlite process I think predated many manufacturers who are now coming around to this technique that produces a 17’10" kevlar yak that is around 40-41 pounds—because cartopping is a reality of our lives. There are some things about the Eggemoggin that no other kayak has, it is built/designed by a Maine coast paddler, it has a small cockpit (not quite ocean cockpit but much smaller than a true keyhole)…there have been reports of quality issues with Lincoln…much like NDK…but living in that area I promise you would be remiss not checking one out, and also since you are in the area and can make a personal visit you can tell them up front of your quality expectations. I drove from TN to Brick, NJ to pick one up because I knew that no other manufacturer has all the features this boat has…I’ve modded many of my boats but the only mod I’ve done to the Egg is to add a RapidRunner bilge pump like I did on the QCC…

Wow - less than 45 lbs.
I will research this boat. that is amazing. I love my Tempest 180, but would much rather car top my Romany HV just because it ways at least 10 lbs less.


I demoed a Lincoln Isle Au Haut a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. The only major flaw was the cheap-feeling plastic footpegs – the boat really deserved a solid bulkhead footbrace setup.