My Next Boat?

-- Last Updated: Aug-21-12 2:57 PM EST --

I am seeking advice on buying a used Pungo 140. It's only a few months old, used daily on the ocean, this summer, and is selling for about half of what a new one costs. My concern is the size and the weigh for my 5 foot person. Anybody had experience with those gadgets that help people who want to lift their boats? I often paddle solo, and that is why I originally went with my little Potomac. However, if I want to start paddling more with groups, I think I need a better boat to keep up with "the big kids". I'm I too little for this boat?

ideal for larger paddlers
That’s what the advertisement says. The cockpit is going to feel huge and boat control will suffer.

The dagger alchemy small size might be a better choice. I have a 5’3 friend who has one. Some other small boat options are the P&H scorpio LV and the North shore Atlantic LV and new Aspect LV. A friend of mine was testing the Aspect LV for SK magazine and it’s REALLY low volume. Should be a good boat for smaller paddlers. She’s your size and she could easily shoulder carry it down to the beach herself.

Pungo 140

– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 1:23 PM EST –

At 5'9" and 160 lbs, the cockpit of the Pungo 140 feels huge to me.

At 5', you probably don't need a 28" wide kayak for comfortable stability. My 5' wife is happy with a 14' x 21" kayak.

Unless you're over 170 pounds, "smaller paddler" or "low volume" kayaks will probably be a better fit for you.

A Tsunami SP might be worth a look. With a nice short paddle you'd be much more efficient and comfortable.

wrong kayak for you
Yes, you are too petite for the Pungo. Besides being uncomfortable for you to paddle (no contact with cockpit and banging your knuckles on the gunwales as you paddle) you will lag behind any group paddle. Look for a narrower kayak, 24" or less – 22" would be ideal for your height. This will mean a slightly longer boat, in the 12’ to 15’ realm. Don’t let that throw you – longer thinner boats are often lighter and they are easier for shorter people to load and carry due to the benefits of leveraging. They will also be easier for you to match group speed with. I’m a little taller (5’5") and paddle a 15’ x 22" x 44 pound Venture Easky 15LV. Not easy to find new, but it gives you an idea of the practical dimensions. There are a number of models that will suit you as well as those suggested. Be patient – this is the best time of year for finding used boats.

Just picked up a Tsunami 140
Off of ebay. Brand new for 875 with spray skirt and free shipping to forward air terminal closest to me. I thought that was a real good deal. As long as you live near a forward air terminal its a pretty good deal. I think they also have the shorter ones too. there in CA iam in NY. I got it for a second kayak for me since i needed a plastic one for creek running with rocks. It would fit you betetr than a pungo. There is a guy in a group i go with who has one but he is a BIG guy. Do a search on ebay for Tsunami 140 you should find them.

also huge

– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 1:43 PM EST –

The Tsunami 140 is also a big boat for a small person. The 135 would be a better choice. The 135 fits me better than the 140, and I'm bigger than the OP.

Yes - too little
The issue you would have hauling it is nothing compared to living with trying to keep up with others paddling it. If you could reach the water effectively with ia paddle to start with - at 5 ft tall that is a real question.

What kind of paddling outfitters or similar are around you and what do they carry? We aren’t but weeks away from end of season sales - it might be worth scouting the rental lots now to see what may be coming up when they sell off their used boats. Come back here for some comment on whether it is a good fit.

Great Replies
Thanks so much for your help. I think you’ve made me decide to wait. I’m looking at the Pungo while on vacation, so I’ve had to make this decision rather quickly!

I’ll tell you about my only experience with this Wilderness System boat. In paddling the bay, I felt good in Pungo, with the exception of the turning, which would feel very different after my little, short boat. But, remember I am new to kayaking, and have been out less than 20 times. With the Pungo 140 being the first boat other than the Potomac that I have ever used, it felt great, to paddle, and I was easily able to keep with the group, but I didn’t feel as though the boat was very responsive to my body movements. Is this to be expected because of the length, or is it as many of you are saying because of the width?

Thanks again for taking the time to reply, paddlers. :slight_smile:



– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 3:17 PM EST –

The Pungo 140 is a fine hull. I'm not surprised it felt fast. It's just awfully big for you.

There are several reasons. One is paddling ergonomics. A kayak that's too wide and/or too deep forces you to hold your arms high just to reach the water, and you have to use a long padle because of the angle. That's tiring and inefficient. A narrower, lower boat will let you put the blade in much closer to the hull, giving you a more efficient, relaxed stroke.

Another reason is that you want to be able to lean and edge a kayak for good control. The ability to do that comes from the boat's stability and a good fit in the cockpit. I suspect that the Pungo 140 was too stable and the cockpit far too roomy for you to have any sense of controlling it with your body movements.

The third reason is that you're well under the designed load , so the hull is sitting high in the water. There's far more boat above the water than in the water. A boat that's too big will act like a sail, making it difficult to maneuver in any kind of wind.

Longer boats are not necessarily harder to turn. I have a 16' sea kayak, and I can usually outturn much shorter recreational kayaks if I use good technique.


– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 3:52 PM EST –

Same thing angstrom said but I already wrote it so what the heck -
Every boat hull is designed around assumptions about how much weight the paddler will add to the equation, so the hull sits at a place where it will most easily respond. For what it is worth, the canoe manufacturers usually provide better information on this than kayak manufacturers. Canoe manufacturers list the weight needed to get to the optimal point, kayak makers sometime mention paddler weight ranges but often just talk around it with words like smaller, medium etc.

Too big a boat, like the Pungo 140, and it just isn't going to do much of anything easily for you. On flat water, in quiet conditions, this may not be a fatal problem. But if you get caught out in wind, like the weather changes suddenly on you and you now have to battle 15 plus mile an hour winds to get back home, it becomes a problem very quickly.

The generic terms are based on an average paddler being a 180 pound, about 5'9" guy. Obviously you are not nearly in that ballpark. The weight measurement affects how low the boat sits in the water. The height affects how easy it is for the paddler to get the paddle in the water for a good stroke. Too wide a boat on too short a paddler and the solution is often a paddle that is so long it starts to create joint problems.

You are short enough, and female to boot so low center of gravity, that with fairly little seat time you could balance just fine on a 2 by 4 board, let alone in a kayak. You can go way skinnier than you likely realize right now, since your time has likely been in boats that are barges for you. I can see them feeling comfortable for you, but a boat where the volume is better suited and the width is narrower is a lot more fun and plenty easy for someone your size to manage. It is also a lot easier to paddle in terms of effort expended.

Is your weight a match for your height? It'd help to know for folks to advise you.

Some boats for small people

– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 3:39 PM EST –

Some one mentioned Tsunami 135. Good one. Alchemy also good for small people. Turns more nimbly than the Tsunami; has a skeg and needs it at times. Impex Mystic, especially in kevlar to reduce weight is a very nice 14-foot sea kayak.
I hope your car isn't a tall SUV. If it isn't, loading will be a lot simpler.
I can laod the 50-pound Alchemy and 57-pound Nigel Dennis Kayaks Pilgrim by lifting one end and putting it on a bathrrom rug on top of car behind the bars. Then I pick up the back end (carefully!) and push the boat forward onto its foam blocks on the bars. When I load and unload at places where there are no gallant souls to offer help carrying, then I just put my kayak on a set of wheels and move it to or from the water.
How's a 26-pound kayak sound? You'd be a great candidate for a slightly scaled down F1, a skin on frame boat you could build in a class with Brian Shultz at Cape Falcon Kayaks. (You can google him.) I have one, and it's just great. Hits the sweet spot for speed, predictable handling, and stability.
Good luck! Take your time and try everything before you buy. (I've made some mistakes by not taking that advice!)
Almost forgot to say I'm 5 feet 3 inches. And pretty old.

Nice to have friends…
…who know what they’re talking about. I am convinced by your excellent descriptions that I WILL wait for the right boat. I’m going to research the nice variety of boats you’ve given me, and even check out that workshop. I’m an art teacher, so helping to build a craft of my own sounds fabulous.

Thanks again for this advice. I’ll be checking in to learn more from all of you!

Happy Paddling,


Height and Weight
I forgot to answer your question about my weight. I’m 115 pounds, but that’s going to change with more paddling, I hope!

I have a 1931 Disko Bay replica built at Cape Falcon Kayaks and am a great admirer of his work.

But I would respectfully not advise the OP to go w. a SOF. They lack bulkheads and hatches, and even w. float bags fore and aft sit very (very) low to the water when swamped. Not optimal for learning rescues.

now, a wood strip built kayak w. bulkheads and hatches would be a nice light boat for her. Pygmy, CLC and others make kits. If not a woodworker, strip boats do show up for sale on a fairly regularly basis. A friend of mine just got a 17 footer w. two bulkheads for $300. Even 3x that price is worth it for a light boat that a person of the OPs height could manage.

A few more…
Another kayak you might want to demo is the Perception Tribute 12. It’s fairly light as plastic kayaks go.

If you like building, a Pygmy Osprey 13 or Arctic Tern 14 might be a fun project.

suggestion x2

– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 9:50 PM EST –

I have to mirror angstrom's earlier suggestion of the Tsunami SP.
That seems to be a boat that's right up your alley, expressly designed for paddlers of 120 pounds or less.

It also weighs only 38 lbs, which is 10-20 lbs less than most boats, so a smaller lady like you will have a much easier time loading and portaging it.

It's not expensive... at $779, and with end-of-season deals coming up soon that should knock that down a bit, it's pretty affordable.

And It has the front and rear bulkheads and perimeter deck lines, which many boats in this price class lack, and which are important safety considerations.

It has a low deck, so it won't catch a lot of wind and get blown all over creation, and you won't bang your knuckles on it while paddling.

Best of all, it's sized to you, so you'll be able to man-handle (rather, woman-handle) it around to do what you want on the water, rather than the other way around.

I'm not a little guy, but even I have been in boats that were too big for me, and it's sure not fun. =[

Best of luck to ya.

Previous discussions

Heading to Appomatox Paddle Co
On your good advice, I am going to try out the Tsunami to see if I am a good match for this boat. I’m also going to try the Tribute. I would love to have the time to make to to one of those awesome workshops to build a wood frame kayak, but they are a bit over my budget, and almost all of the spots available are full this year. I’ll let everyone know how I do with the Tsunami SP after I test it today, or tomorrow. :slight_smile:


Good for you!
The SP will be a drastic change from what you’re used to, and will probably feel unstable. That’s normal for anyone transitioning to a narrower boat. Try to relax, and let the boat move under you instead of fighting to keep it perfectly upright. Loose hips save ships!

The Tsunami 135 might also be worth a try if they have one. Everything else in the Tsunami line will be huge for you.

Have fun!

Good to Know…
I’ll try to keep that in mind. This place has several thousand kayaks to look at, so I’m sure to be like a kid in a candy store!