Need advice on my next boat

I could use some opinions and advice. I am looking for my next kayak and am torn between several. The boats I’m potentially looking at are: Current Designs Kestrel 140, Epic GPX (a little shorter than I want), Eddyline Equinox 14 ft (not sure I want their material–does it flex like the Hurricane Santee when bracing against the coaming to get out? How buoyant is it?), maybe the Stellar 14 LV but it may be too narrow, the Pelican Sprint 140DT. I have also investigated Swift boats. There are no dealers nearby and I don’t really want to travel into Canada to get a boat. But if you all think one of the Swifts would be perfect for me, I’d consider it. I also have wondered if some of the smaller surf skis would work, if they sit down in the water better than other sit-on-top boats. I’ve looked at the specs for the Epic V5, the Stellar 14 ft surf ski, and the Current Designs Ignite. I’ve also considered the Bic Scapa Fit. I tend to look at Current Designs because they are the closest to the QCC design, which I have loved paddling. It would be great to just get the right boat and not have to buy and sell several to end up with the right one, but the brands I’m looking at are not available for demo-ing nearby (SE Michigan area) or even sitting in to see if they are comfortable. About me: I’m 62, 5’4" and a heavy 180 lbs, carrying a lot in my hips. I’ve been paddling extensively for 17 years, in many different boats and conditions. Now I paddle almost entirely on inland lakes, primarily on the lake where we live, which is roughly 200 acres and does not connect to other water bodies. However, our lake is capable of many moods from mirror-like stillness to raging whitecaps. There is often a decent wind at least part of the time I paddle. My typical on the water time is only for an hour or two but that is several times a week during 3/4 of the year, other than when ice locks up the lakes. My first boat was a Walden Vista from around 2003, but I quickly wanted a better, faster, sleeker boat. My past favorite boat was a QCC 16’10" 600X in kevlar/carbon layup, bought in about 2005. It was fast, light and relatively agile. I learned a lot in that boat. It spoiled me for everything I’ve paddled since. However, after back injuries in 2008 (unrelated to paddling) and weight gain (about 40 pounds–I was around 140 lbs when I paddled the QCC, now 180 lbs), I could no longer sit comfortably in the narrow width and small cockpit of the 600X and sold it. Since then, for about 12 years, I’ve been searching for the best next thing. I want something light, fast and fun. I paddle with my husband, who is stronger and more athletic than me, so I want a boat I can keep up with him in without having to work super hard. I’ve owned (and sold) a Hurricane Skimmer 12 ft (comfortable but too high off the water–I felt disconnected from the water and it caught the wind a lot), a Jackson Journey 13 ft (not comfortable for very long; on reflection I think it was too narrow), a Hurricane Santee Sport 12 ft (too wide, too buoyant, caught the wind a lot; also the seat has built in cup holders [!] [what were they thinking?] on either side of it and my wide hips felt bruised after an hour by the hard plastic), an Elie Sound XE 10 ft (a fun boat to play in but no speed, too wide; bought it mainly for occasional river trips). My husband has a rotomolded WS Tarpon 14 that is a really sweet boat, and comfortable, but again, too high off the water and really too much boat for me–it weighs a ton, takes too much work to get it up to speed and keep it moving. The “lite” version of the WS Tarpon 12 was like paddling a barge–wider, shorter, poor seat design–compared to the 14 ft. I’ve decided I want either a composite like carbon/kevlar, or something like the newer fusion hybrids that combine roto mold with a resin coating, or two layers of fused rotomold. I want something stiff but light. The ABS plastic of the Hurricane boats is too buoyant. Even the 12 ft Santee is too buoyant and catches the wind, even with my heavy self in it. My 235 lb, 6 ft husband paddles the 12 ft Santee and loves it, but it rides lower for him and he’s a better paddler than I am. And, no, I don’t want to just add some weight to a light boat to make it settle deeper in the water. That seems very counterintuitive to me. There must be a boat out there that hits the sweet spot. I would love a boat in the 13-15 foot range; under 50 lbs in weight, if possible, with a capacity of around 275-300 lbs to keep it from popping out of the water too far when I’m in it; 24-25 inches wide; preferably Swede-form; shallow vee hull with soft chines; decent waterline length but some rocker is okay; about 12 inch deep (I have short feet and mostly paddle barefoot) but that is hard to find; with or without a rudder; with a comfortable, adjustable seat. I can work with the seat, add thigh support and padding, but it has to be basically supportive. A bottle holder would be a plus but not a deal breaker. I would prefer a new boat but am willing to look at good condition used. I recently paddled the Walden Vista again (still own it–great little boat but slow in that pebbly textured rotomold) and I can do the 24 inch width comfortably as long as there aren’t honking big molded in cup holders cramping my hips on the sides! I’ve outgrown the Vista in experience. I want the feeling I had in my QCC of being light on the water, one with my boat, wearing the boat. Nothing I’ve paddled since other than maybe the Jackson Journey has come close. I want to paddle a fun, fast, light boat but not need to fight the wind all the time. My favorite paddle is a custom 215 cm bent shaft Werner Kalliste, built for the QCC. I’d buy a new paddle if necessary, but if I can find a narrow boat, low to the water, long and sleek, the Kalliste would still work for me. I paddle my husband’s Tarpon with it! We fight over his Werner Ikelos and that is a better paddle for the Tarpon, but too much paddle for me to use for long. I have read reviews of all of these boats, watched videos online when available, even called the Bic dealer on the east coast to get more details about the seat position in the Scapa. With a sit on top, it really depends on how low the seat is to the water. Is it molded in deeply, closer to the hull? If it sits too high, it’s not the boat for me. I can do tippy as long as there’s decent secondary stability–heaven knows the QCC was tippy. My first time in it, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake ever, ordering a custom boat sight unseen. By the second time in it, with a spray skirt and playing in the shallows until I knew my point of no return while edging it, I felt extremely confident. I also used to occasionally paddle my husband’s QCC 700X. Now THERE’S a tippy boat! Any help you all can give me, any guidance, would be very much appreciated; even if it’s to say “don’t buy such and such a boat because of X reason(s)”. I need to start eliminating the options. I’d love to get my new boat this summer and paddle a boat I love again. I respect the community. I’ve read many posts here on various subjects. I’m hoping you all can steer me in the right direction, even if it’s a direction I haven’t yet considered. Thank you!

It of those two stand out to me as “better boats” the current design and the Eddyline. I would say the Eddyline is the best boat you listed but I may be partial because I believe the Eddyline fathom is the best kayak made. That said the current design plastic will take more beating than the Eddyline. There is a level of care and safety required with Eddyline boats but they make up for that in performance all day long.

Wow! I wouldn’t know where to start. I would not put a Pelican and Stellar in the same sentence, but I’m also prejudiced.
I would not recommend a surf ski to anyone with a lower back problem. The best boat I ever owned was a Stellar S18S. I loved that boat but I was crippled after paddling it. My lower back is an arthritic nightmare. If you need a back support, that’s not the boat.
I could be wrong, but I think buoyancy is a function of design more than material.

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Since you’re in SE Michigan, call Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus in Grand Rapids and see if you can demo the Eddyline Sitka LT. They also have the Equinox in stock (as well as other brands). They’re open for business and are a good company.

The Sitka has better outfitting in that it has full perimeter lines, which are absent on the Equinox. It also has a skeg, which is lacking on the Equinox.

I own two Eddyline boats, the Samba (now called the Sitka ST) and a Fathom LV. They’re lightweight and I find the thermoform construction a tough and easy to maintain material. I worry less about hitting rocks with my Fathom than I do my CD kevlar kayak. I logged plenty of miles on Lake Michigan with the Samba, so it would easily handle bumpy water on your lake.

One note: Eddyline kayaks are hard chined. Some folks initially feel tippy in a hard chined boat, but by keeping their hips and body loose, that feeling quickly goes away.

Finally, if your husband is paddling a QCC 700X, you’ll have a challenge in a 14-foot boat keeping up with him.

Happy shopping!

Since you are in SE Michigan, have you called or e-mailed to either Riverside Kayak connection (RKC)- Wyandotte - or The Power of Water (Lansing)? There is a good chance that they may be able to make some suggestions. They may also be able to let you know what (if any this year) options there are this year to sit in a kayak.

A boat that checks all of your boxes probably doesn’t exist; you will have to compromise on a few issues. My thoughts are that you need to look for fit, performance, durability and availability. Price might also be important. The one boat that sticks out is the Current Designs Sirocco. Yeah, it ain’t a feather-weight, but your hubby can help you with that. In the water the Sirocco will handle just about anything you’ll want to mess with.

If cost were not an issue, I would have to urge you to check out the CD Prana, or one of it’s CD Danish sisters.

Wow! Thank you, all of you, for your thoughtful replies. You’ve given me more to think about. Definitely I need to avoid any boats that would increase back issues. String’s advice regarding surf skis makes very good sense. I will see if I can get over to Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus in GR to try out the Eddylines, or contact Riverside Kayaks or The Power of Water. Summit Sports in Brighton may have a rotomold CD Kestrel I could sit in that would have the same seat and cockpit as the composite version, so I could at least sit in one and see if it fits. I am not afraid of hard chines, so Eddyline is still in the consideration. We usually go to Kayak Corral for most of our boat purchases but they have moved away from sleeker boats and are tending more toward fishing SOTs now. REI is not doing demos in our area any more, but when the stores open back up post pandemic, I may be able to sit in an Eddyline there, as well. They also carry Delta, which has been another one of my possibles. It’s interesting to me that the only comment on Pelican was that it doesn’t belong in the same sentence as Stellar! Normally I wouldn’t consider it, either but it’s sister company made the 10 ft Elie Sound XE, which is my river boat. Ann Arbor now has the Argo Cascades, a series of fun class I-II drops on the Huron River, so I keep the Sound for those. The Elie is surprisingly fun to paddle and fairly stiff, so I included the Pelican Sprint 140 as a possibility, assuming the material is similar to the Sound. Btw, my husband sold his QCC 700X. He never got used to its primary instability and was never comfortable in it. He currently paddles a 14 ft WS Tarpon or the 12 ft Hurricane Santee. I should be able to keep up with him in those boats. Some of the suggestions such as the Scirocco and the Sitka are probably too narrow for me. I know I’m not going to find a boat to do everything I want. I agree with magooch that I should concentrate on fit and performance. I also just spotted a few used QCC 400X for sale in various places around the country. That may be another direction I could go, although I will need to beef up the seat. QCC made awesome boats but their seats, not so much. Thank you, everyone. I look forward to seeing if my long original post gleans any other suggestions. :grin:

Sounds like an N+1 conversation to me. :slight_smile:

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N+1=? Sorry, that does not compute.

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Here is a scholarly dissertation on the meaning of N+1…

But in short…if kayak A covers most of your needs, but kayak B covers other needs, you need both. And then some…

Don’t write off the Scirocco (or Gulfstream - the composite version) if you can find one. They are pretty big kayaks.

I have never met anyone who loves an activity who wasn’t an N+1.

Oh, I’m more like an N+5. We own 8 kayaks currently. Selling a Dagger Roam to my brother, and we have a Hobie Mirage Adventure Island (solo, not tandem) that I’m getting ready to list in the classifieds here (anyone interested?). That leaves the Hurricane Santee and the WS Tarpon, both of which my husband paddles, and I do, too, occasionally. Then my Elie Sound. An OK Malibu 2X that we use when we want to take grandkids out, or our dogs. We are keeping one Adventure Island sailboat. I still have my Walden Vista, but it is technically my daughter’s now. We just store it here at the lake. That’s our current fleet. Kinda pathetic. It affects my desire to paddle. I don’t currently have a boat I love going out in. But, yeah, I get the N+1, for sure!

Does anyone know a good database for kayaks that lets you search by length, width, weight, fabrication, etc? I used to love the old database and really miss those search options.


It’s not up to date, but here’s one:

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Thanks, Rookie. :grin:

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I own a number of sea kayaks, and have tried quite a few. It sounds like what you fell in love with is that efficient glide you had in the QCC. Given that, and 180 lbs, it’s hard to imagine anything under 16’ recreating any of that magic for you. You provide great information for getting meaningful responses. A kayak that I would suggest you might try is the Impex Hatteras. It has a roomy cockpit that would accommodate someone thicker in the hips than I. But the cockpit volume tapers down leading forward, and it has a low back deck. So it really doesn’t present as a high volume boat other than a roomy seating area. It isn’t going to have the glide of the QCC, but it does have a decent sea kayak glide, and is going to be more maneuverable.
I’m thinking the hip room is going to be key. I’ve always figured, at around 200 lbs, that I’m fairly narrow in the hips, and have often wondered why there don’t seem to be sea kayaks offering more hip room. My Kevlar Gulfstream could probably be right up your alley, but the seat configuration in mine doesn’t really allow for much wider hips.
My Impex Hatteras is roomier at the hips, but certainly feels lower volume to me overall. I saw that Frontenac Outfitters had listed the Hatteras for sale again about a year ago, and there might be some used around. Just a thought of something you might try on for size that might check enough boxes to prove fun for you.
The ignite is 16’ of waterline at 39 lbs. A friend let me jump in hers once, and it had a nice fun glide to it. I just don’t remember about how much hip room it had? Sit-ins give a significant amount of protection from the elements during cool, windy, wet outings. But SOTs have excellent advantages of their own.