Need help finding the right Yak

-- Last Updated: Jul-14-16 6:57 PM EST --

Hi all,
I am looking for a new kayak and there are just SO many options.

I'm 6' currently about 250lbs (but I will be working to get back down to around 225), I'm from Pensacola, FL so I want something I can take out in the gulf sometimes, but it will mostly be in protected waters like the bay or rivers.

My experience:
Not including single day rental or loaner yaks I have extensively used the following:

WS Pungo 12': great on the lake or river, horrible in the bay. Almost swamped a few times.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy for a season. It was great in the bay. But paddles like a barge.

What I'm want to do with my new yak:
-River day trips (~25miles or more)
-Paddle around the bay
-Exploring wetland areas
-Overnight river camping trips
-Week+ river camping trips

I really like the ease of getting on and off sit on tops, and the ability to really easily fish out of one (though not a primary requirement). I especially like the Tarpon 160 which I will be taking one on a test paddle in the next couple of weeks. What I hated about the Pungo was how much it got swamped every time i took it out, but it had a pretty big opening and I didn't have a skirt for it.

I do like the (semi)dry cargo carrying ability of the larger Expedition/Touring yaks.

I have been looking at the longer Tempest/Tsunami/Zephyrs from WS but I haven't paddled one like that.

There are many other brands out there, and I'm just not where to start. The only place in town that has a decent selection of good yaks recommends WS over the other brands. Otherwise I will have to order online and eat the shipping costs.

I'm shooting for keeping it as close to $1500 as possible.

You need to decide…
You’ll need to decide the big question - SOT versus touring. Until you do that, you’ll be spinning wheels back and forth.

I would get out and paddle a sea kayak with skirt, if you can. Not an issue where I am, but I’ve heard that in Florida it can get very hot under the skirt. I’d figure out if this will be an issue early on.

Your budget is fine for possibly even new for most any.

Two bulkheads and around 16 ft
Would be my best suggestion for your purposes. A sea kayak.

No skirt exists that can make a Pungo a good idea in waves. The opening is simply too big for any skirt to be effective against water dumping into it from waves.

As to heat, if you are willing to learn to scull and roll a sea kayak can be relatively cool, since you can drop over and get wet to cool off. Or you get a more breathable skirt, doesn’t have to be neoprene to keep enough water out. Or you just keep dumping water on your head, my preferred solution for solo paddling since it adds no risk.

used canoe

a 16’ solo canoe.

hot weather, gators, inexperience, planned routing, physical disabilities all point to canoe.

If the plans are more inland than bay more minor rocker. If more bay, try a straight keel hull.

For you.
For a person your size, what you plan to do with the boat, what you’re willing to spend–Current Designs Sirocco.

A Prowler (Ocean) would work
Huge, huge difference in paddling ease between those little stubby ones and the much longer fishing kayaks, (they are nearly 13- 1/2 feet) and it’s very stable in wave action and will hold your current weight and some gear easily. They are DIFFICULT to tip over, and nearly indestructible.

Really, once you get up over the 12 foot range into the 13’, 14’, 16’s you will enjoy a longer, decent SOT on a hot day because no rolling is necessary to cool off.

Tarpons are also fine for this altho I don’t have experience with one.

If you want to go lighter, you could look at the 14’ Eddyline Caribbean, it will be a little more expensive but still will hold you and gear easily and is sort of a “Bay Cadillac” - and is my go-to boat for interacting with cross wake from power boats and jet skis, which it excels at. It also will float in extremely shallow water that would bottom out a regular kayak, so I can get out of the traffic if needed or explore areas with wildlife. It also has stayed upright in river rapids up to C-2. I can keep up with people in rec boats easily with this model. Recently I have gotten to try a faster boat - and now am really appreciating all over again how this model steers.

The only difficulty I’ve had is that when I start hefting it up or taking it off the truck, with the straps released, because it “is” such a big kayak but relatively light weight, if a sudden gust of strong wind comes up I can nearly get knocked off my feet if I am on an unlevel surface and holding it sideways. I’ve learned to scout the conditions before starting to untie the kayak, will turn the truck to point a different way if necessary, and I’ve literally had one time again this past month where it tried blowing off before I had it trussed down when I was done- got to love those evening Delta breezes!

15’ is

– Last Updated: Jul-14-16 6:19 PM EST –

15 FEET !

that’s a dwarf ! I know a dwarf when I see one and that’s a dwarf

more tricky photography at:

tried buying finding an Ocean Kayak using as a surf trainer...fall 2008....nearest was in Missoula.

Well in a week or two, I’m probably going to take out a Perception Carolina (14’) for an hour or so on the bay. No skirt, but I will get to see how well it paddles.

The big thing I worry about with a SOT is anything strapped to the deck is absolutely GOING to get wet. Also, legs will be roasted in the sun on a SOT unless I wear long pants. I’m currently leaning more toward the touring style.

local noise
opened up after posting the canoe while eating B Fast… “canoes are too tippy canoes are too tippy”

AFAIK fishing kayaks paddle off the truck into the water then 300’ more and back n that’s it for distance.

Speed…energy consumption/mile isnot a large factor…doesn’t ‘become’ a large factor as who paddles one to Key West ?

here’s a proving ground, Tampa Bay…where there are fish I seenum.

a fair distance from one hole to the next.

Yet when I cruise thru past the landings where are these yaks ? bobbing around a stones throw from concrete.

Not as visible as the ‘gotta have a 11.5 foot kayak’ syndrome but the growing numbers of slug hulls goes along. Alters the common perspectives of is acceptable and not.

Marshall, howdewja get a 250 pound man into a 11.5’ kayak ?

Fishing not a priority
Fishing is not a priority for what I want to do, though I will occasionally use it to fish for dinner.

Priority is speed and distance. I want to be able to go 25+ miles in a day.

Right now I am currently looking at the Tarpon 160 and the Tsunami 175.

My size clarification

– Last Updated: Jul-14-16 6:58 PM EST –

I'm a more athletic/solid 250lbs (size 36 jeans/size L shirt). I can run a half marathon with a mid 9's pace. It seems like some of you may have got a different image.

The extra internal storage is a big part of why I am leaning toward a Touring style yak. If I have a SOT the wind (and there is A LOT of it around here) will be more of an issue if the majority of my gear is strapped on top.

I agree…
…with Celia that a sit inside sea kayak would be the best for you.

And while WS makes a decent kayak, Current Designs makes a much better one so I also agree with magooch. Get a Sirocco.

Current Designs
I would love to try one out, but the closest dealer is 260 miles away!

im not gonna drop that much $$$ without taking one out for some paddle time.

AND… they don’t sell the rotomolded ones in blue WHATS UP WITH THAT!?!

A paddling club
In your area ?

It doesn’t matter
250 lbs is 250 lbs and overnight camping gear AND fresh water/food etc in a backpack (not that I do it, but someone else does) can easily go 25 lbs or more so the boat you select should be able to handle at least 300 lbs. Even if you are fast and fit you will be warmer upon exertion than a thin, lighter person, that is just the way it is. The trade off is the thin person will be freezing their butt off when you are still comfortable in cooler temperatures, because “natural insulation.”

Now, let’s look at your height. There are shorter people with enhanced natural balance because they are compact, and then there are taller people who have more trouble adapting to a longer, less wide fast kayak packed with lots o’ stuff which is bouncing around in the waves because their center of gravity is so much higher. There is a reason people are using these sit on top kayaks in hot climates if they don’t want to seal themselves up in a splash skirt then have to learn all this “rolling” technique just to cool off, with a boat that may “go faster” with less effort -but require quite a bit of training practice to be safe, compared to a stable boat that may be used as a swimming/snorkeling platform.

So yes, sea kayaks are nice - BUT… a SOT with a decent dry hatch may get you out there sooner with less twitchiness and hassle, and again, a decent length one will be a world of difference in ease of going forward.

not really
I haven’t been able to find one for kayaks. We have a couple for SUPs and a kayak fishing group. But none that I know of for general kayaking.

yaks for big guys
That’s why I was looking at the Tsunami 175 with its 400lb capacity if I went with a touring style.

CD > WS?
what makes the Current Designs kayak THAT much better. I can’t find any info online stating why.

skill level

– Last Updated: Jul-15-16 3:08 PM EST –

depends on your skill level. More skill with a canoe n the hull zooms compared to the mentioned Ocean kayak covering a lack of skills.

The club association would ease you into what the local waters are...on the water...or trapped in the reeds ...hahhaha...or snagged by a root wielded by a canny gator.

between money in Pcola n Tala …

shift in priorities now are both end of summer n back to college.