Need kayak recommendation: Taking first-time paddling visitors on quiet lake

We do community relations on a volunteer basis for a water district with a large mountain reservoir. We’d like to “introduce” people (e.g. board members, media members, committee members) to the joy of experiencing this recreational resource. Hubby and I have two lovely sit-in kayaks (Kevlar Bell Rob Roys, 12 foot) we use on this very quiet lake; we don’t want to spend that kind of money on two kayaks for our first-time paddlers and are looking for your recommendations. Here are our questions:

–Sit-upon or sit-in style? We launch from the side of the lake (no dock). We’re used to hopping into the Rob Roys and paddling off, but would it be a lot easier for folks to get in from the lakeside using a sit-upon style? We really prefer the sit-in, but are open to your ideas for newbie paddlers.

–Weights of our visitors would vary from 100 to 225 pounds or so, no children involved. Would this range lead to a particular choice?

–What “generic” flotation vests would you recommend which are adjustable to fit our visitors?

Note: We will carry these on a Triton KL trailer with space for six standard kayaks and don’t anticipate much of a “carry” from parking space to lakeside.

Any other things we should consider? This lake is our district’s drinking water so we’re hoping not a lot of accidental tipping of visitors into our drinking water… :wink:

Thanks for your insight/help/recommendations!

SOTs. Heavier, but compared to the equivalent sit-ins they are a lot safer if someone does go in the water. If you need proof, borrow an old Swifty from someone, take it into shoulder deep water and swamp it. Then try to get it paddleable.

Swifty 9.5 is an excellent choice, its the one so many of us started out with and the one we turn to for a quick paddle in the evening or a short duration fishing trip on the pond behind the house. Very inexpensive, stable, comfortable, easy to turn and easy enough to go in a more or less straight line and you can find them pretty much everywhere used and cheap. They are no longer available new, the latest iteration is the Deluxe. It has the advantage of a sealed compartment in back which will keep the kayak afloat after capsize.

I keep one in my garage just for newbies who want to try paddling, or who want to do a little fishing on the lake or if I want to take my little dog for a paddle in the evening. If it capsizes just tow it to shore and empty it. It weighs 44 pounds but the price is pretty attractive.

I also suggest SOTs, unless you are in a cold weather area. And get used to save money.

I’d suggest poly Wilderness Systems Pungo 120s which are the mainstay of many recreational kayak rental fleets. At 12’ long and 29" wide they are very stable, perform well and are extremely sturdy. If a capsize is a concern then add a float bag in the bow to go along with the rear sealed compartment.

They retail for $900 each but are widely available used. One forum member here recently bought two older Pungos for less than $300 each.

As for flotation vests/PFDs I’d go with something like a NRS universal fit model at $55 each.

Again, basic stuff but high quality and they’ll last a long time.

2nd the Pungos. Stable, comfortable, and relatively quick.

Why not ask the participants what they prefer?

@magooch - If I am reading the above right, the participants will mostly be people who have not kayaked and don’t have any preference. OPer is going to have to set the choice(s).

Thanks, all, for the input. To clarify, I’ve heard votes for sit on tops as well as the Pungo 120 or the Swifty, which are both sit inside types. Thank you, kfbrady, for the PFD recommendation. Now to check out Craigslist locally and see if I can find a pair of used within 100 miles or so…Keep your fingers crossed for me, please :slight_smile:

If you can’t find used boats that fit the bill, see if you can find Ocean Kayak Scramblers that you can order online. These are very good SOTs for inexperienced paddlers and are used by lots of rental businesses that do coastal paddling. They list for about $600 at places like REI and Cabela’s etc, you can often find them on sell, or if you are a non-profit a large chain may cut you a deal. Buy some decent paddles not heavy aluminum ones.

You do not want to deal with inexperienced kayakers capsizing a recreational kayak like a pungo or swifty. They will not be able to re-enter the kayak and will have to swim to shore If they capsize a scrambler they can climb back on easily or you can even do an assisted rescue putting them back in the kayak.

don´t overthink it, the paddlers are newbies on a mill pond, just give them something cheap that is stable and goes fairly straight and turns fairly easily. The Perception Swifty has introduced more paddlers to on-water fun than just about any other boat out there. Even new it costs peanuts, maybe $400, and it will last forever in the OP`s environment. Good luck with it.