Need Purchasing Advice

-- Last Updated: Jun-18-06 11:40 AM EST --

Hello everyone,

I live in Traverse City, MI and I'm looking for my first kayak. I will be paddling it on West Bay here and on inland lakes. No plans to take it on rivers, I have a canoe for river tripping.

I have been borrowing a boat from a friend and really enjoying it. It is a Wilderness Systems Manteo. This boat is plenty stable for me but I would like to get something that tracks better and handles the wind better. Lighter would be nice too.

I will most often be paddling by myself, so I'm wondering if a sit on top is safer(which is what my girlfriend believes), or if I should go with a day touring kayak.

I would like to spend $1,000 or less on the boat. If anyone in the area can recommend the best dealer around here that would be great too.

By the way, I'm 5'11" and 190 lbs

Look for a paddling club in your

– Last Updated: Jun-18-06 12:36 PM EST –

area and join the club. That will put you in touch with local people all who will have stories around how they got started and made their first purchase. They will also have the best handle on the dealer situation in your area. They might even let you try their boats.

And of course demo boats whether that is through Demo Days, Paddle Fests or renting frequently.

The wife and I started off thinking sit-on-tops, rented, demo'd and wound up buying NDK Romany boats which meet our needs based upon the type of water we have available. They also provide plenty of room for skill development.

Available Boats
I just went and visited some local shops and here is what I’m looking at. It seems I already missed the demo days and they don’t have another one scheduled. I don’t know how I will be able to paddle any of these boats without buying it.

I checked out the reviews section and most of the reviews were positive on all of these.

Tsunami 145 w/rudder $1,099 - looks very comfortable. I wonder how easy it will be paddle

Necky Manitou 14 - $999 - I really liked this boat. Does anyone know if it will be faster than the Tsunami 145

Perception Carolina 15 w/rudder $999 - Seems to be comparable to the other two.

Consider used boats as well

– Last Updated: Jun-18-06 5:15 PM EST –

You can often get a lot more boat for your money if you're willing to purchase a used boat. In most cases, paddlers do love their boats, so they'll take good care of them. When they're ready to sell a boat (usually in preparation to purchase another), the used boat is often still in very decent shape.

Though I'm not considering selling it, just as an example, my nine year old CD Caribou is still perfectly seaworthy, and I've even improved various things on it over the years (extra bungies for GP stowage fore and aft, a better after market backband and other custom cockpit outfitting, painter and towing lines, compass, etc.). If I ever were to decide to sell it, someone would be getting a very nice "enhanced" Caribou! :-)

So, please don't narrow your choices too quickly to just the few boats you might be able to purchase new for the price you mention; take a bit of time and consider some good used boats as well.

Good luck!


Cape Horn 15
I have a cape horn 15…use it on the chesapeake bay…rivers…and lakes…very versitile.

It will be getting it’s first lake Michigan test in August…

Good Luck!

I have paddled all three.

– Last Updated: Jun-20-06 5:07 PM EST –

I thought the Tsunami was the better of the bunch. The Carolina isn't as good in rough water as the Tsunam or the Necky. I also didn't find a need for a rudder on the Tsunami it was fairly manuverable if you leaned it a little. That would save you some money if you could buy one without a rudder.

My .02$


Try the boats first!
Please–Don’t buy a boat without trying it! Real paddle shops will almost always let you take the boat out first. And you live in such a great area for paddling, and there are plenty of real paddle shops around that will let you try out boats before you buy them. Betsie Bay Kayaks are out of your price range, but it’s still worth calling them and trying one of their boats, just to see what a boat like that feels like.

Here’s a link to good paddle shops near you:

Crystal Lake Adventure sports in Beulah certainly WANTS you to try their boats before you buy one. Lots of good polyethylene boats fall into your price range, and it’s worth thinking seriously about getting a real touring boat that you can learn new skills in. The boats you mentioned are all beginner’s boats that won’t let you progress as far as a longer, more sea-worthy boat. The Tsunami and Necky are fine boats, but you might quickly want more of a boat.

YOu have a great local paddle club nearby: Cherry Capital Paddle America Club!

Their website has lots of information, and you might call one of the members and see if you can join in on an evening paddle. Around here, everyone in our paddle clubs are always happy to let people try out their boats, so I imagine it’s the same in Traverse City.

Have fun in your new boat.