Need some advice on right kayak for me

-- Last Updated: May-24-09 1:32 AM EST --

I used to kayak a bit when growing up. I had a CD solstice SS that worked quite nicely for me. It was much nicer than anything else I had during those early teenage years and I just happened upon it since my dad couldn't fit in it easily enough and bought something else. We did a few decent trips mostly up in the apostle islands.
Its been 15 years since then and I want a kayak again. I checked out the CD solstice again and they don't seem to have changed it much actually. Then I started researching more boats and figured that I might want to opt away from the north american design with rudder. I'm looking for a versatile boat. Something I can tour in and paddle over 10 miles with, something that handles bad conditions, and something that is fun to play with in the surf. Basically a versatile boat but if leaning toward one end of the spectrum it would be touring.
I am 6'2" tall, 34" inseam, 34" waist, size 13 foot, 215lbs. I am wondering what kayaks people would recommend. I sat in a P&H Capella 173 and it seemed quite nice for me. I notice my feet hit the foredeck on most boats but not this one. There was also plenty of leg room. I've read about the impex assateague but wonder if the cockpit is too wide and sloppy for me since guys with 10" bigger waist sit in that. How about the NDK explorer? The CD Gulfstream? With so many more boats and standard and HV versions I'm a bit overwhelmed. I don't think there are local dealers carrying those upper end kayaks either since the biggest dealer in my area just had the capella. Makes it hard to even test these out. Are there big conventions to try to attend to see them all? If so what are the names and where/when?

Seedy Won! Help This Guy Out.
CD1 is in Illinois I think. He could steer you to who sells what and where.

I would recommend something in the 16 to 17 foot range. Skegged. Get as little volume as is necessary. Don’t scratch a boat off your list just because it’s a pain to get in and out of. You can move seats and remove hip pads, etc. to make it fit.


– Last Updated: May-24-09 7:48 AM EST –

Don't know where you are in Illinois, but here are a few:

Rutabaga keeps a big selection in stock -- might be worth a road trip.

If Geneva IL is near you, Geneva
Kayak has all of the brands you mentioned and then some. It is a high quality dealer. Ask for Ryan:

Probably need to sit in boats
Cockpit fit isn’t always easy to get from anything other than actual sit time, even if on a showroom floor, and since you have some prior experience you are going to be a little fussier than someone absolutely new. Proportions and comfort can vary wildly even in what seem to be similarly sized cockpits based on written dimensions.

We recently had a great example of this. We brought all of our sea kayaks out for some acquaintances of ours to try - they are contemplating getting boats themselves and we wanted to give them some basic familiarity with these things. I brought out both my Vela and my Explorer LV. I figured that the Explorer with the extra-small cockpit would be the example of a cockpit fit that is doable but would feel too tight to the woman in this couple, and the Vela with a small cockpit and slightly taller deck (I have padded it down) would be the example of a fit that was within more reasonable comfort. She’s a little heavier than me but close to my size.

Well - good thing I brought both boats. The placement of the thigh braces and allover shape of the cockpit in the Vela was so uncomfortable that she couldn’t find any way to get in and comfortable, but she loved the fit of the officially smaller Explorer LV cockpit and happily paddled that around.