Neither bullet nor barge...

In my last post I was thinking I wanted a Brit style touring kayak. Now after some posters have been kind enough to help me refine my thinking, I think Brit might not be the way to go (for me). So here are my revised criteria:

  1. I want something around 17’ long that will be reasonably fast but doesn’t have to be a bullet.
  2. I would like good primary stability so I can stop and take pictures without worrying about tipping over.
  3. Since I’m usually able to make my Yukon track very straight (except in really bad wind) I think I’d like a similar hull to the Yukon (somewhat maneuverable) and with a rudder or skeg added for when conditions warrant it.
  4. I’m thinking I’ll get either Prijon plastic or composite.

    Sorry to ask people to re-think my original question, but it is because of what I have learned in the previous discussion. Thanks very much to all who have helped me think this through.


You seem to have missed…
… the most important parts of the replies in the other threads: GO TEST PADDLE A LOT OF BOATS!!! Renting/borrowing is even better.

The crazy mix of input you get here will only confuse you until you have a broader base of personal experience to balance/evaluate the comments.

My 2¢? Buy for stability as the main concern and you will miss out on a lot. Almost anything will feel stable after some time.

Most of the demo events
around here take place in late spring or early summer so I wanted to get an idea of what I want “on paper” so I’ll know what to demo when the opportunity arises.

Just curious, how do others deal with the issue of “try before you buy” when there’s no real good way to do that?

One question
What DON’T you like about your Yukon, or wish were different? That will help you focus your search.

I almost get the impression you want to shorten your list of potential kayaks as much as possible. At this point, it’d be smarter to do the opposite–create a long list to start with. Then move some of them to the bottom of the list based on facts that can be determined without actually paddling the kayak. Sometimes specs and other “hard facts” do not add up to what you might think they do; hence, the importance of demo’ing/renting.


If your location is like mine, your list might well be greatly shortened by simple lack of availability.

demo demo demo
>1) I want something around 17’ long that will be reasonably fast but doesn’t have to be a bullet.

2) I would like good primary stability so I can stop and take pictures without worrying about tipping over.<

Lots of boats fit these criteria. As said almost any boat will feel stable enough to stop and take pictures after you get accustomed to it.

What are the local paddling clubs? Often they are good organizations through which to access boats.

What brands are available within 150-250 miles of where you live?

Where do you live? You may live near a poster who has a fleet and would let you try a few boats.

Dealing with lack of kayaks to try
My first kayak (a rec kayak) and my first sea kayak (CD Squall), I knew I needed to demo before deciding to buy. I was too new to paddling to know my preferences. If I had not been able to demo them, I simply would have bought something else that I could demo.

At that stage, I might not have known what was “right” but I would have been able to tell if something was awful. The point of renting, then, was mainly to rule out the “awfuls.” It worked. I happily paddled that first sea kayak for several years…all the while noting what I liked or didn’t like about it.

By the time I got my second sea kayak (built it, actually–no demo available closer than 2000 miles), I had moved from “eliminate the awfuls” to “take a chance on the probably-betters.” Part of this change came after renting a bunch of different sea kayaks when visiting other places. So one option is to visit places (vacations; yes this will take time) where you can rent different styles of kayaks. Keep note of what you like or dislike about each one, and try to see if there is a pattern (e.g., “I like soft-chined kayaks better than hard-chined”).

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the wood kayak as an all-rounder for me. But since by now I had an even better idea of what I wanted, I again took a chance when I bought my 3rd sea kayak without demo’ing it. I had sat in the bigger version of this kayak and knew I liked the outfitting. The length, beam, and deck height specs looked good. This time, I hit a bullseye: I LOVE this 3rd sea kayak and would be happy to paddle it for the rest of my life.

I still think it’s best to rent or demo before buying. At the beginner level, you “eliminate the awfuls.” After that, it helps you figure out what you like best. From my own experience, I can say that it is possible to buy something wonderful without having paddled it first. But it is definitely more of a gamble. Better to take your time and slowly accumulate your own opinions from renting and demoing as many kayaks as you can.

BTW, the kayak I am so happy with is a Tempest 165. Haven’t had any problems taking photos from it.

1st kayak was an inflatable from a sporting goods store (no test - in a box).

Drove 4 hours away to a large demo to try several before buying my next (locally)- a Tarpon 160.

Next found a used Heritage Shearwater via eBay that turned out to be an hour away on consignment at a paddle shop (so no test - but rare so I got it).

Next round of shopping I drove 8 hours away to a big paddle fest to demo MANY long sea kayaks. I learned a lot but bought a QCC 700 without demo via Internet - it had a 30 day trial period with no questions asked return policy (and I had tried friends 500 & 600 locally) so not a huge risk.

The rest (9 in all so far) I bought used. Drove 4 hours each time for two of them (a Pintail and a Tsunami X-1), and got the rest locally A Findeisen Venture and UX surf ski, then a Mark 1 surf ski. Only a couple were tested first.

Re-sold 5 and now have the 700, Pintail, X-1, and Mark 1. Of these I only tested the Mark 1 before buying - and that was just a short check to test fit.

In between I have tried a lot of other boats from friends and at other paddling events.

Next one will most likely be built - a new design - so again no test.

I’ve done well selecting non-tested boats (but wasn’t really buying blind either). I just don’t recommend others do as I do. Buying and selling used you can break even and take a chance. Buying new you loose money so should be a bit more sure what you want.

Living nearby other p-netters
What a great idea!

I’d be happy to have anyone nearby come and meet up with me and try various of my boats. I’ve done that with my daughters friends and friends parents several times.

Oooh, and I’d love the opportunity to try out some of the real sea kayaks and do some ocean stuff, as my work-around-the-house load slows down and time permits…100 miles in any direction is fine.

Val, Hartford CT area. Occasionally, Marlborough NH.

Yes - find a club
The big water paddlers in NJ, who are likely to have the scale of boat you want, are still in the water and probably will be for another couple of months. A club is also likely to be starting pool sessions. While you are correct that planned boat swap opportunities are usually in the spring and early summer, if you can find a group to paddle with using your Yukon there is no reason that you couldn’t get to know folks and ask them to try their boats. We make our available all the time because we have some that aren’t common around here.

Meanwhile, you have a boat that you can take on paddles with a group. And if it is working for you now there is no reason you couldn’t take it into the spring and upgrade then. True that there are some great discounts right now from dealers and outfitters, but usually these are most valuable for someone who has a much clearer idea of what they want than you have expressed.

I suspect that if you posted a request here for other paddlers or clubs around your location, you’d get some hits. I know gas is dear, but getting the wrong boat is even more frustrating. We drove some pretty significant distances to try out boats when we were looking for our composite expedition boats, as well as our day boats.

Agree with posters - this is a stage of boat upgrade for which you really have to just get into a lot of boats, even if it means traveling and combining boat demos with a weekend sowmwhere.

The same is true if you go to any symposiumns. don’t be afraid to ask someone that is also at the symposiumn if they would let you try their boat. most demo beaches are limited to only the vendors that cater to that particular area , and they sometimes don’t bring some boats that their company produces. This is especially true for the more advanced or “cult” boats not particulary considered “quick sale” boats.

Good luck


I am also on file for the local Valley dealer, in case they have some one that needs to demo boats that I have and they don’t carry. It’s a fun way to spend some time and helps other paddlers find their way

What I don’t like
about the Yukon is 1) no rudder. On windy days I could really use one. And 2) in waves/chop of big lakes the bow sort of dives under the waves (not sure if there’s a term for that). The diving bow just doesn’t feel right and makes me think there are better boats to handle conditions like that. I am hoping to go out on Lake Michigan or Erie at some point and would like a boat better suited to those conditions. But I am keeping the Yukon. It’s a great boat for everything else.


Where I live
I live in Greenwood Indiana, not far from Indy. I also have family in Cleveland Ohio and Chillicothe Ohio so I get over there a couple of times a year. If anyone knows of good paddling groups near me, please let me know.

Whopps - sorry!
Your thread and another one are running fairly similarly. Same advice applies, but obviously NJ would not be helpful for you. But it’s still worth a shot.

I should just not post anything before 9AM… not a morhing person at all.

Try out a CD Caribou if you get a chance. I fish and take pictures off of mine. Handles wind very well, I rarely use my skeg. A very user friendly boat. My only complaint is the hard corner on the coaming which I padded. It gets you when you roll.

can you roll?
If you don’t there’s no reason looking for % improvements in theoreticals or putting yourself in a kayak that isn’t designed for your criteria. Don’t discount the QCC400 with a rudder if you can’t roll and need some stability. Regarding “speed” if that hull limits you then you don’t need the advice to begin with.

If wind is an issue then look for a design that does well without a functioning skeg. Chatham 17 would be a fine choice there although you should know how to roll with it.

Do you have a budget that puts you into plastic ? If you’re stuck on Prijon,get the next skinnier/longer prijon.

A wet ride (diving bow)

– Last Updated: Sep-29-05 1:46 PM EST –

is not necessarily a bad thing. "British style" kayaks especially do not have much bouyancy in the bow or the stern because they are designed for heavy seas. Placing the bouyancy in the center does two things for you A: in the trough of two waves the center of the kayak is not lifted out of the water (very unstable) B: on the crest of the wave any bouyancy in the bow or stern is wasted hanging out in the air. The downside is a wetter ride, but not as wet as it could be!

If you can get to Bristol Indiana
on your way to visit family, stop by and see Fluid Fun and you can demo many yaks on the St. Joseph River. (as long as it’s not frozen). They have a great variety.

not really sure what you have determined as brittish But the Nordkapp does ride up and over lots of waves, but the pintail punches thru some waves. it all degrees. short period waves would be the only waves that would have any effect even remotely like what you have stated. the wetter ride associated with the brit boats has more to do with deck height and how deep you sit into the water instead of the high canoe type “lets stay dry” hull found on many north american boats. Brit boats have enough bow floatation so they don’t dive excessivally comming down a wave face. it’s a delicate balance. Some north anerican boats are made to cut thru chopp and smooth out the ride on inland lakes. some of these same boats can be very dangerous on very steep waves and need to be driven so that they don’t pitchpole. or kept completely off steep waves. They tend more to the racing venue and less to big violent water paddling for day after day.

British Style, not made in UK
I meant boats like CD Slipstream /Gulfstream/Andromeda (Canada) or KajakSport Millenium (Finland). I was repeating what the CD boats designer (Derek Hutchinson) told a group of us regarding the design logic for those (and other “classic British style”) boats.

Sounds like you answered…
your own question in your number four.

There are probably at least seventeen different paddlers here with seventeen different kayaks, and each one thinks their’s is the best for them.