new help me get going

-- Last Updated: Jun-15-12 7:50 PM EST --

hey so i am totaly new to this stuff but i think it sounds like fun i do have some paddling experience ive done a lot of canoeing in the past but we always rented so you just got in and went from the dock where they told you and ive kayaked a few times in mexico

i dont yet have a kayak but i want to get one ive been thinking about an inflatable one so i can have a friend come with me and i dont have a ton of storage space is that dumb are they worth the money or should i just get a normal one?

then i would be going to horsetooth res. near fort collins colorado most the time (when they contain the fire and open it back up that is) but do i need to register a kayak or have a permit or anything or can i just park and go? also if i wanted to go to a different lake or res. in colorado would it be the same

Some thoughts …
Pikabike who lives in CO can let you know the current regulations and tell you good places to look for a boat, but when I lived in Colorado, you did not need a permit or license for a kayak or canoe.

Some inflatables are quite nice, but the inexpensive ones are not that great in the wind, and you have to have space to dry them out when stored, so not really saving that much. Probably best to start out with a used conventional single kayak if you are going to be paddling with a friend a lot they might want to do the same thing. Tandems are OK but not the best if you want to paddle by your self most of the time.

Paddling lessons ?
Always worth learning before you buy.

Tons of used gear on the market because people

made a poor initial choice.

Boating regulations in CO

– Last Updated: Jun-16-12 12:04 AM EST –

To answer your question about registration, you do not have to register or title a nonmotorized vessel such as a kayak.

You do not need a state permit to go paddling, either.

What you DO need is to check zebra mussel inspection requirements at the places you intend to paddle. Requirements vary quite a bit, even though kayaks are considered very low risk for harboring zebra mussels and their larvae. I do not know what Horsetooth's inspection requirements are; check with Larimer County.

Another thing to be aware of is entrance fees. Horsetooth charges both an entrance fee and a boat-ramp fee. From what I've seen, it might be hard to launch from places other than at the boat ramp, so maybe it'd be worth your hiking or biking around the reservoir to see if you can avoid launching at the ramp. Most other lakes and reservoirs (not all) also require paying some kind of entry fee.

Horsetooth has a pleasant little cove, Eltuck Cove, with fairly easy access from Lory State Park. If you have a very light kayak, such as an inflatable, then you would only need to pay the park entry fee, park in the closest lot, and carry the boat down the hiking trail.

Other state boating regs that affect paddlers:

* Must carry an approved PFD in the vessel OR wear the PFD.
* Must have a whistle or other loud sound-producing device readily accessible.
* If paddling at night, follow the same rules for lighting
that powerboaters must comply with.
* Stay at least 150 ft away from shoreline fishermen and people fishing from stationary boats.

A free pamphlet of state boating regs is available at the state parks and some other agencies.

Inflatable might work for you, depends on your situation with storage at home and other factors. Mid-priced inflatables like advanced elements would be good to look at. They make many different models and sizes. We used to have their tandem model when we first started out.

Downside to inflatables are setup and break down time, plus you should lay them out somewhere to dry. I used to wipe down our inflatable after a paddle to at least get it mostly dry before folding up. Also the type of water may factor in - shallow rivers may not be best or rivers with many obstructions. Wind too as another person mentioned.

Upside is low storage requirements and easy transport (no racks).

Starting out you don’t think much about wind. But Colorado is one of the places I have lived where you do get a lot of wind. A boat that has a low profile and handles well in the wind will give you more paddling time. THere are some good sized bodies of water around you within a days drive. I grew up in Utah so my favorites are the Great Salt Lake, Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge and Lake Powell, in CO, I liked the Soap Creek arm of Blue Mesa Resevoir. Never did Grand lake but that is close to you. Redfeather lake area lakes are small but Dowdy lake is fun for a little day paddle.

I’ve paddled up and down the West Coast, Hawaii, New Zealand and UK and the places I paddled with the highest winds were Bear Lake in UT and Blue Mesa.

So much time wasted on inflatable
I’ve had inflatables but I learned that they really are limiting. Maybe those take apart plastic boats would be a better option.

For ease of storage you pay in set up time, slow paddling speed, drying time, folding and packing time,and poor handling in wind or waves.

If you are on willing to get the boat completely dry at the take out, you have to unfold it and lay it out at home somewhere. Unless you are going to use it for floating down river on trips of two days or more, I would skip it.

I bet you can find a way to store a hard kayak some where if you think about it. Another option is just to

use an inflatable raft. My raft at lease rowed into the wind better than the kayak and handled rough water better.

Given all that The Advanced Elements Fusion Kayak is as much a folding kayak as an inflatable. So it may at least be able to keep up in the wind and actually paddle better than a pig.

I think the best place to store a kayak is on your car. You’ll paddle more that way.

Thoughts from a newbie
I googled horsetooth resevoir and it appears to be a long narrow body of water. I also noted the have water skiing and tubing there. The overall combination indicates to me, based on past experience, the potential for wake waves that could tip you over while you are still getting the hang of kayaking. Most of the time you would be flatwater paddling there.

“IF” I was looking for a kayak for that location I would buy the longest recreational boat I could get and then add the flotation bags fore and aft of the cockpit if the kayak didn’t have bulkheads. Short boats are slower than longer boats all else being equal. I would want a faster boat because I would be looking to paddles around the entire shoreline.

Next is to learn how to get in it if you do capsize in deep water. The temptation will be high to paddle across the resevoir since it is narrow.

Initially I would paddle when the big boat people were eating breakfast or supper to avoid wakes.

Blue Mesa wind

– Last Updated: Jun-16-12 1:48 PM EST –

Soap Creek, Davis, and West Elk are pretty arms where you can escape the pervasive highway traffic noise and west winds. Not many places to land, though...and watch out if the wind is parallel with the arm!

Typical summer west winds get strong in the afternoon. Really strong. I've watched it destroy RV awnings at the campground while the windsurfers went out and blasted around at high speed. The windsurfing beach is called Bay of Chickens.

There's also a pinch point to watch out for if you're heading west approaching Middle Bridge, where the wind gets suddenly funneled through a gap. I had to fight my way past that during an approaching squall. Felt like I was standing still, so I had to jam hard during brief lulls and sort of hopscotch ahead like tiny increments. Thanks to my solid Explorer LV, I never felt at risk of capsizing even when waves slammed from the LF quadrant and dumped on my head. But progress was painfully slow.

It can get violently windy in moments after a deceptively calm interval. A look at a map showing topography is advised. There is no weather radio service at all.

That was with a hardshell, long, seaworthy boat loaded with camping gear. I wouldn't bring an inflatable or a shortie out there. The water stays cold all summer (wetsuit or drysuit territory).

There are better places for a new paddler closer to Ft. Collins. Grand Lake would be one of those, and powerboats are not allowed on it, IIRC.

Avoiding the motorheads
Horsetooth’s crowds are probably like what I experience at Chatfield. Lots of jetskis, waterskiiers, and inflatables being pulled by powerboaters.

For new paddlers at these kinds of places, avoid weekends in summer, weekday afternoons from about 4 pm on, and all holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also crowded. Best time to paddle is mornings, both from a wind and a drunken-idiot-avoidance perspective. Just watch out for numerous fishing lines, because many fishermen prefer early morning, too.

If it’s a cool, cloudy weekend, you are in luck–the sunworshipping powerboaters won’t be out in large numbers.

Better still, go to a lake where there’s a hp limit on motors, or trolling-motors only. It’s hard to learn to paddle well when the water is so confused from constant multiple wakes that is has no rhythm to it.

Two corrections
That should be Lake Fork Arm, not Davis Arm, at Blue Mesa.

Grand Lake does allow powerboats. There is a small pond considered part of the Granby-Grand system that is nonmotorized-only, but it’s incredibly tiny.

(To the OP)

Complete sentences



Capital letters

They make reading things easier.

Just sayin…


You think Pammy could help her out?
He lives in Fort Collins, though from his recent post it sounds like he’s been on the road.

Not with grammar or punctuation
He could probably expound on the merits, or lack thereof, pertaining to inflatables.

what is your budget?
How much money do you have to invest in this? That could be a limiting factor in getting the ideal kayak for your usage. Something that would break down to be portable AND be suitable for windy conditions and bigger waters would be a full fledged folding kayak (like Folbot, Feathercraft or Pakboat) and one of those will run you from $900 to over $4000.