I’ve been lurking a bit but figured it was time to get some advice. I’m just getting into kayaking and am currently paddling a borrowed (quite old?) P&H Orca that is ~15.5 feet (missing a rudder). Cockpit is ~16" x 31", I’ve been using a skirt, and I haven’t had any issues getting in/out of it (although I haven’t tested/had a wet exit yet since I’ve stuck to calm waters and have always had one of the kids with me in a SOT, typically being towed). I took an ACA level 2 class about a month ago and spent 3 hours in a P&H Virgo MV and I recall it fitting well, but that was my first time in a sit-in and second time ever (first being a SOT about 15 years ago).
I’m 5’10", 170-175 lbs depending on the day (ideal weight is 165, but hey…covid), built like a soccer player, 33" waist, US 8.5 shoe size. My primary goals are bay/open ocean paddling (with eventual open water crossings (5-6 miles), wave surfing and possibly rock gardening). Secondary goal is relaxed paddling with the family on lakes. My “home waters” are the NH seacoast area. I don’t mind “tippy” boats and prefer performance-oriented (knowing full well that I’m unable to get full performance due to my lack of skills at the moment (haven’t even tried to do a roll), but I’m willing to put the time in and learn). I am able to do the basic forward/reverse/sweep/draw strokes and am able to edge turn.
With all of that said, I’ve had my eye on the Eddyline Sitka, either ST or LT. I sat in an ST yesterday and it felt good, feet didn’t feel cramped (although I had my feet kind of splayed out with my heels touching, which is what I’ve grown comfortable with in the Orca…but no idea if that is good positioning or not). They also had the Dagger Stratos 14.5S and that also seemed to fit me well, and the WS Tempest 140, which felt okay (but no skeg or rudder which seems to be less than ideal for open water). Of those three, I preferred the fit of the ST most, but from what I’ve read I’m right near the top of the range for the ST and the LT may fit me better (I definitely prefer the length of the LT over the ST, and love the idea of the day hatch). I can’t say that I have a price cap, but would prefer to stay at/under 2k.
I’m fairly convinced I’d prefer a skeg over rudder, but honestly don’t care either way since I’ve been doing okay keeping the Orca in a mostly straight line.
I’ve read many “new paddler” posts and I haven’t seen Eddyline mentioned before (perhaps my selective pickings just missed it).
As it stands the used market is pretty non-existent at the moment, and dealer stock has very limited options as well. Am I barking up the wrong tree by wanting the Sitka?