New to Kayaking- Which Boat?

I’m sure everyone on here sees tons of these posts, so a sorry in advance :).

My kayaking experience is VERY limited (sit-on-top kayaks on lakes and a rec-style kayak of a friend’s on a shallow creek), but I’d really like to take up the hobby.

I live near a shallow creek that I imagine I will paddle once or twice a week in the summer (there’s a wonderful drop-off point at the back of the farm where I keep my horse). I’m only about 1 hour away from the Red River Gorge in Kentucky so it wouldn’t be outrageous to imagine paddling and perhaps even overnight camping there as well. My main interest right now is getting experience on calmer waters and taking some basic skills classes when I can. I might see myself getting into low-class whitewater one of these days (there’s some stuff in Kentucky and I’m about 3 hours from West Virginia) but I’m in school so I don’t know how far in the future that might be.

It might also be helpful to mention that I’m a younger woman, about 5’7" or at most 5’8" and 140-150 lbs.

My biggest question is taking into account my low experience and currently low ambitions, would it be foolish to “jump in” and get a whitewater kayak while still learning the basics? If it is foolish, what would those with experience recommend as a first boat? I have a pretty low budget with a price range between $200-$250, but I’ve almost exclusively seen whitewater kayaks in that range on Craigslist. I’m particularly interested in a Dagger Animas that I saw.

My search has mostly been via Craigslist since the nearby outdoor stores only offer new kayaks. If anyone has suggestions for other used kayak retailers in the general vicinity of Kentucky (Asheville, Knoxville, Nashville, Columbus, and Indianapolis are all reasonable drives if the right kayak came along), that’d be very helpful and much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions offered!!

You’re a little light for an Animas,
just as I am a little heavy for mine.

I’m also concerned that, without help from someone more experienced, you’ll have difficulty buying a used kayak down in the $250 range.

I recommend you accumulate money a little longer, while trying to make personal contacts in your area who are knowledgeable and experienced.

I lived in Lexington for two years, and am familiar with the range of rivers in the area. If you just paddle in your area, I think you do not want a really short playboat. You want something that will coast a little between strokes. If I were buying you a kayak from what’s available today, new, I would consider the Pyranha Karnali, the Dagger Axiom, and the Liquid Logic Remix . You might also consider kayaks designed for whitewater or flatwater use, like the Liquid Logic Remix XP 9.

Of used boats, the “small” Animas is the Piedra. You might run into a Perception Pirouette S in good condition. (Not for $250.)

Remember that you’ll need some kind of paddle, a sprayskirt, a helmet, a PFD… it adds up.

Yup - too light for an Animas

– Last Updated: Apr-25-11 7:53 AM EST –

It's a good boat for our over 6 ft 200 lb plus friend. We know the boat - it was my husband's first purchase when we started picking up used WW boats to try that out.

To try and answer your question(s) -
There is nothing wrong with picking up any used boat just to get started on calm stuff, at least as long as you can swim. I say that because we have encountered one or two people who wanted to get into kayaking without being competent swimmers. There are some "but"'s.

A boat that is really well tuned for WW will be a dog on flat stuff. These boats can be paddled straight, but with a relatively high amount of physical effort and a goodly amount of time expended. And until you have a good forward stroke, it's a pretty good way to hurt yourself.

If you want something to muck around with on flat water that will still manage some WW, you are better off looking at the hybrids. Dagger Approach or similar from other manufacturers. You should have an easier time finding one that'll fit well than a 120 pound weed. They'll be more expensive used than something like the Animas because they are not a 15 plus year old design, but they'll be a happier choice for all around use.

As you get lessons and some time with people who know what they are doing in WW, you'll have a better sense of what may work for you in a purely WW boat. Right now you don't have enough knowledge and time in the seat to pick well. There's no harm in waiting to look around for something like a playboat or a true river runner - whatever you decide you want - because WW paddlers tend to turn boats around pretty quickly.

The other matter is one of safety, since it sounds like you are likely to be paddling alone. In this area I am not sure that I agree with my own suggestion above. The typical safety features for making a boast easy to self-rescue on the water are two bulkheaded areas or equivalent flotation and full perimeter rigging. If you will be paddling where you can always swim you and the boat to shore, this stuff is less critical.If not, more of a touring/transition boat may be the better first choice.

Anyway - those are my thoughts.