Novice boat buying

-- Last Updated: Mar-20-05 8:56 AM EST --

First, I want to say hi. I've been lurking unregistered for a while and have found you all to be a great source of information. Some of this post will be contain stupid questions from a newbie. I'll try not to be too redundant.

I'm looking for general advice and have a few specific questions. Where I am: I have wanted to "get into" sea kayaking for a long time but due to paralysis by analysis and the steep initial cost starting from scratch am just now doing it. I've taken an Intro to Sea Kayaking class covering wet exits, self-rescues, and basic strokes. I bought a Trac Rac for my truck (figured have the rack, will buy a boat) and on Friday bought a used Mainstream Prowler Tandem kayak "brick" to buy time so that I can make a good decision on a serious boat. I figure this first boat will be nice and stable for any guests that want to paddle with me in the future. I really want a nice touring boat, expecting to do mostly day touring on weekends with occasional overnighters. I also foresee myself paddling for an hour or so before work a few times a week for upper body exercise to complement my running. Yesterday my girlfriend and I bought PFDs and Swift paddles and will try them out along with the new boat today. This will also allow me to spread out the cost of acquiring my new boats as I've got decent paddles and PFDs now. (I hope) Good plan??

I'm having trouble deciding what boat I want. I'd probably lean towards a composite however GF cannot afford her own boat -meaning I have to buy TWO as a complete novice and two RM boats are more affordable than a composite and another boat. As I speak about specific boats, I am referring to my own preference however, any boat I buy "for" her must be liked by me as I may get stuck with it (hope we are paddling for a long time together though). For reference, I am about 5'8" and 150lbs and she is about 5'6" and 120-130lbs. One thing I'm finding out is that my relatively big feet cause me to need more legroom than would be expected by my height. Unfortunately, the some of the boats with that legroom have cockpits that are otherwise too large.

I've liked the following boats that I've demoed:

P&H Vela (Felt very comfortable but only available in "expensive" composite)
P&H Easky (the old model)
Eddyline Merlin XT (LT cockpit was too cramped for me around my thighs)
Mega Millinium (Felt good in the water but I don't like my fit in the cockpit)*
Kajak Sport Viking (Cockpit fit but foot braces were fully extended)

* This is a light boat and is the least expensive composite I have seen at about $2K. Any insight into their quality/durability as opposed to other composites.

I want to check out the AvocetRM and Hurricane Tracer before buying and should be able to in two weeks at another demo.

Ideally, I'd like to find a used boat (composite) but finding one in good condition, at the right price that fits seems like a long process.

Please share any suggestions on boats likely to fill my needs. I want to find a boat that will be comfortable and responsive enough to reward me as I learn new skills. Same for the second GF boat. She is a little less confident on the water but knows that she doesn't want a brick and expects her confidence to improve. Also, we do not want two poorly matched boats causing one of us to constantly wait for the other to catch up and/or get too much experience with rescues.

I apologize for being a bit wordy this morning. Thanks for your help!


Have you looked in the classifieds
right here. You might be able to find a couple of used boats. Could save a small fortune. If you find that you dont like them you can probably sell them in short time for the same money. Whatwever you get, remember this is only the first of many to follow. Pick one. Paddle it. There are far too many to choose from.

Hi there
Welcome to the fanciful world of Sea Kayaking first of all.

You are about the same size as I am (five foot six, 140pounds). Your girlfriend is the same size as my paddling partner.

I would recommend the Capella rm out of that lot. I have a 3 year old capella also (16feet six inches and 22inch beam). Even though I currently paddle a sirius, each time I get into my capella I still love it. Its the boat that taught me to kayak. Using it in reefs, on and around rocks and exploring caves in swell conditions; its a great boat!!! Some of the other paddlers may be able to provide some insight into the other boats yuou listed. When I am guiding trips throughout the summer, my clients will usually use Necky Kyook’s as it is a fairly safe boat, and usually doesn’t provide much of a problem. I also use a Wilderness Systems Sealoution xs and xl for clients. Neither of these I would recommend if you plan on doing alot of paddling. I found I outgrew them boat very quickly. Being roughly the same size, I think you may find the same problem.

Let me know how it works out for you. I’ll stick with my vote for a capella. I cant speak for the new capella’s, but I am sure someone here can. PLUS the capella can be easily altered in the cockpit to ensure a snug fit by adding thigh braces and hip braces for yourself.



Try This…

– Last Updated: Mar-20-05 10:16 AM EST –

Wilderness Systems' Tempest 165.

That weren't too wordy, were it?

My two cents

– Last Updated: Mar-20-05 10:29 AM EST –

I've been thrilled with my Eddyline Merlin XT so my vote goes there (for you). But the GF should probably have a boat equally long or slightly longer if you want her to keep up. Maybe a CapellaRM for her? I haven't paddled it but have heard good things about it, and it was on my list of boats I was considering when I bought the Merlin. Also, you could probably use it yourself if things don't work out (but I'm sure they WILL!!!)

How about a QCC?
My wife is the size of your GF and paddles a QCC 600X. I fit into it just fine at 5’10", 190 (even though I am over the upper weight limit). Another model, the 400X, includes both of you within its weight specification and is a very good kayak. It is 3" wider than the 600X. Or get a 600X for her and a 700X for you. If things don’t work out (just supposing) then the 600X will be easy to sell.

If plastic for GF
look at a CD Squall for GF if you end up going plastic, new. It is an older ruddered design (you never need the rudder), but will support advanced skills development, handle major water, is fast for a plastic boat, should be sized exactly right for her and holds major respect. You’ll never hear a bad word about this boat’s abilities along the coast.

One note though - you may want to look at beefing up the bulkheads with minicell and a sealent like Lexan if they have replaced the old foam ones with plastic. And the seat could use a replacement to a backband ultimately, but the one that comes int he boat will get someone started fine and doesn’t get in the way of a roll.

Look for a newer one - CD has just redone the mold for the Squall.