ocean kayaking advice needed

12.5’ long 32.5" wide high volume
Let me start off by saying that you can certainly have fun paddling around at the beach in any type kayak on the right days. You mention you’re not figuring a lot of time for skills, and this kayak matches that very thing. It is designed for someone to have fun on without developing sea kayaking or surf skills. So that’s great. I love to see people out having fun in the ocean, and maybe I’ll run into you sometime - hopefully in the figurative sense. But since nobody has suggested limitations of this type kayak for this type of environment, and I think you sort of asked, I’ll just give you some thoughts.

So you have wave skis and surf kayaks designed for surfing waves. They are pure crap for paddling any distances anywhere. You struggle your way to the setup compared to a sea kayak, and then with the right skills, you can pull off all kinds of skillful moves surfing. They are not designed to paddle around. They are designed to excel at surfing waves - to be truly skilled at it.

Then you have sea kayaks. They are designed to be sleek, efficient, and capable traveling through the ocean and somewhat rough open water, and to different levels, they all take breaking out through the surf zone efficiently, and the ability to do surf landings into account.

The thing that sea kayaks and surf kayaks have in common is that they excel at what they’re designed for, and take a lot of skill to excel at it.

This kayak is 12.5’ long, 32.5" wide, designed to provide a lot of stability, designed with a lot of volume - 500 lbs. weight capacity, perfect for flatwater fishing.

So effectively, you have the problems of breaking through the surf zone of wave skis and surf kayaks, only worse because of the high volume of the slow moving kayak. You have the problems of not being able to steer and turn and pull moves on a wave of a sea kayak, only worse, because you’ll have to be on a much steeper part of the wave to take off, so you’re stuck getting started where a wave is almost ready to break, and it’s not designed for edge control to keep you from getting toppled or help carve turns on the edges. That lack of ability to effectively transition from edge to edge will also make it unwieldy in steep open water waves or confused waves, even at a moderate level.

So the negative with this kayak is that it does not lend itself to surfing well, traveling through open water efficiently, nor does it lend itself well to picking up any skills that would apply to surfing a surf kayak or sea kayak. It’s not good at breaking out of the surf zone, it’s not good at handling rough open water once you are outside the surf zone. It’s not good at carving any type of turns on a wave.

A skilled kayaker could hop on and make it look better than a sea kayak or surf kayak in the hands of an unskilled paddler. An unskilled paddler would look better on it than a sea kayak or surf kayak in the surf. But a kayaker skilled in handling either a surf kayak or sea kayak in the surf zone would never choose this kayak for their time in the surf or ocean, because it just won’t “perform” well in the surf in any way.

Again, I am not knocking the boat. I have an Old Towne Loon tandem. It’s solid, and seems to be put together with top grade hardware, and the hull has held up very well. It is great for what it was designed for. Flat water, stable, in-no-hurry paddling. I have paddled it in a very calm ocean. But it’s not designed to handle waves well. More like riding a mechanical bull in waves. The only advantage yours has over this one is that it is a sealed sit-on-top instead of a sit inside that swamps easily. So it will stay afloat come what may on the beach. But beyond the swamping issue, they’re likely on the level for rough water performance, other than the Loon tandem would probably trump the Striper in forward traveling efficiency. For a play day for a non-surf-kayaker, I would put anyone on the Old Towne Striper over any of my sea kayaks or wave ski.

Even so, this type of kayak is not “good” at ocean and surf paddling. Just something for someone not very skilled at ocean paddling to have some fun with. Just be aware of it’s limitations and the associated dangers, and figure out how to discover the limitations for yourself in a safe way. Most importantly, have a lot of fun with it.

So I will use this boat to do a little learning. More than likely I will pick the calmest of days to paddle. I’m not sure if I’ll do much surfing with it. Right now I think my goal is to get out thru the surf and just enjoy a light paddle up and down the shore past the breakers. Maybe just ease thru the learning curve. Hopefully my novice skills can get me thru the surf and back in (in one piece). Thanks for all the advice.

Boat is fine for beginning the basics
of kayaking off the beach. There are better choices, there are worse choices, and there are boats you will enjoy more as you become more accomplished.

I bought a Torrent from an old WW buddy many years ago, just because it was cheap and looked fun. It was kinda fun in real WW (if you call the James, Yough, and New River Gorge that) but what I think I had the most fun doing with it was playing in the surf zone. Sometimes big surf. Hardly the first choice of anyone going out looking for a seakayak, but it taught me a lot about the surf zone and crashes/recoveries weren’t so bad.

I paddle a number of boats through inlets, ocean and the surf zone now, both SOT and expedition seakayaks. The experience gained from playing with that boat was invaluable. A couple of things that you may find useful to consider while having fun, that may lessen some of the learning curve steepness—

Launching out isn’t so bad, just keep perpendicular to the waves and power into and over them. If they are breaking on you lean into them instead of sitting bolt upright. Returning from seaward will be a quick lesson is surfing, controlled or uncontrolled. You will learn about ruddering with your paddle or experience many exciting broaches. You will learn about getting sideways in the waves and how to enjoy it for what it is (I found I liked to go into the body of a curling wave sideways, then with a quick sweep pop over the top at “just the right moment”) or how quickly you and your stuff can be scattered along the beach, or learn to regain proper orientation quickly. You will learn about shifting balance trim fore and aft when coming in or experience many exciting pitchpoles. You will learn when you do broach, and you will, how sidesurfing in breaking waves is a little different than the WW variety of same, and exactly how much support the pile can give you until it suddenly disappears vs the returning green water’s desire to twist you into a pretzel while maytagging you toward shore (don’t lose your paddle, but try not to get skewered with it too). You will learn to time your departures and landings with the waves and breakers. Work with them, not against them. One more trick if landings seem rough going during the early learning phase, especially if the waves are steep and you have been rolled for about the 47th time…you can turn around and ‘back’ onto the beach. It’s easier to hold into a wave, breaking or not, and let the flow after the wave help to ease you back to shore rather than rolling in in a heap.

Have fun! A SOT is a great way to learn the dynamics of the surf zone with a (somewhat) diminished chance of breaking something.

a few more weeks and will be testing her out. each new post on this thread makes me more anxious to test things out!