Ocean Paddling in an Open Boat

We’ll be doing our family vacation down at the beach, so if I’m going to do any paddling, that’s where it will be. There’s a nice sheltered cove, but more importantly, a popular surfing spot. I’d like to try some surfing, but I’m not sure which boat to bring. So what do you think – Yellowstone Solo or Dagger Encore?

Any hints on surfing in an open boat (other than keeping clear of the real surfers).

Don’t make us guess
You undoubtedly have a good roof rack, so take both boats, try both, and then you can give us an actual empirical answer.

I’m not sure if you’re talking about open ocean wave surfing or dumping wave beach surfing. I’ve never done either in an open CanAm canoe, but I’ll theoretically vote for the YS.

The advantage of the Encore is that it is deeper and can spin better, but I’m not sure those characteristics would be important to me unless I was accidentally caught in ocean water so rough that I should completely avoid it.

Otherwise, the ocean is non-moving water, except at the dumping surf line, and hence I would want my better non-moving water boat. The better tracking boat. After all, you will not spend all your time in beach surf.

As to the surfing itself, people do it all the time in sea kayaks that are less maneuverable than the YS. In the modest conditions I have surfed in kayaks, it’s basically timing the wave, getting the right angle, steering in, and trying to avoid broadsiding.

Another issue is blasting out through the surf when going from shore to ocean. Which boat can you paddle forward faster and with more directional control?

Finally, when the unseen tsunami wave flips you, nose ends you, pitons you, and crushes your canoe into a pancake – which canoe is more expendable?

Family Vacation + I’m paddling ?
I vote for getting some boogie boards and play with the kids the whole time in the surf. Or maybe rent a couple SUPs and try something different.

I have not tried surfing beach break in an open boat but used to take a whitewater kayak over to the Jersey Shore from time to time.

I would take the Encore, without question.

Without a doubt. With air bags.


– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 1:14 AM EST –

Take a first aid kit.

Have someone on shore with a camera; should be a nice photo op for some carnage shots.


No S__T

I hope the locals are more benevolent
than what you may run into here.

You might learn the real meaning of a beatdown.

My kids are older - they wake up at noon
Fortunately, I have time to do both.

Here’s one of the spots…
where the surfers go


It’s walking distance from where we will be staying, but you won’t find me there. There’s another spot down by the town beach - plenty of room, nice easy rollers, nice sandy beach. I was thinking more along the lines of that.

Originally, I was thinking the Encore
but Glenn is right, most of it will be open water paddling, and that would be torture in the Encore. The idea of turning one of my boats into a pancake isn’t very appealing either. Maybe I’ll just stay behind the breakwater

If you want to surf that one in an open boat, it probably doesn’t matter what you take. You won’t be in it long enough to notice.

If you want to surf beach break you need a boat that you can paddle out through the surf without swamping. A boat with a goodly amount of rocker, flare, and fullness in the ends that will ride up over the waves rather than knife into them, and something with enough depth to give you a fighting chance to stay dry enough to enjoy the experience. You don’t need a fast boat that tracks well, and you don’t want a boat with a somewhat sticky stern.

Obviously, if you are going to paddle around in the calm backwaters or limit yourself to paddling in the gentle swell out beyond the break your needs are different.

It’s an exciting game

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 9:53 AM EST –

I've got a fair bit of experience at it and have attended the school of hard nocks. However, I dont intentionally try to surf. I prefer to play in the break zone staying just barely outside the break and paddling up and over and barely making it. Surfing happens, but not by choice, usually trying to get back in. Paddling from the center of a long boat, it is extremely hard to avoid the inevitable side surf.

My boat of choice is a MR Malecite. I've never tried a WW boat. But I'll have my Viper at the beach this year and will find out how it works. My guess is that it won't be as good as the Malecite. Not enough volume on the ends and much harder and slower to get into in waist deep water.

However, I must add that I didnt' follow my gut last year and went in when I should have stayed on the beach. The result was 4 snapped gunnels.

Yes, I was assuming …
… that most of your ocean paddling would be on the big lake-like open waters and along shoreline, with only a small percentage of time attempting some easy surfing.

And I was assuming MUCH milder surfing waves than what’s in that video. That may be stuff that’s easy for an experienced board surfer or surf kayaker, but would be very risky for a surfing novice in an open canoe, IMO.

My recommendation is to surf in on some baby waves and then wildly exaggerate it on Pnet.

Lifeguards ?
If it’s a patrolled town beach, the lifeguards will likely stop you from paddling out in canoe.

Your video is from winter storm surf, unless you get a hurricane swell it will likely be flat with 100s of kids and overweight soccer moms in the water, don’t kill any please, it gives paddlers a bad name.

not the Encore

– Last Updated: Jul-15-11 1:55 PM EST –

IMO, and here's why. Aarons and my limited surfing experience in open boats has been at Block Island and Watch Hill (Napatree), and the nature of the beast makes canoes "weenie water" surfers for most of us. I'd take the YS as I believe you've got a flatter bottom and will catch the small waves better than the compound curved Encore hull. You also know the propensity of the Encore to want to go into a side surf, something you REALLY don't want to do near a break.
We used our Reflection years back, and in Aarons hands, weenie water was fun. He did ender it one time, large unseen (by him) wave caught him by surprise.My lifeguard instructor background came in handy.
Another tip; PULL the canoe into the water. Waves crashing into the canoe will cause it to crash into you, and bruised shins are a bad way to start a session. Trust me on this one.

That being said, we no longer bother with canoe surfing. Too much bang for this buck, and body surfing is so much easier and less painful. Open water canoeing is a blast though, you'll love the ground swell and chop I'm sure.

No lifeguards
I’ll either be there early in the morning or later in the evening when the crowds and the lifeguards are gone. Can you imagine getting hit by a 14’ canoe full of water coming in on a wave - that would ruin your day.

That’s the ticket
Nice easy waves like those. I wish I could take both boats, but I can’t, so I think it will be the Yellowstone. I definitely don’t want any snapped gunwales though.

I can do that
The wildly exaggerate it on Pnet part :wink:

AKA … glass off and dawn patrol
Don’t be surprised if you have some summer time company.