P&H Bahiya or Valley Nordkapp

I currently own a Prijon Barracuda and I’m looking at getting a second kayak for my husband. But I can’t choose!!

I would consider both of us beginner paddlers. I’ve been on a kayak overnight trip and took a brief intro course in college.

I’m about 130lbs at 5’5" and my husband is probably 160lbs at 5’10."

We have limited options here in Alaska as to the type of kayaks available for sale. Right now there are two kayaks available on Craigslist and the reviews for both of them look great.

The P&H was built in 2004 and is in excellent condition. The type I am looking for is made from carbon kevlar. Asking price ~$1600.

The specs I got online are:

48 lbs, 17.6’ long, 1.7’ wide

The Valley Nordkapp looks to be made of plastic and in good condition. Asking price ~$1000.

The specs I found online are:

56 lbs, 18’ long, 1.75’ wide

So both are very comparable. Is it worth spending the extra money for the kevlar?

And all the reviews I’ve been reading were written from heavier built men (180+ lbs or so). Will I be able to manuever a kayak this long?

There’s no way to test these kayaks right now since all of the lakes are frozen. And both seem to be great deals. Good deals never last a long time on Craigslist.


not your size
For you, I’d highly recommend finding a kayak that’s sized for smaller paddlers. Those are both full-sized boats, and also quite straight-tracking boats. They could be a handful for an undersized paddler.

Oops - for you neither
As Nate says, too big. I was thinking you’d be hanging with your Barracuda.

It is not just about weight in a kayak but your fit to the contact points in the kayak. You wouldn’t hit those points in either of these boats, at least without a ridiculous and counter-productive amount of padding.

Even if you fit, IMO neither of you should be in the Nordkapp unless you are committed to getting some skills work along with the boats. Best if you both learn at the same time. You should take advantage of having two people who can be useful in an unexpected event. Too many couples do not paddle together and the one who does is left to hunt for company on the water.

Also, you need to learn more about the fit of a kayak before spending money for yourself.

The Nordkapp is RM (plastic)
Only one version has been made, as far as I know. And it is NOT 56lb as advertised. It is well over 60lb. I have one - very well made and a nice boat to paddle. Check the foot room - folks with size 10-12 and larger men’s foot can’t use bulky footwear in it well, unless they are with rather short legs (low and narrow foredeck).

Ok for husband?
This is for your husband at 5’10" 160. The Nordkapp RM is a good choice. I test paddled one and iam 5’8" at 160lbs. The kayak was fast and when leaned I could turn it fine. Rolled good too. BUT the skeg slider on the inside did hit my leg but since hes taller it might not even touch his leg. I used a small piece of foam to pad that area.

Your a beginner and your paddling a Prijon Barracuda, really? thats one tippy beast of a kayak. The Norkapp RM would seem easy compared to that. But that’s your kayak anyways so I guess it doesn’t matter.

price, all things equal
All else equal, I consider a carbon kevlar hull in great shape at 1,600 a good deal. I would definitely consider the extra 600 for a carbon Kevlar hull well worth it. Either the Nordkapp, or the Bahiya, I’d pay the extra 600 for the composite boat.

I own a Bahiya, and paddled it over this past weekend. Just a little surf play in some small surf off Tybee Island, GA. It was a fun little area there. I’ve only demoed Nordkapps. I would be pleased to paddle either one. But I agree that they are both geared towards skilled sea kayakers. You could be a beginner and be fine, if you’re the type to bring the kayak home, and start off with learning balance, blade angle control, rolling and bracing, and edging. The people who aren’t really that into it never really seem to belong in those kayaks.

I consider the Bahiya more of a tracker. Edging into the hard chines provides nice response for more gradual turns and directional control using edging only. Nordkapps should maneuver more easily, except for perhaps the version of the Nordkapp that had the built in skeg. HM for hull-modified I think, that was done in response to handling for long distances in open water - input from expeditioners using their Nordkapp as I understand. I don’t think they’ve built that version for many years.

A Bahiya should be a good fit for the hubby. It’s 81.4 gallons total volume. The Cetus LV is 77.1 gallons, and Cetus MV 87.7 as a comparison. So not real big volume. At 20.5" wide, it’s a quite narrow kayak, but they did utilize the width to make ample seating room in the cockpit. Plenty of foot room for size 11.

I find myself paddling it more often than I thought I would. I think she behaves nicely in rough water, doesn’t get pushed around much by broken waves. It’s got a really nice efficient glide for a good cruising speed. There is little resistance to edging. That’s a good thing for someone who is in control of the edges, and not such a good thing for someone who is not. That can be the same person, depending upon conditions. I would say it’s a very sporty feeling kayak on the bit stronger tracking side of things. The chines bite easily for effortless gradual turns, but I don’t find it swings around like my Quest LV or Capella, for example, when you really try to put it on edge and sweep it around, or edge over and try to pull it around using a bow rudder. I don’t find it at all unacceptable. I just find it more on the strong tracking side. Whether that’s good or bad just depends.

So I think P&H ended up with a handful of people who really enjoy the Bahiya, but it never became really popular overall. Most described it as a little tender, kind of like some are describing the Nordkapp above. I already had a good amount of surf and open water experience when I picked up a Bahiya, and was pleasantly surprised with it. I think the overall percentages are against the average beginner picking up a Bahiya and really feeling comfortable in it. But if it were my only kayak, I could happily use it for everything. And as one of a collection of many, I seem to give it more than its fair share of use. Someone wanting to really skill up could potentially be one with it in fairly short order. But it’s hard to recommend a kayak that many find too tender in the stability department without a demo. The Nordkapp is certainly the more “tried and true” route to take.

wow. that was good
Thoughtful. I like that you don’t automatically reject the choice out of hand but leave it to the personality. I made a pretty big leap when I moved from a rec boat to my first sea kayak, but I was motivated and wanted the challenge and a significant learning curve.

Great thoughtful advice.

kayak size
When you are considering a kayak’s size, do you focus more on the cockpit size or the length of the kayak? The majority of sea kayaks I see are all in the 16’ to 17’ range.

My hubby and I have both taken the Barracuda out on a lake. But it gets boring having to switch out and watch the other person paddling for awhile when you are left standing on shore. I really like the Barracuda but haven’t had a chance to take it for long distance trips. It’s about 17’ long. My husband actually bought this one for me as a surprise since I’ve been looking around for awhile so we didn’t test it out before the purchase.

Ideally, this next kayak would be my husband’s. But if he is unable to go on trips with me it would be nice to have my friends or someone else use it to come with me.

Is a kayak something a person can grow into? It’s a big purchase to me and I’ve been doing so much reading on it. There are soooo many options! If we can ultimately grow into it then I think I would get one. From what I read, a lot of people get bored paddling on still water and they transition to playing in waves. From what I am reading these boats are great in waves. I just don’t want to buy a boat and then go and upgrade it a few years from now.

Thanks everyone for the replies! :slight_smile:

something to consider
One thing that keeps going through my head when I read this thread and follow-on posts is that neither of these boats are ones that would be considered beginner’s boat. And truthfully, not many carbon/Kevlar boats are beginner boats, so if that is a requirement it may add to your challenge.

My advise would be to take some lessons at local shops and which would let you work your way up the learning curve faster than you would do on your own. This could be good whether you buy one of these boats or wait a bit to see what comes on the market once we get more into paddling season.

Fitting a kayak

– Last Updated: Apr-09-14 2:35 PM EST –

It does not appear you are aware of the basic points needed to control a kayak.

In order to fit a kayak well, you need to have good contact at three points, to be able to edge it properly. Especially when you get into kayaks that tend to track more stiffly - if you don't have those points you can't turn the boat. Both of the boats you are considering, as are most current designs, are skegged. No rudder for you to cheat with.

Those contact points are thigh braces, butt and feet. At your size, I doubt you would have great thigh fit in either of these boats. You could have one or both of the following issues - either your thighs will not make it to a good spot in the braces because your thigh length is shorter than the intended paddler for the boat, and/or they could be so tall in height that you would have to do a ton of padding to get them lower. You can pad down, though there is a point where it gets silly. But if you miss on length it is a whole different and much less solvable issue.

Intended paddler weight also matters, so that you get the boat sitting in the water at an effective water line for the hull design to do its job. You are way too light for either of these boat - you would be bouncing around like a cork and would have to take a deeper edge than your husband to get the boat to turn.

If all of this is new to you, you are not in a position to expend three to four thousand dollars on boats. Really more by by the time you add paddles, skirts, PFD's and clothing. At least not if you want to like your purchase for the long haul.

You need to get some training and good advice on fit, from someplace that can help you in person. Granted you might have to travel some because of where you live. But it'd be better to spend lesser bucks for a mini-vacation to spend time with an outfitter than to make expensive bad choices off of Craig's list.

As to growing into a kayak - certainly for sea kayaking in places like Alaska, you need to grow in your skills and comfort on the water if you want to get further than swimming distance from shore. Those are serious waters. But in the case of yourself and your husband, what has shown up so far in this thread suggests that you should find a place where you can get help from a good outfitter or coach to facilitate that growth.

I’d say so too

– Last Updated: Apr-08-14 2:12 PM EST –

I'm taller yet and I've never noticed the skeg slider being in my way. The RM is one of the nicer plastic touring kayaks (not the biggest/limited storage volume). It is not playful (in the sense a Zephyr or Delphin are), but it is responsive to edging and strikes a nice balance between tracking and maneuverability. It is reasonably fast too, though the Barracuda will be faster, until the sea gets bumpy :) I've paddled the Barracuda on flat water and, while it was easy for me, I too would not consider it a beginner's boat - especially if there is some bigger wind chop involved. The RM is a but more stable and definitely more forgiving and well-behaved when things get bumpy; in fact, it is there that it is especially satisfying to paddle: slices smoothly through chop, not much affected by waves and winds, does not slap/lose speed in the rough...

Not the best day paddle boat
With regard to the Bahiya, CapeFear as given a very good description of it. My $.02. If you are looking for a boat for day paddles, then there are better boats.

In my opinion the Bahiya is a joy for loaded touring, but it is not a boat you can easily relax in when in conditions and it is unloaded. I would not think of it as a boat to loan to people either unless they were good paddlers.

For those who want a spirited boat for touring an early Bahiya with the composite seat is a very nice boat in the “classic” genre if you can find one. It will carry a surprising amount of gear for its published volume.

why not a new boat?
Go to nckayaks.com and see what you can have sent to you. They

will fit you and the price is right.

nice ones are pricey!
I figured I could spend say $1500 on a used boat that is in excellent condition which was worth $3000-4000 or $1500 on a new boat that’s worth $1500. I see a used boat as being a better deal.

Because of your reply and other replies I have been looking at a few new boats. Almost everything is adjustable now! It’s pretty slick.

And thanks for the link! I am kind of liking the sparkly fiberglass boats :slight_smile:

Thought re used boats
It appears that you eventually want to make it to the ocean, but with such limited seat time right now it is going to be difficult for you to make a good long term choice. If you get attached to a pricier new boat and decide later you want something that is more playful, a not uncommon change in point of view after a bit of time on the water, you might be too attached to the new boat you bought to move on.

Granted your situation is challenging in terms of access. But here is an idea. If you can get to some places like recommended above, where they will recommend a configuration, you might also ask if they have customers who want to move to another boat within their line. You might get lucky and find that they know of a used boat that would work for you and can work with the customer who wants to sell it. The company may be able to help with the shipping arrangements.

more on sizing
I went into REI yesterday and spoke to a gentleman for almost an hour. He ended up showing me a Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro and said it would be a great fit. I was able to sit in it to visual the contact points.

I also saw a NDK Explorer that might be worth considering as well. Reviews say that this kayak seems to be much more stable. Perhaps more beginner friendly than the Nordkapp and Bahiya?

My ultimate goal here is to get a second boat that could fit either me or my husband to go on long extended trips in the ocean. We will of course practice in lakes till we have gained the skills and know the techniques to paddling.

I just want to make sure that I have this sizing thing down. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The most important thing is the cockpit size, as a person needs to fit in it comfortably and hit the three contact points. Some padding can be added to make it more comfortable but if a lot of padding needs to be added, another kayak should be considered instead.

So comparing cockpit sizes (inches):

Barracuda 32 x 18

Tempest 34 x 18

Nordkapp 32 x 18

P&H Bahiya 28 x 15

NDK Explorer 35.75 x 18

I fit the Tempest very well, maybe too tight even? I may have big hips :frowning: I fit comfortably in the barracuda although the width could be a tad smaller. Maybe it’s just the seat difference? Anyways I see that the bahiya cockpit is the smallest.

As far as length, most touring kayaks that I have seen are 16-18’ long. The longer it is, the less maneuverability you have. This doesn’t really affect the recommended padder size as much (until you get to the super long 20’ kayaks).

And for the recommended weight (lbs):

Barracuda 90-225

Tempest ?

Nordkapp 150-240

P&H Bahiya 154-253

I found these weights online and I am not sure how accurate they are, expecially for the barracuda. I believe the nordkapp and bahiya are accurate. But for long distance trips that last a few days wouldn’t these be ideal? If I weigh 130ish I have unlimited gear I can add. With the added weight the kayak would sit lower in the water and be at its optimum water line. If I use the kayak, I should add some weight. If my husband uses the kayak, he doesn’t need to add weight if we aren’t camping.

Am I close?

My usual day kayak is

– Last Updated: Apr-10-14 6:12 PM EST –

a Northwest Sportee. 13'6" long. Great cruiser and easy to handle on and off the water. You are welcome to try it. I live outside JBER. Not selling but Northwest could ship one up. Its kind of similar to the Cape Falcon which is a skin on frame kayak. You could also consider a folding kayak. Can take it to the bush

And take a look at that NorthShore
kayak in Palmer

folding kayaks
are they pretty stable/safe in the ocean for overnight trips?

Do you typically paddle in the ocean or lakes? Once I get more confident and learn some of the techniques my first stop is going to be Seward to see some glaciers!

what northshore?
I dont think I saw a northshore available.

I did find a new place to see a few kayaks (new and used) out of palmer. It’s called Turnagain Kayak. The guy sells them out of his house so I’m not sure what to expect.