Wife and I are considering getting kayaks. Our main use would be slow river, lakes with the possible jaunt out into the Great Lakes on calm clear days (near shore). I’ve been reading the advice on here and other sites and thought maybe a 12 footer would be best. We stopped at a local outdoors shop (not a big box store!) and they suggested the Expression 11.5. What I liked about it was the size is near what I was looking at, it does not have an open cockpit and could take a sea skirt, both my wife and I both found the seat to be very comfortable, I liked the idea of the deployable skeg, and it’s on sale ($680). The few possible cons are it only has a rear bulkhead, which appears to be water tight and while I like the cockpit, I do wonder about how I’d keep a water bottle or camera handy without them rolling around on the bottom. There are not a lot of reviews for this boat out on the great web of life, including only two here. So then I get a little leary…anyone have thoughts on this boat? Due to storage constraints, we can’t go much larger than 12 foot.
For what you want I think you could do a lot worse than this boat. And that’s not faint praise as most boats this short and wide don’t come with perimeter lines, a stern bulkhead or a skeg. And you could always add a bow flotation bag to ramp up the safety factor. In fact I wouldn’t venture out into any serious body of water - like a Great Lake - without one.
Of course it won’t track, edge or handle rough water like a longer, skinnier, touring kayak, but it should get you started.
As for a water bottle, that goes under the bungees on the front deck, and a camera, unless it’s a waterproof model goes in a dry bag between your knees.
Finally, consider taking at least an introductory paddling class with a local paddling outfit.
I agree. It looks like a good starter kayak. I started in a Perception Acadia 12’ . It is similar but has a larger cockpit but not nearly the safety features. My son still uses it.
Thanks for the replies! I appreciate it!
Will look into bags for the bow and already looking for some sort of class. Would be nice to get some instruction on the finer details… like tipping.
We’ll probably take another look at them this week and have them toss 'em on top of our subaru.
As for tipping, somewhere between 15 and 20% usually works.
For storage I use a Seals contoured deck bag on my Expression 15.
Tipping is the easy part. It is getting untapped that takes practice. But as long as you get those float bags, two people make for you a lot of options in how to do that.
I always tip new boats until I’m in the water. I think it is good information.
I just started getting out to lake Ontario and and with great help of folks of this forum I picked up a very used 14 ft boat. I am not near to any level of experience, so do take my words with a pound of salt.
My paddling is almost exclusively on lake Ontario’s Toronto Harbor. You do mention that you want to venture out to Great Lakes, so this might be relevant. Even on the best days there is chop and on a very good day you are looking at winds of 5 knots with gusts up to 10 or more. To get to the harbor I need to paddle across a narrow channel that connects the harbor to the open water. Once I enter that, winds pick up notably without much warning.
I do doubt that anything less than a 14 ft double bulkhead sea kayak is adequate for these waters even from safety standpoint. I would not recommend getting out there without being able to self-rescue, so flotation and deck lines are important. I got a taste of how quickly a boat can get get blown away recently. I capsized on purpose to practice paddle float rescue and let go of the boat in the process, I had to hassle not to lose the boat and grabbed it as fast as I could. Again, this is in a harbor on a good day.
I also took an on-lake class. They were renting out boats for the class and all of them were 14 ft sea kayaks. The instructor did say “nothing less than 15 ft is adequate”.
"Our main use would be slow river, lakes with the possible jaunt out into the Great Lakes on calm clear days (near shore). I’ve been reading the advice on here and other sites and thought maybe a 12 footer would be best. "
Which Great lake and what state or province would you be paddling from?
Thanks again for all the tips and advise. We brought them home yesterday and hope to go to a quiet lake for their first water. Will suggest tipping to get a feel for the boats handling.
We’re in Michigan so Lk Michigan, Huron and Superior are close at hand. We won’t be venturing out on any of them in anytime soon though. Need more water time to boost skill levels!
Lots of good groups in Michigan (I’m near Lansing) - WMCKA, LOAPC, others. Check out Power of Water (Lansing) and RKC (Wyandotte) for both kayaks and instruction. Power of Water has demo boats on sale now: http://thepowerofwater.net/store/used-kayaks-canoes-sups-sale/
It is good to get some instruction and understanding of the environment that you are paddling in. If you have been following the news that last few years youhave seen where “what you don’t know that you don’t know” can ldead to problems.
@b_twill Congratulation, sounds like exciting times!
Do take a rescue class…