Personality in Conditions

-- Last Updated: May-24-08 9:21 AM EST --

I'm very interested in a boat's 'manners.' By that I mean how it reacts to the conditions in which it is paddled.

I value how "well mannered" a boat feels to me. I suppose by that I mean how predictable and fluid its reaction to conditions.

For instance, I find the Aquanaut very fluid and well mannered in chop, quartering and beam seas. In the moderate conditions in which I've paddled my Nordkapp LV it seems to 'settle' into such conditions.

A few I know have given up their Nordkapp LVs because they found that once conditions passed 'moderate' the boat was more management than they liked.

I stopped paddling my Elaho DS except to play because it weathercocked mightily and was a bear in rear quartering seas.

The boats that I've most disliked in conditions have been the ones which felt 'knocked about', jagged, and unpredictable.

Ultimately, the manners of a boat may mean more to me than any other trait.

but I have never paddled one yet that had poor manners, except for those long skinny surf skis.

I paddled one for about a hundred yards,made a big circle and then came back in.

Talk about poor manners; that thing was downright rude!



I agree also - but
I really HAVE paddled boats with - I’ll say different - manners. but it’s all about what you want out of the boat. For example, my Meridian SK is a fun boat for fitness paddles and not too slow, but can get squirrelly in chop. I’ve compared the NF Legend and NDK Explorer in swells, the Legend is more sporty while the Explorer is smoother, more predictable - for my money a better distance boat.

I’ve paddled a Looksha II, the 20X20 version, and couldn’t keep it straight without the skeg - but again, it’s a different animal being a racing boat.

I did 3-star in a Prijon Kodiak, seen by many as a pickup truck, but padded and snugged out, that boat was very smooth and responsive - even doing enders in the surf (by mistake).

Go figure.

Formula Cadence
more commonly known as the Impex Assateague. most polite boat i’ve ever paddled. any and all conditions, always happy, stable and secure. chop and slop, big currents, it’s all good. she only complains in about 10-15 knots of wind on the quarters and would much prefer to take it head on. awesome kayak, the rougher and snottier, the cockier i get in that boat. i’m sure fit and familiarity play a role, but an intermediate friend paddled it in conditions he wouldn’t be out in without me, and was amazed. he ordered one and sold his old boat.

Manners of Surfskis
It is interesting that you describe a surfski’s “manners” as “rude.” Yet surfskis are the paddle craft of choice for many elite performance paddlers in open water. Some of the best paddlers prefer surfskis because of how well they handle big water.

We all know that surfskis are narrower and less stabile than the more traditional sea kayaks. So an inability to handle a surfski may say more about the paddler than the boat’s “manners.”

Nearly every good surfski paddler uses a wing paddle. Most traditional paddlers will find a wing to be uncomfortable and ineffective until they refine their technique. However, once mastered a wing paddle provides significant amounts of stability with each stroke. It is almost like have two outriggers. Anyone who paddles a surfski with a euro or greenland paddle will not likely ever get comfortable or get the most performance out of the boat.

Anyway, unless you are skilled with a wing paddle and use it for a proper test of a surfski, any opinions about the boat’s manners are mostly meaningless.

The original poster is obviously discussing the manners of traditional sea kayaks. These are boats where the paddler gets the majority of their stability from the boat itself. Certainly a wider boat will have better “manners.” However, a wider boat will also be more difficult to roll if you exceed its stability limits.

I think that is an important point. Sometimes what will provide better stability and good manners could ultimately lead to a more dangerous situation. An example of this are multihull sailboats. They are incredibly stabile, however when they do capsize (and they sometimes do) recovery can be difficult to impossible.

Surfskis on the other hand, are relatively easy to fall out of. However, a remount is relatively easy compared to performing a wet rescue in a traditional kayak. Plus the boat retains nearly all of its bouyancy because it does not flood the way skirted kayaks might. So while the chance of taking a swim is greater in a surfski compared to a skirted kayaks, I ultimately feel much safer in a surfski. And being more relaxed when the going gets rough actually leads to fewer swimming events.

Another parameter that leads to better manners is being able to quickly adjust lateral forces at a pace that matches the tempo of the waves and wind gusts. By this I mean using a skeg for a gross adjustment and then actively leaning or using correction strokes to keep the boat on track. It is my opinion that skilled use of a rudder accomplishes this better, but many will disagree with this opinion.

So if you start to add up the various elements: wing paddle stabiliy; ease of remount; lack of flooding; responsive rudder control; and light weight, you may start to understand why many of the best ocean paddlers prefer the manners of surfskis.

To be fair, the biggest danger to surfski paddlers is having their boat blow away from them. Most paddlers will use a leash of some sort to prevent this catastrophe.

Not so in my experience with kayaks
"…wider boat will have better “manners.”

Of my four sea kayaks, the ones that have the best manners in conditions are the two with narrower waterline beam.

I value fluidity and predictability in conditions. I consider those attributes as good manners.

Fair Enough
Good point. I agree. My well mannered boat is a very narrow surski.

I was basing my comments more on Jack L’s comments that he found a surfski’s “manners” “rude.” I assumed it was simply a lack of stability that he found uncomfortable. Hence my comments about width.

I actually wrote a bunch of stuff on the design parameters that lead to the type of good manners the original poster was looking for. But I narrowed my piece to be more about surfskis.

Boats feel the same about paddlers
Will this paddlers have enough manners to make the correct stroke at the correct moment.

Poor is the carpenter who blames the tools.

Poor is the paddler who blames the boat.

Between the boat and the paddler only one has a brain???

Paddlin’ on

Richard (a paddler)

I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.
I apologize if I was “rude” !

But the original poster was talking about boats “manners”, and I’ll still use the word “rude” to describe my feelings towards the surf skis.

Two years ago I was in my QCC-700, (with my wing paddle mind you) on the starting line of a race, and I invited the guy next to me who was on a surf ski to feel free to balance himself on my yak his boat was being so “rude” to him.

He was shaking like a newbie, and I thought sure he was going to take a swim.

I know several good ski paddlers, and I am sure they feel that their skis are mild mannered

Now my QCC - That is a mild mannered boat.

It takes me in swamps, rivers lakes, rough ocean water, estuaries, and has always been mild mannered -



Carrying it a little further
A good carpenter wouldn’t choose a hacksaw to rip a 2x4.

rude paddles and tools
An experienced carpenter also knows what bursitis of the shoulder is too.

Say good bye to mr. shoulder, it was nice knowing you, make sure to say hello to mr elbow, haven’t seen him in seven years, just a little stress, but I’ll see you guys in the next lifetime!

Epic kayaks
These look like the future of kayaking:

skeg rudder under the boat, can launch it off the beach.

I’m looking at the surf ski.

I already have a good range of 15 miles. My skeg box was out of alignment and I thought there was something wrong with my forward stroke. I had to fight it one direction with a side wind then it was perfect on the other direction. I developed a wing paddle stroke to compensate for the miss aligned skeg box. Then I was able to adjust the skeg back into alignment.

Now it’s a dream. But one thing I noticed was how nice it was when the miss aligned skeg helped with weather cocking in one direction. It was amazing how the slightest adjustment of the skeg can eliminate weathercocking.

If not it takes extra strain to compensate for weathercocking. I don’t mind the weathercocking but if I were looking at a new kayak, something to keep in mind.

Out with the old, in with the new?

I agree but …he could do it
if he had to.

Not really…I don’t
I at 60 I have no other aches or pains and no arthritis and every day I am thankful for my health.

Paddlin’ on


Impex Assateague
agree with JBV in regards of the Assateague.

It seems that the kayak is not effected by rough conditions and the only time some correction of course is needed is in quartering following seas. Wind seems to sligtly effect it up to 15 knots ( a bit of skeg takes care of that) but not in higher winds. I had to paddle the Assateague in 30 knots beam winds and the kayak behaved like a real lady ( I refer to kayaks as female ).

No bitching there!

And she can surf too, very well actually (

I can not say the same for other sea kayaks I have (and had). Certainly wider kayak does not mean better mannered.

On the other hand I found the P&H Quest a very nervous kayak in mild conditions. Have not had the chance to try it in the rough; apparently it’s where it excells…

Needless to say that a surf sky paddler might find the Quest very well mannered.

In the end it depends on your skill level, background and expectations. Some people can paddle absolutely anything ( I mean a log would do for them ) while others are not that easygoing.