Playful boats

This phrase is used quite often on these boards.

How do you define “playful”?

Turns easy, easy to throw around
At least that’s the first kind of thing that comes to my non-expert mind.

less stability

– Last Updated: Feb-18-08 10:00 AM EST –

I would also say that a playful boat may have less stability (primary) thus making it feel more lively on the water as it is tossed around by the waves; although this is relative.

Here's one that will get some about the relationship between playfulness and absolute "seaworthiness" and controllability in big seas.

I like playfullness, but ultimately in really big seas I feel more comfortable in a more solid tracking boat like the Explorer or Aquaunaut.

Maneuverability is helpful in rough water, but at some point I value a boat that tracks better in such conditions as the maneuverability of a plafull boat can sometimes translate to into a boat that gets pushed around and may be harder to control in really rough water.

Just a thought. Many will disagree (I imagine Salty will be one of them as I know he prefers shorter boats).





– Last Updated: Feb-18-08 1:00 PM EST –

ease of edging, and predictability on edge come to mind. Some boats feel like they just want to be pointed at the horizon and go there in a straight line. Playful boats encourage you to explore nooks and crannies, surf every wave, and, well, play.

It's like cars : some are interstate cruisers, and some are happier on twisty back roads. A playful boat is the equivalent of a car that makes you smile when you see the "Winding road next 7 miles" sign.

In the whitewater world, a "playboat" is one that makes it easy to do anything BUT paddle upright and straight ahead.

Can be
Shoot, how’d I get that far over that fast! (Rumour is a neat boat.)

Playful usually more stable
because the chine profile required for buoyancy to free the ends also equates to stability. I’m trying to keep it simple… Think about the playful boats we know, and think about their stability… Romany, Avocet, CH16, Pintail, Skerray, Coaster, etc. All very secure, all have buoyancy in the chine which when loaded free’s the ends. Rocker is important here as well.

Conversely, a more rounded chine / cross section / Ax would be less stable, have less wetted surface, and more likely be found on a boat where forward efficiency was primary…take it further and you have a surf ski or race hull.

There’s way more to it, but again, trying to keep it light

Tracking you say is better in a big sea? Note the difficulty you had in an Explorer in some wind.? Mighta had in anything, but a directionally stable hull will hold a course better, but be harder to correct once off course.

Most paddlers of really big water will opt for a more maneuverable hull. Actually an Explorer is a good example of a longer hull that is still playful, albeit not as efficient as something like the Nordkapp.

Salty makes some good points.

On the other hand, I always found that my Greenlander Pro which had a bit looser primary felt “playful” in rough water as it would move about a lot underneath you as it rocked from chine to chine.

Also feel that the Nordkapp LV felt the same with its lower stability.

Ditto for the Avocet vs. the Aquanaut. Avocet was a bit less stable and moved around under you more.

Probably not the traditional definition of playful…maybe lively is a better way to describe it. Either way I like that feeling in rough water. I imagine the Pintail fits in this category as well.

Long boats…I guess the right thing to say about tracking / manueverability (like all things in kayaking) is that you want the right balance.

I like the balance of maneuverability and tracking that a boat like the Explorer or Aquanaut offers.

To me they are amply maneuverable yet not pushed around in rough water as much.

The only time I have not been able to get the Explorer going in the direction I wanted was last week when the winds were at 40 knots (somewhat extreme). Otherwise I find it easy to get pointed wherever you want it with the right strokes.


it turns when you don’t

Softball for Salty
Since most of us are lucky to get away for more than a few days and then we are touring along coasts with few crossings over 3NM, would you agree the boats you mention are not just play boats, but great coastal touring boats? I read somewhere that originally the AA was considered a great coastal touring before it became known as a play and “Greenland” boat. I did not appreciate the basis for the comment until I spent time in one.

To me playful describes a collections of traits which make a boat simply fun to use playing about. Lively describes the traits of low initial and secondary stability and overall responsiveness. A boat can be one or the other, or both or neither.


one or the other, or both or neither.
Two of my most playful boats are my Romany and my Nordkapp LV. The Nordlow is certainly lively. The Romany is reassurring.


– Last Updated: Feb-19-08 12:53 PM EST –

If I was in a '66 Caddy and I saw that "Twisty Road Next 7 Miles" sign, I think it'd bring about as big a smile as it would if I was in my old MG!

Actually, it might even bring a BIGGER smile, LOL!

That is, if it had good, screw'em down tight seat belts...

But I think we all know what you're getting at. They playful boat brings out the best in an experienced kayaker (canoeists -I take it it's the same thing?) when they, in all but straight-shot gotta be efficient distance runs,


-Frank in Miami

Funny Bohemia!

More “Playful” Venues Than “Boats…”

– Last Updated: Feb-19-08 6:41 AM EST –

My waveskis are tippy, slow pigs on flat water. Put 'em on some texture, preferably head plus, then the little "pigs" can fly and dart like hummingbirds. :)

Of course, if you like flipping over in flat water and doing all kinds of rolls and in between rolls with those low volume SOFs, that can be fun just like some of the ww boys and girls like to throw around their playboats on a pond. The latter usually like to transfer that flat water practice back to some "playful" river venue. Holds true to for some of the Greenland rollers, tho' nowhere to the extent of the playboaters.

Hard to talk about "playful" on a flatwater venue, unless you're a racing type. If you are, then my waveskis are little pigs and the long boats owned my most of us are BORING...

Eyes of the beholder.


Coaster was my favorite playboat
It was a different design than any other small kayak with a lot of volume carried right into the bow and stern. It could easily keep up with the pack but was just fun to play with in waves and light surf. I’d like to find another boat with similar handling characteristics, a playboat rather than just a wide-beamed ‘rec kayak’.Any suggestions? John

That little boat
blew snot on a lot of commonly held assumptions, and outsurfs any sea kayak mentioned on this board…hands down. A legendary little boat, with a following of serious coastal paddlers.

why don’t you just get a Coaster than?
I think the Broze brothers are making their Mariner kayaks again and since finding one used is not likely, you might just be better off buying a new one.

Another option is Brian Schultz’ SC-1 skin on frame version of the Coaster. It looks pretty sweet.

I’d love to get in a Coaster or an SC-1 but unfortunately neither is readily available in the midwest. They definitely seem like exceptional kayaks.

Legendary boat
I have to say that the Coaster is a somewhat legendary boat. Has quite a cult following.

Very odd looking little thing but as Salty mentions it seems that it defies a lot of assumptions about kayak design.

As I recall it is quite short and somewhat wide. Does not look like it would handle the way it does, but supposedly is a super boat.

When I lived in CA I was in a SF based club and a lot of members had Coasters and swore by them. That female member of the Tsunami Rangers has / had one too (paddles it in one of their vids).