Question about the Surf

I’m taking my kayaks to NC and was going to use them in the sound and the surf, the yaks are a WS Pam and Pungo. My question is are these safe for the surf and should a novice attempt to use them for that application? I have spray skirts and of course PFD’s. Thanks for any input.


Biiiig cockpits
i would not take either one in the surf…

you want a much smaller cockpit with a spray skirt/deck to make certain that you do not fill the boat up with water…

that is my first concern…

the integrated skeg on the pungo might prove to be interesting if it had a different deck…


– Last Updated: Jun-21-07 11:25 AM EST –

Even if you added float bags so there is floatation front and rear (do you have them?) and were able to figure out how to secure them so they'd stay in in the surf (no small trick)... you still have a huge cockpit in both of these boats. I rather doubt you have a neoprene sprayskirt for either - don't think one is even made - so you can count on the sparyskirt imploding and your being banged around in a cockpit fuilled with a very large amount of water. At the least you'll may find yourself having the devil of a time retrieving your boat.

Also - do you have a helmet, have you been in the surf before...? It is an easy place to get hurt. especially in boats that can become really deadly projectiles because of their ability to hold very large amounts of water.

On first blush, this doesn't sound like a great idea. If you want to mess around in surf, you'd probably be bettr off renting a helmet and a SOT from somewhere down there.

with right skills and experience…

– Last Updated: Jun-21-07 11:36 AM EST –

With right skills and experience (and common sense to know when not to go), just about any boat can be used in the surf. That said, some boats are better than others.

A large cockpit boat is more likely to have the spray skirt implode, filling the boat with water.

Given that it sounds like you haven't played much in surf before, I would suggest that you stick to small waves (ones that barely get above the deck), if you can find them.

Oh, I wear a helmet when playing in surf. It is not uncommon to get flipped, and that normally happens in shallow water.

Make sure your boat has flotation. Should it get filled, without flotation it may sink and be irretrievable.

Some basics safety rules:
- if you and your boat are separated in surf - NEVER get between your boat and shore. The next wave that hits it will launch the boat towards shore, and a boat filled with water can be a hell of a weapon.
- for same reason, don't kayak surf in areas where there are swimmers or surfers. They won't know how much of a weapon the boat can be, and may get hurt trying to help you.


– Last Updated: Jun-21-07 12:18 PM EST –

OK, so there may be some photos on the internet of me with a Pungo in some large surf, but that just means I know what I am talking about.....

Yes, you can take anything with a flat hull into the surf, but it doesn't mean its a good idea:

Thanks for the input, I guess the kayaks will stay on the sound side of the banks.


tide and waves
get a tide table, usually in the local newspaper. watch the wave patterns as they relate to the tides. its all weather dependent but most of the time the waves are smallest a couple of hours before and after low tide. the biggest waves are usually on the incoming tide just before high tide. you should be able to paddle 2-4 hours around low tide without getting bashed. concentrate on staying perpendicular to the waves. choose small waves when going out and in. stay away from bathers and surfers and have a ball!

Better to live one day like a lion
than a thousand years like a lamb. (Well Mussolini maybe did not give the best advice.)

I would take your boats on your trip and look for a very sheltered area. Summer waves in that area unless there is a tropical storm tend to be small. Those boats will handle small waves (< 3’) If you don’t venture far from shore and are prepared to have to dump out the boat (ugh) you can get some experience in moving water. Bottom line if it is fair weather, close to shore, small surf, OK to play but don’t paddle off shore or long distances, pay attention to winds and storms. Wear PFD. I saw a water spout in that area once when I lived on the east coast, really violent afternoon storm.

round hulls work too! rpm’s surf great!

One Of My Favorite Past Times…
in the summer is watching folks take their rec boats and/or big cockpit rec/tourers into the surf zone…

I don’t even bother to say anything anymore. I just sit back and enjoy the disaster show. I figure if they run a kid over (seen this almost happen), the freakin’ parent would go kill the so-called “surf kayaker.” :slight_smile:


Low tide, small waves…

I used to live on the Outer Banks and now teach kayaking in the Virginia Beach area (come on up for some surf zone lessons!) and at low tide, with low waves, you should be fine. The thing to watch out for in this area is dumping, curling breaks that don’t have a shoulder where you can exit the wave.

Also, pay close attention to the tide changes and wind direction. The waves can go from mellow to rough very quickly, and the change is often less obvious once you’re on the water.

You may be better off renting a sit-on-top for playing in the surf, particularly if you don’t have much experience going in and out of the surf. Even with an SOT, you’ll want a helmet, and to try this away from any crowds on the beach/in the water.

A swamped kayak heading for kids on the shore is a very dangerous thing indeed.

no, those are not good choices.

Depends on you the boats , your
common sense, your swimming ability.

Also your boats need flotation.

We always use to bring out 9’-5" rec kayaks to the NC beaches with us before we got the long boats.

We have skirts for them, and when the surf was what we thought we could handle we had a ball playing in it.

The surf is never the same twice. It varies depending on the wind and the tide.

If it looks too big for you to handle just keep out of it and wait for a day or time of day that it is doable.

As far as paddling the boats in the sound; by all means. Just make sure you talk to the locals on any strong current areas that you should be aware of.

Use common sense, and you should have a lot of fun.



Did it with a Pamlico …
… Out on Cape Cod … on the Nantucket side where it’s calm and warm. Was having fun in 1’ or so waves near the beach when one closer to 2’ came up behind me … felt it hit the back of my shoulder. Filled the boat up with enough water that it went instantly sluggish, and lower so that all waves were coming in.

Good thing I was being maybe 75 feet from the beach and the water was chest deep. Bad news was the boat was pretty much sunk by the time I coasted up to shore … quickly adopted that “ment to do that” look for the folks on the beach (of course a couple of kids had to ask “is it supposed to be full of water?” … one of the kids being my own…).

Seriously, made realize how much trouble I could get in … could not imagine being in 2’ waves or further out. At the very least you should be carefull… Outer Banks sounds like much bigger conditions than I was in.

N O !!!
no rec style boat is safe in surf conditions. they ARE NOT nmade for rough conditions.

Rec will become WRECK



Today’s Forecast
Thursday Morning: Overnight the wind dropped off and we lost our chance at a building Northeast wind swell. Currently the surf is flat - knee high with some sandbars showing a barely rideable longboard wave. Surface conditions are glassy early this morning, but winds are expected to increase from the North to 15mph creating choppy conditions by the late morning. Overall conditions are still pretty bad for surfing. Check back this afternoon for an update and keep an eye on the forecast for any swell potentials in the near future…

Does not sound like you would be in danger today.

Thanks Again!
Once again thanks for all the input, sounds like if I was young and single I might try it during low tide and the right conditions, but being old with two more kids to put through college I’ll pass. Good thing for this board or I would have tried it with very little thought for my safety or those on the beach.