Recommended kayak for Channel Islands?

My wife and I are planning a Channel Islands crossing from Oxnard, CA to Anacapa. We are intermediate level, never fish, just recreational kayaking. Very interested in a kayak with pedals to augment our paddles. Looking for suggestions:

  1. Is the Hobie Revolution a good choice? Which one?

  2. Are there any other types of kayaks with pedals that we should look at?

  3. We are launching from a dock, will we need wet suit and/or spray skirts?


I would rethink pedaling ….

– Last Updated: Aug-21-14 11:50 PM EST –

I know the Hobie pedal boats do pretty well, but I would not paddle out to channel islands in one. A sea kayak is much better when winds and waves build up. You won't have the bracing skills you would need. I have seen some pretty impressive carnage from little skilled kayakers in hobie pedal craft during the winter in Lajolla when we have serious surf.

I also would not suggest paddling out to the islands alone. Not sure where you are headed Anacapa has a pretty interesting landing spot with a ladder that is not easy to deal with lifting boats. The bay and camping spot on Santa Cruz is nice.

A good idea would be to do a tour with a group and learn some paddling skills and about different kayaks and then go on your own.

Your questions about spray skirts and wetsuits suggests that you are not really intermediate level paddlers. Get some experience and take some open water classes and rescue classes before you try paddling out to the islands.

This is a long crossing
with currents, ships, and the usual waves, wind, and the like you get from sea kayaking. Most would consider the 21 miles to be an advanced paddle. I would rethink this and develop other skills before making such a long (8-10) circuit.


Don’t do it.
The nature of your questions speak clearly that you are in no way ready for that kind of journey. That isn’t meant to be an insult, nor a discouragement, just please take it as sincere advice.

Don’t think they mean Catalina
It’s almost half the distance to the close Channel islands but they are more remote in terms of getting help if needed.

agree w/ others, but questions answered
I agree with others that based on the questions you asked, this trip is beyond what you should likely consider. There are lots of risks and challenges to this that it looks like you are not aware of yet, let alone having taking steps to minimize the risks.

But here are the answers to your questions:

  1. Is the Hobie Revolution a good choice? Which one?

    The Hobie kayaks are shorter and wider than what you would want for a long (10+ mile) open crossing. As such, whether you paddle or pedal, it will require more energy to make move a Hobie the distances you need.

  2. Are there any other types of kayaks with pedals that we should look at?

    The only other pedal boat is the Native Watercraft Propel series ( They also are barges (short and wide).

  3. We are launching from a dock, will we need wet suit and/or spray skirts?

    Spray skirts are worn by people who use sit inside kayaks, which touring kayaks are. The skirts let you seal yourself in so you are not exposed to the elements as much, keeps water from getting in to the boat, and allows the boat to be usable in much more adventurous conditions than a boat without a skirt. But skirts take some training, especially when used in those adventurous conditions.

    The Hobie and Native Watercraft boats are all sit on top kayaks, and as such, do not work with skirts. Should you proceed ahead with your plan, you would not be able to use a skirt, even if you wanted to.

    Wet suits and other thermal protection are not related to dock launch, but mostly related to water temperature (and somewhat air temperature), along with risk level. During the summer, the water around the Channel Islands gets into the low 60s, with winter being in the 50s. The rule of thumb I use is if water temperature is below 60, I always wear a wet suit or dry suit. Above 70, rarely. Between 60 and 70, I look at other factors, like risk level, air temperature, etc. Given the long open crossing, which means a long time in the water before I could be rescued should I end up swimming, I would be wearing thermal protection on this trip even in mid-summer when the water is at its warmest.

Been there, done that
I agree with the advice of those above. I suggest you heed it. BTW, the landing at Anacapa involves exiting onto a vertical ladder, then hoisting your kayak up onto the landing platform, which I think is a bit@h, but maybe that’s just me.


Thanks, more questions
Appreciate everyone’s good-humored warnings and advice, particularly Peter-CA and Seadddict. To clarify, we are planning on the closest island, Anacapa, in Fall, and with a nearby chase/rescue boat just in case. There are several companies that provide kayak tours of the Channel Islands, are there any that arrange kayak tours to them? TIA

Central Coast Kayaks
I’m not sure of outfitters still doing this trip. Call John Bonaventure at Central Coast Kayaks in Shell Beach. They customize tours, and might be able to put together a tour but you would likely need to find a few more paddlers to make it worth while.

Aqua Adventures in San Diego used to do this trip but I don’t think they have done it for years. From time to time local kayak clubs also do this trip. To do it with them you would need to have experience on open ocean crossings. There is a Central Coast Kayak Club, and California Kayak Friends. I’ve been out there with members of San Diego Kayak club but it’s not really a functioning club anymore.

don’t know of any that d the crossing
I don’t know of any that do the crossing. Along with John Bonaventure, you could try the shop in Santa Barbara.

But, actually, I think the people who do the tours on the island have a concession which may prevent other tour companies from going to the island.

sea paddling
Sea paddling requires a sea kayak, a lot of skill and dressing for immersion. Otherwise you are asking for trouble.