RM sea kayak for my daughter

My daughter is home from college for the summer. She wants to learn sea kayaking with me. She’s pretty adventurous. Rock climbing, back packing, multi day river rafting. Pretty athletic, loves the water. On the University of Oregon water polo team. Life guard and swim instructor for summer job.

She wants to do the real thing, learn to roll, get out in the waves. I’m a novice too, so we’re gonna learn together, roll partners, etc. We’re gonna take a few miles novice paddle trip through the Alder Creek kayak shop this Sunday to make sure she likes it. It’s pretty sure though. Then I want to buy her and me something within a week. The clock’s ticking on our bonding time out on the water.

I think this summer we’ll mostly be on the lake learning to roll, and paddle some of the fingers. Take a couple classes together. At Christmas we’ll probably go out on Alsea bay. Probably no overnight trips until the following year.

For her, we definitely want plastic, and skeg. She’s 5’ 5”, 135 lbs. She sat in a Tempest 170, too big. Chatam 16 fit her just right, except for the seat. She said she could feel the bump in the middle of the seat, like the seat was too big for her. I could get a C16 cheap, tempting. From reviews, I think the C16 would be too slow and maybe harder to roll at 22 inch wide, and a little too low cargo space for all around sea kayaking. And we might have to replace the seat. If she could roll it ok, at the price, maybe we should just buy it and sell it after a year. It would be fine for playing in the waves at the bay or coast. Just not good for distance, and maybe not good for being matched in speed for paddleing the lake fingers. I’d be in a Tempest 180.

Hopefully she’ll get to sit in a Tempest 165 this Sunday, and paddle a T165 and C16. Also might be interested in some of the Valley or CD plastic boats if we find them around and they fit her. Any ideas on specific models?


Paul S.

Valley Avocet / P&H Capella
I recommend that she test paddle a Valley Avocet RM and a P&H Capella RM. Also check out paddle_lupe’s P&H Capella RM for sale in the classified ads section of paddling.net.

Whichever Feels More Comfortable…
if your want to play the waves, C16 may not be a bad bet. An Avocet too. Both have more rocker for fun play. Both should fit it’s just a matter of comfort.

There are some more straight keel plastic boats out there that would fit too. But “play” here is more along long distance tracking performance.

Rolling ain’t much of a difference with any of them provided they fit her and have good cockpit contact.


First Is A Better Fit
for my 5’3",140 frame. I found myself “swimming” in the cockpit of the older model Capella.


140#s have an Avocet

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 11:11 AM EST –

I'm 140 lbs. and love my RM Avocet. I only do flat water stuff - not much surf and big waves where I'm at. She will probably want to pad out the cockpit a bit - I use pool noodles.

If your timeline is that compressed, I'd think you'd find what dealers around you have available and go from there.

Also, the WS Tempest 165 may be worth a look. The cockpit is MUCH smaller than the 170's.

And while I'm dispensing advice: Invest in a good PFD and paddle. If she's athletic and really pushes the paddling, she'll appreciate a good fitting PFD and a paddle that can take the strain and not weigh her down.

- Jasen.

me too
ph capella 163 was too big for my 5’9’’/145.

cockpit is too big, front too high, back too high, my back was pressing really hard against it for layback.

mind, that was an older model last year - i have no idea what the actual model year was

The Chatham seat can be reconfigured more easily than any fixed production seat, ie. carve your own. The ss. back band adjustors aren’t needed and can be removed especially if they’re the ss. ratchet ones. You’ll want to get rid of them and put in a normal back band and chuck the intruding metal guides.

I think it’ll be more stable than she needs though. It’s not that it’s slower than other boats but that it’s a heavy plastic boat and requires a smidge more effort to push at normal speeds. She could easily add 75lbs and it wouldn’t be overloaded.

The T-165 might be a better fit for her weight touching the water through thehull, displacement.

More important than “speed” would be efficiency which would steer towards an Avocet, T165 or similar shape.

Eddyline NightHawk16 would be another good choice for efficiency.

Tempest 165
At 5’6 and 132 pounds, the Tempest 165 fits me like a glove. I first tried the 170 and felt “lost” in the cockpit. There is a world of difference between the two, so I hope your daughter will get to try the 165!


Valley Aquanaut LV

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 12:17 PM EST –

would be worth a look, but they're new this year and probably scarce.

I own a RM Avocet and have enjoyed paddling a T165. Fine boats, different personalities. I don't think you could go wrong with either. I did add extra thigh braces and heel pads to my Avocet for a better fit.

Don't worry about cargo space. If she's used to packing like a backpacker, almost any boat will handle gear for a couple of nights. Far too many people let their expedition dreams overrule their day-paddling reality and end up with boats that are too big for what they do most.

Unless you plan on serious rock-banging, consider a used composite boat -- you may find them for the same price as new high-end plastic boats.

A decent, properly-sized paddle and a comfortable PFD make time on the water much more fun.

Since she's very comfortable in, on, and under water, she might enjoy learning some of the Greenland-style techniques of bracing & rolling. And then there's surf, and whitewater...

Have fun! And please let us know how it goes.

Maybe Capella 160 if available
haven’t encountered one, maybe too new. But supposed to be smaller than the 161.

I’d second recommendations for the Avocet. The 2007’s have better thigh brace fit for smaller people, and while not perfect are definately getting a lot closer. I am very close to your daughter’s size, just and inch shorter, and I finally feel they’ve gottenthe cockpit to where it could be outfitted to be fairly functional.

if you can find one
the perception avatar is efficient,bow volume is a bit low and the skeg design dicey but the price/volume/efficiency is good for a light person.

Necky Elaho
I am 5’5" and 130, and I LOVE my Elaho, it tracks well in the river, which where I go to practice (paddling against the current), and is fast, quick turning, and very stable in the ocean. I mainly take trips in Prince William Sound AK, and it is even far more responsive with a load in it. I liked the boat so much that I bought an identical one for my daughter who is 5’2" about 100 lbs, and she does great at her stroke, the Elaho fits her well too. Good luck to you!!!

Yeah, That One Too (For Play).

Actually i beg to differ on the fit. I’m 6’1 and 180 and i like the fit of the Elaho, but it definetely fits slightly bigger than a Chatham 16- i sat in both back to back. I own an Elaho and agree it’s a very good all around boat,nice combination of play and tour and rolls well.

Cockpit Size And Volume…

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 6:14 PM EST –

There is no direct correlation. I expect to pad out most kayaks to varying amounts. The other issue is the volume (more important issue to me) and how it paddles in conditions. I believe the volume of the elaho (the older DS model) is actually slightly less than the Chatham16.

Another example is that my 14' plastic Mystic actually has more cockpit size than my Montauk but the latter is definitely a higher volume boat (more than I need for day trips).


Cargo space.
“Don’t worry about cargo space. If she’s used to packing like a backpacker, almost any boat will handle gear for a couple of nights.”

Funny, that’s what Michelle told me. She said, “I’m a backpacker. I don’t need that much space.” I said, “Yeah, I could carry the tent.” She said, “I’ve gone with just a sleeping bag and a small tarp.”

Thanks for all the replies so far.
Thanks for suggestions so far and for sharing experiences with various models. That’s right, we’ll go with something in stock. But I think it still helps to have a list of potential models. I can do some research ahead of looking for the boat in a shop, and might expand our shopping radius if a particular boat interests us. Alder Creek has a pretty good selection I believe. I’ll also look in the classified adds on this site for used boats.

We’ll definitely get good comfortable and functional PFDs. I’m going with a greenland paddle. Michelle likes that idea too. Hopefully she’ll get to try one Sunday.

Thanks again,

Paul S.

Tempest 165 will definitely fit her
I’m 5’2" and under 110 lbs and love this boat. I added 1/2" minicell foam under the seat cover to get the height I wanted (tried it stock first and liked it, then liked it much better with the “less stable” higher seat).

I’ve paddled it with two weeks of camping gear packed in (yes, you have to think like a backpacker). The kayak handles well both with and without the extra weight.

It is easy to roll, easy to paddle in wind, easy to maneuver, has decent speed…just a really nice kayak.

If you go to Alder Creek, surely they can scrounge up a T165 for her to use. I believe that is flatpick’s former shop.


– Last Updated: Jun-28-06 3:11 PM EST –

I had a necky elaho and loved it, although then I tried a BBK valkyrie and loved it even more. The valkyrie is a lot easier to roll, although I changed to a greenland paddle at the same time, so it might be the paddle, not the boat, that made much of the difference.

You might look at used fiberglass or kevlar boats--they won't cost much more than new plastic boats, and then she can keep it all her life. Plastic boats do have their great virtues, such as dragability (it sure is nice to just drag your boat to the put-in).

And I completely agree with the others on storage space being a minor consideration. Multi-day tours are a tiny part of most people's kayaking experiences, and backpackers have no trouble fitting gear into tiny boats. And if you want to go on a really gear-intensive expedition, rent a boat for that rare occassion, and buy a light, fun boat you'll use all the time for your own boat.


A 16 foot boat will be fine for multiday touring (that’s what I use). She should also be able to pack a dry bag inside the cockit at the front bulkhead (that’s what I do).

I think people overestimate the speed issue. I doubt that one would see a real big difference in speed between similar 16 feet and 18 boats. A 16 (about) foot boat is going to be more appropriate for her weight. You may have trouble keeping up with her in any boat.

One can trim the fit with foam but she probably doesn’t want a boat that is too tall in the front and at the rear. She’s a little on the light and short side for what most boats are designed for.

Defininely try a Valley Avocet: it has good speed and it is playful. And it should fit her pretty well.

She won’t have any problem rolling a 22 inch boat and you won’t really find any boats that are narrower (in plastic). 21-22 is pretty standard (but I’d try not going any wider).