Rocker in sea kayaks

-- Last Updated: Sep-13-11 8:51 PM EST --

I'm new to kayaks. I'm an old open canoe guy - lot of paddling experience in white water and flat too but mostly - not completely - concentrated on trips. I enjoy using a decent river tripping canoe in class 2-4 white water and on long trips. I'm used to tripping canoes intended for moving water but usable and competent in big flat water with a load.

Recently I bought a sea kayak and as I learn to paddle it in flat water with some current in my local area I am struck by the fact that this kayak is not as easy to turn as my tripping canoe - or so it seems. I am working on edge control etc. But the bottom line is that mild eddy turns and the like are executed in slow motion with this hull. It reminds me of the canoes I have paddled that are designed for flat water. It is fast and straight. Turning takes real effort. I'm already beginning to wonder if I might be happier with a different kayak that has more rocker. I want to gradually ease into salt water but always will paddle moving fresh a lot- maybe up to class 2 or more. Are there sea kayaks in the 16 - 18 foot category that have some rocker in the hull and that are useful and fun in mild white water but that are strong and useful in the flats and in the ocean as well? Am I making any sense? Or should I start thinking about two boats? I really don't want two boats. But, are there sea kayaks out there that could double as river touring/tripping kayaks with enough rocker to make it fun in the mild white water? I'm not interesting in big white water - but nice class 2 type stuff I would enjoy in a kayak.

what do you have?
I am quite sure there will be suggestions, but let’s start at square one

Get a used ww kayak if you want to
have fun in easy whitewater. Believe me, even short, rockered sea kayaks can’t touch ww kayaks in whitewater. I have both.

I think your canoe experience must have been with a relatively lightly loaded canoe. Loaded heavily, fast tripping canoes behave more like sea kayaks in rapids.

Same question
Everything happens slower in a sea kayak than in a WW boat. But that said, there are plenty out there that turn just fine. It is critical to know what you have.

If you picked up an older North American boat, it is quite possible that you have one that is designed to be more of a go-straight boat than playful, maybe rather high volume. That was what many people wanted for a long time, and the North American manufacturers obliged.

I have Tsunami 165

– Last Updated: Sep-14-11 6:26 AM EST –

Thanks for the replies. I have a Tsunami 165. I am a big guy (5'10" - 245 Lbs down from 260 a month ago) which drastically limited my choices as far as finding a comfortable cockpit. But my weight is on the way down in a big way and I expect in a year to be significantly smaller and hence to have significantly more choice. I'm thinking ahead a bit as I lose weight and as I begin to understand how to paddle these lovely boats. I knew when I purchased this boat that it would not be my last.

My experience canoeing is fairly broad. I have paddled heavily laden (three weeks food and gear) and empty tripping boats in a wide variety of water. Mostly Northern New England and the Canadian Arctic. The boats I have generally paddled include the various Prospector type hulls, the Nova Craft Prospector for example and also the Old Town Tripper. My experience is that these boats handle the straights when loaded (not well at all when empty) and that they are enjoyable loaded or empty in up to class 3 water - empty up to 4. This Kayak seems to me to be much more of a go straight type of hull - which is not a bad thing of course, just a characteristic, and it is possible my assessment is incorrect and based on my own inexperience. In the end please understand I am NOT looking for anything extreme. I'm looking for a boat that can execute an eddy turn reasonably easily in a class 1 or class 2 river and that can also function in the flats. Or, perhaps two boats is the way to go. But I wonder if more rocker would be beneficial and enjoyable even in a boat designed primarily for salt water and might provide all I am looking for on moving water as well. For example, some of my favorite trips include a lot of big lake travel and also include sections of river - some in the class 2-3 range. To be clear, I am NOT interested in a full bore little white water boat that won't carry more than your lunch. Rather I am looking for a tripping boat that will function in moving water as well as the flats. I suppose I might someday also look at a pure whitewater boat - but that isn't my interest right now. Oh, and I should add, at this point in my skill development I do appreciate some stability, especially secondary stability.

I know what you mean about tripping canoes turning into go straight boats when loaded and there is a lot of truth to that - but in my experience a loaded 16 foot prospector with a round hull and a good deal of rocker performs pretty darn well in white water - you would be surprised. You wouldn't want to be on a windy lake paddling solo and unloaded. The tripping canoes I use could not be descibed properly as "fast tripping canoes". These boats are "slow tripping canoes". I have never been a fan of the straight keel type of tripping canoe you are thinking of - probably because of the type of water I tend to paddle. But I know everything is a trade off - could be I'm destined for 2 boats, I'm rambling.

Yes there are…
"…are there sea kayaks out there that could double as river touring/tripping kayaks with enough rocker to make it fun in the mild white water?"

tough choice
Take a look at PH Delphin. Some say it is “fast for its length” on flat water, they also add it is fun in messy anything.

IIRC, Tsunami boats are not what anyone would call rockered designs. Something like CD Sirocco would be more maneuverable. Also, canoeing is not my thing, but I noticed that both the larger blade and better leverage will allow one to maneuver better

Knowing more…
there are more maneuverable sea kayaks than the Tsunami 165, predominantly in a similar day boat length. Anything decent should have plenty of secondary stability. The Sirocco has a decent bit of rocker and is for a larger person than me, though you’d have to get into it, and is plastic so it’ll take rock bashes if not being pinned.

You might be best off getting near to your final weight before buying the next boat, if that is a moving target.

Prijon Yukon Expedition

– Last Updated: Sep-14-11 9:37 AM EST –

14'x25" big boat.

Two boats
Let’s say you’re in the moving business and take an interest in running road rallies. Do you used your van or get a sporty car?

Slight exaggeration but if you’re thinking class II and up, you’ll probably need to execute effective draws, slipping into micro eddys, etc. Besides, half the fun of ww is the playing the holes and surf waves.

Right tool for the job. At your size, you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up a decent used Mamba, Superhero, etc. in one of the larger versions.

That or Zephyr 160 or Alchemy
I do not think anything over 15 feet would be maneuverable enough for technical stuff over class II water (just ramming it down-stream is a different story and longer can work there even in bigger water as long as you do not need to turn much).

Going below 15 feet on the other hand tends to slow you down quite a bit on flat water… Unfortunately, unless you get one of these adjustable rocker foldable kayaks Track Kayaks from , I do not think you can get the best of both worlds in one kayak.

I paddle the Zephyr 15.5 (slightly smaller than the 160) but I’m “only” 185lb so it fits me better). Try one of these - they are very competent on moving water, and while not as turny as a dedicated white water boat (canoe or kayak), they are as turny as they get. The Depnin suggested is also probably a very good choice if you can fit in it, but at hour weight I am not sure if it will be as maneuverable as it is for someone lighter (more of the nose may be in the water, where for me it is mostly above).

As suggested, may be get a used WW boat for the WW and another used one for open water if you have the storage…

it only slows you down
if you’re trying to go fast, otherwise 3-3.5mph is perfectly doable with 14’ kayak.

I’m not explaining well
Are there boats that you would use for a two week river trip where half the trip is going to involve running class two and three rapids all day long. Need to carry two weeks of gear. Are any of you involved in that sort of paddling?

I am reading descriptions of sea kayaks that are said to be suited to rough water paddling which I take to mean they must have more rocker that boats intended for flat water - true? Like the ND Romany or Romany XL for example.

google xp10 and grand canyon

– Last Updated: Sep-14-11 11:30 PM EST –

You asked: "Are there boats that you would use for a two week river trip where half the trip is going to involve running class two and three rapids all day long. Need to carry two weeks of gear."

The Liquidlogic Remix XP10 (and 9) are designed for kayak self-support river trips (large capacity for storage -- for a WW boat -- rear bulkhead and hatch, and deck rigging), and also for the flatwater sections bewteen rapids (skeg); with a whitewater type hull design.

The trade off is that it won't be an ideal lake boat -- even though it has a skeg, the hull shape doesn't cut through (no V in bow) -- depends what you are looking for -- has to be some trade off.

Google also the Pyranha Fusion.

These boats are called "crossovers" -- the Jackson Rogue is another example.

I’ve got a plastic Avocet(16’), which is much easier to turn than a shorter Tsunami. So yes, there are maneuverable sea kayaks. A couple have been mentioned.

The problem with using them in Class III is the risk of pinning – they’re not designed for those kind of loads.

+1 on Prijon Yukon Expedition
If your primary usage is river tripping in class 2-3 for up to two weeks, then you should look for a kayak that is designed for that sort of thing:

evolving thoughts

– Last Updated: Sep-15-11 8:30 AM EST –

Great suggestions. Not sure I know yet what I want. I'm going to keep paddling this Tsunami, get smaller, get better at paddling a kayak, and then make a change of some kind down the road. But I think a more maneuverable sea kayak - for day trips and weekends might be the idea for me. I'll probably stick to open boats for long trips the more I think about it. This is the sort of thing that I'd like to be able to do in my kayak -

And just now I came upon this which is making me think even more that right now I may be paddling a sea kayak on the go straight end of the spectrum and that there are sea kayaks out there that will hit the nail on the head for me -

Paddling up

– Last Updated: Sep-15-11 8:35 AM EST –

If you wish to paddle against the flow of the river, as in this video, then a sea kayak can be effective. If you want to run the river and play, then a ww boat designed to do so is better suited.

BTW, the boat in the video and reviewed is a descendant of the Meridian which was greatly influenced by the Romany. These day/play boats (along with Avocet, Chatham 16, etc...)are well suited to moving and bumpy water.

Zephyr 15.5
If that person is doing it in a Zephyr 15.5 then there’s your answer. The thing that you have to realize is that experience and skills come first. I believe that kayaker could do the same stuff in just about anything although he may have his favorite boats.

I remember quite a few years back a white water river race on the Collinsville river in CT - class 2 and three several mile race. A guy arrived in a Nordcapp and won. Excellent paddler just flew across everything in his path with total abandon.

Skills are key

– Last Updated: Sep-15-11 9:46 AM EST –

I agree. I am in a weird situation in that regard. I do this sort of thing all the time in a 16 foot tripping boat with a fair amount of rocker - and I pole up stream with a larger less rockered tripping boat. I have a pretty good feel for the water. But I am totally new to kayaks. I have taken my Tsunami upstream in this fashion in slight less powerful water and that is what got me thinking about these issues - I began to wonder if there might be boats with more slightly more rocker or maneuverability for this sort of thing. So while I am new to Kayaks I hope and expect that my paddling experience will get me up to this sort of level fairly quickly. I find that most of the time I am fine but every now and then something happens that takes me a little by surprise. So I do have some learning to do for sure. And, I need to get my roll down better.

I do run downstream a lot but "playing" is not that important to me - more of an occasional surf on a wave sort of thing. In my soul I am a tripper. Plus, these videos I am seeing of sea kayaks in rough water and on rivers and waves would satisfy any desire to "play" that I might have.

The more I think about it the more I think that this is exactly the type of boat that I would enjoy the most. Leave the kayaks at home on the long trips - but throw a nice day tripper kayak or weekend boat on the car for local paddling and short trips.

I think what is happening to me is that after a few short weeks of paddling I am beginning to realize that indeed my skills are transferring quickly.