Safe or Unsafe

I have an Acadia 12.5 and my wife has a Blackwater 11.5. We are planning a trip to the outer banks this year for some camping and kayaking. My question is how safe is it for these kayaks to operate in the ocean? Because I would really like to do some coastal kayaking and not limit myself to the lakes and rivers. I hope Ive explained this properly. TIA…

Experience? Skill level?
The ocean side can get pretty rough with big surf. The sound side is calmer but can be quite windy at times.

Here’s one opinion…

Here’s An Observation
I’ve gone on a number of tours where I’ve seen some of Atlantic Kayaks unacceptable boats (Eddyline Merlin LT & Sandpiper) used on tours in fairly protected coastal bays with some (not heavy) wind. These two Eddyline boats do have a bit of a keel to them which might be helping with keeping them straight.


Unsafe, IMO
The Acadia and Blackwater are among that class of boats that give me the shivers. To explain, they are capable enough craft to go out in the ocean in benign conditions, but would be unsafe if conditions deteriorated on you, which can happen in seconds, and with no warning.

I have seen people out in coastal waters in them having a great time. I’ve also heard of people dying in them in conditions that would make me think twice about launching my sea kayak into. In short, they’re just capable enough to give you a false sense of security in open water. I’m not slamming them — they’re great boats for inland and protected salt water paddling (Which is exactly what they’re designed for), but I personally wouldn’t take one offshore.

My best advice would be to take a guided daytrip with a good outfitter in sea kayaks. You’ll be much safer, and have a lot more fun being in the appropriate boat for where you are paddling.


I was always under the impression, to try to keep boat length over 16ft for sea touring. Is this accurate?

using rec boats on the ocean
Man I second Wayne’s advice about using an outfitter and sea kayaks if possible. Why not let the pros help you enjoy the whole experience more? The two kayaks you described are not exemplary in their tracking in wind and waves thats a fact I can tell you from hands on paddling.

My son kayaks in the ocean
all the time with his Acadia.

Make sure you have a skirt.

He just uses an old juice container to bail if he takes on water.

Of course he enjoys swimming also.

Prior to getting our touring kayaks we used our Keowees with skirts out there all the time.

Just pay attention to the weather report



Boat could be fine, but think thrice…
It sounds like you don’t have much experience in ocean coastal paddling? I certainly don’t agree you have to have a >16’ seakayak to safe for coastal paddles. On your trip try to find some guided tours or coastal kayaking classes to learn to handle surf zones and judge, tides, wind and weather. Also find the protected waters mentioned above and after your class and talking with locals use your boats with proper safety equipment & preparation on the sheltered waters. Be very careful to check NOAA weather and swell reports immediately before going out, as stated above even protected waters can change quickly.

You can do it
In Pamlico Sound so long as you stay away from the inlets. The tidal currents near the inlets are very strong. Depending on your experience, they could be quite dangerous. Otherwise, you’re in great shape in the sound. There are several outfitters that take novices in recreational kayaks no worse suited than your on eco-tours in and around the salt marsh areas in the Sound. It’s pretty easy to get lost among the islands, so you may want to consider using a GPS to help you get back to the launch. Otherwise, paddle an ecotour if you’re concerned. I used Kitty Hawk Kite’s service and had a wonderful time, paid a fair price, and met some right nice folks.

My brother is a cautious type, and he takes his young family out down there in a WS Pamlico tandem and a WS Pungo. Use your head, stay in the sound and away from the inlets, and you’ll have a great time. You’ll paddle right over some daggone big fish, so remember your tackle if you’re into that sort of thing. Be wary of the effects of tides. They can be quite large and strong there during certain periods and wind conditions.

I can’t speak for the surf conditions on the ocean side. My comments in no way reflect paddling in the surf.

  • Big D

i have an acadia also and i will plan on hitting the atlantic off the beach

Do Yourself A Favor…
Go to Lake Cochituate, on a big wind day, paddle around and see how she handles before you go and launch into Boston Harbor. The Harbor can be deceptive, depending on where the wind is blowing from, you may not feel or see the effects until you get far enough out and lose the protection of the land and/or islands. All of a sudden, you are in very heavy, steep chops… That’s not where you want to find out that the boat doesn’t handle those conditions well. Know that you and the boat can handle these before you just launch into the harbor.

I’ve been out there with folks in capable seakayaks but who lack the necessary confidence and skills. It’s kinda scary to see someone get whiteknucked from death gripping their paddles…


good link

It is worth reading this posting:

I vote unsafe…for many of the reasons mentioned already.

The safety of the experience is largely correlated with the experience of the paddler. Your asking this question is very important…but also likely indicates your lack of experience in such waters. Benefit from educating yourself about the skills needed to paddle in such bodies of water and you and your wife will enjoy decades of paddling together.


my boat confuses them
Thanks for the link. My boat (Perception Sonoma 13.5) is listed under the recreation and touring categories. My personal opinion is that my boat is fine in most open water conditions but for big crossings with lots of wind, it would be a challenge to paddle.

We Tried That
kind of risk - once and never again. We were in older boats by Dagger, a design that preceded the Blackwater but was actually a foot longer, that were intended to be crossover boats. That is, if conditions were good you could get away with it but you would be in serious trouble if things deteriorated.

They did - a storm front came in an hour and a half earlier than predicted and it was also our “before weather radio” days. We were in the open, and within 15 minutes were skating down the front of 4 ft steep waves that the boat was no way intended to ever handle. Luckily the waves were driving us straight towards and island where we holed up, but the next season we came back with full length sea touring kayaks. We didn’t figure we could be lucky enough to stay upright in that stuff twide.

Take the advice about conditions and location and skill in the above posts very seriously.


May not sink but…
Rather than safe or unsafe, how about what is the acceptable risk vs unacceptable risk?

This boat does have bulkyheads, so it may not sink upon capsizing, however the weight of water inside the boat will make it very very difficult to empty it, and the bulk and height of deck makes it quite an effort to re-enter. Especially repeatedly, whichis what happens in rough conditions.

Also, the more stable a boat is right side up the more stable it is staying upside down often. Again more effort.

I would ask myself under rough conditions, do I want to put us through the experience of becoming exhausted and having to be in the water waiting to be rescued, especially if both of you go over.

It is not just that they are slow boats, get pushed around much more by heavy wind, have a bad time in wind driven waves and following seas, it is the big energy expenditure of capsizing and righting as well.

Plug it into your computer and decide if worth it.

14’ Kayak for touring?
It depends on the kayak. I’ll bet that when they decided on 14’, they were thinking of the Mariner Coaster, a very seaworthy, capable kayak for touring. I have a 14’ Tsunami X-15, and it’s no problem touring with that. It depends on the specific kayak considered.


Ditto My RM Mystic
14’ long, it’s a fun boat to go play or surf with in waves. But it’s not a boat I would take to paddle any distance. Heck, I still remember paddling back 2 miles to a put-in in 20 knot head winds and chops. It was not like I felt endangered. But it was just an arduous slog and not a lot of fun. So, I was paying for the fun that I had headed out with the winds and waves.