sea kayak on rapids

Well, as a reader of I noticed a weekly article titled “Choosing the Right Canoe”. Mind you, I am not considering any canoes, but this paragraph sounded interesting:

“A 17 foot or 18 foot canoe will be much faster across the water but will sink like a submarine while shooting whitewater. The 16 foot boat will do much better in rapids and is far more maneuverable…”

Since I know next to nothing about canoes this raises an interesting questions: do canoe-ers take their 16ft boats through whitewater? what class water can a 16ft boat handle.

Please share.

p.s. yes, 16ft kayak is a marginal sea kayak, don’t rub that in :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: Aug-23-06 11:51 AM EST –

Downriver races with rapids are won by 16- and 17-foot canoes, and 16-foot tandems aren't unusual for whitewater. Not the best for staying and playing, but you can get through some fairly big water with a properly outfitted 16' canoe.

On the other hand, it is easy to pin a 16' boat, and the forces involved are huge. A canoe(or sea kayak) can easily be folded in a pinning situation.

depends on the rapid…
If it’s big water class II stuff, most sea kayaks would be fine. If it’s rocky/technical class III and up, a sea kayak would not be a good choice. I did an offroad triathlon last year and many people used a sea kayak for the class II whitewater section for the added speed. I decided to use a whitewater boat because the water levels were really low. The sea kayaks would pass me on the flats and I would pass them all on the rapids as they got hung up on rocks. :slight_smile:

Why is 16ft sea kayak marginal ?

– Last Updated: Aug-23-06 1:50 PM EST –

Lots of 16 footers are awesome sea kayaks. Examples: Eddyline Falcon 16, Romany, Mariner, Chatham
And to add, I have paddled my Romany down 2- 2+ on the Truckee.

Yeah. My Tempest is Marginal?
Just barely a sea kayak?

I don’t think so.

what one 16 foot canoe can do

More than a few sea kayaks
have taken on the Colorado.

what class water can a 16ft boat handle
A 16’ Dagger Dimension is a capable whitewater playboat. Huge but capable. That boat will dance.

In whitewater 16’6" Wenonah Advantage would be a swimming lesson at best. It’ll run like the wind but it ain’t no dancer.

Rocker, fullness in the ends, chines, boyancy and freeboard all play a role in determining how good a boat is for any given task.

Generalizing based on one characteristic is a great way to get the wrong boat.

Have The Skills…

– Last Updated: Aug-24-06 6:08 AM EST –

you can make it work.

Just DON't be like the ones I see on the Deerfield River. Every other rapid, the newbies in the seakayaks are swimming. Everybody is struggling to get them and the gear to shore. Try towing in a completely filled seakayak, even with built in floatation to shore.

I will admit to no longer having any sympathy (unless someone is drowning) and don't bother helping drag their long boats to shore. Figure they either develop the skills to ride their boats down the rapids, or figure out that the shorter ww boats are more appropriate. They're counting on others with ww boats on the river to "subsidize" rescue time for their lack or skills/and or the use of inappropriate equipment. Even when the long boaters are going in a group, they can't "rescue" each other with minimal time because they can't maneuver their long boats around fast enough to push/tow a swamped long boat to shore. So it always ends being a couple of folks in ww boats maneuvering to push the long boat to shore for them.


Which part?
Long boats on the Deerfield? That must be something new! Which stretch of the river? I’ve never seen them so far. But the last time I paddled the DeerField was 2005…

Long Boats on Fife
No reason you couldn’t run long boats on the Fife Brook Section (Cl II). Little manuvering required there. Even Zoar Gap (Cl III) can be run as a straight shot.

Hey Sing, so long as no one is in danger there’s no obligation to rescue them or their gear. I’d guess they havn’t even thought that far ahead. So let 'em chase their own stuff if you don’t want to.

Twice Last Season.

– Last Updated: Aug-24-06 7:59 PM EST –

Both times, I headed myself up to Deerfield on a lark since no waves were playing.

The first time, a group of 5 long boaters. I played a spot, went down to the next set of rapids and saw a over turned long boat. The long boat buddies couldn't do a thing as they could not maneuver their boats around. I and another short boater managed to push the long boat to shore. It was a real dog to get to shore. I played some and went down to the next rapid. Again, some long boater swimming. Forgetaboutit! I took a break. The long boaters went past. I come down another bend... weren't even any rapids to speak of, and two boaters were swimming. I paddled past them like a bat out of hell.

The second time I ran into a group of long boaters. I saw one swim and went out of my way to avoid being anywhere near them for the rest of the trip. I just zipped through, played a bit and high tailed along.

Of course, then there was two years ago... Two dudes in a brand new Coleman were advised not to go through the gap. They did but not in the Coleman. They separated from the Coleman after the initial drop. The Coleman got totally wrapped around the boulder just past the pool. Walt L and his crew has a great time doing SWR practice, using ropes and other gadgets to unwrap the boat. I think it took an hour or so to free the totally crushed Coleman. With the crowd watching and whooping it up on top of the gap, it was probably humiliating to say the least. Lesson learned. :)


I Do It Often
Sea Yaks make great up stream boats in big wide class II.

I have spent many hours playing sea yaks in the Susquehanna Dauphin Narrows. The long boats have great hull speed and can make the upstream eddy hopping much easier.

17 foot sea kayak on a class III

Many “oh sh-ts”



Nice pic Jack! (nm)

Sea kayaks on the middle Yough
we were passed by a group of at least 10 plastic sea kayaks, Perceptions and Necky’s (with rudders) running class II on the Yough last weekend and I can tell you that they were moving right along and having no trouble at all.