Sea Kayak Recommendation

All right. In my other topic fine folks of this forum almost convinced me that my 10" Pelican is inadequate for my needs/wants. With that, what parameters am I looking for?
Here’s my situation

  • 160 lb, 5’6" male, fairly fit
  • would like to venture away from shore some
  • ultimately would like to handle waters of lake Ontario
  • long distance travel/gear hauling/fishing is not on the agenda, I am rather attracted to short, althetic excursions on fairly rough water (again, lake Ontario)
  • willing to invest into proper instruction, especially self-rescue as I will be mostly doing it solo.
  • reasonable budget, but not a penny pincher.

Would appreciate pointers to specific models.
Thanks, much appreciated.

I can’t help you with budget new boats, because I need boats 40 lbs or less and when on a budget, they only exist as used boats and require a lot of patience to find.

I’m 5’6" and 165 lbs and ended up with an Epic 16x as my long boat after trying many other boats. I also only day paddle with a very light load. I never paddle in big conditions like the Great Lakes can throw at a paddler.

My shorter boat that handles winds and chop quite nicely, is the composite Current Designs Vision 135.

I also enjoy the no longer made Perception Sonoma 13.5, but it doesn’t have a front bulk head, so you’d need to ad an air bag for safety.

Good luck finding a boat that’s both safe and performs well on the bigger water of the Great Lakes.

Thank you.

Hey SpaceSputnik!

Given your description of the kind of kayaking you are targeting, you have come to a good/smart conclusion. In my area in the Northwest, this is a time of year where many good used boats are on the market and would fit your needs. This is likely true where you are also. My personal preference would be a used fiberglass boat because they tend to perform a little better and are easier to repair, but rotomolded is certainly more durable on the shorter time scale - particularly for rock hopping. Thermoform is another practical choice. Others might have a different first choice.

I’ve owned many used kayaks (you likely will also) and can think of two which would be immediate good choices. The classic NDK (or SKUK) Romany is one - designed as a good beginner/teaching kayak which then turned out to be also popular with the more elite paddlers. It is ~16’ long. Its bigger brother, perhaps suitable for longer trips, is the NDK (SKUK) Explorer (LV, traditional, and HV) at ~17’ 8" for earlier models. These kayaks are suitable for a reasonably athletic beginner and can still be appropriate as you advance. But there are many other suitable boats, don’t just stick to these.

So you might look at the used market, in the 15’ to 17’ length, and ~22" for beam. Start examining kayaks by

  • reading reviews by people who seem quite experienced (to beginners a new kayak is like a new perfect baby despite the warts and physical imperfections)
  • checking for damage (e.g. no oil canning on rotomolded boats), leakage, etc.
  • sitting in a kayak with your water shoes on to see if it is comfortable and has room for your shoes
    In the water, a good suitable boat will likely feel tippy at first. Something that feels quite stable will likely prove to be a barge later on. This tippy feeling goes away as you learn to relax and stay loose at the hips (loose hips don’t sink ships).

If you take lessons from a competent sea kayaking instructor before buying, you will likely get valuable information on suitable kayaks - maybe even a lead on a good choice. Warning: this is likely your first of several kayaks.

NC Kayaks 15’-8" model, Current Designs Sisu, Valley Sirona, Stellar 14 Touring, Eddyline Raven and KayakPro Namu. By the way, NC is having a summer sale right now on their in-stock boats.

I wold turn this around and go get the lessons first, as part of the lesson should be information about boat selection. Plus in the lesson, you will use a boat provided by the people putting the lesson on, so will be a chance to demo a boat. Plus the information in the class will also be relevant to your paddling in your current rec boat.

On boats, because you don’t want to do long distances and such, you could stick to a “day touring” type kayak. These are boats that are shorter than standard sea kayaks (say 14-15’) but still have the bulkheads and deck lines and other features of a sea kayak. Jackson Journey, Dagger Alchemy, and Dagger Stratos all are ones I would consider. But you are a pretty standard size person (as sea kayak designs go), so there will be many, many boats that would fit you just fine. Either low volume or standard volume boats, but not so much the high volume boats.

Thanks all. I am signed up for a self-rescue class in a couple of weeks, certainly an opportunity to look at what they are using.

I would first decide on if you want plastic or a glass boat. All glass/carbon/Kevlar are coated with gel coat. Gel coat gets scratched and gouged on rocks but should you punch a whole through the glass can be fixed. Plastic is extremely tough can bounce off rocks and what not and keep going fine. I have 3 kayaks. my day paddle boat is a Valley Avocet RM the RM means the plastic version. Iam 5’7" about 170 pounds. The Valley avocet is similar to a NDK Romany. Plenty of used romany’s around. . A P&H delphin another good choice the 150 for you or a P&H scorpio LV another option. See what brands are sold if you have any local kayak shops. Kayak shops are NOT big sporting goods stores. Oh the Valley Avocet is now discontinued boat but should be able to find one still. Local kayak shop sells what replaced avocet the sirona and was told they hate this new boat I have NOT paddled it.

Just wondering, is this any good?

Please view this ad:

Perception Dancer Kayak,
https://www.kijiji.ca/v-water-sport/city-of-toronto/perception-dancer-kayak/1283656225?utm_source=com.google.android.apps.docs&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialbuttonsVIP&utm_content=app_android

Price: $ 250

Download the application from the Google Play Store.
http://goo.gl/Hs9Yg

@SpaceSputnik said:
Just wondering, is this any good?

Please view this ad:

Perception Dancer Kayak,
https://www.kijiji.ca/v-water-sport/city-of-toronto/perception-dancer-kayak/1283656225?utm_source=com.google.android.apps.docs&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialbuttonsVIP&utm_content=app_android

Price: $ 250

Here’s an old thread on that old kayak: https://forums.paddling.com/discussion/818211/perception-dancer-worth-it

In terms of self-recue, these proper sea kayaks with bulkheads, are they buoyant enough while completely swamped so you can get back in (with a paddle float or however else) ?

Sure, they’ll float with a swamped cockpit, You’d want to empty the cockpit first, or get as much water out as possible before trying to get back in. A cockpit full of water makes for a very unstable boat.

http://www.kayakpaddling.net/3-4

I wouldn’t recommend the Perception Dancer. It’s an older white water design with no deck lines, no bulkheads and not designed for speed or tracking.

Find some local outfitters - like the one you’re planning on taking lessons from - and ask if there are any boats for sale. As I said in the other thread, as fall approaches these outfitters start to sell boats off so they don’t have to carry them through the winter.

My wife is Nova Scotian and we get up there a couple of times a year. An outfitter we know there usually has a stock of Boreal Design (a Canadian company) Sedna models that he sells off every year and would be the perfect type of boat for you. That model is 15’ long and 23 1/4" wide. It has deck bungees as well as deck lines, two sealed compartments. While it comes with a rudder, my preference would be a skeg. It’s also poly which means it sells for half the cost of a composite boat.

http://borealdesign.com/kayaks/sedna/

There are many boats out there like this. Look for Current Designs, P&H, Wilderness Systems, Jackson, Necky, etc. You should be able to find a good used boat in this range for about $600-$800.

And, as @Rookie says, a fully swamped sea kayak will still float and will allow you to get back in but you’ll want to pump it out just as soon as you can. A paddle float and a hand pump are pretty much mandatory accessories especially if you’re paddling solo.

Go test a Tempest 165. Also the Smaller Zephyr and the smaller Dagger Alchemy. Just try boats in that category. Rent 'em or go to demos where they are.

It appears you might be near Toronto from the Kijiji ad you’ve linked to. Take a trip to The Complete Paddler down by the Lakeshore and talk to someone knowledgeable in person. I haven’t been there often, but they seem to have the right idea.

If you want to make a nice day trip, head up to White Squall, just north of Parry Sound and you can test paddle a bunch of boats without obligation. They can also give you some advice on what would be a good fit for your size and desired paddling.

They have a nice selection of used boats and a very decent return policy, but they do still need to make money. You’re likely better off purchasing privately. You can see the list of boats from their web site too, but it might not mean a lot if you don’t yet know what you’re looking for.

Do you have an actual price range in mind? Very generally, most of the boats I see that are $500 and less aren’t very useful for much away from shore. Figure on something more like $800 to $1500 for a “real” polyethylene rotomoulded sea kayak with bulkheads and deck rigging.

@SpaceSputnik said:
In terms of self-recue, these proper sea kayaks with bulkheads, are they buoyant enough while completely swamped so you can get back in (with a paddle float or however else) ?

Cockpits often only get partially swamped.

@Overstreet said:

@SpaceSputnik said:
In terms of self-recue, these proper sea kayaks with bulkheads, are they buoyant enough while completely swamped so you can get back in (with a paddle float or however else) ?

Cockpits often only get partially swamped.

Indeed. A good self-rescue in calm conditions with an empty boat will only result in perhaps 2 inches of water or less in the cockpit. It’s not that difficult for someone well-practiced and in decent shape. When loaded with gear, you can’t expect to be able to do any emptying, so more like 3-4 inches of water - give or take.

Reenter and roll is fun and (I’m led to believe) useful in some cases, but you do end up with a lot more water in the cockpit than a scramble, paddle float, or assisted reentry.

@Sparky961 said:
It appears you might be near Toronto from the Kijiji ad you’ve linked to. Take a trip to The Complete Paddler down by the Lakeshore and talk to someone knowledgeable in person. I haven’t been there often, but they seem to have the right idea.

If you want to make a nice day trip, head up to White Squall, just north of Parry Sound and you can test paddle a bunch of boats without obligation. They can also give you some advice on what would be a good fit for your size and desired paddling.

They have a nice selection of used boats and a very decent return policy, but they do still need to make money. You’re likely better off purchasing privately. You can see the list of boats from their web site too, but it might not mean a lot if you don’t yet know what you’re looking for.

Do you have an actual price range in mind? Very generally, most of the boats I see that are $500 and less aren’t very useful for much away from shore. Figure on something more like $800 to $1500 for a “real” polyethylene rotomoulded sea kayak with bulkheads and deck rigging.

I would be ok with 800$ or so, but probably uncomfortable over a grand. It’s not set in stone, a big part of this discussion for me is to actually determine a range for a reasonable boat that will last me a while.
Also, because I am inexperienced, test paddling something might not be that useful because of the lack of skill. It appears to me that his topic may be more valuable in making a correct and somewhat future-proof decision.

All, thanks for the pointers, much appreciated.

No, as above the Dancer is a well respected but old boat intended for moderate WW with maybe a little touring. And did I say old? I have one of that era under my back deck,and I use it for crawling creeks or rolling practice on a hot day when I don’t feel like hauling around the long boat. But I would not, at this point in its life, sell it to anyone who wanted to get into more serious kayaking.

You will find it much easier once you get yourself around a proper set of sea kayaks. . You can get a great used plastic boat for under $800 that will get you going with all the good stuff - perimeter lines, two or three bulkheads and a skeg or a rudder - and at your size there is a large variety of day boats (the length Peter meant, more like 15 to 16 feet and change) that will fit you fine. And outfitters will be selling off a portion of their rental fleets in several weeks.

@SpaceSputnik said:
Also, because I am inexperienced, test paddling something might not be that useful because of the lack of skill.

Au contraire mon ami. Test paddling is what I’d recommend the most at this point so you can start getting a feel for different boats and what they do. You’re still going to gravitate toward something “more stable” (read: wider, more forgiving) but that’s a common thread here when people are just starting out.

But if you are the type of person who gets out and practices often, and who’s skills develop quicker than most, then you’ll be able to grow into a 16-18’ high quality polyethylene sea kayak. Something like a 22-24" beam (outside width at cockpit) is in the range you’d be looking, depending largely on your size and weight distribution. Wilderness Systems, Current Designs, P&H, and Boreal Designs are a few brands that come to mind and are commonly found in SW Ontario.

Keep checking Kijiji. If you aren’t in too much of a hurry, the best time to buy a boat is early winter - just after it’s snowed a bit. That lights a fire under people who don’t have a place to store their boats for the winter and the price becomes so much more flexible.