seaworthy day touring kayak

I have seen a few Day touring / hybrid kayaks out on the market: Manitou 14, Carolina and Capehorn to name a few. most are about 14’long w/ a 24" beam. They seem to fall somewhere in between a Sea Kayak and a Rec Kayak. Are these types of boats seaworthy enough for the open ocean? What would there limitations be?

paddler skill the only limitation…
A 14 foot boat can be just as seaworthy as an 18 foot boat. It will just be a bit slower for long distances. If the kayak has two bulkheads and you have a strong roll in the kayak, you can really paddle in just about anything a sea kayak can paddle in. Some of the best rough water boats are short boats and they excel in rock gardens, surf, tidal races, etc. Hull design has a lot more to do with it than length.

“touring” boats

It used to be that “touring kayak” was synomous with “sea kayak”. It looks like, now, it means a boat between “recreational” and “sea”.

I have seen these boats in open water and in trips around Manhatten. They are quite capable boats but a bit wide to my taste.

Why ask here?

– Last Updated: Mar-28-06 12:13 PM EST –

...when you can go down to Mission Bay and talk to the friendly and knowledgable folks at Aqua Adventure?

I've only dealt with them twice since I lived in NorCal. But they're one of the best outfitter I've dealt with. They carry such a huge variety of boats there, you can test paddle till your arms fall apart!

It's one thing for folks living in Arizona asking questions on the net because the nearest outfitter are 5 hours away. Quite unneccessary when you have the best shop right down the slip from your regular launch.

why not ask here
I respect the opinions of many of the regulars on this board. I will also ask the folks at Aqua adventures. Thanks for the replies

All boats are compromises but I think these boats are compromises more suited to paddlers less interested in developing rough water skills and more interested in more protected waters. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t take them on the open ocean or develop skills or whatever. The question is why would these boats be more suitable than a more traditional sea kayak for your particular paddling goals?

I’m a firm believer in floatation and minimizing the volume that will fill up if capsized so anything with bulkheads +/or float bags is better than a stock rec kayak IMO for any conditions.

If you want a shorter boat for some reason that is designed for “sea kayaking” (whatever that really means) I’d look at the Necky Looksha Sport (not my cup of tea), Zoar Sport (really not my cup of tea), Elaho (a fun boat) The Wilderness System Tsunamis (glue that not-a-day-hatch shut or install a bulkhead), or if you can find one a Mariner Coaster, or a Rockhopper (not available in the US yet?). I probably missed some.

Mariner Coaster…it’s short, but in…
…a class of its own amongst boats in the 12-15 foot range.

Boats like the Looksha Sport (even one foot longer than the Coaster, by the way), Zoar Sport, etc. are, in my view, more “long rec boat” than “short sea kayak” in terms of truly seaworthy performance (and overall design intent). The Coaster, on the other hand, was designed by coastal paddlers with some pretty specific coastal conditions in mind; including surfing (though not a specialized “surf boat”), easy maneuverability in sea caves and rock gardens, ability to handle rough open waters, and to cover some distance with surprising ease for such a short boat (perhaps not quite with the efficiency of a longer touring/expedition boat, but still pretty good for a short, playful “day tripper”). Of course, a boat like this is just as seaworthy in much milder conditions as well, so for a 13 foot boat, the Coaster can offer a versatility that few in its length range can claim.

Packing enough gear into a Coaster for an extended trip might present too much of a challenge for all but the most resourceful planners/boat packers/magicians, so, all things considered, I’d say its various attributes qualifies the Coaster as a pretty good candidate for “seaworthy day tripper” status.

The Coaster may look peculiar (especially to someone like myself, who generally appreciates the long, sleek, and graceful lines of a W. Greenland boat), but if I ever find a used Coaster for sale, I’d certainly be happy to add this seaworthy little boat to my fleet! :slight_smile:

That said, my idea of an “ultimate day tripper” for non-sea cave/rock garden use would be a low volume W. Greenland SOF. Light, very seaworthy in all sorts of conditions, very beautiful, and if budget is a concern, cheap to build as well!


SOF = no bulkheads!
Ok, I know Pavia has installed bulkheads into his SOF but a SOF has it’s drawbacks as well. In my rolling qajaq (which leaks quite a bit due to paint being scraped off), it is in no way seaworthy. Even if I could get full floatbags AND a sock in the kayak, it would sink if any real amount of water got in. I have done some real paddles in the SOF rolling qajaq with some friends for fun and it is quite an interesting experience. It’s slightly unnerving to watch your bow knife/submarine into a small 2 foot swell as the mini swell hits you in the chest. Now if I knew that I could keep water totally out of my SOF, I would take it into some rough water for sure just to have fun playing the role of a squirt boat. :slight_smile:

“Rolling qajaq” vs. “Day tripping” …
…qajaq. Not all SOFs have to be extremely low volume “rolling” boats. I’ve paddled a couple of SOF boats (complete with float bags) that I’d have a great deal of confidence in for long day paddles on open waters. They were certainly “low volume” in comparison to most modern “touring” boats meant to carry lots of gear, but still had plenty of volume and design features to not dive/slice into two foot swell (did you mean “swell”, or “wind waves/surf”?).

In any event, I’m planning on building my own first SOF this coming Summer, and while it will be a relatively low volume boat, I’m planning on using it for more than just rolling, so I’ll try to build it with “overall seaworthiness” in mind. I’ll also coat it with something that should provide both a good seal and abrasion resistance. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works for my “day tripping”! :slight_smile:


I know. :slight_smile:
I love SOF kayaks and if I had a larger volume SOF I would take it out in almost anything. I means “swell” or even riffle. When paddling fast, the bow even has a tendancy to bury slightly in it’s own wake. Good luck with your SOF. I’m theoretically working on building a SOF Yost folder this year but I doubt I’ll get much done this spring/summer as I’ll be out paddling too much. Of course this boat is just a rolling boat as well! I just love low volume too much. Even though I’d LOVE to have a nice medium volume West Greenland kayak to day paddle, the thought of an ultra low volume East Greenland kayak gets me even more excited.

ibmikie- take a look at a Prijon

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 8:33 AM EST –

Calabria. It is 14 1/2' long with a 25" beam. I have used it on flat water and on Lake Michigan. It's fast, stable, maneuverable and fun. It just weathercocks a bit so if you are in a windy area you may need to add a rudder. I think it is a fine rec touring yak. CAUTION- I would not use it on big water in very textured conditions or confused seas.

Nobody likes to talk about money
> The question is why would these boats be more suitable than a more traditional sea kayak for your particular paddling goals?

Last year when I upgraded to a new yak, my plans were to get into some real ocean kayaking. The most suitable kayak for me might have been a Surge or a Necky Chatham 18 composite. However, the $3k price tag would NOT be suitable in sustaining my marriage. I bought a Tsunami 14’ for under $1k. This got me OUT of my rec boat and into something that worked just fine in open ocean.

When I go out on ocean trips with friends, I’ve got the shortest boat in the group, but I’m able to keep up and I’m having a good time while slowly trying other longer boats. Possibly this summer, but more likely next summer, I’ll buy a longer sea kayak. In the meanwhile, I’ve got something that’s working just fine and I’m not dropping a ton of cash on whatever long boat seems best right now.

That is a great little boat as Melissa says, and exemplifies how a shorter more playful boat can be way more fun and seaworthy. The Coaster will outperform most so called long expert boats, and will surf circles around them. BUT, it smacks in the face of industry dogma that says longer is faster and “more expert”. The Coaster’s waterline is as long as many “longer” boats, and it cruises along just fine. And about gear, all these boats have more than enough room. I believe most people would be better off in shorter boats when the sea kicks up. If speed is really what ya want get a surf ski, or legitimate fast boat such as the Epic 18.


Part of the attraction of the “touring” boats (in between “rec” and sea kayaks) is their cost. Their size, smaller than sea kayaks, is another. And, the “touring” boats are more stable than sea kayaks (another thing people who buy these boats are looking for).

Still, you can get excellent plastic sea kayaks for “only” a little more money than many of the “touring” boats. You can also buy used sea kayaks if money is a problem.

You don’t need to spend 3K on a composite boat!

Boat spectrum

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 12:23 PM EST –

The "touring" boats are not "true" sea kayaks but they are not exactly "rec" boats either. They have characteristics that put them between true "rec" boats and true sea kayaks.

They tend to be narrower and longer than rec boats and shorter and wider than sea kayaks.

Part of the attraction of the "touring" boats is their cost (though, they are often not much more cheaper than a plastic sea kayak). Their size, smaller than sea kayaks, is another. And, the "touring" boats are more stable than sea kayaks (another thing people who buy these boats are often looking for).

My biased opinion is a preference for sea kayaks but people use these "touring" boats quite effectively.

The "Coaster" has a good reputation but is probably hard to try out.


I was wondering if you could tell me about your experience with the Tsunami. I was originally looking at a Zoar Sport and have since considered the Tsunami. I’m completely new to sport and would like to get a good entry boat that will cover several purposes. I’ll learn on small lake and move up and eventually to Great Salt Lake. Any info you would provide would be a great help. Thanks,Duane

So what is the difference
between a proper “sea Kayak” and a “touring” kayak?? Is a Coaster not an exceptional “sea Kayak”? One of the finest.

Keep your Tsunami.
As you are experiencing, the folks in the long boats are NOT going any faster, and you can handle every bit as big a sea in your boat, perhaps bigger seas. Certainly you have more maneuverability, better surfability, and plenty of room. Enjoy…It’s a cool little boat.

I second bruce’s comments.


There are no “black and white” absolute differences between “touring” boats and sea kayaks. They are part of a “continuum”.

The Coaster is 13.5 feet long and 23 inches wide.

How is the primary stability of the Coaster? If it’s high, it’s a touring boat (in my opinion).

Clearly, the Coaster is somewhat specialized: it’s designed for manueverablity or small padderls.

I’d say the Coaster is somewhere between the touring boats and sea kayaks.