Shopping for a large volume sea kayak

I am shoppping for a sea kayak. I have now a 14’ Carolina, which I regularly take several miles offshore. The Carolina is great, but I’d like something a little faster and a little better in rough water (I commonly see 3-4 feet but have dealt with larger)

I am 5’11" and an unfortunate 270 lbs. I’m an intermediate paddler with several thousand miles of experience, mostly salt water. I would like to get into a little kayak camping, but only for a night or two, not the long expeditions some people get up to.

The boat should be plastic, as nothing on the Maine coast is soft or rounded and I can’t bear the heartbreak of damaging a glass or composite boat. The polyethylene of my Carolina is scraped up but remains quite functional after seven years of rough use.

I would prefer a skeg over a rudder. In fact, I think I would prefer n orudder to a rudder.

It’s not that cost is no object, but plastic kayaks seem to sit in about the same price range, so this exercise, at least, does not involve prices.

The three at the top of my list are Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175, Boreal Designs Baffin P3, and Nordkapp Etain. I a would love input on additions to - or perhaps subtractions from - that list.


what can you demo?

– Last Updated: Apr-23-14 2:02 PM EST –

Presumably you meant Valley Etain or Valley Nordkapp, not Nordkapp Etain?

I would stick to boats that are available in your area and that you can demo. Someone suggesting that you try some kayak that you can't even sit in really wouldn't be that helpful.

The Tsunami 175 may work,

– Last Updated: Apr-23-14 12:23 PM EST –

it's not a bad big guy kayak. As I have said often when the "big guy" kayak discussion comes up, ht/wt is not as easy to determine fit as is suit size, because your particular body morph is important.

Another good boat to look at is the Eddyling Denali. Their Carbonlite is not quite as delicate as composite. In fact, it's pretty danged tough! It's cockpit should fit you well and it is a high performance sea yak. A lot of folks tout certain boats as 'heavy' carriers, but where they fail is in the cockpit ease of entry and exit for larger morph folks. Not to mention comfort when sitting in them for long periods. But first, you need to be able to get in it, and the only sure way to really determine that is empirically.

You are absolutely correct. I did mean the Valley Etain. Thanks.

Etain 17-7 is worth a try.
If you don’t want to use a rudder, I’m not sure Tsunami is the best choice. If you’re looking at Wilderness Systems, the larger Zephyr (160?) might fit you, though I’m not a fan of the hatch covers on plastic Wildy boats.

You might try the P&H Delphin 155 - that fits a large paddler. And the Etain 17-7 is a fairly big boat.


Faster and good in rough water.
Current Designs Sirocco.

I’ll start by telling you that I don’t own one, I’ve only demoed them. I have demoed the Sirocco in the surf, as well as paddling through twisty salt marsh creeks. It is a plastic kayak that truly impressed me. It feels efficient at a good cruising speed, maneuverable, and good in open water.

A little anecdote from this winter. We had sustained NE 20+ knot winds for days prior to launching from the ocean beach. We were still in a small craft advisory, but I think the winds had subsided below 20 knots, although I’m not entirely sure of that. I want to say 5-7’ seas reported. Short period waves, but some of the most powerful short period waves I can remember. The big sets were more than head high - 6’ plus, and breaking a long way from shore. Close to shore, where they have lost most of their size and power, they still hit hard, and much smaller than usual waves forced us backsurfing. I’m out there often. To me, these were notably powerful waves.

I had a P&H Quest LV, and I actually never ended up attempting to get all the way out past the break. A BCU 4 star, in training for 5 star friend had a Valley Gemini SP, and my other friend had a Sirocco. The Gemini SP launched first, got pummeled, and swam back to shore. I stayed back to make sure everything was sorted out after the swim, and I was actually feeling less than confident given the conditions. I had decided that if my friends made it, I would go for it right behind them. But if not, I wasn’t going to worry about it. Yes, I was being a wimp that day. And yes, I regretted not just going for it afterwards. Meanwhile, Sirocco and paddler did its thing with timing and the rip current we set up in front of and made it out. After a bit getting the Gemini SP back in order and discussing the situation, the Sirocco paddler radioed in with the beginnings of seasickness. He successfully surfed his way back to shore through that powerful mess. We played around in the inside broken waves for the rest of the time.

All this to say that the Sirocco is a proven design that more than holds its own among company like composite Valley’s and P&H’s. Yes, all props really go to my friend, the paddler. But among 3 pretty well-skilled paddlers, the guy in the Sirocco was the only one to break out that day. It was impressive. It was a truly capable kayak in the hands of a very capable paddler.

At 23" wide, it may be worth checking for fit. You can do different in a different kayak, but I’m not sure you can do much better than the Sirocco for what you’re describing - a little faster and good in rough water. It’s well worth a try.

OT: question

– Last Updated: Apr-23-14 4:46 PM EST –

Are you south toward Long Beach or north towards Wrightsville? I paddle Oak Island/Cape Fear area often during the summer/fall. My family has had a house there since the 70s. Your story sounds like a man after my own heart! (w/ NE winds chewing up that much beach I'm guessing more toward Wrightsville). May have to get up and paddle with you sometime when I am down there this year.

I work about a mile from WB bridge.
I work about a mile from the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. We were on Wrightsville Beach that day. I live downtown Wilmington. Definitely shoot me an e-mail. We’re always looking for more ocean paddlers.

Prijon Kodiak
If you are not absolutely opposed to a rudder the Kodiak pretty much fits everything else you want. They can be found for $700 -900 used. Pretty decent boat for heavy paddler carrying gear in rough water.

If you have to have a skeg and plastic the plastic nordkap would be my choice but I’m not sure about your weight/size.

We are about the same size.
The Zephyr fits me well. I love the boat. The 17 foot Tsunami may be hard to find. Also hard to turn.

Cool, capefear…
Will do when I am down that way this summer!

Baffin Opinon
I’ve demo’d both the Etain and the Baffin and am a similar weight. The Baffin I paddled was a C3 but I was quite impressed. Make sure you try one. The cockpit was great for tall paddlers. At 6’2 I could easily sit down and tuck my legs in. The seat and thigh braces were perfect, interesting saddle horn type seat. For me it was a sporty boat, stable enough but easy to throw on edge. I assume in part due to the great outfitting. It also tracked well enough without the skeg. The waterline was decent, to me it felt like a nice performance boat for the bigger guy. Sort of like a T170 but with a cockpit I fit in properly. I see the P3 has a slightly different shape on the hull though(chines). The new T models look to be the same shape as the C models but the T3 won’t be out for a while I was told when I went to order one.

Another plastic model I’d like to try that I don’t see on your list is the Perception Essence 17.

Very grateful for all the responses
My apologies for being quiet; for some reason they were expecting me to actually work today.

The Essence 17 seems to have been an inspired suggestion, as I have been very happy with the Perception boat I have now. I also know where I may be able to try one out. The only downside - and it’s minor - is that I was hoping for something more different from the Carolina.

The Zephyr is a good inclusion, but I would prefer to go a little longer. Everything else about it looks right on, though.

Your point about the Tsunami 175 is a well taken. I should think it would be a ruddy aircraft carrier to turn, but I think it merits further research.

I only had to time to briefly look over the Prijon Kodiak, but it looks like a definite consideration.

The CD Sirocco sounds like a splendid boat, but the website identifies it as being suitable for medium to large paddlers, which I am unfortunately not. I really enjoyed your write-up, though.

The Delphin 155 sounds like an awfully fun boat

I’ve run out of time and will have to check back on the Delphin 155, Etain, and Denali.

Thanks so much.

Happy Friday!
I am digging most of these ideas. I spent my day, disjointed as it was, reading about the Etain and the Kodiak. The Kodiak seems something of a frontrunner at this moment, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about whether or not it is maneuverable or can be rolled. The Kodiak seems a great example of the truism that any boat should be tried before purchase.

The Etain consistently sounds good but that brought up the Cetus HV, which hadn’t come up yet but sounds a twitch better.

I just read a little about the Delphin 155. It sounds a very cool boat, with lots of interesting ideas behind it, but it sounds more like a funner version of my Carolina, and less like a longer sea kayak. Maybe when I’m rich and famous, but it’s not the kayak I’m looking for right now.

I’m training through the weekend, but I’ll keep researching next week. Ideally, I can get out and try a couple demo models next weekend.

Thanks again

el C

Venture Jura HV

– Last Updated: Apr-28-14 1:04 PM EST –

If you can find a Venture dealer (British made by P & H ) their Jura HV (High Volume) is a well made, reasonably priced rotomold boat with a rudder-like skeg, designed for bigger guys.

I've had a smaller model Venture for 4 years and have been really impressed with the performance and features -- very fun boats to paddle.

Big boy boat…

Interesting boat
I was not familiar with it, but ARC is not far from me so I may have to check it out. I’ve been considering a poly boat to use more inland in areas with a lot of oyster beds and shells to spare my Eddyline.

The cockpit and deck height dimensions look good on paper for a big guy. I’m surprised that they only consider it a 275# max weight boat. Not so thrilled about the “scudder” idea.

Jura HV
Just unwrapped a Jura HV but haven’t had it on the water yet. Loaded with features for the $. The Skudder system is a cool bit of engineering that looks like it took a lot of prototyping to dial it in.

Close up pics at:

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Venture features

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 11:26 AM EST –

I like the features on the Venture boats (my ex liked my Easky LV so much he bought himself a standard Easky 15). The seat is pretty nice (though I may replace the back with a backband) and I especially like little features like the embedded steel rod that allows you to easily lock the boat to your roof rack for security and the molded in recess for a compass.

Sharp looking boats for the money and with performance similar to kayaks costing twice as much. Hatches leak a bit unless you are extra careful to get the gasket aligned and smoothed down. The plastic is a little thinner than, say, a WS Tsunami of equivalent size, but it does make the boats about 15% lighter and easier to carry.

I find the Easky far more fun to paddle than similar models I've owned/borrowed/rented by Necky, Dagger, Perception and WS. I originally bought it to use as a "beater" version of my costly Feathercraft Wisper folder (it has similar specs), but it's grown to be a favorite in my fleet -- really a blast in rough water with excellent secondary stability but tracks straight when I want to cover some distance. I actually seek out power boat and barge wakes to surf with it when I am out on our big rivers.

I guess the Jura is fairly new but looks like similar lines with the low stern deck, higher bow and slight rocker (I gather it will be replacing the larger Easkys?

Valley Etain 17.7
The Valley Etain 17.7 will be available to demo at the Kayak Centre of Rhode Islands Demo Weekend - May 3rd and 4th.