Short recreation kayak open water/ocean?

Condo dweller, no storage here…with a question…

I’m already taking out an inflatable kayak out on six to eight mile ocean paddles (Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame, which I’ve used for a year). I have to think a short recreational kayak will go a little faster.

I’ve found a possible solution, Point 65’s Martini take apart kayak. It’s a short (9.5 ft) sit-inside rec kayak that is rated for the ocean (but, of course, going to be a little slow).

I know fatigue can be an issue, but I figure that picking calmer days and going a set number of hours should mitigate other issues related to ocean paddling. I also figure that if I want to do a longer paddle, I will rent a kayak

Am I missing something important? I know the typical reaction is that recreational kayaks are more for play and not to do serious ocean kayaking. But I’m not clear why I couldn’t paddle a rec kayak for three to five hours. I’ve already done three or four on the inflatable…

More info …

– Last Updated: Apr-24-11 1:08 PM EST –

It might be helpful if you described where you are going to be paddling on the ocean -open coastline with real surf, open coastline with small surf, or protected areas - how much wind you get will also be important. It looks cool to hook the boat together, but I expect it is heavy, and a pain to deal with every time you hit the water. You want a boat you can just grab and go and throw it in the water and paddle off.

Just looking at the specs of the boat it looks like it would be a dog to paddle, and not a huge improvement on an inflatable.

Not sure where you are located but maybe consider two inexpensive solutions. I started out seakayaking and now I mostly just do surfing with waveskis. On my path to where I am now I owned many boats and two that I have kept I use for just the kind of paddling you are talking about. Cobra Strike 9'6" long - I use it for coastal paddles when I go by myself looking for spots to surf and explore. It's a great surfer, and it would certainly be just as fast as the boat you are looking at. I paddle a lot in Lajolla Cove area, and I can easily paddle faster in my jive than most tourists can in rec sit on tops. Three or four hour paddles work fine. The second solution is an old school whitewater boat -about 8 or 9 ft. Long They work well for the surf zone and you can paddle one straight at a reasonable pace. You can get boat like my necky jive for ~$300 on Craigs list. The jive is indestructable and fun for playing in coastal rockgardens. It's about 8'4 "and 24 inches wide, and very easy to store and transport.

I would work on being more creative about your storage solution. The boats I have mentioned can be stored in a pretty small space. But if you look around you can probably ask an apartment manager or friend if there is a place you can keep your boat. Balconies work, standing straight up in a garage, chained up will work. Some cities have boat storage near water, many businesses that sell boats also have places you can store them. Good luck.

Small sit in recs have no floatation. If you go over you’ll have a bear of a time getting back in, or may be it just sinks. I don’t paddle the ocean but I would think Sit on top is better choice for casual paddles.

If the point 65 has hatches I guess that would work. Somebody else will have a stronger opinion.

Ryan L.

Good points

– Last Updated: Apr-24-11 1:39 PM EST –

Thanks Seadart! I'm actually in San Diego; I sometimes paddle in and out of La Jolla Cove, but I usually paddle out of the mission bay channel. I want to start doing paddles from mission bay to La Jolla, and Mission Bay to San Diego Bay (I know that's ambitious).

I think the boat's specs say it's 48 pounds (but not including the rudder and hatches).

I rented it from Aqua Adventures, and it took about 30 seconds to hook up. I think part of what I like is that it will assemble and clean a lot more easily than what I have. I took it out last weekend and it seemed to handle well in water that was a little choppy. Though I'm comparing it with an inflatable...

But I still don't want something that in two months I'm wanting to upgrade. Without storage - and not wanting to pay $50 a month to store - I'm limited. Second floor of condo building doesn't help any! I think as things evolve I may get to the point I'm willing to make that compromise, but not there as of yet...

I will look at your suggestions as well, I appreciate it!

I think it’s okay in that area…
The boat does have two hatches over the bulkheads. I even emailed the manufacturer, and they confirmed it was buoyant even with a flooded cockpit. So I think that’s not too much of an issue…

Big Bucks - Go feathercraft
Paddling from Mission Bay down to San Diego Bay and landing at the Marina is 13 miles. I’ve done this many times but in nothing shorter than 14’. Not a lot of good options for landing once you get near Point Loma and the navy base. Not sure it would be a lot of fun in a plastic tub.

I’d ask Jenn her real opinion of the boat for long paddles and see if she can steer you to something better.

If you are going to do some serious coastal paddles I would at Feather Craft folding kayaks. They are serious seaworthy boats. I have only test paddled one and I was extremely impressed.

TsunamiChuck … who was banned from posting on the site here, for antics that irritated some folks, has a feathercraft and takes it on trips and has paddled all over the world. If you see a post here from him ask him about the boats.

The first kayak I ever had was a
little 9’ long Keowee, and I would paddle it all day long out in the Atlantic.

We did not have GPS units then, but I used to estimate that I had paddled between eight and ten miles.

jack L


– Last Updated: Apr-24-11 5:13 PM EST –

A little short rec boat is like a bobber getting
bounced around with little speed and momentum.
The wave sequences or sets don't accommodate short kayaks.

Supplement hatches with float bags - they prevent cargo
from shifting and provide a backup in case of leaks.

I've paddled a 12 ft Dagger Crossover on the Detroit River
and Lake St. Clair in Michigan -- BUT ---
I worked my ass off in terms of muscle expenditure.
There was little left in the tank if the weather turned bad or I encountered a problem.

A longer boat slices thru the wave trains enabling
one to make real progress and cover distances easier.

Paddling with buddies is always a great idea
and improves your safety factor enormously.

Funny, I was just at Aqua Adventures and Jen gave me some guidance. She thinks for coastal paddling, as long as I plan ahead and prepare, the boat can work. And of course would be a workout, but is fine for what I’d want to do.

That said, I’m having second thoughts (see post below).

I’ve explored the “folding” kayaks, but know myself well enough to know I would get lazy pretty quickly and not want to assemble one all the time…

Good points everyone
I demo-ed the kayak today, under more adverse conditions (wind speed about 12 mph, 3 ft tide coming in, 3 foot waves). It definitely was a workout!

  • I’m still thinking about getting the boat to do shorter coastal paddles of 6-12 miles under safe conditions, acknowledging that it would involve more of a workout. Both the manufacturer and local seller (who is well-regarded in the kayak community) think that this will work. But give me an extra workout.

  • My other idea is to rent sea kayaks for longer paddles from our well-regarded local kayak shop. I may still buy the Point 65 boat. It is a neat boat, and would give me some freedoms that renting doesn’t afford.

    All the feedback was really helpful. I’ll let you know what I do.

Sounds like a good plan
Jen is a real asset. I think with her advising you, you really can’t go wrong.

Keep in mind that distance isn’t the only consideration when paddling on the ocean. You may be up to paddling the 15 or so mile distance from Mission Bay down around Point Loma, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to do so. Lots of skills and safety considerations to think about and work on. Again here, get advice from Jen.

And more than likely, spending a day taking a class with her would be money well spent. (It certainly was for me!)


Thanks Nate! You have read my mind. I’m thinking of taking a couple of classes as part of this. Because I want the skills, and I know Aqua Adventures won’t lend out their sea kayaks or grant permission for ocean paddles until you’ve taken those classes.

I have paddled for a couple of years and taken a beginner’s class, and read and watched videos to learn a few other things…but I know it doesn’t replace taking a class. And I know Jen is pretty renowned for what she does.

I agree about possibilities for the Mission Bay to Point Loma trek. Definitely will be careful, and will look to improve my skills first. But I did want to have a boat capable of making the journey…

San Diego Kayak Club

– Last Updated: Apr-24-11 9:08 PM EST –

I'm not sure if you know about the San Diego Kayak Club, they often schedule paddles along the coast. In recent years the club has become sort of a looser organization. I know the past and present presidents, avid kayakers and great people. I think if you look on the webpage you can sign to receive emails. Many of the paddles require that you have intermediate level skills. I would advise taking some classes from AA. Then pay to go on one or two of the coastal paddles with Aqua -Adventures using one of their boats. By that time you may give up on the idea of the mini-modular SOT, I think you already realize it will be limiting.

I sometimes see folks on inflatables going off the beach at Lajolla Shores and the boat ramp. I am on different craft, but usually a waveski or yellow surf kayak, black carbon Onno paddle, wear a black Gath helmet, and usually a yellow PFD. Say hello if you see me.

Rec kayaks and bigger water

– Last Updated: Apr-24-11 9:37 PM EST –

The reasons that you see rec kayaks recommended against for ocean (or well out into the Great Lakes, any bigger water) is only partially speed. Rec kayaks often lack the following features that make it practical to do a self-rescue in open water, where you are likely to be too far from shore to make swimming in a remotely practical idea.
Features are:
Flotation at both ends (so you don't get Cleopatra's Needle in a capsize).
Perimeter rigging (static line) all around that is helpful in holding onto the boat and re-entering.
For SINKs (sit inside kayaks), a cockpit that is reasonably small so that a skirt can stop waves from swamping the boat. A very large cockpit is more likely to let water in even if skirted, enough to give you a real stability issue.

Overall a boat that is narrower and a little fleeter, so that a variety of self-rescue options including a roll are within reason, is preferred.

So - I don't know the boat you are considering, but if bigger water is your goal I'd suggest that you take the above suggestions. Time in sea kayaks with someone who can advise you well first, then consider how deeply you want to reach into your pocket.

Another thought …
Not sure if you are actually going outside the jetties from Mission Bay now. You want to be careful of boat traffic near the jetty mouth. Changing tides and winds and swells can create some very interesting haystack waves at the jetty mouth, you don’t want to capsize in the boat channel as you will be very hard to spot in a small kayak and big waves.

I usually enter and leave the jetty fairly close to the jetty walls, but this can have some pretty dicey wave action. I paddled out of the jetties a lot when I started kayaking, but it’s much nicer to launch from a beach, once you have the necessary skills.

Other spots to consider launching to get out on the open coast are near the Marine Room in Lajolla, and at Tourmaline surf park (move away from the board surfers when you launch). You probably already know about the boat ramp at LJshores, and you can launch on the North side of the surf flag at LSshores. Another good spot is north of the pier at Scripps, parking on the road. In summer time you can launch from pacific beach when the waves are small without much trouble.

I JUST got back from Destin/Pensacola florida. Took my sit inside Perception Rhythm 11 with me (rec boat). First day was yellow surf conditions and I flipped it numerous times before getting the hang of it. Sit inside rec kayaks are almost impossible to drain unless you are standing up on a sandbar or have a solid footing close to the shore. It was honestly pretty fun but def NOT recommended if you are going out into the ocean a bit. A flip out there is definitely not something you would want to happen.

The next couple of days were red surf conditions. Those were just about impossible to manage when trying to head back in. It’s almost impossible to not surf in as the waves literally pick you up and throw you. Also, under heavy surf conditions some of the waves are taller than the kayak is long and one of the flips was a spectacular end over end somersault. Again, close to shore not a big issue but out a bit and you are stranded.

Under calm conditions it’s wonderful. More effort for sure than a longer boat but responds well. My thing is…what if you’re out in calm conditions and it turns bad as seas are known to do?

Bottom line is, if you are thinking about crossing any significant stretch of ocean, do not use a rec kayak. If you are just traveling along the shoreline then you will probably be good.

Ask Jen to contact Greg Knight
the former owner of Aqua Adventures, He may have a sectional kayaksport Viking for sale.

Good points too!

– Last Updated: Apr-25-11 1:28 PM EST –

Excellent points and advice, I will look at that! I did notice SDKC and just figured it was a step beyond where I am, and what equipment I have right now.

I have actually become pretty comfortable going out through the jetty in Mission Bay. I know the issues you've described well, and have navigated some gnarly boat surf far worse than any naturally occurring waves I've encountered. Would love to have a boat that is better suited for beach launches: I have launched in La Jolla when waves were a couple of feet, but definitely would love some instruction.

I appreciate the list of other beach launch spots, I will definitely take a look at that.

Thanks Celia, those are all very great insights. I think the boat I’m looking at has most of that addressed (two bulkheads), though the cockpit is fairly large. Agreed on the self-rescue options, and I appreciate your mentioning that.

I think I have probably mis-stated my intent: I’m most likely looking at coastal paddling rather than going too far out in the open water.

I will definitely look at that…though if it’s one of those kayaks that retails for $5000, and he’s selling that used, it’s probably out of my price range. Do you happen to know if my thinking is accurate on that?