Hi there and thanks for accepting my registration.
I’m male, 39 y.o., weigh 90 Kg (198 lb), 1.73 cm (5ft8") tall. Athletic build, but a bit overweight.
I’ve been paddling on a chinese rec/fishing kayak (Seaflo 1007 Lupin. 3m long, 80cm wide) for about 2 months and have been enjoying it a lot. Mainly up and down the coast in Greece, so pretty calm waters and warm weather.
I’ve been doing about 10 Km (6 miles) per day with an avg speed of 5Km/h (2.7 knots).
I think that getting a better boat will let me go further to explore and enjoy a better, faster ride.
So I was thinking about buying an RTM/DAG Midway or perhaps the RTM Tempo (practically identical to the old Scupper), both at 4.40m length (a bit over 14 ft) and 60cm width. It is supposedly the fastest SOT for reasonable money, save for a surf ski.
What do you guys think? Is it worth it? Will the difference be massive or slight? I have a trial planned, but would also like to hear from you.
Most folks on this forum are in North America and are not going to have had experience with either model you’ve described as they are not available on this side of the pond. But in general going with a longer and narrower beam boat is always going to improve your speed and performance, especially in the coastal conditions you are likely to encounter. I expect you will immediately notice this difference once you have the chance to test the one you are looking at.
What you have been using is an awfully short and wide boat for ocean use. You will find you can go faster with less effort and also the boat will handle waves better and not be thrown around as much when the wind picks up. You may also find that you can use a shorter (and lighter) paddle with a sleeker boat which will increase your stamina and comfort level.
I have not yet had the chance to kayak along the Greek coast myself but one of my favorite boats is one I bought from the wife of a couple who had spent a month kayak beach camping in the Aegean using that kayak (the husband had a matching one). It’s a sit-inside folding kayak that is 4.75m long and 59cm wide. But they needed the interior volume for their camping gear and food, which you do not. They shared photos from those travels along the Greek coast – you’re in a beautiful place to kayak!
A longer skinnier boat will definitely be an improvement in speed, handling, and increase the distance that you can travel. Initially it will feel more tippy though. Do not let this scare you off. Learn to relax in the boat and you will soon become used to this to where it will feel completely natural.
Many sea kayakers consider 10-15 miles at an average of 3.5 mph to be a typical day. With a bit of body conditioning, good sea conditions, proper technique, and a reasonably fast boat 30 - 40 mile days are possible.
A basic rule of thumb:
The longer the waterline the higher the speed the boat is capable of. (If you have the power)
The lower the wetted surface area (as in a narrower boat) the easier the boat is to paddle.
So a longer narrower boat will be faster… as a rule.
The simple answer is yes. If you are going to paddle in the sea you are much better off with a sea kayak. Get a longer boat with not too much beam and a cockpit. It will change the quality of your experience.
An upgrade is always a good idea. I’ve done it a dozen times or more, even designed and built a few boats because I knew where I wanted to go.
The Midway will be a much better boat for putting in some mileage. Be sure to give yourself some time to get used to it, it won’t be more tippy, but the soft spots will be in different places and take some getting used to.
Like everyone else said, I don’t know the specific boats but if you are doing around 10k in a rec boat you could probably be doing 15 for the same effort.
A true touring boat is an entirely different animal, and once you make that switch the choices are nearly endless with different characteristics of each. I went through a series of used boats figuring out what I wanted. If you can rent or test paddle some boats you may come closer to the boat you really want with the next one.
So I tried the DAG/RTM Midway.
It was just for an hour in fair weather and a bit choppy sea.
Don’t take this as a trustworthy review, since I have mainly my short and wide rec boat to compare it with.
I was prepared for it being tippy, but found it just fine. My fishing/rec boat can’t even be edged, so it obviously rocked a bit more that when stationary, but I did not feel uncomfortable at all.
My fishing boat splashed through choppy sea and gets lifted by even small waves. Then it gets slapped back down. The Midway seamed to just slice through small waves impervious to any bow lift.
It is very fast in comparison. A lot faster. Another level.
It tracks much straighter, but is also harder to turn and to correct its course. I can turn the rec boat 360° with less than three wide sweeps. On the move I can correct its course with just a bit of sweep in one or two strokes. This is not the case with the Midway. It is of course easier with a bit of edging, a technique I more or less tried for the first time, since the fishing boat is very wide and does not take an edge.
All in all, I am convinced to take the plunge and get a new boat, most probably the Midway. It is much faster. It feels secure in choppy conditions. It can be edged to use many techniques that I had just read about. I glides swiftly allowing for rudder and other techniques.
The difference was obvious and I think I will enjoy my excursions a lot more.
Let’s see if I can get it at a decent price now in the off season.
Learn how to bow-rudder and you will seldom need to stern rudder–except when surfing. Be aware, there are several versions of bow ruddering, or “drawing” and various techniques to keeping your kayak on course. The use of paddle ruddering generally would be to turn the boat. Paddle shifting might be the first and easiest thing to try to compensate for wind, or current That and edging are automatic after awhile.
You are on the right path. Most people of average balance, fitness, and determination can master a boat as skinny as they desire. you are making a good step, and will probably make more as we all did.
If you’re curious, I always suggest you investigate and try it if money and time allows.
A next boat to consider, as you suggest, is a stable surfski like the Epic V5, V6, V7, or V8, Sellar S14S, S16S, S18S, Fenn Bluefin, Think Eze, or other stable surfski that im forgetting. If you like waves, rough water, or the safety and ease of a sit on top, surfski is the way to go. If that peaks your interest, check out the surfski.info forums.
All boats are a compromise. A shorter and/or rockered boat will turn more easily, but it will be harder to keep on a straight track compared to a boat with a straight keel. If you want maneuverability, choose a shorter and/or rockered boat. If you want speed and distance, choose a boat with a straight keel. Edging the boat will help a lot in turning any boat that does not have a flat bottom.
A rudder can turn a kayak quite well, but that’s really not what its meant for. Like a skeg, a rudder is primarily used to compensate for wind and current. Some boats really need a skeg or rudder, some not so much. I almost never use my rudder except is strong stern quartering winds. Some people say you should never need a skeg or rudder, but if you paddle open water, 15 or 20 miles of edging and paddling on one side gets a trifle old after a while. In addition, I’ve found in those conditions I gain about 0.5 knots using a rudder.