Small boat for small person

Both my future daughter in laws are very small. 100 pounds give or take. Our two guest boats are Dagger Spectors in Airalite, which is a good stable boat for beginners, but the darn things are 25" wide with a real high deck, and just too hard to manage for these small framed women. They look like little kids in bathtubs.

Looking for something in a composite, 16’, initial stability somewhat healthy, skeg, but something narrow enough for these gals to paddle. We mostly go on large 2000 to 4000 acre lakes, camping on weekends when they come visit. Staying on flat water conditions till their skill levels come up. Am I talking about a Romany here, or is that too big? or advanced for beginners?

Another question I had is, what about paddles? How long of a paddle should I get for someone 5 feet nothing? 200cm? 190cm? smaller?

They were both really good sports last summer trying to paddle these huge, to them, boats around. I’d like to keep their interests up in kayaking, so I’m gonna have to find boats that fit them properly. Any suggestions out there?

Small paddles
Werner makes SMALL shaft paddles, and shorter than 190

A number of boat options
Among the long respected boats for small people is the Impex Mystic. I think a Romany is probably too big for someone only 100 pounds (BTW though the Romany is an advanced boat in its capabilities, it is extraordinarily reassuring and confidence inspiring). Maybe a Romany LV could work. The Avocet LV might be a good option.


– Last Updated: Dec-05-08 9:49 AM EST –

Necky Eliza composite might be a good choice.
Avocet LV
CD Willow or Suka
Eddyline Fathom LV
Hurricane Tampico 135S

The Romany LV might work -- it's certainly not too advanced. It was designed as a teaching boat. The LV deck and cockpit were modified to fit small folks, but it's the same hull as the standard Romany, so might still be big if they're paddling them empty.

The Avocet LV is an all-new scaled-down boat compared to the standard Avocet.

Good for you for focusing on beam, depth, and cockpit fit. It makes a huge difference for small folks. I wouldn't worry about length -- anything in the 14' range and up won't hold them back unless they're exceptionally strong for their size.

They'll probably be happier with a small diameter shaft, small bladed paddle -- something like a Werner Little Dipper or Bending Branches Twilight blade in the shortest length.

I assume they've already got comfortable PFDs?

how come when a wife wants to buy a boat for her husband it is too personal a choice, and pnetters advise a gift certificate, but when a father in law wants to buy boats for his future daughters in law with measurements like 100 lbs give or take and five feet nothing, everyone has advice? and are we talking about identical twins?

what great and generous gifts, not only the items themselves but the marvelous expectation of fun times to be shared in the future as a family. what lucky young ladies and young men!

I would suggest, however, the paddlers in question be brought in on the decision-making. Do they both share the feeling that the current boats available to them are too big? Although both small, one might be long waisted and the other short-waisted and the right boat for each might not be the same. Even if they live far away, you can share the search for the right boats via the internet together.

In any case, if surprising them is really important, then at least get their actual measurements, especially the distance from their seats to their noses for the paddle choices. Bending Branches has a simple sizing chart, most paddle manufacturers do and I would add to the list of boats the Eddyline Merlin LT

loaner boats
I read this as he wants to buy a loaner boat that either of these women could sue when in town, not a personal boat for each of them. As such, it has to be a more generic fit boat.

Mystic is a great one for small paddlers
I paddle an Impex Mystic. I’m 5’3" – that’s the main thing, more than the weight. My experience was that when I first sat in this boat it fit me – good contact with the boat at feet, hips, thighs. Pretty easy to roll. Tons of initial stability. Pretty good secondary. I learned to edge and brace in this boat.

I tried a conventional Romany, and it felt huge to me. Likewise a conventional Avocet – really huge in the cockpit area. Both boats felt like bathtubs to me. The low-volume version of each might feel fine, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try one.

Two other small person’s boats:

  1. the P&H Vela – I tried out one belonging to a tiny woman. She loved it. I hated it. It fit, but the inital stability seemed very low – and then I watched the woman capsize in light surf in an inlet.
  2. the Eddyline Fathom LV – This boat belonged to a small woman who was delighted with it. I thought it felt very, very fast, which makes sense with its long waterline. The cockpit fit me very well. I think it would have been pretty easy to roll because of the good contact. I was definitely intrigued by this boat.

    I’m signed up to build a skin-on-frame kayak in a class in Jan. – that’s a good way to get a small person’s boat and a very light one, too.

Waiting for JackL to chime in on this one:


Loaner for daughter in laws
Yes, we want a couple more boats to fit the daughter in laws when they come visit us. The boat might not fit them perfectly, but would be much better than what we have now. I’d like to keep the boats 16’ or better, so they can go on Lake Superior with us eventually. We’ve bought too many boats in the last couple years. I really need this to be the end of boat buying for a while. Like that will ever happen. Boy, I sounded like my wife for a minute there?

Small Boats
My wife is 5’3" and 108 lbs. She’s comfortable in my Romany and in the standard Avocet and Chatham 16. She tried out the Eliza and felt like she was sitting in a bathtub.

She paddles in San Francisco Bay in a single and with me in our double on the coast.


if You would like to try a romany or an Anas Acuta on them…let me know when You , with at least one of them is heading my way …if I’m around…I load them and meet You and Deb and them, they can try them out.

as a loaner, I bought a romany…it fits many and works well for a host of things.( I actually bought it as a loaner for my son in law…my daughters both like the Anas Acuta beter.

Best Wishes


Romany LV, not the regular Romany
I’ve sat in a regular Romany, briefly paddled a Romany S, and rented a Romany LV for 5 days. At 5’2" 110 lbs I fit the LV very well; the other two were much too big. I didn’t even need my usual 1/2" pad added to the seat of the LV; it was good to go as is. The only thing I would’ve added if it were my boat was some very thin foam or cloth under the thigh braces–not for sizing but to avoid direct contact with the bare fiberglass.

With a beam of 21.5" the Romany LV is not really narrow, but it’s not too wide even for someone my size. Certainly it’s narrow enough to edge comfortably since the downsized keyhole cockpit in the LV gives good contact with the thighs. And it’s a fun boat, super easy to maneuver.

I second the QCC-10
That is what my 5’-2" wife helped design and paddles.

She got the first one.

And on the paddle get a adjustable one from 190 to 200.



Current Designs Slipstream?
Have sold a few to smaller women, as well as one to a smaller frame fellow using it as a storm boat. Actually have 2 left in stock, new yet '02 models going cheap. 1 is kevlar, the other glass.

Thanks Roy.
Probably wait till spring. I don’t think they’ll be up here till then. Any pictures of that new Grand baby we could see?


Another vote for the QCC10X
I, too, am 5’3" and about 100lbs. I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 five years ago, and though I’m guessing you’d rather buy a boat or two than build one, the Tern 14 is a very nice boat for small folks. (I mention that in case you like winter projects!) I just purchased a kevlar QCC 10X and although I’ve only had it in the pool thus far as it’s winter here, it’s a dandy little boat, with a nice amount of cargo space as well. I have a very petite frame, so I added a bit of minicell foam for hip pads and to bulk up the thigh braces just a bit, and it’s a very comfortable boat. I don’t know how experienced your daughters-in-law are, but it’s just about the easiest sea kayak to roll and brace; I wish I could give you more first-hand information about other aspects of paddling this boat, but that will have to wait until a Spring thaw! 'Hope this helps in your decision-making! wd


– Last Updated: Dec-06-08 10:39 PM EST –

There's no rule saying that a boat has to be over 16' to be seaworthy. The Mariner Coaster is under 14' long and has a great reputation for performance in big water. Longer isn't necessarily faster for small paddlers.

My wife is 5'0", and became much happier on the water when she traded her Avocet RM(which I think is a great boat) for something shorter, lighter, narrower, and lower.(WS Tchaika, no longer made)