Smaller vs. Longer Kayak

I am an intermediate paddler with a Tsunami 140 which I take out on lakes. I love the boat and the way it handles. I am a woman, 41 years old, and 163 lbs. It’s perfect for me.

Yesterday I went kayaking down the Delaware River and experienced some Class 1 rapids. I had a hard time steering my boat away from a few rocks and got stuck a few times. My partner had a Dagger element and he seemed to be doing much better than me.

Looking to do more class 1 and 2 rapids and possibly rolling in the future. Would you recommend the Dagger element or any other boats for me???

Any advise would be appreciated…

Tsumani & rivers

– Last Updated: Sep-10-07 2:49 PM EST –

The Tsunami series were designed for good tracking in open water, and will be less manueverable than other boats with more rocker. You can improve the turning response with aggressive edging and leaning.

Another issue is one that catches all river beginners: turning your boat and ending up sideways to the current, and then being pinned. When running rapids in a longer boat it's important to stay roughly aligned with the current. If you need to avoid obstacles there are ways to do it without turning(draws, backferrying, etc.). If you do turn you need to anticipate the effect of the current. Learning to read the river is important. People often get sideways just going around a bend because they don't realize that the current tends to be faster on the outside.

Something like an Element would be more manueuverable, but the extra beam will make it harder to roll than your Tsunami.

Almost any kayak should be able to handle class I-II rapids safely. Deciding what's "best" would depend on how much time you spend in the rapids as opposed to the flat sections, and what your goals are. I'd encourage you to try a variety of boats, including some river-running whitewater boats.


– Last Updated: Sep-10-07 11:59 AM EST –


Novice (200 miles), flat water, 2 years, below 5'10", 130lbs:

I have a Tsunami 140 D that I've used on class II/III's and the odd rock garden when the water levels are fraction of what they normally are...

In most of those cases I've wished for a shorter boat without a keel to catch the current preventing you from turning on a dime before you crash sideways into that rock swinging you backwards down the rapids to the delight of everyone watching... good times.

Once you're clear of the rapids you're back to loving your T140.

As I remember, the Daggers have a flatter hull and seem more forgiving in the frothy water. I used a 12ft Dagger kayak (don't know the model) 2 weeks ago and swore off of using one for the next decade or so. If it had been my boat I would have left it at the take out with a note wishing the new owner long life and happiness. I guess I've been spoiled by the T140's handling. Comparing flatter hulls to the T140 is not apples to apples, I know.

I'm getting a T120D to reduce the rapid/rocks drama (and save my back loading/unloading). Ideally, you pick your line through the rocks and just power your way through with intent because the current grabs your keel all the way... It's the having to pick your way through the rock gardens that exceeds manufacturer's recommended use guidlines :D

If you don't mind the handling of the shorter, fatter, shallow boats then they would be a better choice IMHO for the rapids.

Get a boat for every occasion! And a hat to go with each one!

Almost any kayak can handle class 1
and SOME class 2 rapids safely. Toward the top end of the class 2 range, one needs a whitewater kayak and appropriate technique to be secure.

"Get a boat for every occasion! And a hat to go with each one!"

AMEN BROTHER!! (or sister) I’m working on it. :slight_smile:

The Tsnunami 14 can be turned
quickly but you have to really get it up on its edge which may be tricky in a down river situation. The Necky manitou is another boat to consider. Having once owned a Mariner Coaster, I would recommend it as, arguably, the most versatile small kayak of all time. Mariner is back in limited production but the little Coaster is made only in fiberglass and is on the expensive end. John

"Looking to do more rapids…"
Aha! We’ve caught another one…:wink:

Do consider taking a basic whitewater class sometime. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll get to try different boats, and you’ll have fun.

Too many people think that whitewater paddling is all about 30-foot drops, killer hydraulics, and endless cartwheels. It doesn’t have to be – that’s just the TV version. You can have fun at any level that’s comfortable for you.

If you enjoyed the rapids, ocean waves would be another way to enjoy your Tsunami. I wouldn’t take it to a beach break just yet but you could have fun learning to ride the waves outside the break zone.

Whitewater kayak
Look for a used whitewater kayak. People have been selling their older whitewater boats and buying very short whitewater playboats in recent years and you can often find a used “old school” whitewater kayak in good condition quite cheap. These longer boats have better hull speed, and the displacement hull that most have will be more familiar to you than the planeing hull that the newer boats sport.

These older boats are perfectly suited for general river running, but they are going to be a bit slower on long flatwater stretches. Just make sure that the hull has not deteriorated from long UV exposure and that you have a spray skirt to fit. There are many examples, too many to name, but a few that come to mind are the Dagger Crossfire, Dagger RPM, Dagger AQII, Dagger Animas, Perception Pirouette S, Prijon T-Canyon.

By the way, if you live near the Delaware River, there is a current listing in the classified ads for a used Perception Pirouette with skirt, paddle and float bags for $300, in New Jersey. This is a little bigger than the Pirouette S but not outrageously large for your weight range. It is also an easy boat to learn to roll.

Yup, class first
Agree with angstrom re “more WW”. Take the class first then worry about the boat. I can guarantee you you’ll have a much better time out there if you are at least near a roll anyway, so if that’s still to come you have time anyway.