Still Kayak searching ...

and seeking your wisdom - or at least your opinions. We are seriously considering a used Current Design Pachena for my 5’9" 190 lb husband and are still looking for an appropriate kayak for me. There is a possibility of a used Necky Tornak 15.5, a new Airalite Carolina 13.5 or a new Lightspeed Photon 14.5. I am 5’5" and 135 lbs, I would like to keep up with my husband who is much stronger than me. Which boat will give me the best chance at that? (bearing in mind that we are both inexperienced paddlers).

These will be strictly for day trips mostly on the ocean on nice days.

Thanks in advance!

"mostly on the ocean "
Somehow that doesn’t make me think of 14’ kayaks. More like 17’+ and narrower.

Limiting yourself to what’s easily available used may work out, or may put you both in the wrong kayaks.

Profile says Vancouver - and if that’s so I’d highly recommend you seek competent local advice from paddlers/outfitters/guides who regularly paddle the places you plan to. Conditions change rapidly, many areas are not as placid as they may at first seem, and the water’s never really warm there. Lessons and guided trips in the beginning are also a good idea. $ well spent as it can save you a lot of trial and error and get you to a level where you can enjoy even kayaking more.

A reading suggestion while you’re kayak shopping: Sea Kayakers “Deep Trouble”. Most of the incidents are in that area. Available right here:

and as a practical companion: “Sea Kayaking Safety and Rescue” by John Lull (which SHOULD be here but isn’t so you’ll have to find via bookstore/online).

Even if your paddling is truly going to be calm and easy - these will make sure you have the right frame of reference in your head regarding many potential situations.

I would also say to try a longer boat for the ocean, probably a lighter, lower women’s specific boat to give you every advantage to keep up with your husband. And a really GOOD (light and the correct size)paddle!

You will have many boats over time
why not just get something easy to find and not too expensive. The specs really don’t mean very much after you’ve been paddling a few months.

books and lessons
Thanks for your book suggestions, I have been looking for some good ones. Yes, lessons - we will definately be doing that. We are taking them to the Sea of Cortez so we will at least have some warmer water to make our first mistakes.

We promise we won’t go far from shore in these boats! My husband grew up in a canoe in Algonquin Park so he is a very good canoe paddler and is very cautious on the water. We have also been messing around with a 10 foot zodiac for a few years in Barkley Sound and the Sea of Cortez so we are accustomed to watching the water and the weather. Thanks for the advice.

Many Boats!!??
Yikes, such an investment, these babies are not cheap! Yet, I have been coming around to this very conclusion reading about the fleets many of you have. If we like it, we may well be in the market for longer and better next year. I just really want to get the best boats for us now that will increase the liklihood that we will enjoy the sport and want to stay with it - all without breaking the bank.

So, given that, what about the used 15.5’ Necky Tornak? How would it compare with a Photon or a Carolina? It is supposed to be a low volume boat. Thanks for your feedback.

My size
I range up to the same weight as you by day’s end (OK - winter’s goal is to do something about five pounds of that) and am just an inch shorter, so will just throw in my 2 cents about sizing. Your husband is at a size where he has a lot more flexibility in boats than you.

I get that you plan to keep it simple and safe and are trying to do as much as you can on a budget. So one part of me is saying that as long as you get a boat with the basic safety features and dress for immersion, you’d probably get by most times. Safety features being two sealed bulkheads for floatation, perimeter lines to hang onto the boat in the water and deck rigging to help with self-rescue. At least a couple of the boats you’ve mentioned, like the Carolina and the Pachena, have this.

However, since you plan to take lessons, you also want a boat that will support you in practicing those skills. You’d hate yourself in the morning if you paid good bucks to learn how to manage a kayak down south, and arrived back home to find out that you couldn’t make your own boat do half of what you just learned. And that is where I kinda cringe at some of the boats like the Carolina, at least the regular sized one, or the Pachena. These boats have very large cockpits for someone our size, and very high decks front and back, so you end up with a combination of a boat that provides often inadequate contact to turn or lean it comfortably as well as presenting a real safety risk becuase the deck is so high that it is really hard for most women to do a re-entry. Even with someone helping you. Been there, done that, add the colder water that you live near and the combination of tiredness and conditions could be pretty high risk. And then there is the fun of contorting your stroke to avoid hitting the boat’s side every time.

While the arguments are all there about longer and narrower for bigger water, and for ocean use I agree for the averge boat, I am mostly thinking about the fact that you want to be able to take your skills home and conserve funds. Getting into a boat like you are thinking of now, even used, is likely not the best way to do that. You really need to take lessons and get acclimated to proper fit in a boat before you buy. Like I said above, you really have to be a little fussier about that than your husband to get a decent fit.

That said, there are any number of options out there now that did not exist even a few years ago. It is finally getting better (tho’ I still find ways to complain at times). And there are options in plastic that would cost the same or not a lot more than what you are already considering, like the Impex Mystic, that could be a very nice fit for you. The problem, I’d bet that if you got into any of these boats right now you’d find them alarmingly tight - because you haven’t had the seat and instruction time to understand why that is good. So if it’s plastic your husband has to help you carry it, but if you try it alone with a cart and drop it won’t get hurt.

Think about taking a pass on boat purchases until spring and you’ve had some lessons. You likely don’t have the clothing to be out there right now anyway, at least if considering the risk of immersion, and there are paddle fests in the spring that are often a good chance to pick up last year’s model of a boat at a good price.

consider a good quality inflatable for the ocean. An Incept K40S would fit you nicely. Some purests will poo-poo inflatables but that’s probably because they’ve only ever paddled a cheap one.

Inflatables handle the rough water of the ocean really, really well – the same way inflatable rafts handle river rapids. They flex and the boat stays upright. Of course they are slower then hardshells and have more windage – but not as much as you’d think. I’ve had my Innova in a 15 knot head wind with no problems.

Innova Solar II

Innova Sunny

Innova Seaker (heavy, but a good boat)

Grabner Discovery


Thanks so much for your suggestions. Much food for thought. It sounds like no matter how I get around it, time and experience will increase my skills in a boat which will then change what feels comfortable and what I am looking for in a boat. So - buying a boat now that goes to Mexico in January, paddling in warm water, close to shore only in calm seas, practice, come home, take lots of lessons, try some more boats, sell the one bought this year and buy “the one” to take to Barkley Sound and back to Mexico next year. Life is good. Now if only the snow would stop falling I could get out there to do more in the water research… will try out that Mysic first.

You folks are so wise - and patient with me, such a newbe … Your guidance is much appreciated. Thanks so much.

How about a Diamante?
I have had a few kayaking courses now and have tried a few boats; the Carolina 13.6, the Delta 14.5 and the Impex Diamante 16.6. I haven’t found any reviews on the Diamante. What do you think of it p.netters? Have any of you tried it out? I found I liked all of these boats but the Diamante really felt like the most fun. I found it comfortable and quite quick. Of course, I have only spent about 4.5 hours in it. My book says one should buy a kayak to grow into, not one to grow out of. Do you agree? Would this boat fit that bill? Thanks.

Auntie,have you visited ?

I was thinking about getting a diamante and one of the guys has one and loves it but i think he’s quite a bit bigger than you…I looked at one at Middleton’s(west van) and was unimpressed with the layup. By the way Sasquehana is the same thing as a Diamante except for hatches i think. Have you tried an Elaho? if not try it :slight_smile: other than icky weathercocking in certain conditions it’s a wicked all around touring boat for a medium sized person. I upgraded mine with seaward’s gas pedal footpegs for solid bracing but now i think i’ll just remove the rudder and put in some generic solid yakima footpegs as i never use the rudder.

A couple of points
1. You are never going to enjoy paddling if you are trying “to keep up with your husband”

He should go at a pace that you enjoy, and that is his responsibility if you guys want to be compatable paddling partners.

2. Several people have mentioned a longer kayak for ocean paddling, and that is BS, when it comes to a smaller paddler.

My wife had a QCC-600 which is a fairly long boat, and it was just to big for her.

She now has the new little (no name QCC)which is about two feet shorter and she loves it, plus can go faster in it than in her old 600.

We do lots of off shore ocean paddling, and she can handle her new boat as well if not better in rough ocean water.

Cheers, and Merry christmas


option to rent a variety in Mexico ?
Auntie, you seem to be on the right track and I am impressed that you see the importance of choosing a boat that will encourage you to continue with the sport. I also agree that it will be difficult to assess different boats at your admitted “newbie” level. While we all say to demo, I wonder if demos don’t encourage more newbies into wide boats that do not challenge them. How many buy a boat based on the initial stability and then quickly outgrow that boat as they learn skills. If its a used poly boat, then they are easy to sell used, so its a natural progression into narrower boats with less initial stability. I would love to use a vacation as an opportunity to rent different boats and put them through their paces - maybe even a different kayak per day. See which seats feel good, which hull designs you like, etc. And you won’t have the worry about a boat on the roof. A rental would give you more seat-time than a demo too. The downside to this is that rentals often offer few real choices - but maybe research what’s available in the area and models available to rent ?

Jack makes a good point
I don’t know how strong you are, but what he says is true VERY often. For a paddler who doesn’t have a lot of power, a shorter boat is usually better. That’s because at slow to moderate speeds, a shorter boat requires less effort to move through the water. As you increase your speed, the shorter boat “hits the wall” and won’t go any faster while a longer boat can still be made to go faster. If you want to go fast and have the strength to take advantage of a longer boat (and can spend the money), go for it. Otherwise, a medium-length boat, though not ideal for an experience paddler on the waters you are looking at, will move along at a reasonable speed with less effort.

As to the advice to go longer because you are “on the ocean”, I understand what those folks are saying, but if you stay close to shore in calm weather you should do fine in a mid-length boat. The most important thing is to get started with SOMETHING, and be mindful not to push the limits of the boat and your skills.

I’ll hook you up
with a composite boat for Barkley Sound to try. 15’ 2" x 21, and about 32lbs. You are perfect size for it. You need to start with the “engine” and match the kayak to it. The boat that will be “fastest” for you, is the boat that best matches you and the boat you can go longer/further in.

Few people ever really get this. Bottom line is the strong people will always dust you if they want, regardless of your kayak. (bigger question is why are they?) No boat will make a small engine powerful, so if you have a small engine you sure do not want to be pushing 17-18 ft. of kayak with added drag at the speeds you can paddle… Do some research on this…it will take an hour of your time, but you’ll be far ahead of the average sea kayaker in understanding hydrodynamics. George Gronseth, Matt and Cam Broze, Jonathan Winters, Guillemot Kayaks, Epic Kayaks, Sea Kayaker mag. to name a few.

Lessons first
The lessons will probably change your minds about which boats to get so take them first. After the lessons look at the CD Caribou S and the Rumour. Another pair would be the CD Slipstream and the Gulfstream.

100% agree with JackL
And you thought it would never happen! Happy Holidays.

Mystic Or Montauk "Size"
Diamante too big. Don’t be like the guys who get into “length envy.” :wink:


Exception being…
… short boats generally tend to be fatter as well, and this kills the efficiency aspect.

This is not the case with the kayak JackL’s wife paddles as it’s beam is the same as it was on her 600. However, there are currently few 16’ or under kayaks available with @ 21" or less beam like this.

Foster designed CD Rumour (16’ x 19 3/4"), Betsie Bay Idun (16’ x 20")

I can only think of one under 15’ - the Impex Mystic and it’s a tad over 21" (14’ x 21.5").

What else is out there without extra beam that a 5’5" 140lb woman doesn’t need?

Makes sense
That new Q’s short but not fat, and swedeform.

Reminds me a little of a Mariner. Pretty legendary big water kayaks. Q’s somewhere in between a Coaster and Elan in lengths, but even trimmer. Both brands noted for well mannered handling.

(expecting to draw some fire from daring to draw even a superficial parallel like this between this QCC and a Mariner!)