Suggest a Playful Sea Kayak

Eddyline Nighthawk 16, maybe.
I just got one about a month ago and it seems pretty playful on edge, but tracks pretty straight when level.

I’m not familiar enough with the other boats discussed to make any comparisons.

I’m 5’6" and 160 lbs and it’s a good fit for me.

Necky Elaho DS

  • PH Delphin NM

Speakig of that, has anyone paddled it? Impressions?

Good boat, but…

– Last Updated: Aug-23-10 1:51 PM EST –

the NH 16 is probably a little too straight tracking to consider playful.

I would think in the OPs height/weight range their Merlin or Merlin LT would be great! I'm too big for the cockpit in one of those, but the larger Merlin XT works great for me and is a lot of fun in quick conditons and surf, almost like a sea version of a WW boat. It is a skegless/rudderless design.

Their newest boat, the Samba, also looks like fun for that purpose.

how 'bout a mariner?

Also SOF

– Last Updated: Aug-23-10 6:42 PM EST –

A used Mariner Coaster is a good suggestion.

Also, you might check out the Cape Falcon F1, a light, short, maneuverable SOF sea kayak that surfs well.

That looks like a great boat. But having to travel to Washington for a fitting and then traveling there again to pick it up and transport it to where you live seems like a major obstacle unless you live in Washington State. Do you know if they are at all flexible about any of that?

Dagger Meridian
The Dagger Meridian Sk or Sk-s (lower deck) was one of the most maneuverable and well balanced boats out there. Aside from some lateral drift in a crosswind (flat bottom), the Meridian did everything pretty well. The newer Zephyrs were based on the same hull, but in my view they made them way too fat and slow with really voluminous cockpits - OK if you’re huge I guess. It’s a shame though, if anything, the original Meridian was a bit too stable. If they made a narrower, leaner Zephyr, I’d buy one in a second.


– Last Updated: Aug-24-10 2:28 PM EST –

Last year I rented a Zephyr and took it out in the rough stuff. It wasn't that much more maneuverable (sp?) than my Tempest 165.

Guess I need to test drive this:

Maelstrom Vital or Vaag
Both fun boats, depending on what you would like to do, I think either boat would be a god fit.

All of the above in thread
Looked through and concluded all to be good playful kayaks of which I’ve paddled all but three. But looking at their specs I’m sure they as well are fun.

Whats both amazing and somewhat disappointing to me is the repetition of design and lack of true innovation in the market. Essentially the same kayaks get re-designed over and over and over again with subtle changes, most of which seem aesthetic and geared toward shelf appeal.

Having said this I recognize that the sea kayak customer is very traditional and would immediately dismiss anything too radical. Since playing in a flat bottomed carbon surf tour boat (proto) I don’t think I’ll ever paddle a trad sea touring kayak again.

I know many designers and have shared many a beer over this topic but ya gotta build what sells. I knwow I wouldn’t have the onions to try to make a living challenging that. But is anyone looking for the next step in playful touring, or just more of the same??

How many pointy ended re-makes of the same essential theme can the market support?

How true
The PH offering is a little different, but probably not enough. People who paddled it like it, and notice that it handles not like a traditional sea kayak.

I would really love take a spin in Spike’s Viper, but chances of that happening ain’t great.

For folks out there, here is the link to Viper:

the tempest 165 is avery nice boat…i love mine, and guess i prefer it to the Z when the going gets rough…

im only 174 but i kindof like the roomy cockpit…

gives me plenty of leverage with my knees for rolling and edging…remember its only 1cm wider than the avocet. they are all great kayaks i suppose…kayaks are a bit like music. and thats very personal…

what about the new pilgrim?

ill admit that the Sterling/grønseth illution looks quite awesome…sorry for my outrage some time ago salty?hehe

spent a few hours in one
last weekend. Rock gardening and surfing.

I loved how nimble it was on a wave, how fast it turned on a sweep (but not so much on bow rudder?), the low back deck for rolling. I did not like the outfitting (the back bands ratchet system had already started rusting), the seat was deep and odd. The coaming seemed very high on the side and in front, but never seemed to get in my way. The skeg was non functional (slider was jammed), so I can’t comment on it. It slams down the back of waves.

very interesting boat. When I got back in my sirocco, I was surprised to find I was just not having that much fun.

Weighing in . . .
I love the VCP Avocet also, but if you are looking for a playful boat with a difference, check out the Whisky 16:

Seconding the Whiskey 16
Not a pointy end elfin boat :wink: Ray let me try one of his this summer and I was very impressed. If I was getting another day boat, it would be at the top of my list. It feels and looks quite different than my Romany, Elaho DS, or Nordlow.

I also think the Dagger Alchemy and the P&H Aeries & Delphin represent some fresh thinking for playful boats within the parameters of marketable sea kayaks.

I think the door is open…
…for a fearless designer and moneyman, however, as you suggest the risk is big. How do we really move that meter in a limited market? How much does a limited market boat need to cost for everyone to be happy? How do we change the market?

Specialty shops can help drive it but can’t bear the full brunt.

Salty, I love the fact that you are out there working on these designs and pushing the accepted norm but realistically, what can we all do to help? If we are struggling to spend $3k on a commodity boat what do we need to invest to help the cause?


Now I Need a Super Store

– Last Updated: Aug-25-10 7:18 AM EST –

Many thanks for all the great suggestions. Not only do we need room for innovation... we need some Super Stores where we can go try all these boats back to back.

Wonder how many mediocre or 'duplicate' boats would be eliminated by Super Stores? It might be a great place for innovation to be introduced.

Anyone out there with $$$$$? We need paddle stores that carry every damn thing. (you could name your store Every Dam Thing) Please locate the east coast store in Wilmington, NC.


When I win the lottery
it will be here. Let me know if you ever want to do some coastal paddling around Wilmington.