The Right Boat

I’m having trouble choosing my fist boat. I’ve been renting as many different ones as I can, but none of them seem to perform well. I’m 6’ - 3" and 270 lbs. Fit doesn’t seem to be a problem, but most of them feel like a barge when I get in.

Any ideas / advice?


What boats and where do you paddle?
You need the right type of boat for where you want to go, first off. Lots of people make the mistake of buying the wrong type of boat, or getting caught up in price as a major factor.

And what boats have you tried so far? Can’t really give you any ideas without knowing.


Right Boat?
Check out Current Designs. They make some boats for larger people that also perform well. If you have any questions call them. They are very helpful. Good luck. Vaughn Fulton

Getting into responsive boats

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 12:14 PM EST –

Shortened this post up...if haven't announced your plans to buy and what kind of paddling you want to do to the folks from whom you are renting, it is possible that they are just putting you into very beamy boats to reduce the likelihood of a capsize.

Also, by barges do you mean long or wide? If your past experience is with very short basic rec boats in calm water, you may not have the right skills to make longer (and skinnier) boats do what you want. It's hard to tell what you mean by "perform well". Intermediate on these boards can mean anyone from someone with fairly distinct skills like rolling and surfing to someone who can't do that but has a lot of seat time.

If you are looking to find a boat for yourself, you should contact a reputable shop or outfitter for a couple of lessons and let them know you are looking to buy a more responsive boat. It'll get you a solid sense of what you want in a boat, give you a better shot at getting into nicer boats and make you safer in the water. Places within easy shot of you should be Sea Cliff Kayak in Boothbay (principal may on his way to a trip around Cape Breton at the moment tho'), Maine Sport in Rockland, or take a drive to Maine Island Kayak Company on Peak's Island outside of Portland. They all do lessons and sell boats.
Also, check out Water Walker Sea Kyaking out of Belfast for guidance.

Choosing a Kayak
Thanks all. Good advice, and good questions. So far, I’ve been kayaking about half a dozen times, with my wife. Whenever possible, we’ve switched boats to compare them. She’s about 5’ - 7" and of medium build. We’ve had lessons twice at H20 Outfitters on Orr’s Island, and have rented the rest of the times at Seaspray Kayaks in West Bath.

The boats I’ve been in that I can remember are:

WS Pungo 140: Stable, but slow. What I refer to as a “barge.”

WS Tsunami 145: A whole different world. Faster, yet still comfortable. A 175 may be what I need, but none are available for rental.

WS Cape Horn 170: This boat I liked, but mine sat 1-2" lower in the water than the same boat that my wife was in. The guy who set us up remarked how low it was. I liked the boat, but it was a real chore to get any speed out of it. Plus, the cockpit felt really cramped after about 2 hours. I’m much stronger than my wife, and we both have the same kayaking experience, yet she was blowing me out of the water with little effort.

Necky something or other: This wasn’t too bad. There was something about it I just didn’t like, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Perception ???: This was a long, wide, slow boat. It was comfortable, but I literally could paddle faster in reverse than forward. It put out some big wake too!

Current Designs Storm: This boat felt good. I immediately noticed the speed, even after having paddled 3 or 4 hours in the Cape Horn. Out of all of them, this was the best.

Those are the boats that I remember. By performance, I mean speed. I liked the boats with a “softer” chine too. I could really lean the Perception and the Storm on edge while still feeling in control. The Storm felt like there was too much room in the cockpit.

Most of our paddling has been, and probably will be in rivers and bays. We’ll go into large lakes too, and we may try some small coastal runs in Casco Bay.

Sorry that this has become so long, but I wanted to answer the questions as best I could.

Thanks so much for attempting to help out a couple of novices.

Keep trying different boats from
different outfitters and retailers. Try to keep a log of what you paddled (the model, length and model year are all helpful) and your impressions. Pretty soon you will come back to a few that you liked better than the others. Try these again to see if one or two stand out.

The reason I say to record the model, year and lenght is because some manufacturers recycle boat names - frequently. My guess (from your description) is that the Perception you didn’t like was probably one of the Carolina’s - maybe the Carolina 16 (formerly known as the Captiva). The 2007 Carolina 14 is a totally new boat with very different characteristics from older (last year’s) Carolina. It is a much better design I might add.

BTW, your first boat is often just that. So get something and then go paddle it. Many people find out that their first boat it is not necessarily the boat they want a year down the road. This is quite common, but it can lead to a boat addiction :slight_smile: 5 kayaks, 3 canoes, 1 packboat(kayak/canoe), 1 duckboat, 1 rowboat and counting …


Listed boats

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 10:11 PM EST –

Your boat tries are all over the place as far as the type of kayak - there is one full length expedition sea kayak that I know, the Storm, and I don't know the Cape Horns well but I think it would be called that. The rest are everything from larger rec boats like the Pungo to the touring group that is halfway between rec and full sea kayak like the Tsunami. And the two sea kayaks you list, though reputable, are older designs that can easily be beat with more fun and quick sea kayaks for mixed inland/coastal use in the 16 ft range.

In sum, I really suggest that you get some more lessons or whatever at places where you can get into a few more current boats in the 16 ft range. The P&H line can all be gotten in plastic, like the Capellas, as can be the Valley line like the Avocets. With just a couple of basics lessons and six paddles under your belt in a number of kayaks that are not likely to fit your bill for even midrange happiness, I feel like it's just not time for you commit bucks to buy a new boat yet. Try out some of the places I suggested, get into some snazzy trendy stuff, then try to settle.

If you must go out and buy a boat sooner, save some bucks and get used ones. You'll find that you want to get out into bigger water as time goes on, and most of the boats you listed in the current crop aren't going to carry you there long term. The first boat can always be a guest boat on a quiet lake when company visits.

The fit

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 10:46 PM EST –

You may feel like the fit is fine, but it sounds as though the boat doesn't. I'm 6'2" and 285. Making it all work has been a constant compromise.

If you are too heavy for a boat, it won't perform well. You may also find that foot room and potential leg positions are limited.

So, right now, I'm paddling a Sundance 12 from Perception. It has a long cockpit...the easier to get in and out, and easier to throw a leg over the edge of the cockpit. The thing is rated for 400 pounds and floats me pretty well. You may want to look for a boat that is rated an extra 25-30 percent over your body weight.

Finally, some folks will want you to be looking at longer boats. I chose the 12 footer because we paddle lots of creeks as well as lakes. Try toting a 14-foot-long boat up a 10-foot-high mud bank to portage around a snag and you'll know why I chose a shorter boat. Once again, its a compromise that gets the job done.

As everyone is going to tell you, try as many boats as you can. And, remember that many liveries sell off their used fleet each year. That time is quickly approaching.

Sea kayak
It sounds like you’re looking for a standard sea kayak. That should get you going in the right direction.

You’ll have more choices if you can go fiberglass.

Tempest 180, Impex Assateague.

If you search archives with “tempest 180” as subject, all messages, you should get a lot of boats for bigger guys.

Or if you start a new subject, something like “sea kayak for a big guy,” I think that will get you some current advice.

The storm is plastic and will fit you. Personally, I don’t think it tracks well.