The usual question

-- Last Updated: Jun-11-06 9:41 PM EST --

Wanting to get started in kayaking. My neighborhood borders a large lake. My main use will be paddling the lake, rivers, fishing and etc. I want something versatile, that will allow me to grow a little and to get used to some kayaking. I'm not looking to hit some big rapids or anything in the near future. Of course I would like to go as inexpensive as I can as well.

thanks in advance,
Mooresville, NC

the usual answer
take a class

visit a shop or 3

get some idea of style you like

tell us more info about YOU. (size,condition,etc)


37 yrs old, 5’10" 180lbs…decent physical condition… just looking basic but somewhat versatile till I can gain experience and knowledge…perhaps one day in the distance future where I will gain enough to try the new whitewater park they are working on here in Charlotte…

The solution is obvious
Tempest 165 (eh, Steve;-). Or an Avocet, or a Chatham.

Seriously, if you are thinking about moving into whitewater eventually, I’d start with a kayak you can learn to roll, not a rec kayak (yeah some people can roll rec kayaks but I doubt people have learned in them). And the sea kayaking secret is that they can be easier to roll than WW boats.

The tradeoff you might want to consider is something with more primary stability for fishing vs something livelier for manoeverability and rolling.

My “Usual” Answer…
don’t buy new if you’re just getting into. You’re in the range which many of the light touring boats are fitted for. Light touring boats are anywhere from 13-15’ long and 23-24" beam. These will allow you to do skills development vs an open cockpit rec boat.

I learned a lot from my Cape Lookout (15’), including how to roll, though the boat was really sized for someone bigger than my 5’3", 140 lbs. I outfitted in like heck for a tighter fit and it worked. The boat now sits at my brother’s place on a lake.

Once you develop some basic skills, you’re on your way to trying different venues. For me, that has been increasingly towards surfing and white water. Even here, I buy my boats used.


thanks guys…I’m glad y’all are getting to the point of what I was making…I want to learn the skills first…basics, if you wanna call them that. As far as the WW thing…i’m not too interested in that right now…may not ever be. I’m more towards flatwater paddling with more recreational use than anything…I would prefer to buy used right now as one of you mentioned…that’s why i’m trying to figure out what would be good for me as a beginner and something that’s not going to be too advanced right now…

Off The Top Of Head…
here are some light touring boats that would likely fit you and to keep an eye out on gearswap boards: Perception Carolina 14, Old Town Castaway/Castine, Wilderness Cape Lookout (15) and Cape Horn (15), Necky Manitou, CD Sirocco, PH Easky, Pyranhna Pilot and Orca.

The above are all plastic. You see one on gearswap, go to the manufacturers site to check the weight range. Hopefully seller will allow you to demo if possible.

Expect to spend anywhere from $450-$750, depending on condition and year of the model.


Your best bet
in your neck of the woods is to go into the Great Outdoor Provision Company in the Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte.

They have a decent selection of new boats there, and don’t talk to any old joe. Ask for Bill Mauney who is the manager and a awesome Greenland paddler, (of course don’t let him talk you into GL).

Then pick his brain, but still don’t just buy what he steers you to.

Ask him when they are going to have a “demo day” and then go and try out the different boats.

Another option is to get to a place where they rent kayaks and try out different ones.

I am pretty sure they have some for rent at Mountain Island lake, where they rent the canoes but not positive.

Down at the coast there are places at almost every beach that rent them.

Go down to Wrightsville and go to SaltMarsh Kayaks. They have a rental fleet, and while you are down there hook up with MarkinNC. he will help you out - Watch for some of his post here.

If you do what Bald Paddler says and head over to the Latta Launch, even if they don’t have a demo day I am sure a bunch of us will let you try our boats after the race.



Don’t get hung up in analysis paralysis.
Get your butt in a boat, whether by demoing, renting, or buying used. The only way I’ve found to figure out if I like a particular boat or style of boat is to try it out. Realistically, you’re going to want different kinds of boats for different kinds of water, if you’re serious about wanting to do both lakes and WW. That’s OK, though, because if you keep your eyes on the used boats, you can find some real bargains out there. There are frequently a lot of boats of all kinds for sale around Lake Norman.

Join some clubs. There’s SeaYakers in Charlotte. I don’t know anything about them other than that they are prejudiced against sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, which given your desire to fish, might be just exactly what you should consider. There’s Tarheel Paddlers in the Triad, which does a mix of rivers and lakes, and there’s Carolina Canoe Club, which despite the name is currently a WW club, though they’re working on adding some flat water trips. If you join a couple clubs you’ll have access to their classifieds, and will see what folks are doing, with which boats.

Read everything you can in the Guidelines section of this site. Ask specific questions here, and in the stores you visit. Have fun, and get started paddling something. What, probably doesn’t matter as much as you might think, at this stage. Buy used, since it’s quite likely you won’t be keeping the first boat you buy for more than a year or so, once you figure out what you like and don’t like.

Lots of choices out there. Your first boat probably won’t be the right choice a year or two from now so I wouldn’t worry too much about what it is. Just buy it with resale value in mind which usually means that used gear is the best choice.

First, however, take a class or two then join a club and get out on the water. Sea kayaking and whitewater are two different worlds with different gear, but plenty of people do both. You’ll probably meet people in the area who can help you along the way.