thinking of upgrading

My mother and I are thinking of upgrading our kayaks to something more sea worthy for longer trips and possibly over night camping on some little islands. She has a Prijon Capri tour and I have a 14" SOT , a tarpon.

I don’t even know where to start. What length, what brands are good, somebody give me some suggestions. We plan to demo paddle some kayaks in the spring but until then we thought we would do some research and talk to people. Thank you in advance.

Cheryl N.

How’re your paddling skills?
Self-rescue, roll, bracing - that kind of thing. That may be useful info in addition to your height and weight. The latter are critical for boat fit - length is the least important.

Let’s learn about you two first
Height, weight, larger, more average, or smaller hips and butt in proportion to your weight. The same length of kayak can have a wide range of widths and volumes, so this is necessary to get recommendations that will be close to an appropriate fit.

Then we need to know if you enjoy being strong and ambitious when it comes to physical activity, or if you’re going to be thinking more in terms of just going out to relax and have fun without the need to breath hard, feel your muscles working, or break a sweat. How hard are the two of you most likely going to end up paddling regulary? What pace will you enjoy?

Then we need to know your skill level. How many miles in what type conditions? What skills do you have, and what skills are you actively working to develop?

The best recommendations are made after someone gets to know you and paddles with you a few times, as it can be confusing where to classify yourself in terms of paddling levels. This information should allow people to make a few boat recommendations, and from there you can question the boats’ behaviors vs one another and determine on your own which set of characteristics you feel you would enjoy most.

Hi again, thanks for the replies
I have been out of town for the holidays, sorry for the delay.

I am 5’4 and 125 or so, my mother is 5’6 and probably 160 (she won’t tell me exactly).

We paddle in Galveston Bay and the Galveston State Park paddling trails. Sometimes we visit relatives in Louisiana and take the kayaks, and paddle 1-3 miles offshore to some little islands, also Shelburne in Baton Rouge (boat wakes, alligators), Rutherford beach out into the gulf and back.

I am not sure how narrow of a beam to look at. We don’t want our kayaks to be tippy but we do want to be faster and more seaworthy. We would like to learn better self rescue skills but we are not interested in learning to roll.

Some things to think about
Where you will use the kayaks? What are your skill levels? What price ranges are you interested in? Just a few things to narrow your search down.

Demoing is always good. Talk to some local outfitters, see what they offer, and tell them where you will be using the boats and your skill levels and see what they suggest for you. Also, consider taking some classes to upgrade your skills, if they offer them.

Necky, Eddyline, Prijon all make good kayaks that paddlers here in WNY seem to like.

Try as many boats as you can before you buy.

Good luck!

Hard to have it both ways
W/all due respect, the minute I see someone using the word “tippy” I have a hard time finding any way to recommend what I’d consider a truly seaworthy boat. Any boat that I’d consider in that category will inevitably feel “tippy” at first, especially if you want speed. Add to that the sense that your self-rescue and bracing skills may not be really strong - I think that you are setting up a difficult situation.

Is there an outfitter near you from which you could take lessons in the spring, perhaps stretch your skills a little as well as get time in full bore sea kayaks to have a better sense of them?

I’ll Be Bold
Go demo the Tempest 165 by Wilderness Systems. Then… seriously reconsider rolling. A kayaker who can roll or re-enter and roll is way safer than one who can’t.

Tippiness revisited.
The boats you hve are not too tippy and provide an enjoyable ride. If you are looking for increased speed, the only way to acheive it is reduced beam, and as Celia mentions, there is increased tippiness. So, the learning curve (as well as the clothing xpene – although you are in Texas) and such justwent up significantly. But hey, that’s why we all love the sport. Learning is fun…even if it is quite wet.

So, getting to your closest kayak retailer and taking couple of classes and getting et and in the water is your next step. No reason to spend a couple thousand dollars minimum on a boat befre rying what they have and taking clases from someone moe experienced. At absolute minimum, you really should get with a local paddling group and et seat time.

I’m sounding like an old fuddy duddy here but a couple thousand dollars invested–twice, if your mom buys something, too–takes some one water research. And that’ the bst advice anyone can give you on or a book. When you have it narrowed down to a couple of boats, then post on advice section, and you’ll get a landslide of interesting comments. G’luck, chernoble. PS If your mother wants to sell th Capri and can get it to IL, you havea buyer in me. That s a fabullous little boat). Seedy One.

Hook up with clubs in your general area. Learn their experiences with different models and try them.

Confidence inspiring stability
in a seaworthy kayak. I really only own one that really fits that category, the Current Designs Solstice GTS. (This is the lowest volume Solstice) It is stable and it is fast. It is hard tracking - goes straight with very little directional control necessary. To turn this boat, especially in winds, takes some skill and strength. It does have a rudder, so I never hesitate to put someone in it who wants to just go out for a day and borrow a boat. If using a rudder, the rudder does the turning for you. I never use the rudder as a matter of personal preference. If you want to become a skilled kayaker (learn directional control), I believe you should leave the rudder (or skeg) up. A weaker paddler in a stiff wind tends to get pinned sitting with a direct beam wind and wind blown waves coming parallel to the boat. This just means that it becomes very difficult to turn the boat out of that orientation unless you significantly lean the boat on edge and use a powerful turning stroke (this is all referring to turning the boat without aid of the rudder). I’m guessing that you probably wouldn’t knowingly go out on those waters unless the weather was nice, but it is a seaworthy kayak, and I’m comfortable in it in rough stuff. Even 1st time kayakers find the stability characteristics quite comfortable. It is, however, a kayak designed to run in a straight line, and the effortless tracking and speed brings along with it a need for strong maneouvering skills if not using the rudder. That’s the type of handling I prefer in a kayak based upon the type of paddling I most often do. Many prefer kayaks that are more playful - turn more easily.

I don’t have much experience with the Necky Chatham series, but I do remember them as being very stable. I think it would be a good contrast to a Soltice GTS in a stable sea kayak, less speed - easier maneouverability.

I agree with the philosophy that for a person who has never been in a kayak, to recommend they sit in a few boats and pick the one they’re most comfortable in is to possibly recommend a boat they will grow out of within a few weeks. But if you’ve been out a number of times, have your own boat, and have already somewhat settled on the skill level you desire to put forth the effort to attain, one of the very stable sea kayak designs may be a good bet. There are cases when the uneasy tippy feeling in a kayak will inspire building skills, and there are cases when that same feeling will just discourage a person from going out. If you two are the former, it opens up all options. If you’re the latter, stick with the very stable designs. The Solstice GTS type stability characteristics will quickly inspire confidence in a non-confident paddler. So try a Current Designs Soltice GTS and a Necky Chatham (or hopefully some other recommendations for stable sea kayaks) vs. a Nigel Foster Silhouette and Rumour, P&H Sirius, Capella, and Quest LV, or Valley Nordkapp LV (examples of very different stability characteristics) and see what you two think. Your choices may be narrowed down pretty quickly by fit and desired stability characterisitics.

Good luck.

Tarpon isn’t bad
If you don’t want to learn to roll, and you’re worried about tippiness, your Tarpon isn’t a bad boat. It makes self rescue relatively easy.

CD Solstice series

– Last Updated: Dec-30-08 4:41 PM EST –

I can't disagree with these boats as a relatively safe start for "if you must" buy. At least one of them would probably be best suited to a Squall in terms of size, the one who is 5'4", maybe both. This was my first sea kayak and it handled a lot of problems for me. Also available in plastic, relatively cheap. Its' really still too big for her, but less of an issue than some others.

However, there is an issue with the Solstice series boats for women that men may not catch. For a paddle-float re-entry, that deck is damned high. For a shorter woman with limited upper body strength, it is frankly not the most reliable re-entry even in calm conditions if the paddler is tired.

Assisted rescues are better, but that boat is still harder than many of the newer lower profile designs. The cockpit of even the Squall is quite long as well as fairly high in front. In order for one woman of limited strength to get that thing emptied out in an assisted rescue, they have to be willing to really take their boat over to slide the rescuee's boat over theirs to dump the water. Given the OPer's obvious interest in the upright position, I am not sure that this would be something they'd find comfortable.

And... by the time they are thinking of these boats, they could as well go to go to a newer design that was truly tweaked for women like the WS Eliza and learn some sea going skills.

Tarpon is fine for what you want
It probably seems a bit like an aircraft carrier to paddle, but it should be a good boat for overnight trips in your waters.

A good website for information on sit-on-tops is

In your profile you mention wanting to surf a bit. You probably would want to look at a different boat entirely and look for a used WS Kaos, Cobra Strike, or possibly a used waves ski.

you and your mom should take a
basic paddling course and learn how to do paddle float reentry and assisted rescues in addition to basic paddle strokes, wet exits etc—and you ought to seriously reconsider learning how to roll—its the easiest form of self rescue—all the other forms are what you use if you blow your roll. And besides its fun—I sense a fear of getting your head wet—well don’t worry about it all forms of rescue involve getting your head wet. After you develope some skills then you will be in a better position to consider what type of boat to buy—asking for that advice on p-net is a little risky.

true/false "tippiness"
A modern sea kayak that feels tippy is actually not likely to tip over unless you do something to facilitate it’s tipping over. That is a hard lesson to learn in the sense of feeling confident that it is true. It doesn’t take long to gain that confidence in a graduated way. But the payoff later is well worth the initial investment.

It is funny you suggest the Tempest
That is one of the kayaks we tried at a demo event about three years ago when we were first getting into paddling. It seemed really tippy then. But Mom and I were talking today and she said we probably would not find them nearly so tippy now as we did then. She may be right. I will keep an open mind. Thank you.

Yes I will definately talk to
the outfitters. Mom and I like the Prijons and are thinking of trying some longer kayaks in that line. I remember when we came here before there was a poster named CoolDoctor who steered us to the Prijons and he was right, they are nice kayaks for sure. Mom loves hers.

We know that plastic sea kayaks will cost us probably about $1,000 to $1,500 and are ready to spend that. We thought about getting really nice fiberglass kayaks but decided we don’t want something so fragile. We are also keeping our current kayaks just because there is no reason not to and I am sure we will continue to use them.

I checked out the Squall online
and it looks interesting. Couldn’t find the Eliza, it must be very new and maybe Wilderness does not have it on there site yet.

haha, thanks for the offer
but I do not think Mom will part with her little Capri. We trade off kayaks sometimes but she likes hers much better.

I see some others have suggested groups, how does one go about finding local clubs?

Thank you cd1 or Seedy One!

That is a good idea
I have read that sometimes people in clubs will let you try out their kayaks. I would be happy to let someone try my kayak also and I am sure my Mom would be fine with it too as long as we are not talking about keeping them overnight.