Time for me to get a sit on top?

Hi folks,

This past weekend, I took my VCP (now Valley) Argonaut (fiberglass) out for a spin on a lake. It had been several years since using it. We bought a couple of SUPs, and that is what we take when we get on the water. I haven’t gone on any solo paddling trips in a while. As a 64 year old who has had knee and back surgeries, I found it hard to get in and out of. It wasn’t pretty.

Starting to think that it might be time to sell my beloved VCP, and perhaps buy a sit on top. It will be hard for me to leave behind the absolute elegance of my kayak - it is a thing of beauty. It has gotten me out of some tough spots, and I have felt such happiness on the water in it. BUT - we must move on.

I’ve just started looking at sit on tops, and man, I have a problem sitting in a piece of tupperware, with terrible design and craftsmanship. While I don’t expect to reach nirvana in a sit on top, are you aware of any manufacturers that are a cut above the standard fare? I’ve seen a couple of nice Eddyline and Hurricane boats. Any more out there?

And weight is an important consideration for me - as I’m not going to be getting any younger. Dare I say it - any kevlar boats?

Should add, I’m 6’2’, 210 during sheltering in home, 195 otherwise!

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the tale of tears…

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Get the new Apex in carbon fiber!

Have you considered one of these? They offer many models so you can choose the level of performance you seek. They are all light and sturdy. The Cruiser 14.8 or 15.8 would stack up well against many kayaks for performance.

https://swiftcanoe.com/boat-category/pack-boat/

I’m a canoe person so not sure how much easier a pack boat would be to get in and out of compared to a kayak or sit on top. I think a regular canoe set up for sitting is easier to get out of than anything where you sit on the floor. You might enjoy something like a Keewaydin 15, it’s a versatile boat with good performance that would fit you well. Swift offers a seat that can be switched between high and low positions so you can either sit (low position) or kneel (high position).

Other options are in the surf ski ranges - See Epic & Stellar. Here is a thought from Stellar: https://www.stellarkayaksusa.com/S16S-surf-ski

Expanding on Tom’s thoughts on pack canoes, take a look at Placid Boatworks and Hornbeck.

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You named the two that would be at the top of my list. Lighter, look nice, behave pretty much like glass. The eddyline really looks nice, but obviously getting one wet is the best way to figure it out.

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Here’s another ultralight solo canoe offering to consider:

https://www.hornbeckboats.com/classic-canoes

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Surf skis will give you the performance you have had so they are worth a look AND a test drive.
I have had 3 back surgeries . I had a Stellar S18S that I loved. Best looking boat I ever owned but my back rebelled after every paddle.
Also, you are knock-kneed with your feet on the pedals.
A caveat. I am at the extreme for fit in one which is probably a factor.
Good luck.

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I’ve been looking at the Stellar today. How are they for just general lazy touring? My wife will remain on a paddle board (a slow one, at that), so I imagine I’ll have some time “to myself.” I see they sell a seat-back. Did you have one?

I was doing some lazy touring one day with friends and barely caught a paddle tip and I was instantly lazy swimming. Only other time was casually trying to surf to shore.
No, I didn’t have a seat back. I think it would really help.

Even younger, fitter folks could have trouble getting out of a small cockpit boat, like the Valley.

Along with the options you are considering, another might be to just move to a boat with a larger cockpit. Not necessarily a rec boat with huge cockpit, but most of the newer boats now have larger cockpits than the original sea kayaks. A bit more boat width also would help. And going tupperware and letting yourself ram the thing up on the beach, rocks, boat ramp, whatever to get in a more stable position (not floating) also would help.

Using Seals skirt deck sizes, the Valley was a 1.2 or 1.4, where most boats nowadays are 1.6 (or even 2.2). I used to have a Valley Aquanaut HV, and it was much more challenging to get in and out of than the Dagger Alchemy and Stratos I have now.

If SOT is the direction you are going, there is a company in South Africa named Stealth that makes some pretty, composite SOTs. Mostly fishing oriented, though. https://stealthkayaks.com/

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If you haven’t tried one, a SOT is the easiest thing to get in and out of, including self-rescue (though my experience is only with recreational models, not surf-skis). Boarding is a matter of getting the boat into about 8" or so of water, backing up against it and sitting down in it, then swinging your legs in.

The Eddyline Caribbean and the Hurricane Skimmer are both very nice-looking, but you’re going to lose performance with a rec boat; they’re wider and top out at 14’ length. Either one should be very comfortable, though. I can’t look at surf-skis without thinking they need back support.

I have had both the Carribean and Skimmer. Still have the Skimmer.
Neither is a performance boat by any measure. Compared to a sea kayak, they are slugs.
I think you will be much happier with a ski or something similar.

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I’ll 2nd or 3rd a surfski. They are THE boat for performance SOT’s.

A “wide” ski (as in 20"+, still a “skinny” sea kayak) is plenty stable to the point that you can kick back, relax, drink a beer if you want. there are models from 24" on down, available from plastic (~50 lbs) down to full carbon layups (20lbs).

Some of the crossover models have a rear hatch so you can still carry some stuff with you (Epic V5, V7, Stellar S16S? maybe a couple others too)

Like the others said, I highly recommend you take a paddle in one. Butt to Bucket fit is key for longterm enjoyment, so find a boat that fits your butt well

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This is making me irritated at me. I don’t know, but if the back band had been available my ski and I would still be friends.

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Please don’t view my lack of replies for anything less than huge interest - this has ALL been great. Definitely has opened up a few doors for me. I’ve been spending my free time over the last couple of days just educating myself, and lusting heartily.

PLEASE - keep the options coming. I’ll be buying used (it’s the deal I’ve made with my wife to keep this a no-cost trade of my current boat), and besides, I’m damn broke! I really appreciate the help with this, and again, please keep your thoughts active. Thank you.

Stuart

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Definitely try a few skis before buying one. I took mini-lessons on a Nelo 520 S (since I am a small person) and also rented a plastic Epic V7 and V5.

I decided to buy a 520 S and ordered one, which I have now paddled 10 times. It weighs, oh, half what my fiberglass sea kayak does, maybe even less. NICE!!! There’s a price for that, of course, and I’m not talking dollars. I don’t dare set the thing down on anything hard. They do make a plastic model, the 510, that is slightly wider and slightly shorter.

These three are very different from each other, especially between the two Epics and the Nelo. The V7 felt a lot like a sea kayak, other than lack of edging possibilities. The V5 felt like, well, a shorter, wider sea kayak. You can get either model in lightweight layups or plastic, and both have rear hatches. Both felt mindlessly stable to me; maybe not the best adjective but I mean neither one required that I give any conscious thought to staying upright.

The Nelo actually has about 1” wider beam than my NDK/SKUK Pilgrim Expedition and it is the same length, but no doubt about it—it feels noticeably tippier. The hull is round and there is little to no rocker. On flat water it does not seem tippy unless I slow down/stop AND turn around to look behind me. Basically, get it going and the propulsion makes it feel stable. Like riding a racing road bike. So it is stable for a ski but less stable than any sea kayak I have tried.

I love it with even a mild tailwind (same for my sea kayak), but it is easier for me to paddle into a headwind, not surprising given the slimmer bow and light weight.

With clapotis or side slapper waves, things get tippy. I have not been dumped over on any of my outings with it but have had to brace a few times and almost got dumped once or twice, like when a small breaker unloaded water directly into the bucket from the side. None of these would have merited the slightest thought if I had been in my sea kayak. It would take bigger waves to do that. So this experience is a bit like going backwards in terms of making me feel more beginner than I have in a long time. That’s OK; I expected it and am stable enough to work on bettering my technique and fitness.

Try them out. Just don’t expect a direct crossover in stability “feel” despite the dimensions.

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That’s great - thanks. Will do.

Funny story: While living in a small NYC apartment, I happened upon a Klepper folding kayak. Perfect for my life at the time. Used it for almost 20 years. I loved that boat. On eBay one night, I saw that used Kleppers were going for 3K. Sold it that night, and bought my Valley.

First time trying it, I took it to a small towpath river. I was an experienced (Klepper) kayaker, so did it completely unprotected. First time I got into my new, sleek boat, fell right over, LOST MY GLASSES, and was otherwise humiliated. This will be something new, entirely…

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I’ve read a lot about Placid Boatworks canoes being kayak-like in performance, particularly the RapidFire. They are very light, pricey but appear to be worth it, I suppose you might find one used. I was pondering the SpitFire13 for a while, but have since lost my storage in the city.

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Not quite ready to bring home with you, but soon will be;
Joey’s latest creation:

https://www.facebook.com/turningpointkayaksllc/videos/592597928058748/?tn=-R

And if you’re clever enough, you can ‘name’ the boat yourself.

I spent a lot of time looking at both the Hurricane Skimmer 140 and Eddyline Caribbean 14. I have only paddled the Skimmer. I liked the Caribbean better. It is 1/2 inch narrower than the Hurricane and 2 pounds lighter. I like the side carry handles better on the Eddyline since they do not stick out beyond the deck’s profile like the Skimmer’s do. The Eddyline also has 2 scuppers in the cockpit & 2 in the tankwell as opposed to the Skimmer’s 1 in each location. Not only can these drain the boat quicker but the placement of the scuppers allow for better storage inside the hull. The Hurricane’s scuppers are located on the boat’s centerline whereas the Eddyline’s scuppers are located midway between the centerline of the boat and the sides. This leaves the center of the boat’s interior free of any obstructions. Eddyline takes advantage of this by placing a hatch opening on the boat’s centerline on the forward wall of the tankwell space. This allows you to easily store long items in the boat such as fishing rods. This storage goes from under the seat and extends forward to the bow. Lastly, the Carribean has a seat pan that drains. The Skimmer’s does not drain and you end up sitting in a puddle.

That said, I bought the Hurricane Skimmer. Why? The one item I could not compromise on was access to the front hatch. The Skimmer has a round cover that pops off. The Caribbean has a hinged lid. I outfit my boats to accommodate a sail. If I bought the Caribbean, my sail rig would prevent me from opening the front hatch. With the Skimmer, I can pop off the hatch cover with the sail rig in place.

One last comment. I also own an Eddyline Sandpiper 130. I have drilled holes in both my Sandpiper and Skimmer to mount my sail rig. It seems to me that the deck is somewhat more rigid on the Eddyline boat.

In spite of the Skimmer shortcomings I’ve outlined, I am very happy with my purchase. The most annoying thing has been my wet butt, but the Skimmer is my hot weather boat so a wet butt is not a terrible problem. I do carry a sponge with me so if desired I can sponge out the seat pan if/when I land the boat.

Hope this helps.
Marc