Touring kayak recommendation please

As a long time kayaking veteran of an entire year now, it’s time to move up from my rec yak to a touring model. There are so many out there to choose from, and my demoing options are limited.

I ran into a guy with a Dagger Charleston 15 who let me take it for a spin, and I really liked that a lot. I didn’t have it long enough to give it a serious test (just a few minutes in relatively flat water), but for what little time I had it, it was nice. Great stability, pretty fast, arrow-straight with the skeg down, and not too hard on the eyes, either. However, the Charleston is an endangered species and will be extinct soon. I won’t be making any purchases till next spring.

I went to a local yak shop and demoed their Charleston 14, but there was a problem with the skeg mechanism, so it wasn’t a very good test. I wasn’t that thrilled with the tracking without the skeg, but I’d like to give it more demoing time.

They guy handling the demos suggested that I try the Necky Manitou, which I was completely unfamiliar with. It wasn’t as fast as the Charleston, although I thought the tracking was quite good even though it comes with no skeg. But it’s a smaller boat than I want - seems like a high-end recreational boat.

I want to keep the price under $1k, so if anyone could suggest some boats that I should be looking at, I’d be much appreciative.

Others to look at
Necky Zoar Sport

Wilderness Systems Cape Lookout 145

Perception Carolina 14.5

Walden Passage

Impex Irie (comes in glass but have seen it for sale new for under $1000)

Elaho Sport and Elaho…
depending on your size…

test as many as you can over the winter, even if just in a store setting.

Helps To Give Your
personal dimensions – weight, height, shoe size, color preference (just kidding) – so folks can give better suggestions.


also your ambitions

– Last Updated: Sep-23-04 2:02 PM EST –

you live in Mass perhaps you might get a boat fit for the sea instead of a boat more fit for a large harbor. What is it that you want to do with this boat?

Used works., connyak and Charles river canoe and kayak, e-bay and others might well have a used boat close to your price. You will ned a paddle pfd paddle float etc. be careful of the cold water up here.

When hinting good boat value, load up if you can; get your money together, be ready, but be patient.

I'll tell you a story. I bought a decently made Arctic tern. Mostly I bought it because it was very large but very light weight, so either my wife or I could use it and lift it. I later got a boat that suited me more but my wive was paddling the tern which was very high volume for her. I wanted something she could lift, with appropriate volume, and which was truly seaworthy. I bought a great boat (solander by West side boat shop) used for $900 because I had the money together, knew it was a good value and just bought it when it came up. ther price was fair no negotiation just handed over the money and met a nice paddler to boot. This let me sell the tern to a friend for $900. NOw my wife has a boat that she can cartop without me that works really well for her, and my friend has a boat for big trips. When the right boat comes into range just grab it.

Dimensions are…
I’m 5’11", 190lb, size 12 feet, I like long walks on the beach (oops wait… wrong forum).

I don’t see myself doing any serious sea kayaking in the near future. I frequent a couple of tidal rivers and harbors that empty into the Atlantic. If the sea is very calm, I might venture out a little way, but nothing really daring. Maybe someday, but that’s a tale for another kayak. So I’d like a boat that is comfortable on flat rivers, but can withstand some serious chop on protected waters, and storage for an overnight.

Demo Demo Demo
You should paddle as many boats that even approximate the capabilities you are looking for.

There is still time in the Northeast and there are some great sales going on.

Used boats can be a great bargain.

Even with the use description you give, I would recommend you look at boats starting at 15’ with good bulkheads.

I would also note that the temptation to venture into the sea is irressitable. Get a boat that can handle it.

If You Can
Rent or borrow boats on a windy day. How you and your boat behave in the wind matters a lot.

Don’t overlook Rhode Island …
… if you’re not too far away. There’s no sales tax on boats including kayaks in RI. I’d recommend Sakonnet Boathouse in Tiverton… I have found that these folks are very knowledgeable and helpfull.

There are great sales going on now on new and demo boats now as noted above … I just bought a new Tempest for a great price at Charles River Kayak. Some great people to deal with as well.


Also KayakCentre
you can demo right in front of the store in Warwick.

Somebody mentioned Charles River Canoe and Kayak. They are having their rental sale: Also can demo right from the store.


You should paddle as many boats as
possible. Check out the brit boats from Valley and P&H. Nothing like any of the boats you have mentioned. I only have a year under my belt too and just traded up to a FG boat. If you have skills to edge, brace and scull you will know your boat after paddling if for a couple of hours.

Sculling not required
I cannot scull for support unless I start from being fully capsized and I have been paddling hard for about four years. But I am 46 and way too heavy.

Sidewise sculling is indeed a great way to test a demo though. You’ll really find out one of the differences between hard and soft chines that way.

If you from SE Mass,
and you paddle in the North River, I would suggest that you go to Billington Sea Kayak in Plymouth.

They are very knowledgable, and helpful, and have as many kayaks that I have ever seen in one place.

I Believe that on every Saturday morning they have demos where you can try out the various yaks.



We like our Charlestons
If you are not new here you already know my wife and I really like our Dagger Charleston 14 and 15. We REALLY want to upgrade to a WS Tempest 165 and 180 next year as we have taken the sport of kayaking with a serious commitment. The Charlestons are a pleasure to paddle with the skeg up or down. Considering all the yaks we demoed … we made the right choice to start. I would not hesitate to put anyone in the Charleston for a first time paddler. I know they will have a great time. For that reason we will probably keep them to lend out to friends hopefully to find new owners for them who will paddle with us … more is always better! If not I will be listing them here for sale … so keep demo-ing and looking. Daggers decision to drop all skeg boats for 2005 will certainly help my resale value. Bob

Thanks everyone
for all of the good info.

JackL, I actually bought my current boat (Dagger Element) at Billington Sea Kayak, and it is where I demo’d the Charleston and Manitou. I’ll be going back as much as I can, and regardless of what I choose, I’ll be buying it from them (assuming I don’t find a good deal on a used boat).

Check Out Used S&Gs, Or Build Yourself

– Last Updated: Sep-24-04 2:17 PM EST –

You can often find excellent homebuilt S&G boats going very, very cheaply - a beautifully built , 2 year old VOLKSKAYAK just sold here for < $600, which is about the materials cost to build one. If you're willing to do some reastorative work, an older hard-used S&G can be a lot cheaper than that. Finally, you can always build it yourself - yah, really! I reckon the VKs, when compared to entry-level rotomoulds, work out about 2 for the price of one. Lots of good designs out there - ther VK, of course, the CLC's, the Pygmys, etc., etc. And putting them together ain't rocket science.

Most times I see used S&G posted for $1500 or more. I think the owner/builder is trying to recoup his/her time. But, it don’t work that way. Folks who think they can build a S&G and sell it for a profit, are often mistaken. Unless, you’re a Nick Shrade, Bobby Curtis, Jay Babina or a few others who have extensively designed and tested their own boats, forget about it… Folks asking for $1500 or more for a used CLC and I think to myself… I could get a much better performing boat for my needs at that price, (dare I say it…) with a used BRIT boat.


touring kayaks
all the other kayak companies have imitated but never duplicated the PERCEPTION CAROLINA this is without a doubt the best boat for the buck on the planet. it comes in 3 sizes{i have the 14.5 ft.) with a rudder not a skeg. stable fast responsive and reasonably priced need i say more you would never regret the purchase

I’ll Say More…
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…” :slight_smile:

To say you love your boat is great. To say everyone would love it is a bit of a stretch… Personally, I have nothing against the Carolina. Felt okay when I test paddled it. But it incites absolutely no passion within me. If I gonna spend some good dollars, I want a boat that gets me excited.

The Carolina should be on the orginal poster’s “to demo” list. Whether he falls in love, well… :wink: