Transition to kayak or stick with canoe?

I own a OT Discovery 160. I paddle it solo a lot. Its a big “family” canoe… the equivilent of a Ford Maxi-van.

A few friends and co-workers want to buy kayaks and organize a group to paddle together this year. All of them have borrowed or rented kayaks and are ready for ownership. They look to me as knowing the hot places to paddle. I would like to paddle with them but I feel my “maxi-canoe” will slow me down. I never paddled a kayak, nor have I ever paddled a solo canoe.

I’m not afraid to purchase a second boat, since its money well spent on much needed R&R. My question to all is: can an experienced canoe paddler keep up with a kayaker? What if I bought a smaller solo canoe?

I’m not afraid to invest in a kayak, but with a canoe I have more payload space, plus I can take one of my younger children with me as well as plenty of fishing gear.

Can anyone suggest a certian make/model solo canor or kayak?


Can you keep up with the kayakers in your Discovery? Probably not. Can you in a decent solo canoe? Probably, especially if you use a double bladed paddle.

As for carrying your kids with you…small child, maybe, depending upon the canoe, your size, how much other stuff you have in it, whether the child can sit relatively still.

You’re right about the advantages to a solo canoe. Because you can carry more stuff in it, and carry it so that you can get to it easily (important if you’re like me and carry several fishing rods and a bunch of tackle all the time), the canoe tends to be a more versatile craft that can do most everything a kayak can, and do some things better.

In my opinion, the best recreational solo canoes are probably the Wenonah Vagabond and Bell Yellowstone, with the Vagabond better on flat water and gentle rivers, the Yellowstone better on faster rivers. For smaller, lighter weight solos (but slower) the Old Town Pack and Wenonah Sandpiper are excellent. The Mohawks, when they get lined out and producing canoes again, are also good (Solo 13 and 14). You can go more specialized with glass and kevlar touring solos that are faster and track better, or with whitewater solos if necessary, but those I mentioned above are all-purpose designs.

can an experienced canoe paddler keep up
can an experienced canoe paddler keep up with a kayaker?

In a word, no.

Paddle what makes you happy.
If your friends wind up with slick 17 foot sea kayaks, once they figure out how to stay upright, you probably won’t be able to keep up with them in the Disco. However, if they pick up “middlish” rec kayaks (10-12 feet or so)and you are skilled with the canoe, you might even be able to outrun them.

Kayaks are fun, so are canoes. You can find a canoe that can go almost anywhere a kayak can. You can also find a kayak that can carry almost as much as some canoes. What’s important to you? Flatwater? Rivers? Seaworthiness? Capacity? Speed? Grace?

“Float” you own boat, not your friend’s


Do Both!
Hi, Steve.

Keep the canoe and use it when it suits you. And buy a kayak (boats are not like wives: you can have more than one at a time). That’s what we did. But let me tell ya, I’ve hardly been back in the canoe since we got hooked on kayaking!

You didn’t say whether you’re thinking in terms of white water, sea kayaks, or rec boats. No matter what you do, it’s best to try before you buy.

Depends on which kayaks & canoe &
the paddler’s experience and the conditions you’ll be paddling in.

I’m not a real strong paddler, but in my Sawyer Summersong solo canoe with rudder, I can keep up with average paddlers in recreational kayaks who aren’t racing without much difficulty, but have great difficulty keeping up with strong sea kayakers paddling 16’ and 17’ sea kayaks for very long unless they’re holding back so I can keep up.

C’mon Doc, you’ve never paddled with
a skilled and strong paddling canoeist. I’m relatively inexperienced with solo canoes and not a very strong or skilled canoer, so if you’re using your experience with me in my solo canoe and you guys in your sea kayaks as your sole reference, you’re basing your evaluation on very limited data. In that case, both the paddlers and boats were mismatched. You guys are all stronger paddlers than me, even when I’m in the sea kayak.

I certainly did have a difficult time keeping up with you guys that day, but a more experienced canoeist in a more comparable solo canoe certainly would have kept pace with you much better.

Slowest common denomitor
The slowest common denomitor is the fishing equipment. That will surely slow you down the most.

On the flats of course the kayaks wil generally rule the speed up to a point.

On the river runs the dif will be minimal.

I_say go for it and see what happens. If one boat is kickin it too fast, then switch paddlers/boats at the next break.

Keep in mind also that a logjam does not know the diference between a canoe and a kayak.



Peanut butter and Chocalate
I think one thing that is often overlooked for rec boaters is the fact that Canoes and Kayaks cane be nice compliments to each other.

It is unfortunate that all too often these boat classes are pitted against each other on the web.

The canoe allows for more freight (cooolers, gear, etc). Kayaks are better for exploring the nooks and crannies. They also hold less weight and are better guide or lead boats.

It is a good day when these two boat classes can work together for a group

Just a thought.

It depends on what they buy, and …

– Last Updated: Jan-18-07 11:40 PM EST –

... it depends on what you buy. It also depends on how well they paddle and how well you paddle. Finally, it depends on whether they like to keep up a brisk pace or if they like to keep it comfy.

If they buy fairly fast boats and learn to paddle well and enjoy speed, it'll be a battle to keep up with them, probably a losing battle most of the time. If they buy run-of-the-mill rec boats and you buy at least a semi-fast solo canoe, you will do fine, especially with a double-blade paddle. If I use a double-blade paddle with my Wenonah Vagabond (not a fast boat by any means, but not too slow either), I can keep up with probably about 95 percent of the kayakers out there. Of course, I couldn't keep up with nearly that percentage of the kayakers here on P-net, but when it comes to ordinary folks in ordinary boats? - You bet. In fact, on most ordinary get-togethers, I have little trouble keeping up with the kayakers if I use a single-blade either, so it will also depend on how gung-ho your friends are once they hit the water.

Oh yeah, I totally agree with the earlier advice saying "do both". More boats is always better, and a greater variety among those boats is always better :)

Good points, but there’s more “depends”

– Last Updated: Jan-18-07 11:35 PM EST –

When it comes to "exploring nooks and crannies", I don't see it that way, so you and I are probably thinking about different sorts of "nooks and crannies". When I want to explore nooks and crannies in the form of small rivers, or side channels, I've always found that the kayakers in the group just let me go on without them. I don't know any kayakers who can comfortably stand up in their boats, as is necessary for climbing up on some river obstacles or getting out onto a 4-foot high bank, much less crawl out to one end of the boat before disembarking onto a floating log if only an end-wise dismount is possible. Kaykers usually can't scrunch down as low to get under logs because they have that cockpit rim around them, whereas I can just stay on my knees but drop my butt to the floor and bend forward and get my whole body lower than the gunwales and coast through. Kayakers can't use their paddles where overhead limbs are thick as hair on a dog, so they have to start hand-over-handing their way along, which doesn't work when the handholds aren't where you need them. Finally, kayaks usually draw more water, and can't squeeze through the shallows as well.

I'm not knocking kayaks at all. Never have, never will. But the places I call out-of-the-way are best negotiated by by canoe.

Of course that "sharing of duties" idea on trips involving both kayaks and canoes doesn't do anything for the speed comparison, since the canoes end up carrying all the heaviest items.

So far, I can more than keep up with any kayaks I have ever paddled with.


It’s not a race…
…if you have trouble keeping up with them, I’d

suggest getting different paddling partners.

As far as nooks and crannies, I wheeled around what became a Discovery 178 in swamps for several years.

(I got it before there were different numbered


It wasn’t always easy, and a few times I had to get out and push, but i was paddling in places that

would have been a challenge regardless of the boat.

It can be done; but, again, if you are having

trouble keeping up with friends in casual paddling

situations, I’d find someone else to go out with.

it’s not a race.

Yanoer- I think you move at a
great pace in the Summersong.

One other story- my wife and I were paddling our tandem a year or two ago on flat water. Although it is a rec tandem, we paddle at a very brisk pace. An elderly woman in a solo canoe pulled up and paddled with us for awhile. The glide on the canoe was great and she had no difficulty keeping up with us using fewer and apparently very efficient strokes.

A solo canoe with a pedistal and thigh

– Last Updated: Jan-19-07 1:44 PM EST –

straps can do pretty well. Using a DBCP and torso rotation, I've done some things in a 14 foot flat bottom Grumman that were thought to be a little strange. Watch the knees.

Second Logjam and Phreon…
Kayaks and Canoes can be a compliment to each other, especially when the Kayaks are the longer Rec boats or touring kayaks.

try again
Try to leave a solo race canoe behind. On flatwater maybe, on a river it gets iffier.

Kayakers & canoeists can co-exist
I’m a kayaker, and paddle both a 16 ft. sea kayak (my lake boat), and a 12.5 ft. rec. kayak, (my creek boat). I just spent an enjoyable summer and fall paddling with a canoeist. I’ll admit, this was a strange novelty at first, and also made me also wonder about the answer to that very same question.

On flatwater, can the canoeist keep up with the kayaker? Absolutely! I’m not a canoeist, but there are definitely fast canoes and skilled canoeists that can easily keep up with a 16 ft. kayak. It also depends on both paddlers’ skills, their boats, and the type of water they’re paddling.

There’s also opportunities for kayakers and canoeists to “do their own thing” while still enjoying each other’s company. For example, my canoeist and I would paddle together out to the mouth of a creek at the lake, then he would fish, while I paddled up and down the shoreline in my kayak. I’d check back in every so often, we’d chat, and then we’d paddle back together to the launch. Very agreeable.

As long as your group enjoys paddling, I don’t think you’ll have many problems. Good luck, and have fun, because that’s the whole point of paddling with others!

This is a heated bebate…
I was in the same situation several years ago. Still have my Mansfield Stowe canoe and it does get out once in a while, but when my son went off to college and I was going to be paddling solo I bought a recreation kayak because it was light and was easy to handle out of the water. It was dry and handled wind an waves better than a 17’ barge. It did do white water, but not well. I shifted towards a 14’ short sea kayak which won’t handle a cooler, but can carry enough stuff to river trip for a week. The closed water tight compartments allow it to pass through a lot of rapids that won’t scatter your gear all over creation if you flip. This evolved into full blown sea kayaks and Lake Superior as well as other large bodies of water you wouldn’t want to be on in a canoe when conditions get rough. I am still looking for the right solo canoe though and the Placid Rapidfire is such a canoe. I won’t get into the speed of either…the double blade makes a lot of the difference and so does the make-up of each hull design…kevlar vs plastic…narrow long water line vs short…how much rocker…etc.

Try out several boats both kayaks and canoes, then look for a good used one here in the classified ads…you’ll save a lot of money and start your own fleet. Tom

Your disco 160 K is really fast
It is a pretty fast ROW boat! It is also a pretty slow canoe. My disco 160 came with a center seat and oarlocks when I got it new. My experience is that I’ve been able to keep up with most sea kayakers. My top speed is about 5.5 mph and my all day speed is 3.5 to 4.5 depending on conditions.

As a solos paddling boat the 160 is a pig I don’t think I could solo paddle it 3 mph. More like 2 mph is realistic for a solo paddler.