I have become interested in getting a Betsie Bay kayak. It seems to be both very light and quick (both important for a 64 year old). But I wouldn’t buy one before trying it out. Does anyone in/near Atlanta have a Betsie Bay, any model, that I could try out?
I don’t want to be presumptuous, but
Atlanta isn’t exactly prime territory for a Betsie Bay. The small boat shop in CT used to carry them and you might give them a call to see if you could demo one. I would also call Al and ask him if he has sold any in your area, or wait for a Greenland oriented event that you could attend in hopes that there is one at the event. Bill
Definitely call Al
Al is a nice guy and will do his best to accommodate you. He also brings his boats to most of the symposiums in Michigan. Why not schedule a vacation in Michigan, take in a symposium and try some boats?
If you contact BBK…
…they’ll refer you to customers in your area. The boats are very light and paddle wonderfully, but they’re quirky. If you search the archives, you’ll find some old posts of mine that detail my experiences with BBK boats.
OTOH, stay away from their paddles, as they’re a horrible design.
I actually did contact Al, but he didn’t know of any folks around Atlanta - Southeast - who had a BBK. I am wondering what you mean by “quirky”? Also, what else would you recommend that handles as well as the Impex Force Cat 3 but is lighter. I’ve found this boat to be fast and really quite good in rough water / waves.
Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Read Brian’s Review and posts on BBK
I have found the fit of BBK boats to be not ideal for my size and shape (6’3" 245lbs). Handling can be trim dependant as there is no skeg. The Recluse did not allow a layback for my size and the boat is a little twitchy, again at my size and shape. How about a carbon kevlar Nordkapp? Rockpool Alaw Bach? Tiderace Excite? Tahe Greenland? The Tahe most closely resembles the BBK. I here that Joe O’Blennis is importing Black Pearls to his shop near Grand Marais Canada (see kayak usa forum). It seems as though you might want to hit a few symposiums before you buy. I would imagine most people would let you paddle their boat if you asked nicely. Bill
Second Tahe Greenland
If you are a good fit in the F3 and looking for a Greenland style boat and something different, then the Tahe Greenland would be an excellent boat to demo. IMO it is a modern design which resembles an E. Greenland boat and performs well from Greenland rolling, to playing about in stuff, to weekend trips if you pack light.
I have only paddled it in calm conditions, but the Rockpool Alaw Bach would be one to try. It’s made of the thermoformed ABS plastic (not sure what they call it) by Eddyline. Nice boat and very light weight.
Thanks very much for the thoughtful suggestions. Others are most welcome…again, these are really helpful.
Since you seem to like
the Force 3. Look into the Force 3 in K-light. BTW, I had the opportunity to paddle the Tahe Greenlander; did not like it at all. Everyone seems to talk about how easy it rolls and it does but is no easier than my Romany. One more thing, the boat is SLOW. In my opinion very much a “nitch” boat, the “hot” boat at the moment. If your only going to have one boat why not take a look at the Romany.
Some examples of BBK quirks
- Al refuses to build boats with day hatches.
- The cockpit size is in between an ocean cockpit and a keyhole, which unfortunately means it has the disadvantages of both without the advantages of either. It can also be challenging to find spray skirts.
- The perimeter lines are on the sides of the boat, instead of on the deck, where they belong. Try grabbing one of them with gloves on sometime. They’re essentially useless for their intended purpose, holding onto the boat in rescue situations.
There are others, but it’s been a while since I’ve owned one and the memories have faded.
As I stated above, the boats perform wonderfully on the water. I really like the Aral I owned, but I didn’t trust it for rock garden and surf use, so I didn’t use it enough to justify keeping it. Al swears that the boats are as rugged as anything on the market, but I couldn’t bring myself to test that claim. If you feel a BBK suits your needs, I doubt that you would be disappointed in it and as others have said, Al is a really nice guy and easy to deal with.
If you get a chance to try one, do. I’ve had a BBK Valkyrie for 7 years, and I love it. My friends who try it often end up buying one (we live in the land of BBKs, however–Lake Superior, where they’re common). It’s light, tough, handles surprisingly well in cross-winds and rough water, and it’s fast and nimble. After 7 years of paddling nearly every day during the summers, I have a few dings, but nothing serious. I’ve had a number of other boats, and demoed lots and lots, but this has been my favorite, by far.
All the quirks are true: the deck lines are silly (although they’re fine for rescues), there’s no day hatch, and most annoying of all, the coaming designs makes laybacks painful. When I want to play around with balance braces, I use my VCP avocet.
But in the end, what matters is that you love paddling the boat. And I love paddling my Valkyrie, and everyone else up here on Lake Superior with a BBK loves theirs too. If you find a BBK to paddle, and you love the feeling of paddling it, just get it.
This is very helpful. I’m motivated to try one. If I only lived near Lake Michigan, rather than in mild Atlanta.
You sound like my wife
Who found a used Valkrie this year (with a day hatch) and has not been in another boat since. Besides the fact that it weighs 29 pounds which makes a real easy carry for her she loves the way it handles wind and waves and the secondary stability it has.. it also fits her like a glove. Pretty sure the old Pintail will be only used by me from now on :-) its a burden I will have to carry....
Oops sorry that response was meant for the poster Tiva.
Where / how did your wife find the Valkerie?
It was listed as a Greenland style kayak for sale… there is a all fiberglass Recluse on Craigslist in Grand Rapids MI for sale right now I saw it there yesterday. Just a lucky find on her part really.
Rick, There is a Valkyrie for sale on the connyak.org classified site. (Use search engine, it’s back a few pages.) It’s in NJ, but I know it was still available as of last month.
Many thanks! I was not aware of that site.
betsie bay alternatives
I’m “in the same boat” so to speak. I paddle and love an Impex Force Cat 3 but I’m 69 years old and it’s getting heavy. I was looking for something light but fairly high performance. No Betsie Bay’s around, so I’m moving toward an Epic. Good alternative?