Turning point Petral Play or P&H Volan

I know these posts tend to get repetitive however after reading previous, I always end up learning something new.
I’m currently researching a new boat. Small rivers, lakes and the Chesapeake Bay ( maybe) I am interested in the TurningPoint Petral play or the P&H Volan. Anyone have real world experience, or more like, much more knowledge than me. At my age this will probably be my last craft. I will hopefully retire soon and this will carry me through until I’m done.
Thoughts? I appreciate all of your input

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Put the names in the title and you will get faster and more replies.

Thanks for the suggestion

Availability matter?

I was making the same decision last year. I say go as light as you can afford. I didn’t know about the Petrel Play then (which would have interested me) and went with a 16’ Sterling Kayak that comes in at 39 lbs (carbon/kevlar). It’s a cinch for me to shoulder carry without stopping for 100 yards or more. I can still do the same with my 55 lb Dagger Stratos but I can really feel the weigh of this one.

If you are paddling mostly protected waters and don’t have camping aspirations, I would go with the shorter Petrel Play than the 16’ Volan. The Petrel Play can handle rougher water (from reading reviews and looking at videos). But, if camping is in the mix… Yeah, the Volan.

@raisins can give you a much better review on the Petrel Play since that is one of his boats.


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No hurry
On the lighter side
Around 5

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I wrote a review for paddling.com after 2000 miles (and some (not a lot) surf-play) I still feel the same - great (non ocean touring) paddling kayak (though I regularly paddle it on 30-40 mile day paddles), now, at 6540 miles.
I agree with @sing s comments, if you can afford the lower weight - go for it.
(I’ve self-prescribed low-weight kayaks for myself ever since my back went out on me (sidelined for about a month) in 2009 - no problems since then)

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I’ve done a test paddle in a TP Petrel Play and I’m wrestling with whether to go ahead and order one. I’ll write this out, in part to clarify my thoughts for myself, and in part to share those thoughts.

First of all, I’m willing to maintain a quiver of at least two kayaks because, for me, ocean touring and surf/play kayaking are so different that no boat is going to do super well at both. If I was forced to pick only one boat, I’d rather tour in a boat like a Petrel Play than try to surf with a boat like my 18’ Nordkapp, but that’s not my current decision space.

My current “play” kayaks are a Romany and a recently-purchased Mariner Coaster. Nick Schade says that the Coaster was a design inspiration for the Petrel Play, and based on my short test paddle of the Petrel Play, I feel like the two boats handle similarly. Most remarkable is the ease of putting the boat up on edge and turning sharply while still feeling in control. In contrast, the Romany feels like a (slightly playful) touring kayak. It is happy to edge way over, but it doesn’t turn nearly as sharply or pivot as easily with forward or reverse sweep strokes.

I mostly paddle on the Lake Union or Puget Sound sides of the Ballard Locks, and I haven’t yet attempted true kayak surfing, but I enjoy playing on boat wakes and catching short rides on 2’-3’ wind waves with the Coaster and Romany. With a few exceptions (see below), everything is just easier in the Coaster. The level of boat control when surfing a wave is much sharper, and the Coaster shows little of the Romany’s tendency to broach, seeming to prefer turning down wave. The Coaster also paddles more easily into and across the wind and waves. I feel like paddling the Coaster has rapidly made me a more skilled and confident paddler of the Romany. My short test paddle in the Petrel Play wasn’t sufficient to say whether it handles exactly like the Coaster. I’d love to hear from anyone who might have paddled both.

The biggest downside of the Coaster for my purposes is that it is not nearly as easy to roll as the Romany. The cockpit is larger, requiring some padding to create reasonable thigh bracing, and the rear of the cockpit coaming is significantly higher – enough to interfere with my layback rolls. I can still roll the Coaster consistently, so it’s not really a safety issue, but I enjoy trying to expand my repertoire of different rolls and the Coaster is not nearly as good for that as the Romany. This is one of the places where I think the Petrel Play is likely to be better. Minor annoyances with the Coaster that the Petrel Play would also alleviate are the plastic screw-in hatches that are not very watertight and the lack of a day-hatch. My Romany also addresses those issues, and also feels a little faster and tracks a straighter line than the skeg-less Coaster on flat water, but the Romany is a much heavier boat that has the fore-mentioned handling shortcomings.

So I’m struggling to figure out two related questions: 1) what is the real use case that I am trying to serve? and 2) is a Petrel Play the way I want to serve my use case?

Currently my Coaster is light (a 39 lb carbon/kevlar build) and fun to paddle in waves, but not as fun to roll or paddle on flat water as my heavy (fiberglass) Romany. Maybe a Petrel Play would cover all of those bases better than either of my current boats do together?

Very much a first-world problem, but it’s fun to have the luxury of considering it.


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Dam… I am freakin’ jealous of your “first world problem.” I still kick myself for not making play for a local Mariner Coaster about 10 years ago. But, I was still in my waveskier/surf kayaker phase and didn’t think I would ever get back into a long boat (not that a Coaster is a “true” longboat, rather a well designed coastal playboat). I was going to say maybe switching out the Coaster would save you some weight but yours is already a 39 lb kevlar model. So, maybe you would end up switching just for better hatches.

This may be apples to oranges to pumpkins… I picked up a 13’ Cobra ReVision early this summer. After a summer of surfing the ReVision, I can say this ride is much like a longer faster version of my waveski and surf kayaks, but at the price of more drawn out cutbacks (than the quicker waveski cutbacks). This past couple of weeks of getting back into my Dagger Stratos, I was getting frustrated because I was expecting this 14’ long “playboat” to perform like my ReVision. I am just now adjusting back to the reality that the Stratos is still a long “playboat” kayak and not a dedicated surf design like the ReVision. It is never going to do cutbacks like the ReVision.

Not having surfed the Coaster, but in just reading your description, I wonder whether your Coaster is more like the ReVision (than a Stratos)? Maybe trading the Coaster for a Petrel Play is like a Gala for a Delicious apple, or it could be an apple (a surf craft) for an orange (a play oriented longboat). What I would suggest is to not let go of the Coaster until you can some test rides/surf sessions with a Petrel Play first, if that is possible.

First world problem indeed!!!

PS. I find my waveskis and past surf kayaks are a bit more challenging (or qualitatively different) to roll compared to sea kayaks, but those rides surf way better too!