Ultralight canoes, ABS thermoformed kayaks, oyster shoals and eroded limestone shelves

I am considering the possibility of an ultralight canoe or ABS thermoformed kayak (Hurricane brand) for use in FL waters where there are eroded limestone shelves and oyster shoals just under the surface that cannot always be avoided. Does anyone have real-world hands-on experience with this?

Yes, Carbon fiber Placid Boatworks RapidFIre in the Everglades and six weeks most years in Fl. I would not run Big Shoals on the Suwanee with it but its been fine for accidental hits on oyster bars. I would not take a skin coat boat but my boats all have gel coat to take the worse of the abrasion. Hurricane kayaks are popular in Fl too but I do not have one.

Usually in the Glades we are out for ten days and have a lot of weight so the boat rides low. Yes those are attack oyster bars

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I have a Hurricane Skimmer that has encountered rock, logs, and ramps. It will scratch and ding but not badly. It is not a soft material.
If I’m lucky , it may encounter some oyster shells and Suwannee River limestone. I use Keel Easy strips to protect the bow and stern.
The only real damage I’ve had was when I hit rebar imbedded in a rock on the Withlacoochee in my Rapidfire. That one went to the cloth and really hurt my feelings.

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I’ve got an ABS from Eddyline. Launching off of concrete boat ramps started putting dings in the keel. I added a strip of keel easy to the bottom of the boat and I don’t have any issues. The only major ding I’ve put in it was paddling over an unseen metal fence post that scraped the bottom putting a nice sized gouge in it. I repaired it per Eddylines instructions.

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Many thanks for all comments, recommendations, and real world data.

I contacted Hurricane’s customer service and they wrote back:

ABS Plastic is very abrasion resistant, but it’s not as impact resistant as poly. Hurricanes do fine in areas with oyster beds, but I would avoid them if possible as deep gouges can become cracks over time. Same deal for slowly going over logs, rock ledges, etc. - ABS can handle that but try not to go in areas where hard impacts are inevitable.

Of course they must be conservative with their recommendations.

I checked the KeelEazy website - thanks for the tip - and spoke to one of their dealers at a local shop that sells high end sea kayaks and does repairs. He likes and recommends the product and says he installs a lot of it for Everglades rental fleets. His website says they do fiberglass repairs of ABS boats and I was told that they did a satisfactory repair on a Hurricane Skimmer that had had its stern destroyed. Of course Eddyline has pages on repair but it’s always good to get confirmation from other sources, each with its own experience and viewpoint.

I’m starting to get the confidence to go with the Skimmer


You’ll be fine with the Skimmer - oysters aren’t kind to any material! I have two poly kayaks and a carbon (with gelcoat) sea kayak - my older poly kayak has met a few oyster beds, haven’t had any nasty crunches with the carbon boat yet - just got it in March.

You do learn where the oyster beds tend to be, so I generally don’t hit any in places that I paddle frequently. Heading to a new spot all bets are off.

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I have an orange Skimmer 140 for sale in excellent condition.

Where are you?

Greenville , South Carolina

I am in SWFL, well out of your area.

I tried the 128 and liked it for being maneuverable enough for creeks and rivers and decent in open water, and the middle ground between the 116 and the 140. How maneuverable is the 140? Have you paddled the 128? I called the local dealer and they don’t have one but expect to in January. I’ll try one out when I get a chance.

When I tried the 128 I also tried their Santee 126 large cockpit sit in and found it less maneuverable than the Skimmer.

I suspect all the Skimmers would benefit from thigh straps to enhance maneuverability.

I have little to no problem maneuvering any 14’ boat. Thigh straps can help but I have them for when the water gets really bumpy and I want to stay on the boat.
My brother lives in the West Palm area but I prefer north Florida when we get together.

For years I paddled a 10’ Innova/Gumotex Safari that you can spin under your butt, a pretty high standard for maneuverability, and a skeg that allows you to maintain a course in open water. Unfortunately an inflatable with a skeg is not appropriate for FL waters. I am now looking for a boat for N FL creeks, rivers, and estuaries that I don’t as yet know, where length alone could be determinant. Finding the ideal combination for both tight and open water is the objective here and the 128 looks to be a good candidate.

What are you asking for your 140?

$800, barely used.

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I have one of each - Santee 126 Sport & Skimmer 140. The Skimmer 140 is my “go to” boat. Very pleased with its handling, glide and maneuverability. It’s been a great boat for exploring Eastern NC’s black water creeks and coastal areas. The Santee 126 Sport is a nice paddling boat. Couldn’t find the “secondary” on that boat as easily as I could on the Skimmer. Tracking was a bit squirrelly compared to the Skimmer, but great glide and punch through waves whereas the Skimmer tends to ride over the waves. Different characteristics for different hulls.

The Skimmer 140 is the “new kid on the block” in our local paddle club where the vast majority of members have sit in kayaks ranging from 10-18ft. Many people have said they never considered a SOT for recreational touring due to their experiences with rotomolded SOT’s being heavy and slow. I’ve encountered no issue with keeping pace with anyone on our group paddles.

I’d buy another Skimmer and recommend others paddle an ABS SOT when shopping for a kayak.

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What thigh straps are you using? Pleased with performance? Been considering adding a pair to my Skimmer 140 to
“connect” with the boat. Feedback on straps, placement and installation is welcome.

I paddle a wood composite in Florida. . Oysters are a problem only if you go into flats at falling tide. Aside from oysters, bolts sticking out of pilings have given me the worst scratches. But that’s cause I paddled a “slalom” course through pilings on the river with wind and tide.

It’s more how you paddle.

Thanks for letting me know that the 140 has “been a great boat for exploring Eastern NC’s black water creeks”. Not to get down to the level of how many angels can fit on a pinhead, but I am surprised that the 140 is a bit wider than the 128 when I would expect just the opposite. I’ll paddle them both when I get the chance and see how they compare for maneuverability in tight places. If that extra little bit of control could keep you from grinding on a rock ledge where the water flows a bit faster on an outside bend under an overhanging branch, that would be determinant.

I’ve only used thigh straps on an Innova/Gumotex Safari in rough conditions on open water and an AIRE Super Lynx in fast rivers, never on a hard SOT, but I think they would be a welcome aid to the 128 I tried.

The thigh straps that come with the Safari are very basic, just straight webbing with no padding and they worked fine. For the Super Lynx I had padded curved straps and they worked fine as well. Looking online, NRS has a set of curved straps with an inflatable cushion which might be an interesting adjustment aid, don’t really know but be interesting to try. On the other hand, no big deal to make up a pair out of webbing you have around or seat belts from a wrecked car.

I have Harmony thigh straps, primarily for use with my Tarpon 160 in the ocean.