Versatile sea kayak for a 6'5" guy

Looking for something versatile to tackle swamps/backwaters/rivers/ocean. Almost all of my kayaking experience has been in a wilderness tempest 170 in the San Juan islands and I love that boat. It was a great compromise between size and control. I’m moving to southern Louisiana and I want something that I can use everywhere, from day trips on the swamp to multi day excursions on the coast. Also adding to my current difficulties in finding something suitable are a fairly low budget (about $1000 max) and a poor supply of used kayaks in the area (I currently live in Iowa). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Let me welcome you to the northern Gulf Coast. South LA is full of great paddling and alligators - get ready to see them, you will, just please never feed them.

You did not mention your body build or weight? Since you have a Tempest (good kayak) it tells me you probably are an athletic build. The Current Design Sirocco is probably a good sea kayak for a guy your size. It is a little more roomy than the Tempest. Good thing for you is that they fit your budget when found in the used market. As for a big guy new kayak, one of the few built for you is the NDK Excel. A super sea kayak, but rarely see them on the used market and new they are pricy. Also, nothing the matter with keeping and using your Tempest - it’s highly suitable for our waters whether fiberglass or plastic.

PS - I’m next door in Southern MS and paddle MS, coastal AL, and the greater New Orleans area regularly. While a fiberglass kayak is fine for our waters with a little care when paddling, a “plastic” kayak is better due to the unseen underwater obstructions and occasional oyster shell beaches. The carbon-kevlar kayak stays in storage more than I would like when I paddle locally.

Thanks for the welcome!
I guess I should say I don’t own a tempest (unfortunately). I was a guide and always used company boats. I’m also 190 lbs, so yes I’d say “athletic build”.

Thanks for the recommendations! The NDK is definitely out of the price range, but hey, something to save up for as it is BEAUTIFUL. The sirocco looks very comparable to the tempest as well. Nice to have some other options to look out for. Thank you!

You might also fit the NDK Explorer HV or P&H Cetus HV at your size. Or look for used Tempest which are regularly available on the used market at your price point. Where will you be in So LA? Drop a note if you are in the NOLA/BR areas. Always good to have new paddlers around.

Have you considered a SOT?
I am your size , and should weigh 190.
I often paddle the coast of SC and find my Tarpon to be an ideal swamp and creek boat. Off shore is great within reason .
But, SOT typically heavy and slow compared to a sea kayak.
Maybe I should have one!

Everyone should have a Tarpon 140 or 160 for fishing. Or a Cobra Expedition. Personally I prefer a sit in kayak with a skirt except when fishing. I’m addicted to rolling.

Our bayous often get tight for turning long boats whether SOT or sit in. Lots of edging needed occasionally to exit out of tight spots unless you want to back out.

Our swamps are the same but we don’t have cool names for them. The best boats for them are
Rec sized

My SUV does-it-all-pretty-good-boat is a 14 ft Dagger Alchemy. Buying used made the price very reasonable. Also, buying used makes you very comfortable about ripping out the dumb stiffening hardware and moving the seat back a few inches.

Here is a list of kayak a 6’7" guide friend put together a while ago on boats that fits him.

----start quote—
I don’t think there is a kayak greater than 17’4" that I’m not able to fit into.

I would be able to fit into a fair amount of kayaks in the 16’-17’ range IF I drilled and re-mounted the footrails/ footpegs further away from the seat.

Here is a list of kayaks, shorter than 17’, that I can fit into WITHOUT any modifications:

 Current Designs Sirocco
 P&H Delphin 155
 NorthShore Atlantic LV
 Valley Gemini SP
 P&H(?) Hammer, the big one (I forget if there are multiple sizes or not)
 Dagger Alchemy (biggest)
 Dagger Stratos (the biggest one)

I’ll be in Thibodaux. Not sure if that’s in your range but I’d be happy to go out for a paddle if you’re ever in the area (or vice versa)!

For swamps you do not want to paddle a SOT in gator country.
There are plenty of snakes around which can fall in your lap out of branches.
Pygmy makes some kits for large humans.

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Drop a note when you get to Thibodaux and have time to paddle. There are lots of paddles in the NOLA area that are an hour away from both of us.

I worked with a guy named Thibodeaux in Houston. Weird little guy that a lot of people believed could put a hex on you.
A good friend’s name was Bristow Fonteneaux.

Gaux Tigers