What boat for Rivers and sea Seagoing?

I’m a pretty avid outdoorsman with lots of camping, hunting, sailing and canoeing under my belt. I’ve backpacked solo many times, spent a week solo on my 17’ sailboat in the lower Florida Keys, had a 29’ sailboat for about 4 years in the Florida Panhandle and now I currently have a Honbie Tandem Island sailing kayak.

I’m looking into getting into some more freshwater type kayaking/canoeing and I’m not sure on a what craft would be my best option. I see myself wanting a boat to do mostly river traveling (no real whitewater) for weekends and a few extended trips in the Southeastern US. I like the possibility of being able to have a craft that would do well in both winding rivers and the open gulf however I have come to realize that one may not work so well for the other.

First off, I’m in arms with myself over the canoe vs kayak debate… This past week I have been reading and reading all I could find on the two comparisons and I have come to think that either will ultimately be fine and I prefer kayak having my gear stowed away and out of sight.

So, for a kayak I have come to find out that a long sea kayak (17’ or so) would not be my best option in a winding river with a few small rapids and downed trees to deal with. I’m thinking something like the Current Design Vision https://www.cdkayak.com/Kayaks.aspx?id=29

I’m also set on a sit inside and not a SOT…

I want something fairly fast as typically when I am backpacking or sailing my mindset is generally pushing myself to go farther and faster… I’d like to do some headwater to the gulf trips of my local rivers and make it in good time as well.

I do have a friend with several canoes that I’m sure I could borrow. Would a canoe be so bad for one person? I imagine they are all the standard double canoes and not the small single person ones but I’m not 100% sure.

Canoe or Kayak?

What type of kayak for my needs?

That’s my kind of paddling
Small creeks to large rivers and into the gulf.

I don’t use a canoe on the gulf mainly because of self rescue concerns and the wind always blows on the gulf. On the rivers canoe is my vessel of choice unless I am with a group of advanced paddlers in kayaks, then I go kayak to keep up.

I prefer a 14 ft and have few problems on even narrow tree choked streams. I personally wouldn’t want anything shorter than that on the gulf though some people paddle 12 ft. Likewise I wouldn’t want anything longer than that on the smaller creeks but I know people who take 16 ft and do OK.

There is a whole slew of good double bulkhead SINKs in that size range. I enjoy my WS Tsunami, paddled with lots of people using the CD in your link.

CD Visions
If you don’t mind some input from a neophyte, I’ll add this about the CD Visions. Earlier this fall my wife and I picked up a 130 and a 140 as step-up boats from the 12’ rec boats we had been paddling. We got the Visions at very healthy end of model year discounts from our local paddle shop. They are impressively made boats. The 140 (I probably would have bought a 150 if one had been in stock) fits me well. It has a very comfortable seat, lots of room for my feet and the thigh braces are just in the right spot - I’m 6’ 200lbs, size 10 shoe. The 24” beam means plenty of initial stability and with the rounded hull profile it’s quite quick and edges very easily. I wouldn’t call it the best tracking boat but it turns easily and weather cocks a little but I imagine that the rudder would help with that. The layup looks nicely done and the fittings are all first rate – they don’t seem to have cut any corners on the quality of this boat and everything seems to be heavy duty. The composite construction means that the boats are quite light and very responsive on the water. We use our Visions on a mix of flat lakes, small creeks and ocean bays and they seem to be a great boat for that. We haven’t been out in any really rough weather but in wind and waves the boats inspire confidence. Our creeks and streams don’t involve any rapids, but if they did I think it might be worth giving up a little weight to get the poly 150R boat instead of the composite one.

Is there a local dealer you could visit for a test paddle? We took ours out (and several others) before we decided on what we wanted.

Glass or plastic
I would just mention that if the river/creeks you might be going down are rocky you might want to consider a plastic kayak. Many creeks I go down have rocks just under the surface that you don’t always see. So I hit them sometimes and go right over the top of them. With plastic no worries. A composite I would have a fit because not matter what composite they all have gelcoat that will gouge if you go over rocks that I sometimes do.

You could get up to a 16 footer and be fine. Depends on hull design, kayaks with a lot of rocker even if longer can out turn a shorter kayak.

As one who has both canoes and …
kayaks and paddles and camps in both rivers and the ocean, from my experience if you want to paddle and camp in both and can have only one boat, make it a kayak.

And don’t worry about the length.

I will take my 18 foot sea kayak in any small twisty river that you can throw at me.

I won’t advise what kayak to get, but a friend has a CD Vision and that is a great kayak.

Jack L

Having paddled both dedicated solo
canoes and sea canoes and kayaks on rivers and open water, there are many choices that will work.

I’ve paddled the Curtis Nomad solo canoe as well as the Hemlock Peregrine on moving water as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Also a pack canoe… the Placid Boatworks RapidFire.

However there is an uber boat… The sea canoe. Mad River Monarch and Kruger Sea wind and Superior Expedition canoes.

Highly sought after by folks doing the sort of paddling you want to do.

Here is a thread from Watertribe… BTW the sea canoe is an excellent sailing craft.

Kruger ?
Need to be rich to buy one.

Even a used one will break the bank

Those little canoes you mentioned would need to be decked if the OP wants to keep moving in big open water, when the wind is blowing at 20 MPH

Jack L

I manage fine with a spray cover
in the Gulf of Florida in open canoes. It did get a bit dicey at 45 km/h wind ( other paddler had a Canadian anemometer)

No you don’t need to be rich… You do have to be patient. I got my Monarch for two grand. A guy in NYC scored one for a hundred bucks. ( the seller undoubtedly had no idea what they were selling)

Just be an ambush predator and patient.

I’m a canoe guy but
If I could tolerate sitting on the floor I’d use a kayak with two bulkheads and a skirt on open water.

A 15’-16’ boat that turns when you heel it should be fine for all but the tightest streams and handle the open water nicely.

Since I have to kneel I use a Mad River Independence, a Bell Magic, or a Swift Osprey for the type of paddling the OP specifies. The Indy is the best in the wind. The Osprey is the best in the waves. As Jack mentions, 20 mph wind is pushing it pretty hard for most open boats/boaters.

Self rescue and assisted rescue are something that any paddler venturing far from shore should be familiar with.

Know your boats and your own limits.

I have

– Last Updated: Dec-11-14 11:09 AM EST –

done the rivers and creeks on multi day (15-30 mi/day) camping trips up to 5 days in a 17.5' sea kayak. Class 2 rapids aren't that big of a deal, you don't play in them, you just get through, but it works. Higher class's and high water through class 2's making them 3 or better can be interesting.

I had to go big because of my weight plus the weight of gear, however a buddy has a Old Town Castine at 13ish foot though he put some outside and the son was in a Perception Carolina 14.5 that seemed like a better compromise in the river. The son and I both took regular camp chairs that we strapped on the rear on the last long trip. It was worth the extra weight to be able to sit in a chair.

Whatever you get, even though you are a backpacker, figure your weight, plus about 100lb for gear. Figure 5 days worth of food and gear you are looking at 55-75lb, PDF, paddle, skirt, ect ect ect, 100 extra lb in carrying capacity gives you wiggle room.

Some creek pics http://s657.photobucket.com/user/Varmintmist/slideshow/summer%20trip%202014?sort=3

Canoes offer you a lot more room and ease of packing. You can just toss your pack in on top of a small pallet you can make to keep it off the bottom, put a strap or two around a thwart in case you go over. When you get to a site, just grab your pack and go. With 2 people and shared gear on a river they are hard to beat.

Paddling a trip solo in a kayak means you dont have to worry about what the other guy is going to do. It also means that there is no one to paddle if you feel like taking a break.

Kruger Dream Catcher or
Kruger Dream Catcher

Kruger Sea Wind

Superior Expedition by Superior Canoe Company.

prijon yukon expedition
had one for years now and it rocks in the rivers and is very seaworthy ive taken it just about everywhere.the cargo space is unbeleivable too.and its tougher than hell.check out some reveiws its a beautiful do everything kayak that excells in rivers and is super stable.

i have a few other kayaks too but if i could have just one it would be the yukon.

Think about that gear-storage idea

– Last Updated: Dec-13-14 11:04 PM EST –

I won't say a canoe is better for going on the ocean. It isn't. But since you have already recognized that it's expecting a lot for one boat to be ideal for both of the situations you describe, I'm thinking you might re-think one of the reasons you said you would prefer a kayak.

The fact that your gear is below the deck of a kayak, "out of sight" as you say, is no advantage in and of itself. There are a few easy ways to make sure your gear stays dry in a canoe (such as waterproof packs, large dry bags, or "canoe packs" with plastic liners), and it's also a simple matter to attach a few D-rings to the floor so the pack can be tied down. If tying your pack to the floor sounds like a lot of trouble, it's not, and it won't seem that way to you anymore the first time you have to stuff your gear through the hatches of a kayak. In any case, simply tying packs to the thwarts of a canoe is good enough for most people, most of the time.

Though one poster mentioned tossing your pack on a pallet to keep your stuff dry, the pack should already be waterproof and it really doesn't matter at all if it's sitting in a deep puddle of water on the floor. I've never had any of my stuff get wet, and open boats are the only kind I've used on camping trips.

When comparing the two styles of boat, of much greater concern than how to stow your gear should be your thoughts about the respective paddling methods, and how much difference there is for the first part of the respective learning curves. It took me more than two years of steady practice before I was really efficient with a single-blade paddle in a solo canoe. With the double-blade, I was "good to go" on my very first day (though I'd already learned some of the basics of boat control in moving water in a two-person canoe).

Still, if you MUST go on the ocean, the kayak will generally be better (though the Kruger canoes that were mentioned are very ocean-capable).

If you want to read of some ocean going
voyages Reinhard Zollitschs website is a gold mine.

Sea canoe. I like the mix of trips from the Suwanee River to Rounding the Gaspe


Zolitch paddles a Kruger Sea WInd
His canoe is a Kruger Sea Wind that he paddles.


– Last Updated: Dec-14-14 2:37 PM EST –

a little PVC pipe pallet keeps the pack dry so that when you through it on your shoulders it isnt like putting a heavy cold wet towel on. The OP said he already backpacked, most decent packs made for carrying are not water proof, they do have rain covers though for about 3/4 coverage. If his pack is already 60% packed like mine is, it is just a matter of tossing it on a pallet foa a canoe trip.

All of the stuff in the pack should be in dry bags, but there are dry bags and there are dry bags. There are some that are 100% water tight and others that will take a good dunking but not constant contact with water. If your pack is wet, and you have any of the latter, the WILL leech moisture into your gear.


2 4' peices of PVC, 8 screws and some junk plywood is a small price to pay to keep 2 packs off the bottom of the boat. Just getting in and out will bring in enough water to see a pack start drawing water.

What you’re looking for
is a P&H Hammer.Go to website, watch video.

Enjoy this
5000 miles in a sea canoe. Including a portage with boat over the Chilkoot Pass


Sea Wind again.

Any of you kayakers want to try? I know I don’t but its my old age!