Whitewater to touring ... need advice


I’m trading my whitewater for a touring kayak and have someone offering an old necky looksha. I have a few concerns which I’m hoping to get help with. I figured I would ask here before calling Necky.

Pictures below.

My concerns are, no forward bulkhead, high seat, no knee braces. Knee braces concern me a lot. I’ve read that boats which don’t have forward bulkheads are not good for ocean exploration but I don’t quite understand why. What is the recovery for a wet exit at sea and how would this boat work? Although the boat looks very stable and I’m used to whitewater I don’t like to get myself into near death experiences any longer.

From what I can surmise it seems I’d be limited to lakes and flat rivers if I swap out my whitewater kayak for this.

Any comments would be appreciated.

PLEASE DON’T DEBATE ABOUT RUDDER VS SKEG. It is the least of my worries after running white water.




On a scale of 1 to 10
the importance of two bulkheads on a touring kayak is about a 15.

In my opinion.

for any kind of challenging conditions
in a touring or sea kayak, you need that front bulkhead. The hatch and storage are the bonus that comes with extra water displacement/flotation. If you go for a swim, a boat without a front bulkhead will not be recoverable, except by extreme measures (like, assistance from a power boat). It will float like a needle, with the front end down, and the rear (bulkheaded) end, up.

Common self rescues include re-enter and roll up (may work for you); cowboy scramble (pretty simple); paddle float (fiddly and time consuming). And, you probably will have to use a pump to empty the cockpit. Assisted rescues are easier, and you end up with not enough water to worry about pumping out.

I wouldn’t touch that, unless you are …
planning on putting in a front bulkhead, or loading the front with flotation.

If you capsize the bow will go down, and you can forget about a self rescue or even pumping the water out of the boat.

jack L

Better choices
on NH/Maine Craigslist



http://nh.craigslist.org/boa/3767525326.html (only if you’re a large person)



The pickings are a bit slim at the moment but be patient and something good will turn up on Craigslist.

misc answers
Seems you have the answer from the other posts on the risks for no front bulkheads - the lack of flotation. A sign of how important this is is that just about every touring kayak manufacturer puts in front bulkheads, even though it costs them more and there is no law requiring it.

In general, I would avoid any kayak more than about 10 years old. Both greater chances of damage (including form sun) and that newer boats are generally more comfortable and have better safety built in (not just the bulkhead, but also deck lines–which this boat doesn’t have–and such).

On touring rescues - the first line is to avoid flipping (avoiding situations that may flip you, having a good brace, etc.). If you do flip, the bets is a roll. Beyond that, solo re-entries are re-enter and roll, cowboy scramble, and paddlefloat rescue. T-rescue is standard for multiple people re-entry.

There are articles on the Cowboy Scramble and T-rescues in prior issues of California Kayaker Magazine - can be read online for free at


What boat?
What’s the WW boat you are trading?

Stay away
You can find better and better suited used touring boats. Bulkheads a priority.

I got a Necky Looksha Sport way back
about ‘98, in an Olympic ww team auction. I paid only $550 for what was essentially a demo.

Mine also lacks a front bulkhead. I immediately ordered and installed a front hatch kit, and in the process I installed inside connections for a large, bow-filling float bag that ends just in front of the footbrace rails.

I junked the rudder assembly (why would a ww paddler need a rudder for a turny 14.5’ kayak?) and replaced the rudder/footbrace rails with ordinary adjustable foot braces. I had to modify the seat and hanger panels for my wide set hip joints. I ditched the silly seat panel. Why does a serious paddler want to be laying back on a high seat? You’re supposed to be using your torso.

Maybe that will give you license to do what you want to do to “your” Looksha. I doubt that Necky has front hatch kits anymore. What you might improvise, I don’t know.

Great info
Thanks for the advice and links. Lots of clarity from the posts and links.

@Waterbird Airalite is a beautiful boat.

@ natehanson I’m trading a Wavesport EZG60 with an extra shell for someone to make a C1 or play around with custom set up.

At 6’1" I’m maxing the boat out. Mostly due to the comfort of my size 13 feet.


Lots of good boats listed…

is the trade critical?
What I mean is, people are suggesting you shop around, which is good advice, but maybe you don’t have the funds and a trade is the only way to get yourself into a touring kayak. In that case, I’d paddle it, try rolling it, make sure you’re comfortable, and plan on purchasing a float bag for the bow. Flotation is critical but I believe Mariner still makes sea kayaks with no bulkheads.

"near death experiences"
As someone who began as a WW paddler and still does it but added sea kayaking I would have to say that sea kayaking is more dangerous than WW kayaking. Of course I never paddled class IV and I regularly paddle the Great Lakes. You can get into some real near death experiences on, say, Lake Superior, if a storm comes up. There are lots of unpredictable elements to sea kayaking whereas in WW you know what you are up against and can walk around rapids if you need to.


I’m suprised to hear that. I’m not doubting it, just never really thought about ocean yaking as more dangerous than WW. I lost my WW nerves getting recirced in a class 4 hole. I can see your point as I’ve been in some nasty storms on the rivers in CO however we just paddled it out because the rivers are the lowest point in the area.

I can definately see the difference after being caught in a small violent storm on a sailboat at sea. Wouldn’t have wanted to be in a kayak… well maybe it could have been fun if I was with another crazy person.

I’m going to just budget the purchase of a touring rig. Probably sell the WW or trade for a creek boat. We live less than 4 miles from a small class 2 run. Haven’t yaked in the North East yet, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.

Thanks again for the advice.

I was surprised to hear that…
…the first time I heard it, which was from another whitewater convert.

I haven’t crossed over to a real degree,
but I agree that open water and ocean surf conditions pose challenges that can’t be dealt with as predictably as most of what I have faced in my 40 year whitewater career.

Of course, one can make ww as unpredictably dangerous as the North Sea if one just lacks some good judgement.

Distance from land
Makes a huge difference. There was a story in a Sea Kayaker magazine issue, last year I think, about a trip that had significant problems. One of the issues - and hardly the only one - was a WW paddler who had underestimated the effect of not being able to predictably get to land when things went off the rails.

You might want to see if you can get online access to the older stories about this kind of stuff, usually listed under “Safety” in the index, from past Sea Kayaker magazines. After reading a few you start to get the idea.