WW kayak on calmer waters?

-- Last Updated: Apr-30-15 4:12 PM EST --

I just recently purchased a used kayak in hopes of picking up a couple more for me and family.

I'm within about an hour of a 2+ rated river that I've canoed and kayaked before and am looking forward to unplanned spur of the moment trips to the river. I'm also hoping as I develop knowledge and skills to progress to more aggressive kayaking.

In my immediate area there are several lakes, but I'm not aware of any kayak destinations.

Out of eagerness I picked up a SunDolphin Aruba at walmart last weekend, but I'm reconsidering that purchase and will probably return it.

I have found a couple of White Water kayaks that look reasonable, but wondered how they'd perform on local calmer waters. I don't plan on being on the lakes a lot, but could a WW kayak be somewhat dual purpose?

Thanks in advance!

WW kayaks on flatwater
White water kayaks on flat water are slow as a dog and will tend to not want to go straight. But it is not uncommon for white water people to use them on flat water when they are training or working on skills. So if your primary goal is a boat you can use on the rivers, with secondary of just paddling local between river trips, white water boats would work fine.

If the goal is to paddle the local ponds most of the time, and not as often on rivers, get a boat for the ponds (and rent for the river - as most pond boats are not really appropriate for even class 2).

Keep in mind if you go for the WW boats - white water kayaks are pretty much unrecoverable in open water when you swim. So even if you don’t plan to swim, best to stay close enough to shore that you can swim the boat back should you find yourself in the water.


– Last Updated: Apr-30-15 5:16 PM EST –

Thanks for the reply Peter-CA.

Yeah I'm really not that interested in kayaking the lake, but an occasional outing might be fun. I'm definitely looking more towards moving creeks/rivers.

By "unrecoverable in open water" do you mean re-entry into the kayak?

As said
WW boats on flat water are a total dog unless you find a really old school boat - like ones that the plastic probably getting shaky on by now. Then they are just a partial dog.

And yeah - for all but the most limber and smallest, solo on-water recovery in a WW boat is not going to happen. That is why much of the diff between them and sea kayaks with perimeter lines and bulkheads on bot ends.

on-water recovery
That’s why we learn to roll…:wink:

Whitewater boats on flatwater can be great fun, and a great learning tool, but not so much fun if you’re trying to actually go somewhere. The only exception would be something like a slalom boat or a long river-runner.

ww boat will be fine for you
given your intended usage of occasional smaller inland lakes and rivers. Pick something up that is a ww river runner, crossover/hybrid, or one of longer boats like the stinger, green boat etc

avoid ww creek boats or play boats- they will wear you out in the flats pretty quick

Im 80% ww and 20% just moving or flat and do fine in my xp10 or perception mirage (old school) on the flats. More specialized environments require more specialized boats. I can’t really endorse going with an old school ww kayak because the safety features are much improved in the newer boats. Larger cockpit openings, bulkheads, and tie off points make the newer crop of ww boats safer, easier, and more comfortable to paddle for your primary use which you stated as ww.

Actually, slalom boats accelerate like
crazy, but straight line speed is still mediocre.

Whitewater kayaks are OK for shoreline lily-dipping, and also for some light wave surfing, once one’s technique develops enough that they run straight without requiring a lot of attention. Of modern, “new school” kayaks, one should try for something close to 9 feet long to get the best tracking and cruising speed.

Unrecoverable on flat water is referring to re-entry. Not enough floatation in white water boats to allow someone to get back in and keep the combing above water (and if combing is below water, you can never pump it out).

We may go out with no plans to swim, but sometimes it happens, so best to stay in a place where a swim isn’t lethal.

For the family you may want to pick up
a used sit-on-top. They will be able to keep up with a whitewater boat on the flat, or even go faster sometimes, and, if you get one that is not really, really short, it could be used to assist any others in your group if someone goes swimming. The beauty of SOTs is that if you flip, you just turn them back over, and they self drain, and you can remount because they are usually wide and stable compared to something like the cute little tubbie from Walmart, which is wide - but neither fast nor particularly balanced. And when one of those little Walmart or Dick’s recreational boats turns over, it is a major hassle to get the water out of it enough that a remount could be attempted before the boat sinks again with you or your child sitting in it.

I don’t know where you are, but around where I am, dealing with power boat and skidoo wake on impounded lakes is much more pleasant in a kayak designed for wave action. One thing that is an interesting side effect of drought and MUCH lower water levels is that wave action is really amplified when the party boats go by with the water skiers… it bounces off one side of the shore, and comes back again…most of the time they can’t go in the shallows at speed, so I am where they are not, but sometimes I still have to do a crossing of an open area. In that case, I want to be seen and I want to be fast - and I appreciate that at least my boat still floats well upside down.

No, it will be a wigglie worm and no fun

Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t want to assume. I’ve been watching videos on upright (roll) a kayak as well as one that was climbing on the kayak from the bow and then entering. It was tricky, but looked doable. Thanks for the heads up though.

noticed that here too
That’s what it was at a local lake here that’s more recreational friendly and less angler friendly. It’s not a large lake by any means and a few times I thought I might have even been able to surf a little had I been paying more attention…lol.

I was in the OT Sport Stoker I recently bought. From my reading it appears to be the same as the Old Town Otter. It seems like a decent recreational kayak and I think will be good for lake and the local river run. Needing at least 3 for all of us I’m just trying to find a single kayak for multipurposes. I realize there’s no perfect kayak for everything, but if I can get one that’s decent for most things I’d be satisfied.

Too funny

– Last Updated: May-01-15 2:57 AM EST –

Answers run the full gamut!

For me, the answer is YES, a WW kayak is OK for use on flat water. Qualify that statement with the following requirements:

1. You can, in fact, paddle it well in a straight line. This takes practice, and quite a bit of it. But when you can, it opens up a world of paddling...more on that below. And you know you can then paddle longer boats straight.

2. Distances are short compared with what you would cover in a longer boat. The shorter kayak, and one meant for maneuverability, simply is less efficient at a given distance than a longer one, all other thiings being equal which they almost never are.

3. Wind is slight or nonexistent. These boats are much more affected by wind, both in terms of slowing down and in terms of directional stability.

4. You are highly unlikely to capsize, assuming you can not roll. If you can roll, then recovery is quick. But if not, your options are more limited than with a sea kayak. I can do a from-the-back cowboy reentry on mine, but it takes on a lot of water even though it is done fast. And I doubt it is viable in rough conditions. I can roll, so this does not really matter.

5. You do not need to carry much gear. My 6'7" WW boat has room for me, a snack, and a waterproof keybox. Anything more risks causing a jam inside.

That is a lot of qualifiers. The upside is that the boat is light, easy to haul inside a truck bed or car (no rack needed), easy to carry to the water, highly maneuverable, and tough. I no longer have access to a WW park and don't want to do shuttles, so mine now gets used for roll practice, activitiesthat put high priority on maneuverability (I helped with an eelgrass mapping project), and also for just plain fun. The thing is so small it is super-responsive to body movement, so it makes stroke practice fun.

Last, but not least, it is a great vessel for some venues despite their being flatwater. I just returned from a road trip that included a few days at Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Not wanting to lug around a sea kayak that would be sitting exposed and unused for the other days when I was hiking in high desert, I brought the WW kayak inside my truck. No rack or trailer needed. I paddled that little boat at the refuge and quietly exulted in how it could tuck easily among the reedy channels. INCREDIBLE wildlife watching. Slow speed compared with the sea kayak simply does not always matter. I paddled 8 miles in it one day, just under 3 hours...a distance that I would have covered in 2 hours in the long boat. But so what? I thoroughly enjoyed that extra time out there.

So the short answer is yes, IF you take into consideration the boat's inherent traits and exploit them. I love my little boat!

There is nothing worse
than the whining of a kayaker in his/her tiny whitewater playboat on a flatwater trip. Used boats are cheap, so my advice is to get a whitewater boat for playing in the rapids, and a long boat for flatwater trips. You’ll be happier, and the folks you paddle with will be happier. :wink:

definately, somethin’ worse than that…
A whinin’ can-You-er in his open boat complainin’ about whinin’ k-I-yakers.

For family general fun purposes…
You aren’t talking a skills boat, just something easy. Basic SOT and stay swimming distance to shore, which it sounds like you are talking about, is easy for the paddlers. A bit more work to haul, but if your goal is to get people on quiet water without fuss that’d be a good boat(s).

not SOT
My current kayak is like this http://www.backcountry.com/images/items/900/JOP/JOP0104/CLO.jpg

Not a SOT Sit on top. The manufacturrer is OT Sports,

recreational class kayak
That boat is a recreational class kayak. Made for paddling on flat water in protected areas.

Like a white water boat, it does not have enough flotation to allow you to get back in to it if you are in open water. It will be harder to flip on flat water than a white water, but it is still possible and does happen.

The recreational class kayak will actually be easier to flip on choppy water. As such, it is not appropriate for even class II rivers (unless you treat it as a tubing trip and swimming is part of your plan) or larger lakes/oceans (where waves can form).

There is a current thread on p.net that has a video of a pair of girls being rescued in Texas with boats like this: http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=chat&tid=1794380

Sorry, but
I like the Otter for its intended purpose. My sister has one and has gotten many good hours out of it.

But I just reread your original post and you say you are talking about a boat that will allow you to learn to be more aggressive in moving water… that is not an Otter for reasons others have delineated.

You want to go with a proper WW boat, or at least a very capable crossover as was recommended in a post lower down. And you probably will do best to separate your boat needs into two buckets, one for family messing around on flat water and the other your learning to WW.

I realize the Otter or in my case the OT Sport Stoker is not a WW kayak. This was just the first one that I had purchased and what I was paddling around this past weekend.

I’m actually looking at a Jackson Hero, Jackson Fun and/or a Project 52 and the reason for my original post.