Yep - Another 1st kayak question

I read thru all of the open threads and searched the archives, but couldn’t find the answers to my specific questions, so…

I’m interested in getting started w/ flat water kayaking (some rivers, some small lakes) and have been researching kayaks. I had pretty much made my mind up to get a Manitou 13 or an Easky 13, but thought it wise to wait until I’d actually been on the water before buying. Got a DVD (Ken & Nichole Whiting’s Recreational Kayaking - The Essential Skills and Safety), watched it, and didn’t see anything to negate my initial thoughts. Signed up for an intro to kayaking session at a semi-local lake and went last Wednesday. Now I’m doubting my original kayak choices…

I’m a big guy - 5’10", vary between 265 and 280 lbs. (according to my stress level and my feet - got arthritis in my feet, making walking/hiking too painful sometimes). I’m wide-shouldered, wide-hipped, and big legged, some belly - I look like a competitive weight lifter who’s stopped working out.

Anyway, the instructor at the class had laid out Perception Carolina 14.5’s, but offered a different Perception if we wanted. I didn’t get the model of that one, but it was 9 or 10 feet long, flat-bottomed with two slots to help tracking. After sitting in the Carolina’s on shore and adjusting the foot pegs, the instructor asked us to put our kayaks in the lake at a boat ramp, holding the kayak parallel with the shore and using the paddle behind the cockpit to bridge to the shore. I tried, and went right over into the lake. Climbed out, dumped out the water, and tried again; this time, I got in, tilted towards the lake, overcompensated, and fell over onto the ramp.

After that, the instructor switched me over to the shorted rec boat and I got in without too many issues. The instructor demoed various strokes, we practiced a bit, and then we headed out to the opposite shore. I didn’t have too many problems after there other than keeping the boat straight - tracking definitely wasn’t it’s strong point.

I have another session scheduled for May 30, this time with a smaller group, starting out in a pond and then moving out onto a small river.

Anyway, this 1st experience has me a bit concerned. Based on what I’ve described above, am I being a bit ambitious looking at rec/touring hybrids, or should I back up with a more stable boat until I get some more experience? A local dealer has the Easky 13 on clearance for a killer price right now, but based on my research, it doesn’t really have the capacity to support me anyway, but the Manitou 13 is rated highly enough for me. I’m sort of leaning more towards a Hurricane Santee 116 now - it seems to be more stable than the Manitou, I like the “finish” better, it’s relatively light, and it’s supposed to track very well, but it costs more.

Any thoughts on my ramblings? TIA!

Any reason for not looking at a larger boat. Should you ever want to leave the pond the small boat’s performance really suffers with weight. 285 is the load in my fully loaded seakayak.

Look for a 14-16 foot boat.

Regardless of your size
Don’t get discouraged because you fell in the water the first two times trying to get in. Getting in and getting out of the kayak takes some getting used to and that’s when you’ll be the least stable and most prone to go for a swim. Once you’re out on the water, you’ll be much less likely to tip over, so you should be fine with a more narrow kayak once you get a hang of it.

suggestion …
hi jeff…have you considered , given your stated size , of looking at the NativeWatercraft brand of tunnel-hulled “hybrid” kayaks , maybe these would suit your needs and uses better than a traditional style kayak for the calm waters you intend to paddle. in particular the Marvel or Ultimate series 14.5 or 12’ boats. Is weight a issue? if so maybe the Tegris model may work for you. the Ultimate’s look more like tunnel-hulled canoe’s than kayaks. I believe some models are available with rudders also.

I’m about your size and also tried the
Carolina 14.5 and found it OK but it was a little to tight. The hull design was good at first but after a short time (2 months) it felt like a barge. The Perception Acadia might be better for you than the Carolina. I have a Prijon Cruiser now, it’s a “crossover” but for us in the 280 pound range it works like a touring boat. If you decide to buy a Prijon, don’t listen to the nonsense about the better plastic. You might pay a little more but it’s not because the plastic is better than Rotomold.

Why a kayak?
Have you thought about a 16ft. canoe. If you get a tandem canoe with non molded seats,(flat cane seats), you can sit in the seat nearer the center and use it as a solo boat. Many people find this much more comfortable than being wedged into a kayak. It’s worth a try before you buy, check out all your options.

x2 on this, getting in and staying up just takes a little practice. Don’t buy a wide, ultra-stable boat that you can get in the first time, because that will soon get boring. Get one that takes a little practice getting used to, but which is more capable as you learn more skills.

What’s your hurry?
The most expensive boat is the one you don’t use. There’ll be great deals in the fall. Take the summer to increase your skills and try lots of different boats. Betcha dimes to dollars your range of boat choices will be different in Sep.

I have a manitou 13 as my first boat. I think that you are a little bit too big for this boat. I am 5-11, 210 and now think that I should have bought the manitou 14. It is bigger, has bulkheads on both ends and comes with a skeg. My 13 tends to weather vane into the wind and also it does this with a following sea. The 14 would have been the better choice. Otherwise I like the manitou series, especially for the price and other attributes. Jim

Welcome aboard!
I think you should buy a boat soon and start paddling it as often as you can. Get the tippiest boat your hips will fit in comfortably. Your knees and feeet need to fit in it too. Don’t get too hung up on your first boat. If you get one less than 14 feet long the odds are that you will grow out of it in a year.

Just get one and come paddle with all of us soon. That 13 footer that is on sale might work. See if they’ll let you test paddle it. If not I’d recommend a used pamlico or pungo for someone your weight. The Pungo is more tippy and faster that the Pamilico but it has a deeper draft.

With all the enthusiasm

– Last Updated: May-17-09 6:55 AM EST –

of a new convert, I suggest trying some solo canoes. Maybe an Old Town Pack? Or as another poster mentioned, a 16 ft tandem that you can paddle solo, stern first.

edit: by the way, I had a chance to paddle a Santee 116, and I liked it. Very stable, roomy, tracks okay. It belongs to an 85 year old gentleman who keeps up with folks in much longer kayaks.

280, not 285
Good lord, give the man a break! :wink:

Jeff, if weight and stability is really an issue, you might give a sit-on-top a try. In the Northwest where I started everyone paddles a closed-deck boat so I was always biased agains SOTs. When I moved to California I found the rental places use virtually nothing but SOTs. They seem to be a little wider (helps with stability) and have a ton of volume. Popular with the fishing community too. Either way, good luck! Like others have said, don’t worry about a swim or two. The main thing is that you’re out on the water and it feels great–enjoy! Maybe you can find a beach to get out on instead. All the best, and welcome to the community!

stick with the hybrid rec/touring
It takes a while to get used to balancing in a boat like that, but once you get the hang of it, and once you get in the bottom, you won’t regret the choice. What i found helped me when i was just starting out was to do the same as you described, bring the boat to the water parallel to the beach, but rather than go out to where you’re totally floating, go out just far enough so that you’re mostly floating, but still kinda touch the bottom. The will help you get the feel of balancing the boat, and once you’re in, an easy push with either your hand or paddle or even a stick or something, will lift you up enough to not drag the bottom of the boat, and you can be on your way.

Also, as someone pointed out above, maybe try for the manitou 14. I have an old town Cayuga 146, which i am told is a similar shape to the manitous, and have paddled a cayuga 130. I am 6’2" and 215 pounds, and the 130 fit me ok, but i think i was getting closer to the weight limit. The 146 on the other hand was great, and i could probably load it with a bunch of gear and still feel fine with it.

A larger boat…
costs more, weighs more, harder to store, less maneuverable, etc. A big part of the smaller boat decision is that I’m not sure whether I’ll spend more time on rivers or lakes and I also realize that I’ll probably be ready to upgrade in a few years (or sooner!). I also have the concern that if I get a larger rec kayak, it’ll be frustratingly barge-like, but if I get a larger touring kayak, I’ll run into the tipping-over a lot syndrome - let’s face it, even if I manage to come to terms w/ a longer touring boat, if I tip over two or three times every time I get in or out of it, it’s going to be discouraging!

I thought about SOT’s…
but I really want to get to the point where I can edge the kayak and get more performance.

Those tunnel-hull’s
look interesting, but I really would like to get to the point of being able to edge a kayak and I don’t think these will do that!

for some reason, I’m just not interested in canoes…

The Manitou 14
I’ve looked at the 14’s on-line, but there’s a big price jump between the 13 and 14! That’s another issue w/ the bigger boats - there seems to be big price jump once you get past the 12’ and 13’ foot boats. Maybe the molds and furnaces needed for the bigger boats drive the price up!

If you want to edge/maneuver
and have some growing room, try a Wilderness Systems Tsunami125. Stable and forgiving, yet able to be maneuvered and paddled reasonably fast and straight in wind/chop. Weight rating is 325, so you’ll have a little room for gear. If that’s too short, look at the 145 or 165. Excellent transitional touring boats. I’m 6’2" 265 and paddle a Tsunami125 in a variety of locations. I’d like to jump up to a 16 footer eventually, but this boat provides me the flexibility to paddle almost anywhere. I have no trouble keeping up with longer boats.