Your advice on best kayak for my needs

I am 58 years old and just starting to kayak. I live near Virginia Beach and will most likely kayak in the Chesapeake Bay, in the quiet water local swamps, intra-coastal waterways, etc. Have some arthritis so weight is important along with good seating comfort. Which lengths and models would you recommend? Thanks in advance for your help.

west side
I have 2 kayaks and they each weigh about 29#. Call doug and ask. Maybe a 16ft graphite canoe with double paddle and saddle seat. Try adk website. Join a club

I second …
davemcadoo’s suggestion about a canoe. I have arthritis in my lower thumbs,neck,and now lower back. I just recently moved away from sea kayaks because I couldn’t stand to sit jammed in one spot without stiffening up to a point I couldn’t get out of the kayak. I have a 16’6" kevlar canoe with a tractor type seat,and back band. I occassionally use a kayak paddle,but have been reverting back to a carbon single blade{easier on the thumbs}. The canoe offers freedom of movement far more then my kayak,and I paddle longer with less pain & stiffness. The canoe is light,easier to load,more stable for things like fishing,photography,and more place for gear,and easier access. I am glad I switched,and feel better after a long paddle.

Happy Paddling billinpa

I went kayaking for the first time yesterday for 3 hours with no problems sitting…just normal aches and pains that I ignore, so am more considering a kayak than a canoe. I was wondering what anyone thought of the Wilderness Tsunami 145 for me?

Dave…what beautiful kayaks that site has!!! What do you think of the Seafarer K1?


– Last Updated: Apr-16-06 10:32 AM EST –

There are many approaches that might work for you, depending on your goals, ability, budget, size, and degree of disability. Weight can be a big issue -- many folks start to struggle once boat weight gets above 40-45 pounds, which unfortunately rules out many of the lower-priced models. But if you dread having to wrestle your boat on and off your vehicle, you won't use it as much.

Remember that any boat can be modified for better fit and comfort. Most experienced paddlers outfit their boats with additional foam for better comfort and fit. we're all shaped differently....

There are many fine boats other than the ones I've named. These are just to give you some ideas.

Several folks here with arthritis paddle solo canoes using double-bladed paddles. They often add seatbacks and footbraces for stability. The advantages -- compared to a kayak -- are light weight, entry/exit ease, and the ability to change seating postions. Disadvantages are increased vulnerability to wind and waves. A Wenonah vagabond or Bell Merlin II weight less than 40 pounds.

If you can manage a standard-size kayak cockpit, a "light touring" kayak might work well for you. The Current Designs Kestrel 120(40 pounds), Necky Manitou 13, Eddyline Merlin LT or Skylark, and Hurricane Tampico 135 are all examples of this class.

A larger cockpit opening can make enty and exit easier, but can also make it harder to brace, and is more vulnerable to waves. The Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 and 140 are very popular, and generally considered to have comfortable seating, but they are heavy(50 punds for the 120). Lighter alternatives are boats like the Eddyline Sandpiper(39 pounds).

If you like to build things, there are many kits that would give you a lightweight boat. The Chesapeake Light Craft Mill Creek 13 would be nice in protected waters, or something like a Pygmy Osprey Standard or Tern 14 if you're paddling more open water.

If you need more leg freedom, you could try a sit-on-top. With proper clothing they can be paddled in a wide range of conditions, and they do simplify the issue of self-rescue. Lightweight options include the CD Kestrel 140SOT, the Epic GP Sport, or the Hurricane Poenix 120.

On a different note, you may want to consider a rowing craft. Many folks have a bad impression of rowing from flailing around in aluminum runabouts, but a craft designed to be rowed can be a real joy. I've rowed one of these: and was very impressed.

Other things to consider:
A lightweight paddle that fits you can make a huge difference in paddling comfort. Length, shaft diameter, and blade size are not "one size fits all".

If overhead lifting makes cartopping difficult, there are lightweight trailers that can make transport much easier.

If the arthritis starts to be a real problem, there are many adaptive paddling resources that could help.

Good technique and stretching can eliminate many potentially painful problems.

Do try as many boats as you can -- rent, demo, and take lessons. Nobody else really knows what works best for you.


– Last Updated: Apr-16-06 10:36 AM EST –

Just submitted the long post below. I assumed you were looking for something lighter -- if you're comfortable with the 56 pounds and cockpit of the Tsunami 145 it opens up a huge range of possibilities.

Longer boats aren't necessarily hard to manuever once you get comfortable edging and leaning. When I put my 16' Avocet on edge I can outturn a lot of shorter boats being paddled flat.

I haven't had a chance to paddle a Tsunami yet, but it looks promising.

seating comfort
that can be customized so don’t elimate a boat because of that. You don’t provide a price range so your the responses can be quite broad. If your budget is plastic then you have to get a small boat to have light weight. Otherwise with enough money you can get anything. It doesn’t sound like you need a tippy straight tracking kayak as much as a light and comfortable one.

Check out Epics 12’ rec. kayak, QCCs 300 if you’re in the weight range.

My data
I weigh 190 and am 5’8". I really do not want to go over $2000 for my first boat. Where can I find good used ones in my area?

sit on top
think about a sit on top also…lots of really good ones out there and some a really light.