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  1. #1
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    Kayak/canoe recommendations?

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    Now that I am living in a place where there are so many lakes and rivers around (plus the ocean but I think I will stick to paddling the fresh water), I am looking to get either a kayak or a solo canoe this coming spring. What would you experienced paddling ladies recommend? I went to LL Bean in Freeport today and did their kayaking "walk-on adventure" and learned a little bit...one thing was that if I go with a kayak I would want something less wide than the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 they had me in...it was manageable but something narrower would have fit me better. Another consideration is ability to get it on top of my rather tall car as a short person, so whatever I get needs to not be too heavy. Any advice as to whether the canoe or kayak would be better? A kayak would probably be easier to get the hang of, but a canoe is nice because you're not locked into one position to paddle and it's easier to carry things in if you want to be out for the whole day or even a camping trip.
    The rhythm is gonna get you...and if it's v-tach or v-fib, the results will be shocking!

  2. #2
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    do you want a sit-on-top or a closed deck kayak? I would suggest taking some flatwater kayak lessons, including rescues and rolls. You can take the rescue and roll classes in the pool in the winter if it's offered where you live. That's a great way to learn. In the spring/summer, look for a kayak course that covers the basics plus at least some basic rescues.

    Many of the outfits that teach kayaking also offer used boats and equipment for sale. After you know more about it, you can decide what you are looking for in a boat.

  3. #3
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    Definitely closed deck vs. sit-on-top. The YMCA in town has a roll clinic at the pool so that is a very good idea...the ease or difficulty of doing that may be another factor in the canoe vs. kayak decision.
    The rhythm is gonna get you...and if it's v-tach or v-fib, the results will be shocking!

  4. #4
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    Canoes:
    We have an aluminum canoe that is heavy and bullet proof. We like it for lakes because the design has a "keel" that keeps it from blowing around in the wind.

    We have a kevlar canoe that is light as a feather. Good for rivers. I don't like it for lakes, it blows around too easily.

    I favor canoes. But I grew up in a canoe. We even had one rigged as a sailboat. I have been on many multi-day canoe trips through the BWCAW in Minnesota and Quetico in Ontario.

    Kayaks:
    I have several kayaks. One is polyethylene. It is for rivers. It is about 8 feet long. I don't recall the width but like kayaks of this type they are fairly wide with a flat bottom. However, mine is narrow enough that it is still easy to paddle. It is maneuverable but does not track as well as a long kayak, like a sea kayak. Sea kayaks are narrow and more v shaped, making them more stable but harder to turn. There are recreational kayaks out there that are longer than my kayak but shorter than a sea kayak, some are two person, but I really have no experience with them. They tend to be pretty wide. I also have no experience with the sit on top type of kayak. But Maine is somewhat like Minnesota, the weather is not that friendly for a sit on top kayak.

    I also have two inflatable kayaks by SeaEagle. One is a big honking thing that easily carries two people and a dog and maybe even a kid. It has a keel but is vulnerable to wind. I like taking it to the tidepools on the gulf of Mexico for messing around, not really trying to accomplish anything. The width makes it a bit awkward to paddle for long periods of time. I also have a small SeaEagle inflatable that actually doesn't do bad in rivers and white water. It also is not good in the wind and I only use it on a lake if it is really calm. It is about the size of my composite kayak. It is easy to paddle, I like the width. It is very stable. The small inflatable is currently the boat I use the most. It can go in the bin of my motorhome and I can take it anywhere. It is great for when I am alone.

    I can carry an aluminum canoe myself on my shoulders, but it isn't easy. I can carry the kevlar canoe myself on my shoulders easily. I cannot easily carry my kayak. The shape is awkward for carrying, and it is heavy, so I use a little cart. I can break the cart down and put the parts in the kayak when I am underway but it is a tight squeeze. I also now use the cart for the canoes and the inflatables too unless they have to be portaged over a difficult trail. It is easier to stash the cart in the inflatables than in the plastic kayak.

    I have kayaked for years and canoed my entire life. I have never rolled the kayak. I know that I could exit if it did roll over however. I have only had a canoe dump twice in my life. Once when screwing around as kids. The other time was on a canoe trip in the everglades when my spouses shoulder hit a branch and we all ended up in the drink.

    I'd never do a camping trip with my kayak or in any of the recreational kayaks I have seen. A sea kayak in the right water would be fine for carrying gear.

    If you are going to be out alone I suggest a kayak. For two people I would tend to favor a canoe.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 09-18-2011 at 05:50 PM.

  5. #5
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    I'va hardly ever paddled a canoe, and I'm a relative beginner to kayaking, but I gotta say I love love love my kayak. Not my actual kayak as such, but the whole concept of this sleek, efficient thing you "put on" and steer by leaning and shifting, and that can pick up speed fast and pop happily through waves too. I don't think I'd be very happy in a canoe. The kayak I have now is already fairly narrow and fairly low-volume, but I'm still jonesing for a greenland kayak, very narrow and low-volume. I hate feeling like I'm sitting in the bottom of a bucket.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/SI SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Jett

  6. #6
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    Jolt, I looked at the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 that you tried. It is in the recreational kayak category, longer than one for shooting rapids but not designed like a sea kayak with the v shaped narrow hull. It doesn't seem bad. The cockpit is large which could mean that in some situations you could get more splash inside. But it really isn't a boat for wavy conditions, as will be true of other kayaks of this style. There is no drain plug so if you do take on some water you have to dump it out. It is fairly wide, to help with stability, so that is why you might feel that it is uncomfortably wide for paddling, but the width seems appropriate for the style. If you get a kayak of this style (flat bottom, not "v") and it gets too narrow than you have a stability issue. It is a bit heavy and you would need a cart for hauling it around by yourself. (I can recommend a cart if you go that route, there are some excellent ones and some terrible ones) The kayak gets good reviews and looks like a good recreational kayak, for relatively calm conditions and not major white water.

  7. #7
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    Is there somewhere that you could try a Necky Chatham? They make 3 lengths. (I like the 17 footer http://www.neckykayaks.com/kayaks/to...am_17_polymer/ )
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  8. #8
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    Just like bikes, a 'yak needs to fit. I did a whole lot of research on "properties" of kayaks but without nearly enough understanding, and wound up with one that's too big for me and just uncomfortable and impossible to paddle efficiently.

    It's good to acquaint yourself with the concepts of primary and secondary stability, and have a clear idea of what kind of paddling you plan to do. Then do some rentals/test paddling (IME it's a lot easier to find quality rental 'yaks than bikes), but pay attention not only to how the boat feels in the water (as I did), but how you feel in it.
    Trying to live every day as though it were my first

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Jolt, I looked at the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 that you tried. It is in the recreational kayak category, longer than one for shooting rapids but not designed like a sea kayak with the v shaped narrow hull. It doesn't seem bad. The cockpit is large which could mean that in some situations you could get more splash inside. But it really isn't a boat for wavy conditions, as will be true of other kayaks of this style. There is no drain plug so if you do take on some water you have to dump it out. It is fairly wide, to help with stability, so that is why you might feel that it is uncomfortably wide for paddling, but the width seems appropriate for the style. If you get a kayak of this style (flat bottom, not "v") and it gets too narrow than you have a stability issue. It is a bit heavy and you would need a cart for hauling it around by yourself. (I can recommend a cart if you go that route, there are some excellent ones and some terrible ones) The kayak gets good reviews and looks like a good recreational kayak, for relatively calm conditions and not major white water.
    Thanks for those tips...I know that kayak is supposed to be pretty good, and I thought it was, but just felt like it was a little big on me (though part of the problem was also that the paddle I was using could have been a bit longer--I ended up using a high angle technique that resulted in a lot of water dripping in). The LL Bean "Calypso" kayaks I saw they had looked like they would have fit me better--same length but a little narrower with a smaller cockpit. In fact I was surprised that's not what they put me in, but there were a couple of kids who I think ended up using those boats. Lighter weight too...you're right about the Pungo being heavy to haul around and load onto the car by myself. That would be one advantage of a solo canoe like the ones Old Town makes...one weighs 43 lbs and the other (which of course is a lot more expensive) weighs 33 lbs. A lot of the kayaks seem to run heavier than that, and I would think would be more awkward to pick up and carry.
    The rhythm is gonna get you...and if it's v-tach or v-fib, the results will be shocking!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Jolt,

    If you live near Freeport - Head to Lincoln Canoe & Kayak. The owner Mark's a really nice guy & has a lot of knowledge to share. THey do sell used & new kayaks,I think they give classes & I think they rent boats as well. I know they have the quoddy lite, which is a lightweight small person's boat, but it may be more than what you want to spend initially:
    http://www.lincolncanoe.com/boats.html

    Rent some boats if you can and get an idea of what you like out of a kayak... But I guess the question is... What type of paddler do you want to be? Do you just want to toodle along & look at birds (if so, a rec kayak might be fine for you) Do you want to go long distances & carry camping gear? Are you the kind of person who would be happy buying say a hybrid bike or a trek fx and would stay with that, without upgrading to a road bike? Because kayaks are the same way - if you buy a rec boat or a more recreational like touring kayak, some people are going to want a real sea kayak very quickly afterwards... others are okay with the performance they get out of a hybrid bike or a recreational type boat.

    Regarding canoe vs kayak... I can fit 10 days of food, water, camping gear in my kayak - so if you want to carry gear, you can do it with a kayak. you're just not going to carry the kitchen sink & huge chairs like you can with a canoe. But you can take more than you would backpacking. I'm not really going to comment on canoes, because I've never really bothered with them. I like what I can do with my kayaks and have never not been frustrated with the speed I can achieve in a canoe - but maybe I've never been in a really good canoe.

    If you are going with a kayak - I would recommend against a recreational kayak - you want something with 2 bulkheads that won't sink if flooded. A kayak with only one bulkhead (the smaller calypso is like this) will have the tendancy to needle nose in the water if the cockpit gets flooded.. it is very hard to get back into a kayak that is floating one end up in the water. Consider checking craigslist... Used boats can normally be bought & sold for about the same price you pay for them, and they're a good solution until you find exactly what you want.

    I would recommend against a pungo. If you want something from LL bean, the only boats they sell that I'd consider for a small person is a wilderness systems tempest 165 or the calypso 14 that has 2 bulkheads or the perception carolina. You may just outgrow a calypso or a carolina within a year or so... you're not going to outgrow a tempest 165. It's a kayak that most kayakers keep around even after they move onto faster longer kevlar or fiberglass boats - it's not the fastest kayak or anything like that - but it's a very good compromise of speed vs stability vs maneuverability. It does everything very well and is very predictable... I keep one to put new kayakers who are out paddling with me in and to take to the ocean to surf waves or to use when I know whatever I'm doing is going to beat up a boat and i don't want to risk my fiberglass or kevlar boats. But other small person's plastic boats that are still real kayaks are necky elizas & the elaho lv. A perception avatar 15.5. If you are a small light person, check out the current designs raven - it's designed as a real sea kayak for kids, but it's a 26 lb boat or something for around $1,000... if you're under 120 lbs, you'd be fine in it.

    Rolling kayaks - I only do it when I do something stupid. Or when I'm surfing waves. Or when it's 100 degrees & humid outside & I want to cool down. but if you live in Maine, there's a high risk of hypothermia with the water temps there if you can't get yourself back in your boat quickly. So I would definitely make sure that if you get a kayak you practice self & group rescues. You don't have to know how to roll, but know how to get back into your boat quickly. Also practice wet exits. I can't stress enough practicing how to get in & out of your boat, even if you buy the most stable boat in the world and never intend to actually flip a boat or have to... When it does happen to you for whatever reason, you want to be able to keep your head & deal with the situation as fast as possible. I practice group & self rescues at least a couple of times a season, despite the fact that I know I have a bombproof roll. I practice rolling. Because you can't predict what's going to happen out on the water - whether a storm will come up quickly, whether a motor boat or jet ski will decide to buzz you (I was surfing behind a rescue air boat out on the local reservoir on Saturday... You don't expect to be in 3 feet waves on a reservoir, but at the point that they do come up - you need to be prepared for what to do in case you capsize.

    Re putting a boat on your car - light boats cost money. I'm 5'1 & I can put my 65 lb 17'8 long kayak on top of my subaru outback myself. Invest in a good rack solution and you'll be fine. The yakima boat loader arm is what I use - but thule has the hullavators. I generally only use my longer boat if I'm going on a fast paddle, a long tour, or have someone with me - and use my 15'8 kayak for short tours or when I'm out toodling on my own.

    Regarding what Goldfinch said about sea kayaks and turning and stability... There are a huge number of sea kayaks and you can't generalize... It's like talking about cars and comparing how a toyota yaris handles compared to a mercedes - yes, they are both cars, but the similarities end there. The width, the length, and the design of a sea kayak has a lot to do with how it handles, same with cars. Is a shorter rec boat going to be easier to turn the a sea kayak, probably in general, but get a greenland style sea kayak with a ton of rocker and a sea kayak will turn on a dime. I can turn my 17'8" sea kayak on a dime, and turn it by tilting my hips. Stability - that has everything to do with the width of the boat & the design of the hull. I paddle 20-22 inch boats that are considered unstable - to me they feel perfectly stable, because I'm used to it... However, the lack of stability makes them that more responsive in turning and that much faster. If you're a small person, you are generally going to be able to paddle boats that much taller people think are very unstable, because you're not very tall, so you don't have your head/torso being a huge lever arm. I get bored if I'm in a stable boat.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that you really need a well designed low volume boat. That's one of the biggest problems that small paddlers face - boats that are designed for big heavy people will not handle well for a small paddler - you don't sink the boat into the water deep enough to make it sink to get the water line length, so you are effectively paddling a shorter boat -you end up with more of the boat sticking up out of the water, which is horrible when you are having to fight wind, because the kayak is going to be blowing all over the place.
    Last edited by Cataboo; 09-19-2011 at 08:38 AM.

  11. #11
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    Aug 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    I'va hardly ever paddled a canoe, and I'm a relative beginner to kayaking, but I gotta say I love love love my kayak. Not my actual kayak as such, but the whole concept of this sleek, efficient thing you "put on" and steer by leaning and shifting, and that can pick up speed fast and pop happily through waves too. I don't think I'd be very happy in a canoe. The kayak I have now is already fairly narrow and fairly low-volume, but I'm still jonesing for a greenland kayak, very narrow and low-volume. I hate feeling like I'm sitting in the bottom of a bucket.

    YOU NEED TO COME VISIT ME & KAYAK WITH ME

    You'll fit my boats

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cataboo View Post
    YOU NEED TO COME VISIT ME & KAYAK WITH ME

    You'll fit my boats
    Yeh.

    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/SI SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Jett

  13. #13
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    Cataboo, remember to let me know if you ever want to sell that Tempest 165. I love that boat for all the reasons you cite. Great post, BTW.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Cataboo, remember to let me know if you ever want to sell that Tempest 165. I love that boat for all the reasons you cite. Great post, BTW.
    Oh, other small person plastic boat - p&h delfin, p&h capella, valley avocet lv

    And for all the reason I posted, I still keep it around - so it may not be something I'm selling anytime soon, I will tell you if I ever see someone sellling one used though. Its funny at any of the local kayak club's rescue training, about 80% of the boats that people arrive with are tempest 165 or 170s... It's just that useful of a boat, and noone wants to scratch up their composite boats.

    But you're welcome to come up & borrow it - we never actually have gotten together.

    We tested out how strong a tempest 170 was on Saturday, by doing this to it twice. Long story as to why:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIy3_-ZQ1QM

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cataboo View Post

    But you're welcome to come up & borrow it - we never actually have gotten together.
    ]
    Thanks for the list of other small person plastic boats. I don't consider myself particularly small at 5'-6" and 127 lbs, but the Tempest 165 is perfect for me.

    AND, you're welcome to come down and bring your boats. I live one mile from the river--downriver from the rapids on the nice, flat water. Shoot, we can paddle all the way to Jamestown.

 

 

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