Kayaks -- info please!

Paging Johnny L.A.! :slight_smile:

I’ve been kayaking a few times and enjoyed it a lot. I’d kinda like to have one for paddling on local lakes and rivers (not whitewater, or not much of it anyway) and maybe for short trips at the beach or in the salt water marshes. So I’m looking for info on what more experienced people know and like.

My first thought was to get a traditional sit-in recreational kayak. But I’ve been reading lately about the sit-on-top boats, and I’m wondering if that would be a better idea. I’ve only been on one of that type, and it seemed a little weird not to be sitting INSIDE something, but that’s probably just unfamiliarity. And the holes in the bottom (self-bailing holes) were weird, but since we didn’t sink because of them, I stopped worrying about them quickly enough.

I’ve also thought about an inflatable (for carrying ease and storage ease), but I’m not entirely sure I trust them.

Other thoughts:
I’m middle-aged and not real athletic, so something I could actually carry would be nice.

I would kinda like to take a dog out with me some day after I got comfortable with the boat.

Stuff like that. Give me some ideas and thoughts!

I’ve got a “sit-in” kayak, but I’ve used a “sit-on-top” and they have a lot to recommend them. You don’t have the same problems with getting back in after a spill and they’re enormously stable. The downsides would be lack of enclosed storage space and less protection from cold water (not a problem in Georgia?). Might be a bit slower too, but I don’t know that for sure.

For low impact day trips, they’re pretty good. Dunno about a dog – even sit-on kayaks are somewhat tippy – so it depends on the size and calmness of the dog. A canoe might be better for a larger dog.

Thanks, Finagle! Have you had any experience (or known anyone who has) with inflatables? Good quality ones, not cheapie ones, I mean.

You rang?

I’ve never tried a sit-inside, but my best fiend has one. He uses it when it’s not too choppy, as it’s not as stable as his Cobra sit-on-top. I have an Ocean Kayak “Drifter”, which is more stable than my friend’s Cobra.

As Finagle said, sit-on-tops are easier to get back on than sit-insides. Not that I’ve tried it with a sit-inside; but I’ve seen it done. I have no experience with inflatables, but I’ve looked into them a little. The first thing you notice is that they’re expensive. I’m not talking a Stearns or a Sevylor, but an inflatable sea kayak. IIRC, the cheapest one I looked at was about $1,200; but I don’t remember. The next thing I noticed was that they use PVC tubes for stiffeners. It’s just my opinion, but they appear to be a little too flexible. I suspect that would affect the speed somewhat.

My Drifter is faster than my friend’s Cobra, but not as fast as his sit-inside (whose name escapes me at the moment). Sit-on-tops seem to be a bit cheaper than sit-insides as well.

About the dogs… We were paddling up a creek when we saw an old woman paddling downstream. She was in an Old Town “Loon” sit-inside. What makes the Loon different is that it has a very long cockpit. Almost like a canoe. She had three dogs with her. Very cool.

Check out the old guy in the photo from last January. He’s in his 60s, and it’s no problem for him to paddle his blue Drifter. (You can see that my white one has a rudder on it. I don’t steer with it, but it’s great for tracking.)

Back to the dogs. The drifter is extremely wide. 34" or 36". Without the rudders there is room for one dog between your feet. There’s also a well behind the seat, but it would be hard to control the dog there. You could conceivably remove the front hatch and let the dog sit there, but you’ll take on water. The Drifter can be a fairly wet boat. Check out the Old Town “Loon”. It seems to be the most dog-friendly kayak I’ve seen.

For dogs and kayaks, get ahold of Jackie Fenton on the paddlewise list server at www.paddlewise.net

Here’s Jackie’s paddlin’ pooch photo page: http://www.gasp-seakayak.org/poochgallery.html

Thanks, Johnny L.A.! I actually did search the SDMB before posting the question, and I saw some posts where you mentioned the kind of kayak you had. When I looked it up, I was surprised to see it was a sit-on-top. I dunno – since I knew you’d written about taking multi-hour trips out on the ocean in your kayak, I just figured it was a sit-inside one.

You’re right, re inflatables. The ones I’ve read about (e.g., Innova) are about the same price as the plastic sit-inside ones. And when I read about some inflatables folding a little in the surf, that cooled my enthusiasm a little.

So as long as you dress appropriately, the sit-on-top is a good thing? Do you have knee straps? Most of the sea kayaks I’ve been in have had rudders, but I’m confident that I could either steer one well from the beginning, or learn to steer with a little practice. I can paddle on only one side of a canoe and still keep it going in a straight line. :slight_smile: And whenever my husband and I go out in a double, I claim the steering seat in the back. No cracks about women drivers, please.

I’ll check out the Old Town Loon. There’s a spot not too far from me where I can go and rent boats cheaply for short river day-trips. I suspect they’re the shorter kind of boats more suited to “whitewater,” but any experience would be good for me at this point.

Thanks! I’d welcome hearing additional advice/experiences, etc.

Muffin, thanks for the links to dogs and kayaks!

Sit-on-tops are perfectly acceptable for multi-hour trips. I think the longest one I took was eight hours. But you’ll stay drier in a sit-inside.

In the photo I linked, it was about 40°F. I was wearing drypants, jeans, a sweatshirt, a Gore-Tex jacket, neoprene booties (muklucks would have been better), neoprene gloves, and a tuque.

I’ve never used knee straps. I think the idea is to give you some leverage for… what’s the word? It escapes me. You can tilt the kayak for better maneuverability. Straps also help in surf. But it’s too cold up here, and there isn’t any surf to speak of; so I don’t need them. Also, the Drifter is very wide. Not really made for “carving a turn”.

Incidentally, Ocean Kayak, Necky and Old Town (all part of Johnson Outdoors) are not too far from me. :slight_smile:

Bracing and rolling. Straps on a sit-on-top and thigh braces on a sit-inside attache the boat to you so that when you want to lean the boat, all you have to do is shift you hips. Without the attachments, you slide about in the cockpit without being able to lean or roll the boat. Leaning and bracing is extremely important in rough water, and a roll is the best rescue tool you can have.

The most efficient forward stroke uses full body rotation in which the legs play a major part in a pedaling action, requiring the knees to be together and the feet to be able to push hard against a footboard. Thigh straps/braces and rudder pedaling without footboards don’t let you paddle as forcefully as you might wish.

Thus thigh straps/braces and rudder pedals are trade-offs that are important in some circumstances, but not in others.

Rudders and marshes do not mix, for weeds get snagged by the rudder. If you get a boat with a rudder that you intend to use in marshes, be sure that it can be pulled up out of the water by aline from the cockpit. Most can be.

I do a fair amount of kayak camping and own a ‘sit-in’ sea kayak. Just a few things to consider:

Storage- if you plan on transporting any gear, a traditional kayak is better due to having (usually) a greater amount of storage behind watertight bulkheads and hatches.

Flat water vs. Ocean - If you plan on venturing into the ocean where there is the chance for swells and/or rougher water, I find a traditional kayak is better. A lot of the stability of a kayak comes from your ability to balance and move the boat by “swiveling” your hips as your legs are braced against the boat. Thigh straps in a sit-on-top help to accomplish this, but I’ve never felt as secure in a sit-on-top when using only the thigh straps. A sit-in will also keep you drier if you have the chance of greenwater sweeping over the boat. However, on calm days you can get a lot wetter using a sit-in - the boat doesn’t ‘breath’ and the condensation from your perspiration can soak you as much as any wave.

I love the sit-on-tops for calm, warm water day trips. For anything else, I prefer my regular kayak.

I was checking the boards before going to work for one of the country’s largest Paddler Specialty stores. I can give you all the info you need here ;).

For the sit-on’s you have to consider what time of year your going to be paddling. If you’re just planning on doing it during the warmer months, and without concern about getting wet then a sit-on is fine. If you’re looking to stay dry then a sit-in is your best bet.

Getting your dog on a sit-on shouldn’t be much of a probelm. Johnny L.A. already recommended the Drifter, a boat from Ocean Kayak(a brand not the only place its intended to be used). I’ll go ahead and also recommend the Malibu Two, one of their tandem boats. Since you’ll have your dog with you the extra space well come in handy, and there is a seat built into the middle for paddling by yourself. Wilderness Systems makes several excellant lines of boats including the Tarpons. These come in a variety of lengths, ranging from 8’8" to 14’. Both the 12’ and a 14’ have a large amount of storage for a sit-on top, and are generally superior to most of the Ocean Kayaks.

For sit-ins, some one already mentioned the Loon series. I’m going to suggest you aviod it. Most Old Towne boats have extremely flat hulls… ideal for flat calm conditions, but as soon as any type of chop or waves devolp you’ll be in for a wild ride. What I would recommend instead is either the Wilderness System’s Pungo 120 or the Perception Sundance 12.0. Both are very comparable boats, of similar design and shape. The biggest difference between the two is a prominant keel the Pungo has. This helps reduce probelms with tracking. Otherwise both well do you well in most conditions, and are the best rec boats you can find. Also the cockpit on both boats are larger then average, so if you have a well-behaved dog, he can chill out right there.

some links:

Wilderness Systems


Ocean Kayak

a certain large New Jersey Paddle Store.

enjoy and safe paddling.

So what y’all are telling me is that I’m going to need TWO kayaks, right? One sit-on-top for easy rivers and lakes and taking a dog along and one sit-inside for everything else, right?

<hurries off to buy more lottery tickets.> :smiley:

Mr. Barry, thanks for the recommendations! I’ve seen the Pungo and some other Perception models at my local REI and other places.

I saw a Perception Illusion sit-on-top at Bass Pro last night. Any thoughts about this model? And I should be looking for something in the 12’ range rather than a shorter boat, yes?

BTW, you guys rock.

Though I have found that for kayaking down ski hills in the winter, there are certain disadvantages to being confined in a sit-inside kayak. Long story. don’t ask. :wink:

Muffin, come on, spill the beans.

My brother and I once slid down a rather steep snow-covered hill on a car hood. Your story can’t be any weirder than that!

The ski hill was quite nice as far as it went. The problem was that we could not eject from the boats at the base of the hill. Jumping the lane with cars travelling on it was not enjoyable. Nor was screaming through the glade of trees on the other side of the road and being bashed to a halt.

Yikes! I glad you survived more or less intact!

How big is your dog?