NFR Recreational Kayak Help

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by mtskibum16, May 25, 2017.

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  1. mtskibum16

    mtskibum16 Active Member

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    I purchased a Native Slayer Propel (pedal power) last year, and I want to get my wife a kayak so she can come along sometimes. I really know very little about kayaks and have not spent much time kayaking outside of fishing. I've started the research and talked to a couple shops, but I'm hoping some people on here might have some advice.

    I want something that will handle lakes and the Sound. Likely most stuff in the Sound will be fair weather and protected waters rather than the main body of the sound. Although I'd like the option to expand some as she (we) get more comfortable out there. I could see an occasional overnighter, but we have no current plans on doing multiday touring. I know we'll need to test fit for comfort, but aside from that what should I be looking for? She's petite and only around 115 lbs.

    Right now I'm thinking something in the 12-14' range. Recreational/day touring category type boats. Should I get something with a rudder?

    Does anyone have experience with the Elie kayaks? REI sells them and has 15% off through the weekend. I was looking at the Sound 120XE, Strait 120W, and Strait 140XE (has a rudder). Those are $595, $680, and $850 respectively.

    Any info helps!
     
  2. Krusty

    Krusty Erect Huge Member

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    So...if I read this right, you've got a pedal powered SOT, and you're proposing to equip your spouse with a sit inside kayak? On the Sound.

    How comfortable is she to learning how to roll a kayak?

    While a SIK offers more protection from the elements than a SOT, it takes a lot more training and effort to implement a self rescue in such an environment.

    Properly equipped for coldwater (drysuit) a SOT is a great craft for rough cold water, without any necessity to worry about mastering an Eskimo roll. SOT's are self-bailing...you simply crawl back aboard. They're unsinkable, so unless you get separated from the boat you're in great shape. You ought to be thinking about these factors for your own safety.

    Lakes during warm water/weather? A SOT is much more comfortable than a SIK. Her light weight gives you a lot of options.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2017
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  3. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald that's His Lordship, to you.....

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    We've kayaked extensively in ocean boats on rivers, lakes, ocean, and as far north as Barkley Sound, camping out of our boats for a week's time in the Broken Group. That said, Krusty's right in that self rescue takes training. It's not rocket science, but it does take some training. First though, anybody who says "Oh God, those spray skirts will trap you upside down in your boat if you flip", is full of stinky shit! We can get ours started to roll, and barely get our hair wet before we're out of the boats.

    You have two options: either plastic boats, or something more stiff (we have Current Designs Solstice for Her Ladyship, and a Solstice GT High Volume for me). Ours are fiberglass. The difference is stiffness more than anything else, and stiff is fast. Rudders, yeah, probably on plastic boats. I have one on my boat too, but the only time I use it is to test the mechanism once a year to see if the thing will actually work. The rest of the time I wonder why I got it. Plastic is quite a bit cheaper, but not as fast, nor does it handle and track as well as the stiffer boats. And it weighs more.

    As for sit on tops, yeah, easy to learn in but they won't handle a ton of gear, are wetter, and slower. Our first boats were plastic Aquaterra boats, and they worked fine; we had lots of fun, but they were always slow and we had to work hard on some of our island crossings to make decent time before wind and tide set against us. Lots of good boats out there, but you'll get what you pay for! And yes, I could roll my fully-loaded Solstice, at 17.5 feet long. The hard part was stopping the roll!! Go rent some, and learn the differences so you'll make the right purchase. We've had an absolute blast with ours!
     
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  4. Krusty

    Krusty Erect Huge Member

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    It must be noted that his advice displays, inherent in his basic origin as a SEAL, a complete inability to distinguish comfort from pain. Combine that trait with his Scottish propensity to be a PITA, I'd regard said advice as well worthy of serious consideration.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2017
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  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    1. Buy her what you've got.
    2. Borrow boats from people on here.
    3. I have a 12 foot sit on top that is a wide barge super stable and certainly not a speed boat. She is welcome to try it out.
    4. I have a 13 and a half foot sit on top wide barge super stable and certainly not a speed boat. She is welcome to try it out as well.
     
  6. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    You have a fast boat (4-5 mph) that you are propelling with strong legs muscles. She is petite and will be propelling her slow recreational kayak with less strong arm muscles.

    Conclusion: Divorce

    In all seriousness, couples with kayaks that are mis-matched in performance are often unhappy. Add in the mis-match of a pedal vs paddle kayak on top of (presumably) strength differences and I see problems. You will constantly be having to quit peddling or pedal so slowly, eventually it will drive you crazy. You'll always be waiting for her to catch up. She'll be paddling her heart out and exhausting herself. You'll be wondering if maybe she couldn't just try a little harder. She'll feel your annoyance. You'll eventually want to stretch your muscles and go fast for a bit. You'll go a fair distance ahead and wait for her to catch up. She'll feel left behind and maybe a bit scared, especially if a challenging situation (a rip, large wake, strong gust, etc) presents itself after you've taken off. While YMMV, in my experience (selling kayaks, teaching kayaking and leading trips) most often neither person was happy in the long run if they had a big mis-match in boat performance.

    Possible Solutions:

    1. Buy her the same kayak.

    2. Always paddle your kayak when you are together. Leave the pedals at home so you aren't frustrated or tempted to use them.

    3. Let her use the Slayer and you use the paddle kayak.

    4. Buy her a really high-powered, narrow, sleek go-fast touring kayak - and the comprehensive classes and gear she'll need to use it safely. Even then, her comfortable long distance paddling speed (~3 mph) will probably still be slower than your comfortable peddling speed.

    If you do buy a kayak for her to use (vs for you), be sure it is something that fits her and that she can easily paddle. Go to a local kayak demo day and have her test out lots of kayaks. Bring your kayak and have her test it side-by-side too. You should test out paddling it next to her in her favorite kayak. Unless you can go a fair distance, this won't be too valuable but it is better than not doing it. You've already missed the big demo day on Lake Sammamish but you may find other ones or even shops who do smaller ones. I heard there's one in West Seattle that does them regularly.

    I would recommend that you both take a multi-day kayaking class before you go test paddle a sit-in kayak. The kayak that you feel comfortable in before taking classes will be very different than the one you'd pick with a little skill and confidence under your belt.

    However, no matter what you do, PLEASE both take kayaking classes if you plan to venture out in the sound, especially if you aspire to do an overnight trip or venture more than a few feet from shore. This is especially important if you buy a sit-in kayak of any type. Even if she paddles it, you need to know how to assist her in the event of a capsize and vice versa.

    Also know that while SOT's can be easier to climb back on, it will probably still be more difficult for her. First, her center of gravity is lower so she has more mass below the water surface. It is extra important for women to kick their feet and get their body on the surface as much as possible before attempting re-entry. Second, generally women have less upper body strength so hauling one's soaking we/heavier body out is more challenging. Third, boobs get in the way and are an extra obstacle. When I taught kayaking, re-entry was always an extra challenge for any gal that was more than an A cup.

    No matter what kayak you paddle, you both need to practice tipping over/off and re-rendering your kayaks. Do this both while you are fresh so you learn how to do it. Then most importantly, practice it at the end of a long paddle when you are plumb tired. Work your way up to doing it in rough and windy conditions as that is when you are likely to capsize.

    Learn to keep ahold of your kayak and paddle as if you don't, even the slightest wind or current will move it away so quickly that you'll never catch it. You'll soon learn the importance of a paddle leash (which should only ever be used if you wear a knife on your pfd). Practice all this in whatever clothing you are wearing while paddling. If you immediately thought, Brr, that will be too cold then it means you aren't dressing properly! One should ALWAYS dress for the water temps, not the air temps. Cold water saps strength so quickly that many people are not able to assist themselves if they aren't dressed for immersion.

    One last important detail. In your post, you said "I want to get my wife a kayak so she can come along sometime". Is this something she really wants to do or is this something you want her to want to do? If she really wants to do it, then let her take the lead and research it and figure out what is right for her. If she doesn't take the iniative to do it, then maybe it is a case of you wanting her to want to do it. If so, see my conclusion above, LOL.
     
  7. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald that's His Lordship, to you.....

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    You mean there's actually a difference???:D:D:D:D
     
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  8. mtskibum16

    mtskibum16 Active Member

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    Thanks for the great info above @Alex MacDonald @Freestone @Ed Call @Krusty . Lots to digest there, but I'll start with a bit more info. First off, my wife does have interest in having a kayak to go out for some fun in the sun on the water. I'm talking pretty laid back, fair weather, recreational stuff to start here. That said, she is not someone who is interested in doing the research on gear. I'm the gear whore and the one who likes to research it. We have a system and it's been working for a good stretch now. We are also both young, energetic, and athletic. She is also exceptionally strong including her upper body, so don't let the light weight fool you.

    I'm used to the idea of outgrowing gear as you gain expertise, so I'm not looking to buy our forever boats here. No matter how much we demo and take classes, that will never account for experience actually going out on the water and using the gear. I also want something she can reasonably "grow in to" skill wise and enjoy as a more advanced paddler, so a 10' SOT is not what I'm after.

    We are also both accustomed to working through the differences in strength and ability in many other recreational activities. I've taught her to ski (as an expert skier), mountain bike (as a strong experienced mountain biker), gotten her in to hiking (as a stronger hiker), etc. It may disgust many of you, or be hard to believe, but we are perfectly suited to deal with these differences with minimal frustration or conflict. :p If there's really that much speed difference, I'm happy to do circles around her, pedal backwards, goof off, paddle my barge by hand, fish, look at sea life, etc while she makes her way. I do similar things when we bike and ski with no issues from either of us.

    The difference in efficiency and strength is exactly why I want to get her a sit in kayak that will be easier for her to paddle. In the end it might lead to me getting a different kayak too for our outings, but I don't want to match her kayak to mine, because mine is not ideal for what I'm talking about here.

    I'm not diminishing the safety and training concerns in the least, but I want to get her in a boat and on the water for the summer. I'm not looking to do a bunch of classes, demo day hop all summer, etc. I want to find her a comfortable, nice handling, reasonably efficient boat and get out on the water. We will watch some videos, take the boats down to a warm lake and mess around with capsizing and reentry. Depending on how things go and how much we get in to it we'll for sure go do some classes and stuff to broaden our range.

    I'm not looking for us to be experts by the time we hit the water. She'll always be with me and we'll be out in fair weather and short trips to start, so I'm not overly concerned about her ability to self rescue before I even buy her a kayak.

    Thanks for the advice and keep it coming!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
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  9. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald that's His Lordship, to you.....

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    well it's kinda difficult to learn self rescue when you're not actually in a boat, so buy her a nice Greenland-design sit inside. Pick up a copy of Kayaker Magazine and take a look at what's out there. We started with plastic boats and within a few years went to glass boats. I found excellent resale on our 3 plastic kayaks (including our son's boat), and we sold all of them immediately. the one thing you don't want to skimp on is a good paddle. We both have Werner Camano paddles (made here in WA). Here's an example of the Greenland shape:
    https://cdkayak.com/Kayaks.aspx?id=46
    This is a top-of-the-line touring boat, so don't let the sticker price shock you. They're very fast, easy to handle and turn (no, you don't need a rudder in a glass boat), and light compared to plastic boats.

    here's your Greenland boat in plastic.
    https://cdkayak.com/Kayaks.aspx?id=36
    This is also a great boat. you'll probably find that the plastic boats will weathercock very easily, and you'll have the rudder down most of the time to counteract this. I did on my Aquaterra Sea Lion. when I went to the Solstice GTHV, I found the thing tracks like it's on rails, and never use the rudder.

    If you backpack, you can do the same thing out of kayaks, and haul considerably more tonnage in the process. When we'd go for a week's paddling in Barkley Sound, we'd take plenty of decadent food, champagne, even CD's with our favorite tunes, and of course, chairs. Gotta be comfy! So we could toast the passing yachts with a glass of champagne while listening to classical music. Life was tough.....
     
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  10. jersey

    jersey livin' the dream

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    Please PM me your sister in-laws contact info
     
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  11. Josh Smestad

    Josh Smestad aka Mtnwkr

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    If you get another Native Slayer Propel then you have a loaner. ;)
     
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  12. Krusty

    Krusty Erect Huge Member

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    Alex's comment regarding paddles is spot on; it's the one piece of kayak gear to go lightweight and highest quality. Plus...it will work just as well on the next rec kayak you buy.
     
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  13. PT

    PT Physhicist

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    Aire Sea Tiger or Super Lynx. Worth looking at.
     
  14. Chad Lewis

    Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

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    Lots of good kayak advice here, so I'm not gonna add my .02 despite my kayaking experience and propensity to run my mouth about things I like to do and know something about. But I am going to offer some very stern advice about taking a kayak into the Sound. Going to a lake to "mess around" with self-rescue after watching some videos does not cut it, if you plan to paddle around in the Sound. The warmest summer days do not mitigate the water temperature if you can't get back into your boat quickly. People die from hypothermia, and with temps found in the Sound it doesn't happen slowly. Loss of gross motor function can occur after fifteen minutes in summer water temps if you're not wearing a full wetsuit, or better, a drysuit. DO NOT think that going out in protected waters in fair weather is sufficient to make up for lack of proper gear and training. Sorry to sound like a nanny or some shit, but as a Rescue Swimmer in the Navy I launched on several lost kayaker searches and never found anyone. Found empty kayaks twice, but never a body. My Coast Guard compatriots, who do way more of the civilian water rescue in the Sound, say the same thing. Kayakers either save themselves from water immersion or they usually end up dead. Again, I don't want to sound like your Mom but this is serious enough to stress about.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017 at 3:06 PM
  15. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    Ha, One time, the last stealthy push of the incoming tide and a side-shore wind stole my yak right off the beach as I was walking to my rig for my kayak cart. Luckily, it was mid-summer, and the water back in that part of the estuary was in the high 50's (a blend of cool ocean and warmer creek waters), approaching 60 F. I ran back to the shore, quickly stripped down to my shorts and dove in swimming after it, and when I caught up to it, I hauled myself in. I'd practice re-entries. I wasn't in the water for long, but I was glad that it wasn't colder. Paddling back against a slight breeze and current with my bare hands wasn't much of a problem, since the distance wasn't very far.