row row row your boat
May 16, 2005 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to get a boat/kayak/canoe/floaty thing for a nearby small river. Knowing nothing about them, I need some advice about what to get.

I have an 88 honda accord with a roof rack. I want two small boats/kayaks/etc or 1 two seater. No motor please. I'm of two minds about whether I want something I can get a crew-style workout in, or just something fun. criteria: small, cheap, lightweight, no motor.
posted by striker to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My dad bought an infatable kayak from SeaEagle, and I had the opportunity to try it out.

I'm by no means an expert in the field of water craft, but I was of the opinion that it worked rather nicely. You're able to throw it in your trunk and inflate it once you arrive at the river, avoiding the need to attatch it to your roof.

For a serious kayak-ist, this suggestion may or may not be laughable, but it seems like it could do the job in your case.
posted by nitsuj at 12:08 PM on May 16, 2005

Where is the lake? Paddlecraft manufacturers are often really small outfits that don't have national (international?) distribution. Still, if you can make it to Southern Ontario, Swift Canoe & Kayak makes the best boats in the world.

In general:

- Canoes are the most versatile of any human-powered watercraft. You can carry a ton of gear, weather reasonably high seas, and pick it up and carry it anywhere you can't float. Take at least one paddling lesson though. Learning the J-stroke will make canoeing much more enjoyable.

- Kayaks are a little faster, and can handle higher seas, but they carry less gear, are harder to portage, and seat two only if you pay a lot more.

- If you're just looking for something to splash around in (and not actually go anywhere), everybody loves paddleboats.

I wouldn't waste my time with anything inflateable, and I have no experience with row-boats. For materials, as long as you aren't doing any mile-long portages, I'd stay away from fibreglass or more fancy composites. Get the a plastic model (aka abs / royalex). They're indestructable.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2005

You won't need a fancy rack to carry a canoe or kayak on your accord. These foam blocks (the link is for canoe blocks, but there are similar types for kayaks) sit between the boat and your roof. Since it's an import, your car will have tie-down hooks under the four corners.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:21 PM on May 16, 2005

I have used the foam blocks for the last few years and they work fine. I like my canoe for the reasons stated above and because the one I have has built in drink holders and beverage cooler. Suhweet!
posted by wsg at 12:49 PM on May 16, 2005

My canoe is like this.
posted by wsg at 12:56 PM on May 16, 2005

You need to give us more information and do more homework on this.. you could easily purchase something that you would find useless..

If you're serious about doing this for a while (not just a lark for this summer), avoid the inflatables.

"nearby small river" doesn't tell us much...

Are you going one way (just downstream with a car spotted at the end), or round trip... what kind of current... can you swim.....

I would suggest that you go to a nearby quality kayak/canoe store and tell them exactly what you want to do and let them make suggestions.

Having said all that... I've canoed since I was a kid, but just got a kayak last year (at the age of 56).. I LOVE the kayak, faster, easier, more fun, goes up river just as easy as it goes down, cheaper.... I haven't been out in the canoe (a good, fast lightweight canoe, custom made) since I got the kayak, it just doesn't compare..

I've got a Dagger Blackwater 11.5

you can find them cheaper, but you get what you pay for, like anything else...

Feel free to e/mail me for more info...
posted by HuronBob at 1:47 PM on May 16, 2005

oh yeah check out this buyer's guide at Paddlingnet
posted by HuronBob at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2005

you might see if there's a local kayaking/canoeing group in your area. my sister is into this, and so is a co-worker of mine. i get the impression that (1) there's a lot of different kinds of boats for different activities and (2) that you might be a lot safer after spending a few hours training with them, whatever you buy.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:52 PM on May 16, 2005

I've been looking for a kayak for my daughter's 16th birthday - you may find these sites, or ones they lead you to, useful:
Paddling Links
Oak Orchard
Rafting Links.

If a kayak, you are probably looking for a "recreational" one, as opposed to one for white water or surf. You'll want to decide if you like a "sit on" type better than a "Sit in" type. The Liquid Logic "Tuxedo" is considered a good rec boat. As my daughter likes the sit-on type better, I'm currently looking at a Wilderness Systems "Ripper" or something like it.

Other than that & what I've gleaned from the internet and taking to dealers, I don't know jack....

Oh, & if you look around you may be able to find a demo/used boat from last year significantly cheaper than new (although its the wrong time of the season - fall is better). Try the Gear Swap. If you have to have it shipped, consider Forward Air drop shipping. Good luck.
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:53 PM on May 16, 2005

I also don't know "jack" about html (obviously)....
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2005

Thanks for all the replies. I'm interested in using the new "Oklahoma River" as they've recently renamed it in downtown OKC. I don't know what all the rules of the river are yet, not even sure they've got them sorted out and online at this point. I know there is a place to put a craft in the water near my house, and I would like to make use of it. So far, I think I would want a two seater. The inflatables actually look pretty nice (I'm not doing much more than floating around). I can swim, have never taken any kayak lessons, have been white water rafting, and I don't have a clue where I'd try these things out around here easily. As mentioned, I would like to use this as a possible form of exercise and/or get some speed, so a big canoe is probably not for me. Easy to use so I'll actually use it is a big goal. Thanks!
posted by striker at 2:20 PM on May 16, 2005

[fixed pressed rat's html, the slash goes before the a when you close links, like so: </a>]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:41 PM on May 16, 2005

If you don't have buddies to go out with, the canoe is a little tougher on your own, but not impossible, I should know, I go out by myself fairly often. Of course I live on a lake, so I don't have to load it on the car or carry it. You can get some nice wheels for a canoe that makes it much easier to move around on land. I've not been out kayaking yet, but would certainly like to, especially since I don't always have a buddy to take the canoe out with... (Any MeFi folks near me who want to go canoeing?)
posted by raster at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2005

What are the drawbacks to the inflatables for the paddling dabbler/dabbling paddler?
posted by xo at 4:45 PM on May 16, 2005

Thank you jessamyn!
posted by Pressed Rat at 5:50 PM on May 16, 2005

xo: What are the drawbacks to the inflatables for the paddling dabbler/dabbling paddler?

For the padabbler? There aren't many drawbacks I suppose. It may be the perfect thing for striker's urban beach environment.

However, an inflatable will eventually puncture, or its vinyl will crack from UV exposure. Whereas a finely made canoe or kayak will last as long as you do.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:05 PM on May 16, 2005

If you can rent a kayak (or whatever), after you get lessons, for a while, you might avoid ending up with something less than what you want (or will use). If you rent, you can try out different models. If you rent, then buy, you're not out that much money. If you buy, then store and don't use (or enjoy) the boat because it turns out that you bought the wrong thing, then you really have made a big mistake.
posted by WestCoaster at 7:43 PM on May 16, 2005

You HAVE to check these out.

Nauticraft. I'd buy one tomorrow if the shipping costs (I'm in Australia) weren't so terribly high.
posted by tomble at 10:34 PM on May 16, 2005

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