Good Kayak for Both Lake and Ocean Near Hawaii, with Storage?
May 13, 2004 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Kayak recommendations... I have never been in a kayak, but have had a lot of experience in canoes. I want something that would be decent for a lake, but I plan on moving to Hawaii in about 2 years, so I would want it to be good for the sea too. Also storage would be nice to have too, so I can carry some equipment for some over-nighters. What about Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 or 140?
posted by maceo to Shopping (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 2-person kayak (145T?), and it has both advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: it is made of plastic that is quite strong. I have really abused it, going over small (foot-tall) waterfalls, dragging it on the bottom of rivers, running into rocks, even a small dam (frightening and dangerous). Decent room for storage--I once went camping for a week in it.

Disadvantages: it's quite heavy, 70 lbs or so, which is quite cumbersome for me when it is 15 feet long. Of course, it's a 2-person kayak, so that's not really a problem. But portaging the thing is not fun.

it's about 30" wide at the widest point, which means that it is incredibly stable (I can stand up in it for a second or two) and not very fast. I see sea kayakers on Lake Michigan and I know that I could never keep up with them. But that's fine for my usage. It's a recreational kayak, not a sea kayak. But I would take it on Lake Michigan if it was calm.

For a big-surf area, I think that you want a sit-on-top kayak. which I don't have any knowledge of.
posted by goethean at 1:50 PM on May 13, 2004

Kayaking is addictive - if you can afford to, I'd suggest buying a boat that is better than your current abilities - you will quickly grow into it, and avoid having to upgrade. While poly boats are pretty durable (unless they deform while stored in the sun...). fiberglass and Kevlar boats are lighter and more rigid, so faster.

Kayaks are also pretty personal... an approach you may want to consider is trying as many types as you can before making your purchase. If you are accustomed to a canoe, you will have an easy transition - but the manuevering and speed of most sea kayaks was a revelation to me when I first tried them.

Mine is a Nordkapp, and I recommend it for both lake and sea travel without reservation. It's low in initial stability, but has great secondary stability, and is extremely seaworthy.
posted by vers at 3:26 PM on May 13, 2004

I bought a used touring kayak from a rental company for about 450$ a few years back. I have no idea what the model is, or even who makes it. I imagine that it's pretty low end, but that hasn't stopped me from getting a ton of mileage out of it. I've got no complaints about it, and no regret for not buying something more expensive. It's been great for short day trips, and longer multi-day expeditions.

I've used it innumerable times since, mostly on lakes, occasionally on protected harbors and bays, with smallish waves. The kayak is about 16' long, with front and rear bulkheads. Storage is not an issue - I've used it on several multi-day trips, and when I run out of room in the storage compartments, I strap waterproof dry bags to the top. It makes it a bit less stable, but nothing that is unmanageable.

The boat is plastic, which means that I really don't worry about damaging it, ever. I've stored it outside for the past three years, covering it with a tarp in the winter, with no ill effects. It is a bit heavy, but I can easily manage to lift it onto and off of my car with no trouble. I purchased a set of wheels for it, so that I don't have to drag it along the ground to get it from the car to the water.

I recommend getting one with a rudder, as it makes the paddling experience much more pleasurable. Without a rudder, my stronger right-hand paddle stroke tends to make the boat bear leftwards, which means I have to compensate by paddling more with my weaker left hand, leading to quicker tiring and frustration. With the rudder, I can just lean back and mindlessly paddle as lopsided as I like, and go exactly where I want to.

You can see some pictures of my kayak in action here:
A good shot of it is here
posted by skwm at 4:35 PM on May 13, 2004

Chesapeake Light Kayak are some of the most beautiful kit-built boats in the world. IMO.
posted by stbalbach at 7:57 PM on May 13, 2004

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