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WGA Member

Joined: 2002-12-23
Posts: 381
Location: Madison, WI, USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 2:05 pm Reply with quote Back to top

The WISearchers are also interested in paddling. Perhaps in the spring we'll be making an acquisition of a kayak. I'd be interested in hearing suggestions from geopaddlers on a good 2 to 2- 1/2 person kayak? the 1/2 is our son, he's 10, but would not be with us all of the time.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Joined: 2003-09-10
Posts: 1263
Location: Bristol WI

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:27 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I am no professional, but I have probably spent more time kayaking and reading about kayaking than I have geocaching this summer. My best day of paddling as of yet was a 19 mile solo on Lake Michigan. I'm already making plans for the Flambeau next summer. Then again, i'm not so sure I can wait that long- Florida is looking pretty good right now. Image

A kayak is a lot like a pair of pants. If you don't get one that fits you well, you won't get much use out of it. ("Fit" meaning both your body, and your purpose)

One's stature is very important to consider when shopping for a yak. They come in all different weight capacities and cockpit sizes. What the boat looks like on the outside has very little to do with how one will feel on the inside. If there is too much free area around your body, the yak will be much harder to control. If the fit is too tight, you will not be comfortable and getting in and out may become unpleasant, possibly even dangerous. After sitting in a yak for several hours- it becomes very evident how it really fits you. If you are not comfortable, your paddling days will be few.

Also consider how you might use your yak or yaks- maybe just a couple hour leisure ride once in a while, but don't deny the possibility that you might later decide you would like to make it part of your regular exercise routine or go on kayak camping trips, etc. Different boats serve different purposes.

Generally speaking, recreational yaks can be from 6 to 15 feet long, and are good for slow rivers or shorter paddles on flat water. Touring kayaks range from 14 to 19+ feet long and are more suited for longer distance paddles on larger rivers and open water. The longer touring yaks are sometimes referred to as sea kayaks because they are built with open-water touring in mind. Longer yaks tend to be less wide, making them faster, but less stable.

Most of the yaks you will find in the sporting goods stores are made of a type of plastic. There are also fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon-fiber, and of course the traditional wood. Some other important things to research before buying also include bulkheads, onboard storage, rudder or rudderless, PFD's and other safety gear.

One thing few people consider is that the hardest thing about paddling is getting the craft from home, to the water, and back again. Yaks can weigh from 40 to 100 lbs, depending on what they are made of, their size, and their construction. Shopping for a suitable car-roof rack and proper mountings is no less important than the yaks themselves.

Hearing all this probably has probably raised more questions than answers. My best advise? Don't buy anything yet. It is very convenient for you that you are in Madison. Rutabaga in Madison is the top paddling shop in the state. Last I knew, they will let you test paddle their yaks which is the only way to know which ones you will really like the best. Take some lessons too- improper paddling will not only get you no where fast, it can also wreck your shoulders. You will also learn the most important skills- self recovery and assisted recovery. Paddling does include swimming sometimes- (and that's a good thing). If you are far from shore, swimming back with a kayak is not an option. As with any outdoor activity- preparing for the worst starts with knowing what to do in a given situation.

I can't say much about doubles.... in my opinion- they are big, they are heavy, they tend to be a lot more expensive, they are pretty much impossible to paddle alone, and because they sit higher off the water, they are harder to get back into during a recovery. Also realize that paddling with a partner is an art in itself, a fine art if one really wants to do it that way. If it's really what one wants, I would honestly compare and contrast the personal value of a double kayak over a canoe. I think you would be happier with a kayak for each of you, but that's my opinion. They do make yaks for the young too!

Single kayaks also hold a much better resale value than doubles. Most people that become regular paddlers purchase a second or replacement kayak within 3-4 years. Not because there is anything wrong with their first kayak, but because they have learned more about what suits their paddling style. One great benefit of this is that there are many many used kayaks for sale, which is a great option for the first-time buyer.

Wow, I must stop babbling now! Oh, and by all means, do not miss Canoecopia!!!

Canoecopia Website

Rutabaga Website A great website!

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WGA Historian

Joined: 2002-02-19
Posts: 2461
Location: Mequon, WI US

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:52 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Cathunter speaks with straight tongue. All good information about kayaks there.

However, in examining your stated needs for a 2 to 2 1/2 person boat, I feel your best boat is not a kayak but a canoe. (I am not aware of a good kayak that holds 3 persons. It may be out there, but I'm not aware of it.)

Depending on what you want to do and where you want to go, a canoe may be a better choice. For the 3 of you, I would suggest starting with a tandem canoe then purchasing a single seat kayak down the road. Tony and Rhonda could each take turns paddling the kayak. When your son is old enough, he would enjoy his turn in the kayak too. If any of you ever wants to paddle alone, you would have the kayak. If two of you ever wanted to paddle together, you'd have the canoe. If three of you wanted to paddle together, you have 2 boats to do so.

In general, a canoe is more stable and faster than a kayak (not true in all cases, but in general). Also, for longer trips such as canoe camping, the canoe carries more cargo than a kayak.
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WGA Member

Joined: 2002-12-23
Posts: 381
Location: Madison, WI, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:44 am Reply with quote Back to top

thanks Ken and Russ for your very informative words! I will keep them in mind in making a buying decision!
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