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Old 05-19-2013   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 65
Experience with Sea Kayaks?

So I moved to Alaska last summer and am in the market for a sea kayak because it's a pretty good way to camp around here. Anyone have any knowledge on a reputable company and what to look for and/or beware of in sea kayaks in general? Also, my parents would be using them and they have zero kayak experience so that would play a part in what boat/boats I get.

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Old 05-19-2013   #2
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 382
If you're not doing anything with big open water crossings, I'd look at a plastic boat over fiberglass. They're cheaper, and can take a beating. Fiberglass is heavier, and you need to be careful with them when landing and dragging up the beach. Once you get a little more experience, you might be into the stiffness and overall better performance of a fiberglass boat. They're more seaworthy too. I've spent time in a plastic Wilderness Systems, and a glass Current Designs boats, & liked them both. There are an incredible amount of different brands and models. Likely your decision will come down to what is available nearby used. Check the shape of the hull, the softer the chine (shoulder) the more advanced typically. The flatter hulled boats are more stable but won't paddle as well...

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Old 05-19-2013   #3
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Wilderness Systems Tsunami series are pretty awesome sea kayaks.

Tsunami - Wilderness Systems Kayaks
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 05-19-2013   #4
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1966
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 427 Discussion Forum

Lots of very experienced and helpful sea kayakers on the linked forum.

One thing they'll probably tell you (you mentioned your parents and no kayaking experience) is that there are some rescue techniques that should be know/practiced before taking a kayak in cold water if there is risk of capsize and the shore isn't handy.

I agree, no problem starting with a rotomolded plastic sea kayak -- there are very seaworthy models made in that material. But if you end up checking used boats, certainly don't rule out a composite or perhaps thermoformed plastic (stiffer and lighter than rotomold).
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Old 05-19-2013   #5
Otterwolf's Avatar
Derby, Connecticut
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 27
...the only bad thing about fiberglass is if you are paddling in real rough seas, you can break them, along with slamming into rocks - unless you find an old skool Tusnami (NOT to be confused with Wilderness Systems) X-1 Rocket Boat, or something which weighs at least 80 lbs or more (so you know it's an extra extra heavy layup).
My own preference is an older WS Tsunami 175 with rudder for when I'm playing out at the Middle Grounds Light (middle of Long Island Sound) or an Ocean Kayak Trident Prowler 15 for when I'm diving...
Both handle rough water quite well, and are bomb proof when it comes to hitting thing's, abuse, etc......
That being said, I am in the process of buying a fiberglass boat - a 19 ft Ryan Board - which can be either paddled like an SOT or scratched like a surf board. I'm told it weighs about 60 lbs (I thought they were supposed to weigh closer to 90...) so I may send it out to have extra layers of glass put on to make it stronger.
Remember: Heavier the boat, stronger it is................. you don't want something flimsy if you are 5+ miles offshore!!

Now - if space is a problem, I can't speak highly enough about the AIRE Sea Tiger II, as it's a strong boat, tracks super well, and is ultra safe and stable. I believe the new one's can be paddled solo too.
Lee at The Boat People through AIRE has a super cool Trinity II which I can't wait to put out into the Long Island Sound as well.
Then, there's the Pakboats offerings - I don't know it they still make the XT-16 tandem, but just beware it (took me anyway) about two hours to build - while a craft like the Sea Tiger II goes from being in it's bag to out in the water in less than 15 minutes using a 4" barrel pump - but the XT-16 does score points in being one with the sea real nicely, since it does flex

Jeffery Rawson out here in CT makes by far the most exciting designs I have ever seen, and his boats are truly works of art (and priced to sell too!!) but the only thing that scares me is I sincerely feel they are way way WAY too light, and I'd be afraid of snapping one with the way I use my sea kayaks...

With the exception of Jeffery's amazing boat design's, there's nothing new being made that truly excites me.
All the kayaks I like are between ten and thirty years old (my soon to be Ryan Board is I think from the late 60s, early 70s...) because that's when they were still being built super strong and for the right reasons.
Today, I feel (and I hope I'm wrong) that most manufactures are into making "maximum profit" boats which cost less, sell for more - and well, don't last all that long........

Good Luck, and remember - what works for one might not work for you.

Ultimately - you have to like the boat you paddle, and when it comes down to it - that's far more important than any brand name or status symbol boat or any such nonsense like that...

If you have any specific questions, I think you can message me here (I know very little about internet forums and how they work) as I make an average of 90 trips a year now, mostly open water and tidal rivers these days............
"Catch Me If You Can...."
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Old 05-19-2013   #6
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NorCal, California
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 330
Since you mentioned that you want camp out of your Kayak you will probably want a touring boat that can carry a little gear. I think Current Design and Wilderness system make quality kayaks for just about anything you want. I would guess there are many used kayaks available in your area if you live by the ocean and many of the kayak stores will let you demo different types so you can see if they are comfortable. Stay away from inflatables for ocean use and there are fibergalss kayaks that are plenty strong it depends what the base material is. Fiberglass sea kayaks have been all over the world in open ocean on expeditions for weeks or months and plastic is almost always heavier.

Originally Posted by pem27 View Post
So I moved to Alaska last summer and am in the market for a sea kayak because it's a pretty good way to camp around here. Anyone have any knowledge on a reputable company and what to look for and/or beware of in sea kayaks in general? Also, my parents would be using them and they have zero kayak experience so that would play a part in what boat/boats I get.
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Old 05-20-2013   #7
brenda's Avatar
bc, CA
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 316
Although ww kayaking is our first love, we do go on an extended sea kayak trip once a year and with all the beautiful lakes in the area we spend time on them as well. Check these out...we have the polyethylene and would never go back to the fiberglass etc. We don't have to worry about rough landings or big water. They are super stable and are not a whole lot slower than the composite boats.
Valley Sea Kayaks
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Old 05-20-2013   #8
oarframe's Avatar
Gardnerville, Nevada
Paddling Since: 00
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 447

Have had a Seayak for about 20years and Love it. It can hold tons of gear, weighs about 60lb (empty) and is super comfy and stable.
more snow = more water
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Old 05-20-2013   #9
Medford, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 204
I own an 18 foot Current Designs touring cruiser, they are much lighter than plastic and are quite tough. They are also much faster than plastic boats. Some of the Current Designs models are very stiff tracking boats, you should definitely paddle a couple brands before you decide on any. If you have previous kayak experience you might like a boat that is a bit more rocker and will turn easier. There is a bit of controversy about rudders. You might want to check out this listserv there are some expert sea kayakers in this group, that give great advice. PaddleWise
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Old 05-20-2013   #10
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
I own a 14' Dagger and love it. Lots of storage, super stable, and having a rudder just flat-out kicks butt. But self-rescue at sea is a whole different ball game--as mentioned--so either take a class or at least read up on it and practice. When I get too old for WW, that's what I'm going back to!

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