Kayak for casual beach/ocean use.

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    Jun 14, 2009 2:50 PM GMT
    Hey guys. Thought I'd put the hive mind to work here. I live on the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola, and am looking to get a Kayak for occasional recreational use in the Gulf. We have fairly calm water, but do get a few waves and bumps, but nothing spectacular (unfortunately for our surfers.)

    What's the difference in a regular Kayak and a "Sea Kayak"? What differentiates the two? Would I be well served just getting a regular Kayak or do I need to invest in something more substantial. I see small-ish Kayaks on the water, so I guess it can be done.

    What are your opinions? Anyone around do ocean Kayaking and can make some recommendations?
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    Jun 30, 2009 5:40 PM GMT
    Sea kayaks are generally longer the shorter kayaks are recreational kayaks or whitewater kayaks. Rec kayaks try to do all three but generally are lousy at all. Sometimes you may see very short kayaks that looks like little shoes. These kayaks are designed for ocean surfing but not for paddling distance. There are also whitewater variations from creek boats, to river boats, to play or squirt boats. You may see guys taking the playboats (which are short a stubby and have a pig nose) to the ocean and play in the waves.

    Just a whitewater kayaks vary enormously so do flatwater boats. The shorter a boat the easier it is to turn and spin but also the harder it is to stay the course. The chime and the rocker effect the trade off of maneuverability and tracking ability. The chime is the transition from the side to the bottom. A hard chime or abrupt transition makes it easier to carve but more vulnerable to being knocked around. A softer chime sit lower in the water and will be better at holding a straight line but it rocks as it has weaker primary and stronger secondary stability to make a carve. The rocker is the hull shape. A lot of rocker (meaning it looks more like a rocking chair) gives you more maneuverability but does not track as well as a boat with less rocker. A lot of beginners like flat bottom boats because they have more primary stability. More primary stability also means less secondary so these boats can flip without warning. A full displacement hull in contrast will rock giving you a feeling of being less stable but when you learn to use the rock you gain better control and higher secondary stability.

    I also have a waveski which is used only for surfing. It has very little primary or secondary stability and requires a lot of balance to paddle. But with good surf conditions this is what the pros can do:

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    Aug 05, 2009 3:35 PM GMT
    Actually just took up kayaking and love it. My issue is that I live in an area where there is both ocean and intercoastal waterways, creeks , inlets, etc . So I am unsure of what kind of kayak to buy since they seem either ocean or flat water kayaks. Is there one that you can both that would cover both environments or no?
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    Aug 05, 2009 5:28 PM GMT
    When I say creeks I don't mean Florida's creeks I mean mountain creeks that are steep and narrow with a significant drop in elevation resulting in many class IV and V rapids separated by small pools of water. Whitewater rivers are wider and drop less in elevation and rapids are often followed by a stretch of flatwater.

    In any case there is practically no whitewater in Florida so you want a flatwater kayak. Now the question is do you want a stable boat that you can meander around in or do you want a high performance sea kayak. The high performance kayak will require more balance and paddling skills but will allow you to paddle faster and in rougher conditions. A high performance sea kayak will glide through the bays but you may flip when you encounter waves if you haven't developed a good balance. The classic sit-on-top plastic boats they have at hotels will not flip unless you get plowed by a breaking wave but if you took such a boat out on a windy day in rough sea conditions you may have trouble getting it back to shore. In fact, no beginner should kayak in the sea when conditions are rough and currents are strong.

    Kayaks are similar to bikes. You can buy a multipurpose recreational kayak just as you can buy a rec bike. The rec bike can be taken on easy trials through the woods but is not designed for mountain biking. It will also be much slower than a racing bike and it is not the ideal touring bike either.
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    Aug 06, 2009 6:38 PM GMT
    Thanks for the clarification. I will take that into mind when shopping around for a kayak .
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    Aug 09, 2009 7:23 PM GMT
    I like my Old Town Dirigo. I do the Long Island Sound with it and have also done flat water.