Choosing a kayak did you decide how much boat was enough? I can eliminate a number of designs (6'4", long legs and a size 14 foot, 200 pounds, interested in recreational paddling on creeks/bays/protected open ocean), and slightly better than average skill as a builder. But, looking for example at the WD12, WD14, and Mill Creek 13, how would you balance hull weight, length, flat vs "V" bottom with slight rocker...or, are the differences so slight only a skilled paddler would notice? Any opinions about this that would help me make a choice? Thanks for your comments.

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RE: Choosing a kayak

I am no expert, am finishing up my first Chesse 16.  Although it was recommended I build the Chesse 17, do to my size 6'2 220 with size 11 shoes.  CLC said the only way to know for sure was to get in one and try it- so I did.  Not sure were you live, but you can check the CLC schedule or call them and ask where they will be this year.  You might also want to consider thier open hull kayak. I tried that as well and was impressed.  You would not have to worry about weight and shoe size.  It is very stable, but not very fast.  It's a lot of fun and you get hooked quickly.  I'm already contemplating my next build!  Good Luck!

RE: Choosing a kayak

In those shortish recreational kayaks, indeed in many rec kayaks, the minor differences between them are so subtle that even experienced kayakers might not notice much difference. The only significant differences are weight, displacement, cockpit comfort and looks. Of course, the longer ones will have a slightly higer top speed - but the reality is that one rarely paddles this hard (they're recreational boats, after all, not racers). The longer ones will likely have more leg room, or at least cockpit length, so you might be more comfortable in a longer boat. As for bottom shapes, they are all pretty stable, and are designed to go in straight lines - even if they have a bit of rocker. A shorter boat will be more maneuverable, of course, and lighter, and easier to stow and transport, but perhaps not be quite as fast, roomy, or track as steady. And one design might weathercock less, or carve turns better or track better or worse, but the differences are unlikely to be huge.

 I definitely agree that trying them out first is a good way to go! Otherwise, the most important difference might just be which you prefer the looks of!

Good luck!

Dave Gentry

RE: Choosing a kayak

Where do you live? Is getting to the Annapolis area feasible?  If so, come to CLC's OkoumeFest, which is coming up on May 14 & 15 to see and test the boats. Failing that, CLC takes some of their toys for road trips around the country so folks can come and play -- contact them for a schedule. Failing that, look for people on the Forum that might live somewhere near you, have boats built to the designs that interest you, and would be willing to let you go for a test paddle.  Nothing better than actually paddling a boat before you build it.

RE: Choosing a kayak

The other thing you mention is protected open water.  As that is a subjective term, what type of open water are you talking about?  In a 30+ foot sailboat, I consider Cape Cod bay to be very protected, but in a kayak its certainly pretty wide open.  If you're thinking about longer crossings or areas that can develop a pretty good swell or chop, you may want to think about a longer waterline boat with sea-kayak heritage, like the Chesapeake or Shearwater; simply because they track a little straighter and are probably more sea-kindly.  The bigger the waves, the smaller I want my cockpit opening to be so I can put a decent skirt on it.  Like the builders above noted, each person has something unique they're looking for, so testing out a variety of boats before building one would be the way to go! 

Good luck,


RE: Choosing a kayak

Thanks for your replies. They sort of mirror what I was beginning to suspect. FYI, I live in San Diego and that gives me lots of year around options. It also means that "open ocean" can be OPEN ocean, but there are lots of protected areas and bays to gain experience. Dave and Chris both addressed exactly what was rumbling around the back of my head. The truth is, it's been 10 years since I built my last boat, and I've just got that "itch" again. Thanks for your input.


Best Regards,


RE: Choosing a kayak


I'd be prefectly at ease taking my WD12 anywhere in Mission Bay or the estuaries up in the North County. Depending on the weather and the boat and navy tugboat traffic, I'd also be fine in most of San Diego Bay, say off of Shelter and Harbor Islands, for example, but I'd use a spray skirt there. I've never been in South Bay, but that looks as if it would have WD12 potential, too.

On days when it was glassy, I'd even give La Jolla shores a try in it, but I'd need a guarantee that the weather was going to hold for the whole day.

As far as fit goes, I think that the size 14's are the only area of concern. I've got 12's and they fit fine in most positions. As everyone else said, best thing to do is to get into one and try it out.



RE: Choosing a kayak


I wrote you a comment and then some how lost it.  Anyway,

if you can hold out, CLC usually does a demo in Newport Beach in late August.  One full day to play with boats.  They usually bring between 15 & 20 boats including Wood Ducks, Shearwaters, and Chesapeakes.  I try to make it down there with my fleet if I can which currently consists of a MC 16.5 w/ rowing rig and a Shearwater 17 Hybrid.  If, as mentioned above, you can make it to Annapolis the middle of May for Okoumefest, there will be amny more to test out.

Good luck with your selection.

Paul G.

Palm Desert

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