Looking for Assistance with Kayak Selection

Live-In-The-Moment

New Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
1
Location
Surrey, BC
My wife and I are considering buying a couple of single kayaks, and we would truly appreciate some advice from the many experienced paddlers that read this forum. First, I will give you a little background on our paddling experience and the type of paddling we plan on doing. We have been paddling for about the past 20 years but usually only manage to get out once or twice a year. Most years have included a 5 – 7 day camping trip on the BC coast (Desolation Sound, Broken Islands, Gulf Islands, Sechelt Inlet, etc). We have completed our Paddle Canada Level 1 and gained enough experience to allow us to feel quite comfortable on the water, but we are still very much novices when it comes to skill level. In the future, we hope to take a few more paddling courses to hone our skills, so we are looking for kayaks that we can grow into as our skills improve. However, it’s unlikely we will ever become expert paddlers looking to surf the Skookumchuck. We are nearing retirement and hope to be able to get out on the water a lot more frequently. We would like to continue being able to do unsupported trips of at least 7 days, but also plan to do more day trips. From our past experiences and knowing that we don’t have super light-weight camping gear, we have found that kayaks that approach 200 litres of storage or more make packing much easier.

My wife is 5’3” / 125lbs and I am a 6’2” / 180 lbs / size 12 shoe. Most days we paddle 20 - 30 km and often go 4 - 5 hours without a break so we have learned to appreciate kayaks that have a bit more room in the cockpit so we can adjust our seating position a little and stay comfortable.

We have spent a lot of money on rentals over the years and we are looking forward to the freedom that owning our own boats will provide, but selecting just the right kayak seems like a daunting task. While we have paddled a number of different boats over the years, it’s hard to make comparisons when it’s a year between paddles and the conditions are different each time we go out. I think our lack of experience also makes it difficult for us to detect the nuances of different hull designs. The majority of the kayaks we have paddled have been made by Seaward, Current Design, Necky, or Nimbus. We like the idea of buying local and are leaning toward Seaward or Nimbus. We have read that both companies provide excellent custom service and produce quality boats. I would be very interested to hear people’s preference between Seaward’s hand lay-ups vs Nimbus’s vacuum bagged laminates.

Kayaks that we have paddled and are considering are the Seaward Tyee, Seaward Guide 17 (Probably the high-volume version for me), and the Nimbus Telkwa (Probably the Sport version for my wife, although she has not had the opportunity to paddle one yet). While I am probably leaning toward the Telkwas because their design seems to provide a happy medium between tracking and maneuverability, there are some features of the Seaward boats that we prefer. (gas pedal style rudder system, hatch cover design, etc). Do you think we should be concerned about the future of Nimbus? They seem to be producing a limited number of boats and I am worried they will not be available for service issues in the future. We are certainly open to looking at other manufacturers and models, but these are models that we have rented in the past. Based on our description, what other manufactures and models should we consider? Should we be considering some of the thermoform boats made by Delta?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and share your knowledge and experience with us,
 

Gary Jacek

Paddler
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
260
Location
Victoria, BC
I am 5’11” and just shy of 200lb. Paddled a CD Solstice GT and shortly traded to a Gulfstream and then a Nimbus Telkwa. The Telkwa has pointy ends that demand better packing skills. Dabbled with a Delta 15.5Exp and a Delta 17 for their ease of packing, but they are not fast kayaks. Came back to the Telkwa for the past few years as the speed and handling outshine the Deltas. More recently picked up a Telkwa Sport for a dayboat. My wife paddles Telkwa and Telkwa Sport too.

I’ve owned a few other makes but cannot speak to Seaward kayaks. Although we did try out a Seaward Talon and came close to divorce on that one.

Nimbus Telkwas are sought after and very few are made each year. I’ve found their customer service is excellent.

You would do well in Telkwa or HV version.
Your wife could do well in a Telkwa Sport. But another option is a Nimbus Solander.

You should check out the Telkwa Sport on sale here. Other than updates to rescue straps, rudder line routing and scuppers to drain the perimeter of the hatch covers, there have been very few changes over the years.
This speaks volumes about the initial design choices. New ones fetch $5K+.

 

a_c

Paddler
Joined
Dec 23, 2014
Messages
80
Location
Victoria, BC
I have a Seaward Guide 17 so can offer a few thoughts on that. I am pretty much the exact same size, 6'2", 180, size 11 feet.

Similar to Gary, I had gone through a handful of different boats before settling on the Guide 17 - mostly larger touring-style boats from Current Design, Delta, etc., I decided that I did not want a boat with a skeg, so that ruled out many boats right out of the gate.

The Guide 17 offers a good blend of stability, cargo capacity and responsiveness. It has a decent amount of rocker and holds a nice edge, which will allow you to grow your skills (and your enjoyment!) as you become more proficient. The difference between the Tyee and the Guide is night and day - I paddled them back to back and could not get out of the Tyee quick enough!

Most of the boats you describe are large, stable gear-haulers. I've paddled the Delta 17 and 18.5, Solstice GT and the Tyee, and while they are fine boats for their intended purpose (carrying a lot of gear and going in a straight line), for fun factor they are about as exciting as a bowl of oatmeal. I was looking for a Telkwa at one time but could not find one; I sat in a Telkwa HV and it felt like I was in a bathtub, but as pointed out already, Nimbus boats have a good reputation and a loyal following.

You might do well to give Seaward a call and set up a test paddle for the models you and your wife are interested in - there's a lake 5 minutes from their shop and they're great about taking you out and demoing different boats. Your wife sounds a bit small for a Guide, she might consider the Luna Grande for a Seaward line, or the Solander would also be a good choice (I had one for a while, it's a great boat for a smaller size person). I doubt you'd need the high volume version of the Guide, it's a pretty big boat already and I certainly don't need any more room than I have. My friend bought a Guide LV; she's 5'9" and maybe 140-150ish and it fits her very well.

You'll find there are very few used kayaks on the market these days (with good boats being even more hard to find); good luck in your search and I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice from the members here.

Cheers!
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,152
Location
Victoria, BC
The Telkwa has an excellent reputation as a boat that can haul gear for trips and also be manageable for day trips when unloaded.
It would be my choice, if I had to choose between the Seaward Guide 17 and the Nimbus Telkwa..
On the boats from Current Designs, Nimbus and Seaward that I've seen (and have worked on) the rudder implementation often seems to be an afterthought by the builder. "Let's install a rudder on the boat, now that the design is complete."
The problems I see:
Insufficient blade depth in the water - with a pivot some distance above the deck, and an upswept stern, a very long blade would be required to stay in the water in even moderate waves and swell.
This is compounded by rigging which usually doesn't make any serious effort to keep the blade down in a vertical position. Going over kelp or just fast paddling will cause the rudder blade to drag up to the surface.
The rudder pedals can be another problem area: sliding pedals which make edged turns almost impossible with the rudder down, 'gas pedal' types which are mounted at awkward heights, etc. . There have been a lot of discussions here at WCPaddler about rudder pedals - sliding and others.

Most owners don't mind, apparently.

Here's a discussion about the rudder on a friend's new Seaward Guide 17:
https://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community/threads/rudder-rigged-backwards-from-factory.8083/
Another discussion about the same Guide 17 Smart Track Hybrid rudder:
http://www.kayakforum.com/cgi-bin/B...201/sbj/other-smart-track-hybrid-foil-rudder/
This discussion was prompted by another friend's new Seaward Luna Grande:
https://www.westcoastpaddler.com/co...eep-the-blade-in-the-water-ideas-please.8902/

Similarily, most Telkwas will be trailing the rudder blades at 45 degrees to the water, when the rudder is 'down'.

I don't know what Nimbus is using for rudder pedals these days. Most of the Telkwas I see have sliding pedals.
Here's an example of a Nimbus slider:
mini-Nimbus rudder pedal.jpg


A friend is dealing with a problem where the plastic parts warped (broke?) on a slider of that type.

On another friend's Telkwa I installed BigFoot pedals which are a good solution. The boat (Kevlar Telkwa) was purchased at an excellent price, so the cost of the pedal upgrade seemed reasonable.
 

Gary Jacek

Paddler
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
260
Location
Victoria, BC
We have four Telkwa variants in the family fleet, 2001 2002 2004 and 2005 model years. And we just sold a 2000 Telkwa Sport. (It literally sold in hours) 2002 models improved the rudder hauldown and added hatch scuppers.

We’ve had no issues with Telkwa pedals or rails. I am curious what model year produced the plastic rail problem.

JohnAbercrombie is one of our go-to guys for repairs here in Victoria, so his opinions on serviceability carry a lot of weight here. Rudder resets are a fact of life in the Telkwas, Solstices, etc I’ve paddled. Some improvement needed.
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,152
Location
Victoria, BC
We’ve had no issues with Telkwa pedals or rails. I am curious what model year produced the plastic rail problem.
Gary-
You have a lot more experience than me, especially with Telkwas. I'm glad to hear your comment about the sliding footpegs standing up to a lot of use.
I don't know the model year of that Telkwa with the problem with the plastic parts of the sliders warping/breaking. The boat belongs to a mutual acquaintance of ours. I was asked if I had spare parts in my stash recently (answer:"Sorry, no.") and the owner has been workng on a DIY solution to the problem. I don't know how much support the owner got from Nimbus (or even if he pursued that option very vigorously). My recollection is that the owner mentioned that this was a problem he'd had before, but the details weren't given.

@red kite is the real repair guru here...Hopefully she'll drop in with comments. :)
 
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