Rec Boat vs Sea Kayak

I notice by most measures we generalizes along the lines that rec boats are less than 15 feet and wider than 23 inches.  But where does this put the Dagger Alchemy?

By the way a very good review of the Alchemy is on the wonderful blog you can see here: Woman on water

Lots of boats that are perfectly competent in the sea do not meet the general standard for a sea kayak.  The Mystic is too short and the Solstice GT is too wide. There are too many to list.

There are surf ski's that are obviously different than sea kayaks but are they less useful in the sea?

What about the X15 boat the Tsunami use for their touring, camping, and surf shenanigans?  It is a 14 feet long and 24 inch wide sit on top. I don't think any ACA instructor I know would call that a Sea Kayak, but it designed purpose is playing and touring in the Pacific Ocean.

I think the biggest reason to group boats into types is to make instruction easier.  I was told in no uncertain terms before my instructors course that it was going to be a Coastal Kayaking instructors course and that I must bring a Real Sea Kayak, Sit on tops and Greenland paddles need not apply.

As a very beginner of an instruction I can attest to the problems it can cause when someone shows up with "non-standard" gear. I can show a beginner different stroke with a Euro blade paddle that I rarely use, but I've never been shown any single blade strokes or how bracing is different with a Greenland blade.

The funny thing is that rec boats and sit on tops are outselling sea kayaks and those paddlers are probably not getting instruction because the classes are usually focused on sea kayaks!  Maybe the beginning instructor classes could include the basics of all kinds of paddling.  In the mean time I'll see if I can get some canoe, Greenland and SUP basics down so I can share the beginning skills with people no matter what gear they show up with.

Rec boat sit on top sailing with a Greenland paddle.  I wonder if anyone else is doing this in the salty water?


  1. So there was this guy named Patrick Julian..he is the P of P&H Sea Kayaks...he made a kayak that i wish was more prevalent over here in the states (as far as I know I have the only one in the states-there is a rumor of two in upstate NY though).
    Check out:
    The RH340 Rockhopper....If you google the name you will find my reviews of this shorter super playful hull....i have used it while teaching classes...and love playing around in it.....

    I think that the shorter boats are a better bet for a lot of paddlers...they just do not know it yet...

  2. There's undoubtedly a practical issue, but there also seems to be a "purist" issue. I'm using an Emotion Glide, surely a rec boat, 9.5' long and 28" wide. I can paddle it faster than you'd think, it does appear to be reasonably maneuverable, but wind will weathercock it as will current. So I haven't tested it in the actual Bay (SF), much less the ocean. I'm not at all sure it would be safe there, though very fine on "flatwater" sloughs in rough wind and waves. I see lots of 14' playboats out on the ocean taking serious wave action. So I kind of doubt that 16' or longer is the only true sea kayak; just that they do better in longer treks on real ocean.

  3. I sure wouldn't take an Emotion Glide to the Pacific Ocean, except maybe on a completely calm day.

    Even then, there's lots better boats for the job.

  4. I think it might cost more than the Emotion Glide to outfit the boat so it was ready for bigger water. You would need float bags and installed tie points in the bow and the stern and an electric pump system that was saltwater and upside down ready.

    I've put some 9 foot rec boats into the surf with float bags tied in and at times it was a hoot and at other times the boat filled too easily in spite of the float bags. The big cockpits and lack of bulkheads cause the skirt to implode in even small waves and the boats hold more water than you can easily pump out.