Most of my seat time has been spent in long touring style boats with little to no rocker in the hull. I recently bought a Pyrahna Fusion crossover as I am planning on some light river running next year. Over the last few months I have been taking the Fusion out to get used to it and the ability to spin the boat on a dime has got me hooked.
I currently have a WS Tsunami 170, LL Inuit 12.5, Necky Manitou 14 and the Fusion in the fleet. I like all of them for different uses, so I do not want to trade or sell any of them. I am looking at CD Sirocco and WS Zephyr as I have some knowledge of these brands. I am also considering some of the Valley boats based on reputation.
I keep wondering to myself am I just looking at 16+ long boats out of habit (and to keep up with the other people I paddle with) or should I be looking in a different direction.
I am also looking for a boat with a skeg (not a rudder) as I live in Kansas and 30mph winds are pretty normal for me. This will be a boat for open water with the ability to get into rock gardens.
Kayak Carrier Kits
|Table of Contents|
|Messages in this Topic|
Alchemy, Delphin, Reflection|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Nov-25-12 1:46 AM (EST)
Faster boat or rock garden boat - I think you should decide. The Zephry and Scirroco are both good all around boats, and a bit faster than what you have in your fleet. So would many of the Valley boats (pretty much all excluding the new Geminis). But none are really great for rock gardening (lack of turning ability - the trade off for that speed). Of course, if you have rocks and you are paddling one of these speedier tourers, nothing wrong with going in to play. But they just are not optimal as rock gardening boats.
What He Said|
Posted by: Kudzu on Nov-25-12 5:35 AM (EST)
I'm not at the same level |
Posted by: rpg51 on Nov-25-12 8:26 AM (EST)
Zephyr vs. Alchemy|
Posted by: t.george on Nov-25-12 8:29 AM (EST)
All said above is good advice, but there is some personal pref. at play. I've got both a Z 155 & Alch. 14S, (& a tempest 165pro as well) like all of them very much. Significantly diff boats IMO. I pref. the Z for most of my "active cond." paddles because it is almost as manuverable as the Dagger, rides the rough water almost as well as the Tempest and I'm just more comfy with the fit. Love the way it surfs in bigger cond. as well. The Delphin was fun as noted, don't much care for the feel of the Valley boats. Personal pref. Try 'em all if you can.
Down to Dagger or WS|
Posted by: trvlrerik on Nov-25-12 12:38 PM (EST)
I think I am down to the alchemy and the Zephyr, I am right on the edge size wise between most manufacturers between LV hand HV boats (5'11" 190lbs) so the Zephyrs larger cockpit opening may give it the edge, it looks like I am going to have to try on some boats for a nice snug fit.
Posted by: Kudzu on Nov-25-12 5:32 PM (EST)
I got a real bargain on my demo (smaller)Alchemy so I wasn't shy about modifying it to make it fit better. I took out the stiffening hardware and moved the seat back in it. My buddy at about 6'4" and 190 lb paddled it very comfortably.
Posted by: falcon on Nov-28-12 8:19 AM (EST)
You should also consider the New Eddyline Raven. Just released this fall. Getting rave reviews.
Just ordered a zephyr 160|
Posted by: bartc on Nov-28-12 8:55 AM (EST)
Similar reasoning. I got the 160 as I'm also on that same border, but felt the little extra room would help me with comfort getting into the boat in particular, since I had hip surgery recently. The cockpit size is the same, but the deck height is slightly higher and the extra volume keeps it a bit higher still in the water.
Love my Father-of-Zephyr|
Posted by: aamapes on Nov-29-12 8:30 AM (EST)
I have an old Dagger Meridian SK, which spawned the Zephyrs. It's 16', flat-bottomed and rockered. It's also quite fast and very quick-turning.
North Shore Aspect RM|
Posted by: hodtay on Nov-28-12 12:09 AM (EST)
Check the reviews on for this boat.
Posted by: emanoh on Nov-29-12 7:24 PM (EST)
Kansas and rock gardens??? What about this doesn't sound right?
I travel year round for work|
Posted by: trvlrerik on Nov-30-12 11:54 PM (EST)
and only get home 1 weekend a month. Seasonal construction, so I see a lot of different water.
Zephyr fan here.....|
Posted by: chodups on Nov-29-12 9:20 PM (EST)
I agree |
Posted by: rpg51 on Nov-29-12 11:26 PM (EST)
even the 15 Z will fit a big paddler. I am 5'10 240 and I fit in the 15 just fine - but the boat volume is not sufficient so I bought the 16.0 and it is extremely comfortable.
Nice Blog Jon!|
Posted by: FrankNC on Nov-30-12 9:42 AM (EST)
Enjoyed reading it.
OK, need some advice|
Posted by: bartc on Dec-20-12 12:08 AM (EST)
After one false start (used Zephyr arrived damaged), I ended up locating a new Zephyr 160 at a good price. But before taking posession of a new kayak I had never paddled, I was able to get a demo to try out. Good idea, because the demo didn't make me very happy!
Depends on what you're used to...|
Posted by: t.george on Dec-20-12 12:52 AM (EST)
...a Z160,(big on me @ 155#'s), was my first kayak and it took me a bit before I could not feel tippy in it, couldn't even sit in it without tipping over at first. It was good to me though, I learned to roll, edge, brace, surf ect. with it. The initial stability can feel tender especially if you're used to boats with high I.S., though the secondary was very predictable for me from the get. The Z spoiled me for a feel that is a bit loose with a quickly firming secondary,(kind of the WS feel). My fleet now contains a tempest 165pro, zephyr 155 & alchemy 14S,(incidently the z160 now resides with a friend that thought it was really tippy when he first paddled it, but with a bit more skill & learning to edge it's a favorite of his now). Without doubt and with less effort, the tempest is faster & the alchemy is quicker. In spite of this I regularly tour, surf & rock garden in the Z. It responds well and is very agile when put on side, not quick at all for flat spins though. You might want to look for a Z155 if you're under 200#s, or if the alchemy did what you want it's a good boat as well. Might give the Delphin 155 a look or maybe a North Shore Aspect if you liked the alchemy but need more room.
10 ft vs. 16 ft - HUGE difference|
Posted by: Kocho on Dec-20-12 8:41 AM (EST)
If you are used to paddling a 10 footer, when you sit in a 16 footer that long boat will feel unresponsive and hard to turn and heavy. And it is! But, it is not meant to turn on a dime like the short boats, even the "well-tracking" recreational 10 footers are MUCH more maneuverable than the most maneuverable of 16 footers.
New P&H Hammer|
Posted by: PHILIPJEDLICKA on Dec-20-12 9:25 AM (EST)
P&h is coming out with a new model called the Hammer. It looks awesome!
Being on edge|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-20-12 9:40 AM (EST)
Posted by: bartc on Dec-20-12 10:58 AM (EST)
Without being defensive, I'm not totally inexperienced with larger, narrower boats.
Sense of head room|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-20-12 3:04 PM (EST)
Some boat and paddler combinations are so "on" that the paddler immediately gets a sense of the head room the boat provides in terms of staying upright and can relax, some are less so. The Alchemy is like the NDSK Romany in that regard, just about anyone can get into it and feel comfortable and relaxed. I don't know the Delsyk boats, in the Eddylines that can be pretty model-specific.
Try lifting one knee|
Posted by: FrankNC on Dec-20-12 3:56 PM (EST)
Posted by: bartc on Dec-20-12 4:58 PM (EST)
But then, how do you do it when you're paddling actively? Sounds like a neat trick when standing still, though.
See this ...|
Posted by: Kocho on Dec-20-12 9:14 PM (EST)
You are clearly|
Posted by: bartc on Dec-20-12 10:14 PM (EST)
Handling ocean swells and rapids very well! Beyond my current skills.
Posted by: bartc on Dec-21-12 10:37 AM (EST)
Celia, I appreciate what you're saying.
did you try just relaxing?|
Posted by: edzep on Dec-21-12 12:13 PM (EST)
>> It was nerve wracking to me and it felt as though I was having to expend too much energy dealing with that, rather than simply going forward.
Posted by: bartc on Dec-21-12 12:31 PM (EST)
Posted by: Celia on Dec-21-12 4:30 PM (EST)
Smaller persons boat, 15'8" long, older design. Very short for a full sea kayak in its era. Not a terribly popular boat, never was. But it is a spritely little thing.
Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-21-12 8:56 PM (EST)
I have to say I am surprised by the feeling of insecurity you describe in the Zephyr. My experience is almost the exact opposite. I find the Zephyr to be very stable and relaxing to paddle. I'm not sure I completely understand why you have that feeling. The question I think is whether that is a feeling that will go away for you with time in the seat. I think it will, but I suppose one never knows. Just out of curiosity, what kind of paddling have you done in your life and what are your paddling goals looking ahead the next 4-5 years?
This is for bartc, yes?|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-21-12 9:28 PM (EST)
I think you came in one indent more than you intended.
Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-21-12 10:03 PM (EST)
Yes. I can't ever seem to get the right indent. Computer challenged.
Posted by: bartc on Dec-22-12 12:42 AM (EST)
The assumption I started with was yours: "...whether that is a feeling that will go away ...with time...." But it didn't feel that way at all. I'm sort of in line with the Kayak Academy's recommendations regarding intermediate paddlers choosing a sea kayak, when it comes to that. If you can't feel comfortable on flat water sitting still without holding the paddle, it might not keep you in the seat to want to paddle enough to learn.
Really different boats|
Posted by: trvlrerik on Dec-22-12 12:48 PM (EST)
When I take out a rounded bottom or soft chined boat versus a hard chined boat I have a few minutes of getting used to changing how aggressivly I can edge to boat. Once you get used to a hard chined boat you may like the way it "locks in" while leaned over. I find it comforting to have the secondary stability with a hard chined boat. I have rolled over many more times in soft chined boats (not meaning to) by not having the more defined limit of secondary stability.
similar zephyr disappointment|
Posted by: mandylee3 on Dec-22-12 1:57 PM (EST)
When I was looking for new boat this fall I was looking seriously at a zephyr 155 after hearing everyone on here rant and rave about them. I was looking for a sportier touring boat that I could expand my skill set in after deciding that the inukshuk that I had was kinda like driving grandma's mini-van, especially for someone my size (5'8",115lbs). I scoured this site looking for suggestions and advice on which boats I should be looking at in order to compile a sort list, and it looked like the zephyr was going to be the clear choice, until I test paddled it. Don't get me wrong, it does have some great features - like that seat that adjusts every way you could possibly think of. I didn't have a problem with stability at all but I found it very slow and sluggish. I tried quite a few boats that day, some were eliminated as soon as I sat in them (necky eliza), and the short list was quickly reduced to two boats after paddling, the valley avocet rm, and the boreal design baffin p100. Both were quick, playful skeg boats that turned nicely and tracked well even in a cross wind. It was a tough decision between the final two, but I went with the baffin, I liked the seat better in the baffin and it edged really nicely. I would have been very disappointed if I had just gone with what everyone on here was saying and ordered a zephyr from the local outfitters.
Posted by: chodups on Dec-22-12 3:13 PM (EST)
.....115 pounds is light for any Zephyr. I feel like the Z's work well for Medium to Large paddlers (15.5) or Large - Xtra Large paddlers (16.0). At 190 pounds I used the 15.5 and the 16.0 felt too big.
Too small for the Zephyr at 115 pounds|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-22-12 5:00 PM (EST)
I think if you have a Zephyr|
Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-22-12 4:05 PM (EST)
that fits you reasonably well feelings of instability go away quickly. In the grand scheme of things in my opinion it is on the stable side of the spectrum. It does take conscious effort to keep it tracking in flat water but with skills that issues is much reduced and just a touch of skeg makes it track like a non-rockered boat. As far as speed, it is important to keep in mind that a boat with a lot of rocker is really much shorter than other boats and so you will lose some speed. There is a compromise being made - maneuverability is gained but tracking (and a touch of speed) is lost. So its all a matter of what you want. My choice may not be yours. But I do think that the Zephyr has high primary and secondary stability and so I think you will get adjusted with time in the seat. Have you paddled other boats to compare? What boats?
Ever go into a bicycle shop?|
Posted by: Jaybabina on Dec-22-12 9:24 AM (EST)
And try an expensive bike. They all have two wheels and many the same gears, yet one or two just feel great. Of course they are always more expensive.
Posted by: ppine on Dec-22-12 5:34 PM (EST)
I like big boats that can maeuver. That means rocker is good. I like the old Eddyline Raven.
OK, tried more boats on the water|
Posted by: bartc on Dec-24-12 4:35 PM (EST)
Great to paddle on a gorgeous X-mas Eve Day!
The T 165|
Posted by: Kudzu on Dec-25-12 4:49 AM (EST)
Lots and lots of folks move the seat back in the 165 to make getting in and out easier. It might solve your leg/foot comfort issue. Also, an old compressed foam block tucked under your calves or ankles feels great.
At 190/5'11" it still might be tight..|
Posted by: Kocho on Dec-25-12 8:46 AM (EST)
At 185lb at 6'4" with a 36" inseam and large feet, with the seat back on the T165, I actually felt quite comfortable barefoot over a couple of hours active paddling. The T170 is doubtless more comfortable for me, but as mentioned, tracks harder and is more boat to deal with. But my legs are skinny and the main issue with the T165 is the low deck (and it is its a major advantage too). A shorter heavier-set person might have bigger tights and feel less comfy...
Yes, i understand|
Posted by: bartc on Dec-25-12 11:31 AM (EST)
I'm 5'11" (down from 6'1", sadly), 190 lb. and size 12 shoe. Also recovering from hip surgery, so not as flexible as I used to be! It was the shoe situation that got to me in the 165. My feet were crammed together uncomfortably and that put my legs also in a bad position. Wasn't fat thighs, I can assure you, nor a fat ass, as I've never had either to brag about.
Boat fit for people new to sea kayaks|
Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-25-12 4:05 PM (EST)
I think it is worth saying that my experience with this is that when I started kayaking about 2 years ago all the boats of the same ilk you are considering felt terrible small and uncomfortable and the lack of a high seat back really bothered my back (i too have back problems and poor abdominal fitness). But, two years later, and I am 100% comfortable in my Zephyr. If anything it feels loose. Also, I am completely adjusted to the back band and I can paddle for hours on end in complete comfort. As I gain experience I find that I paddle with almost no pressure from the back band at all. I sit erect and I can do it comfortably. I think my experience is common. What feels tight and uncomfortable now as far as fit will feel loose in a year or two. The feeling that you need a high back seat will disappear and you will feel that a high back is limiting your paddling progress. Just a thought. I wonder if others have had the same experience that I did.
Posted by: Kudzu on Dec-25-12 4:55 PM (EST)
I think I paddled and piddled in my Tempest for a year or more with the back band strap broken. I wasn't leaning back against it so there was no hurry to fix it.
Yup, I third that|
Posted by: Kocho on Dec-27-12 5:08 PM (EST)
I like having a backband for various reasons (keeps me in the seat when upside-down and in lumpy conditions, plus I do like having some support to lean my back against to stretch). But I don't use it while I'm paddling. I too don't touch it much if at all while paddling. I suppose, I like very little support under my thighs, which allows me to have a more straight-up position. With lots of support under my legs, I tend to slouch, thus relying more on back support. But fit is individual and depends on conditions (and conditioning, initially it is tough without it and it does take quite a seat time to get comfy with little or no support). I suppose a nice supportive back system is nice to have on long days ...
Alchemy vs. Zephyr|
Posted by: bartc on Dec-27-12 8:02 PM (EST)
Any experience with both that you can share? Why would you pick one over the other?
Think different sports cars.|
Posted by: trvlrerik on Dec-27-12 11:01 PM (EST)
Let me start by saying I am not an expert surf/ocean guy in any way. I paddled the Zephyr 155 and Alchemy S back to back and this is my take on them. The Z is straight line faster, better in rough or active water than the Alchemy. The Alchemy seems more forgiving when edged over and you catch a boil or wave when on edge, and turns a little faster in moving water. The Z wants to go over steep water, the Alchemy will plow in a little.
Posted by: t.george on Dec-28-12 12:05 AM (EST)
a couple other thoughts. The Z backsurfs pretty good, the Alchemy not so much. In surf the Alchemy is forgiving, the Z will punish lazy reactions. If quickness in turning really matters the Alchemy is better.
What t george Said|
Posted by: Kudzu on Dec-28-12 5:39 AM (EST)
I chose the Alchemy over the Zephyr for that quick turn.
Bart C - a different direction? |
Posted by: CapeFear on Dec-28-12 10:08 AM (EST)
Click photo to enlarge or click here to change viewing preference.
1 more time...|
Posted by: t.george on Dec-28-12 1:01 PM (EST)
Cape fear has some good insights listed from the original post. In my first reply I suggested taking a look at the North Shore "Aspect". I have not paddled one myself, however, I did paddle along with a newb in on & he had no trouble trying new things in it. Dan Arbuckle (from THR's) is paddling one now when not in his Sterling Reflection or a fishing kayak,(this says something to me). The Aspect has about the same rocker as the Z, about the same beam as the Alchemy with more cockpit room than either. I predict this boat to become popular as an option in this catagory. Worth a look.
why do I find photos so tricky? |
Posted by: CapeFear on Dec-28-12 11:48 AM (EST)
Click photo to enlarge or click here to change viewing preference.