And it's not a matter of how much a certain hull shape can "take".
The key issue is how good are your paddling skills in the hull you're paddling in the wind and wave conditions you're in.
No matter what kind of hull you are in, if you tip over and can't self-rescue, you are irrevocably in the drink. If the water is freezing cold and you are not properly dressed, you die. If you are too far from shore to swim to safety, you die.
Canoes have much larger cockpits and hold much more water than rec kayaks. Yet there are canoeists who paddle whitewater rivers, on big lakes, and on the ocean.
It's a matter of your paddling skill and preparation in the wind, wave, temperature and other climate conditions at hand and expected during your journey -- all guided by good judgment.
Let's get more specific. Most canoeists, even ones with good paddling skills, cannot self-rescue in a solo canoe. Thus they are in the same figurative boat as most rec kayakers. If any of these boaters tip over, they are in the irrevocable drink.
So here's what you do:
-- Never go out in wind or wave conditions that are, or are expected to be, more than your skill level can handle.
-- Never go further from shore than your ability to swim back. This distance will vary with your age, your physical condition, and the temperature.
-- Always dress for water immersion.
-- Carry a ditch kit with rescue and signalling devices.
-- Paddle with someone else if possible.
-- Wear a PFD.
-- Have your hull equipped with safety gear such as lines.
Most of all, use good judgment as to when, where and how far from shore to paddle.
Of course, the problem is that one can't get good paddling judgment from a book, a video, a chat site or social media. Good paddling judgment only comes as the result of a cumulative series of bad paddling judgments, either personally experienced or directly observed.
In the meantime, get whatever affordable hull pleases you, and use conservative common sense.
The Kayak Wing
Touring Kayak Paddles
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