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  Not sure there's any real disagreement
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-07-13 2:36 AM (EST)

If a rec kayak paddler has insufficient skills to stay upright in wind-wave-current-rapids condition X, and if that rec kayak paddler has no roll or any other ability to self-rescue, he's not going to be better off in condition X if he's in a touring kayak or a whitewater kayak. He's in the drink regardless of hull because condition X is beyond his skill and self-rescue ability.

I'm assuming a solo paddler, alone, for the sake of argument.

It doesn't matter that a canoe can be shaken out by him easier than a rec kayak because, by my assumption, he's not able to get back in either one of them even if he can empty it. (I, for example, haven't been able to get back into my solo canoes for 20 years now.)

So, therefore, this paddler should stay in calm, protected waters and fairly close to shore no matter whether he is in a canoe, rec kayak or touring kayak. He shouldn't think he can take bigger risks in a touring kayak -- which can "take" more than a rec kayak -- because, by assumption, he doesn't have the skill stay upright or self-rescue in any hull in condition X.

Conversely, if the paddler increases his skill and develops a reliable self-rescue method in condition X, he can then confidently paddle in condition X. Now if he's in a touring (or whitewater) kayak with a Conan roll he can go into even worse conditions.

In fact, if he becomes an advanced kayaker, he can probably customize a cockpit skirt and flotation for a rec kayak, and go paddle and roll in the almost the same conditions as in his touring kayak. It wouldn't be a preferred or efficient hull for those conditions, but he could be safe and confident. By that time, if he's taken by the sport, he's already out of a rec kayak and into something sportier.

Some people encourage newbies to start directly with touring kayaks, proper instruction, etc., and I don't have a problem with that viewpoint. However, I think starting in a rec kayak is just fine and makes a lot of sense for most newbies, as long as they realize that they should limit the conditions in which they paddle until their skills and equipment improve.

In other words, I don't like to dissuade newbies from rec kayaks. Just get a boat and start paddling. If you don't take to the sport, you won't have spent a lot of money. If you get addicted, you'll get a touring kayak or 12.

And, of course, if you want the ultimate in paddling elegance and sophistication, you will become a kneeling canoeist. My one day a month as a kayaker is now expired.

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