Everglades Exploration Network

Dear paddlers,

I want to do a paddle from Everglades City to Flamingo sometime this coming winter, and I currently don’t have a kayak large enough for such a trip. Right now I am using a recreational 13’ kayak and it works great for day paddles or just camping out a night or so, but it won’t be able to hold myself, my gear, food, and the ton of WATER required for a longer trip.

Therefore, I am researching touring kayaks so I can add one to my collection and I want to make sure it will be a good fit for week long paddles through the Everglades.

I am 6’3’’, 30 years old and weigh 205 pounds.  I guess I would be considered a large guy, but not fat… so I’m going to need a boat better suited for tall/broad guys.

Kayak Fari, what kayak do you use? I see a yellow one in a lot of your photos, but can’t tell what it is and I couldn’t find the info on your website.

Anyone else who has done a solo thru trip in a sea kayak have suggestions or care to share what kayak they used or wished they had used?

Right now I am leaning towards an Epic 18x http://www.epickayaks.com/product/product/epic-18x

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That Epic looks pretty, and fast, but I don't see a lot of access.

You need space to put stuff in and the ability to get it in and out of the boat. I used to use a Seda Glider, which is what Flex paddles on many of those trips you see.

But Flex's Glider is a magic Glider.

See, my Glider and any stock ones, came with a 9" hatch in the bow. That means that your pots and pans and coolers and dry bags all have to be under 9" in diameter. Did it for a long time & it can be done, but you need to plan. Flex took a saw to his & put a big ole hole in the bow to move things in and out of! 

Easy access is key, especially on the chickees, where you're at one level & your boat is at another.

The two big advantage that canoes have over kayaks on the waterway, is capacity and access. Think of them as station wagons, you can haul it all and get to it.That's why Keith & Terry as well as many others on these boards are canoers, not kayakers. On the downside, you have exposed decks and a higher profile, once again, station wagon, not sports car.

I like to think that I have the best of both worlds. I paddle a mad river monarch. That's the second generation of Verlen Kruger's vision, newer than the loon, older than the sea wind. Looks like a 17' kayak with a 10' hatch. plenty of room for everything and easy access, with a lower profile & protection from the waves. Most people call it a kayak, but Verlen called it a canoe, so I do to. Also, paddle it with a single blade paddle, which is addictive once you get used to it!

Did my trip a few years back in a Current Designs 'Extreme" (now known as the "Nomad", same hull). The 'Solstice' model is also big and roomy for tall/heavier paddlers. I now own a Shearwater solo canoe and LOVE it!! There are a lot of boats of all shapes in sizes between canoes and kayaks...best thing to do is read a lot then go see if you can demo some. Estero River Outfitters is a great place with lots of new and used inventory and they are on the Estero River so you can demo boats right off their dock. Family owned and operated, super friendly and helpful people. Good Luck!

Thanks Yakmaster, 

I was actually reading through KayakFari's site and found the articles where he details how he added a larger hatch and then cut a hole through the bulkhead for access. Really great idea. I then pulled up the new versions of the Seda Glider, and it looks as though they have actually elongated and oval-ized the front hatch to about the same dimensions as the custom one KayakFari did on his. Adding the circular hatch in the bulkhead for access from the cockpit was a genius idea, and doesn't look very hard to do at all-- would actually be a great introductory learning project for me with regards to working with fiberglass. 

I also notice that the carrying capacity of this Seda Glider (450lbs) is 75 pounds heavier than the Epic 18x I was looking at... that's equivalent to 9 gallons of water, which is HUGE. 

Tyler, I looked up the Sherwater canoe and it looks pretty legit, but do actually sit in it the way the guy is pictured on their website (on his knees)? That looks crazy uncomfortable-- but a weight of 41lbs is a great bonus. Your canoe is lighter than the Seda Glider by a solid 10 pounds. 

Just wanted to say thank you again! This forum/network has been invaluable in helping me prepare. Such a great group of people. 


yakmaster said:

That Epic looks pretty, and fast, but I don't see a lot of access.

You need space to put stuff in and the ability to get it in and out of the boat. I used to use a Seda Glider, which is what Flex paddles on many of those trips you see.

But Flex's Glider is a magic Glider.

See, my Glider and any stock ones, came with a 9" hatch in the bow. That means that your pots and pans and coolers and dry bags all have to be under 9" in diameter. Did it for a long time & it can be done, but you need to plan. Flex took a saw to his & put a big ole hole in the bow to move things in and out of! 

Easy access is key, especially on the chickees, where you're at one level & your boat is at another.

The two big advantage that canoes have over kayaks on the waterway, is capacity and access. Think of them as station wagons, you can haul it all and get to it.That's why Keith & Terry as well as many others on these boards are canoers, not kayakers. On the downside, you have exposed decks and a higher profile, once again, station wagon, not sports car.

I like to think that I have the best of both worlds. I paddle a mad river monarch. That's the second generation of Verlen Kruger's vision, newer than the loon, older than the sea wind. Looks like a 17' kayak with a 10' hatch. plenty of room for everything and easy access, with a lower profile & protection from the waves. Most people call it a kayak, but Verlen called it a canoe, so I do to. Also, paddle it with a single blade paddle, which is addictive once you get used to it!

There's sittin people & kneelin people, didn't you watch the Olympics?

Tell you the truth, I don't get the kneeling either!

You can get the single canoe with a seat.

The Swift Shearwater Solo Canoe

lol .. there's also standing and half standing people!  ;)

Hi Jason, yakMstr summed it up well. For camping and tripping it's all about easy of access!

Canoes are great, kayaks are great, it really depends on how and where you plan to paddle.

For the interior, canoes are the way to go if you have a nice one (or even not such a nice one - just ask Terry  .lol)

For open water paddling where you'll encounter waves and wind, sea kayaks are at home.

Both will require mastering new paddling skills, but a sit in sea kayak will have a steeper learning curve.

This is because you will want to size the boat to yourself and will in effect be "wearing" it! What that means is that you will need to learn bracing, specifically high bracing and combining that with a forward stroke. You will need to get comfortable putting the kayak on it's edge to direct the boat where you want it to go. Also, don't forget about re-entries. After you capsize (not if), you need to be able to either roll back up, do a wet re-entry (lol) or right boat and re-mount from the surface (similar to a sit on top, but you face down and towards the stern & pivot to drop back into the seat). All this will take a few months of practice likely. You'll need to get a spray skirt and a paddle float & pump too.

So you can see there's more to picking a sea kayak than just size and capacity. It def demands more skill but will pay back for years to come. My Glider is a great boat, but at 20ft not for everyone. You'd prob fit it well though. The cutout in the front bulkhead was years before I opened up the deck, I don't need it anymore except maybe to stow paddles inside the boat. I'm 6'2" and the cockpit is large enough that I can easily pull my legs in from the seated position.

The CD boats are similar, the Nomad is a really nice boat. I wouldn't get anything more than 24" wide or shorter than 18 feet in your case. My Glider is 21" wide, even if the published stats are different. This brings up another point - weight. There's no standard in the industry, so some makers weigh only the empty hull, some list the entire boat with hatch covers & rudder. You won't know for sure until you pick it up. My Glider was listed at 55lbs, but once you add the rudder it's more like 65lbs. You really don't want any boat that's more than 70, it's just a real pain!

Your best bet is to visit a kayak dealer(s) and check out and try out some of their boats. Test paddle if you can! Other option is to go out with one of the meetup groups and maybe get to try out somebody's boat(s)? I've seen a couple or three Seda Gliders around the FLL/MIA area over the years, so they're out there! Nice canoes are even more difficult to find down here because the market demand is so small, nobody carries them. You may have to go up north.

Camping gear you'll want decent kit kinda like backpacking gear, but you don't need super fancy. Your sleeping bag needs to compress way down so it's about the same size as your thermarest pad. Your tent should be quick to setup and maybe attach some line to the corners so you can tie it off to the chickee.

Final thought on capacity for carrying water since you mentioned it. In the summer you pretty much need 2x gallons a day, but come February, you may only need 1/2 gallon. I did a 9 day trip and took 6 gallons, had one left at the end!

YMMV

The kneeling is so you can edge the boat, like the guy in the photo. You don't always kneel, it's for when you need the most control to direct the boat!

yakmaster said:

There's sittin people & kneelin people, didn't you watch the Olympics?

Tell you the truth, I don't get the kneeling either!

You can get the single canoe with a seat.

The Swift Shearwater Solo Canoe

I took your advice and I called a shop in Sarasota and one in Fort Myers to set up two private lessons (one at each outfitter) using sea kayaks in the 18'-ish range. This way I can test multiple kayaks, two outfitters, two instructors, two showrooms, get some "classical" instruction, etc.

The CD Nomad is another one that I had looked at as well. I believe the place I called in Sarasota said they would give me a lesson in a CD sea kayak-- it wasn't the Nomad, but it's one of the larger ones. 

Hah, I'm a kneeler for sure...bought a big cozy 'T' pad for my knees/feet and after adjusting the seat height I can kneel all day on that sucker!! Good call on lining up a couple of private lessons Jason you'll be glad you did!! I made the switch from sea kayak to solo canoe this year due mostly because I like to fish while on the water (fly fish especially) so being able to stand was paramount to me (only thing I didn't like about sea kayak). As flex mentioned the sea kayak is definitely a useful tool in the glades or any coastal environment and once you get comfortable with it, it will be an extension of yourself and its a really neat way to explore our area of the world. Best of luck!!

Last season when we went down Taylor Slough we had close to 20 boats - all different, all different paddles

and all different kinds of paddlers.   Looking at the group and how well everyone did, I don't think you could

single out a one best of anything.  Everyone liked whatever they had and we all had one heck of a 14 hour adventure.

I'll bet if we organized a multiple night long trip with the same pack of folks they'd all show up in all kinds of

boats, pile stuff in anyway they can and have another hell-of-a good time.

On a 6-8 hour paddle day...some sittin - some kneeling - some sittin - some kneeling....rinse, repeat.  If you have the right kneeling pad (this pad is great) and the seat angled properly and at the proper height, both methods are comfortable for some time, but not all the time.  If you get what I mean.

I have Kayaks as well.  Anything you load in a kayak or canoe that is below the water line (including your butt) tends to make the craft more stable. Above the water line - less stable - and significantly less stable as it moves further up.  Think loaded dry bags or water lashed on deck of a kayak.  More volume is more better.  I canoe most of the time now just because I like to bring comfort items.

Loaded for 10 day solo.  I am 6'3/205.  Couldn't fit enough water in my Kayak for a through trip, so I built this.  15.2 feet with a 375lb displacement.  Gets the job done.


yakmaster said:

There's sittin people & kneelin people, didn't you watch the Olympics?

Tell you the truth, I don't get the kneeling either!

You can get the single canoe with a seat.

The Swift Shearwater Solo Canoe

14 hour fun trip!!! 

Terry said:

Last season when we went down Taylor Slough we had close to 20 boats - all different, all different paddles

and all different kinds of paddlers.   Looking at the group and how well everyone did, I don't think you could

single out a one best of anything.  Everyone liked whatever they had and we all had one heck of a 14 hour adventure.

I'll bet if we organized a multiple night long trip with the same pack of folks they'd all show up in all kinds of

boats, pile stuff in anyway they can and have another hell-of-a good time.

That is awesome Jay. Great looking canoe. I look forward to adding one to my fleet in the future for sure. Seems like kayak to canoe is a pretty popular conversion on this thread, so that speaks for itself. I want to start with the expedition sea kayak first just because it's my hobby and that's what I want to do :P

Everyone has given me some great advice, and yes, I want to get one with adequate storage for a long trip...

200lbs -Me
75lbs- Enough water to go from Flamingo to EC
125lbs- gear/food

So ideally I need a capacity greater than 400lbs, which I have no problem finding on a variety of quality 17-20 foot sea kayaks. 


For the next couple weeks I'm going to be taking private lessons and spending time in loaner sea kayaks before I make a final decision. 

If I feel very confident in knowing what I want, then I will go out and buy exactly what I want. 

If I feel like I need more time to decide, I will buy an economic 16' Current Design Squall (https://www.cdkayak.com/Kayaks.aspx?id=37) MSRP $1599... and even cheaper if i can find a used one in south FL.

Then I can just play around with this and get a better idea for what is most important to me and the way I kayak, and how my body is built, and what my goals are.

Also, the Squall isn't a bad extra boat to have around after I spend the big bucks on something. I would let a friend or family member use and play with my Squall, but not a decked out CD Nomad that cost 3 times as much. 

Thanks again everyone. I should have my first private lesson next week and I will let you know what kayak(s) the instructor put me in! 

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