Kayak Escort Beginner

IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
edited July 2012 in Beginner Questions
Hey guys. My wife is planning on escorting me on future marathon swims, so we need a kayak. We went into the local REI and wow! So many choices!

Cockpit kayak? Flat, sit-on-top kayak? What is the best?

The spousal unit is 5'1", about 110 pounds. Very strong, especially in the arms. She's never kayaked before. What do you guys think?

We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams



  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    That's what I have and my fiance paddles for me. It's very wide, so it's pretty stable. It sits low enough to the water. FOund out on one hot swim that I can get in the boat, with her on it, and not drop it. It's self bailing, so while you might get a little wet, if a wave comes over the top of your boat, you won't have a REAL big problem. I'd reccomend it, but others probably have other ideas, too. I know that @aquarob has some ideas, as I've asked him this question before.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    I agree with @timsroot that the sit-on-top style is the best. It's much easier to access your feeds than the cockpit style. Very stable.

    Also (sorry to mention this), if you need to pee in the kayak, it will just wash out. Getting out of the kayak isn't always an option.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    As a side bar comment to the pee-ability of sit on top kayaks, I find they are much easier to remount in the event of a capsize without having to learn the eskimo and other safety maneuvers if trapped in the cockpit.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    edited July 2012
    I bought a 9 foot sit on top kayak so I could get it in and out of my CRV by myself. It's fun but SO slow (not surprisingly). I doubt it could keep up with any swimmer!
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    I bought a 9 food sit on top kayak so I could get it in and out of my CRV by myself. It's fun but SO slow (not surprisingly). I doubt it could keep up with any swimmer!

    My fiance, who had done a little canoeing, but no kayaking, and hadn't trained much for it, hasn't had any trouble in any of our training sessions or during the 25k she paddled for me (have I mentioned my fiance is fucking awesome?). If the current is giving me a push, I can put a gap on her if she stops paddling to get a drink. If I'm swimming into the wind, she gets a lot more breaks. In Pensacola, she was going between me and the big boat, which a few times was a pretty fair distance (I couldn't see the big boat. There wasn't a lot of boat traffic, so i didn't feel unsafe when she left my side), and she was able to track me down again pretty easily.

    Granted, I'm not as fast as some of the people around here, but I'm about a 20 minute miler in the pool, so I'm not THAT slow, either. Sit on tops are a lot slower than the other boats my training partners have (those guys do adventure races, long kayak races, stuff like that), but it worked pretty well for what we were doing, and I'd think that it would work fine for a lot of people.

  • TheoTheo Oxnard, CAMember
    I have a 9 foot sit on top kayak and it seems to work great for us. My wife has used it on our weekend swims and my nephew used it during the 6 mile Semana Nautica and had no trouble staying with me and going on up ahead to scout routes through the kelp.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Cool! Maybe I'm underestimating how fast I'm going on it. I've never actually calculated my speed. Just felt slow. I'm taking it up to Point to La Pointe in a couple of weeks so will test it
  • WalterWalter Southern CaliforniaMember
    edited July 2012
    @IronMike: Another vote here for sit on tops for swim support. I recommend Cobra and Ocean brands. I've had inexperienced paddlers help me using a 12'6'' Cobra Navigator and 11'6'' Ocean Scrambler. They were both great boats.

    @IronMike and @ChickenOSea: As for ability to keep up, I realize the length of the boats helped, but I can tell you the paddlers helping me were barely paddling at all. I would be very surprised if anyone fit enough to consider helping would have trouble keeping up on a kayak of any length. They're more likely to have trouble staying straight at the swimmer's pace (no offense intended! - I'm sure you/your swimmer are very fast, just probably not compared to a kayaker).

    I'm not very popular around here; but I've heard that I'm huge in Edinburgh!

  • TheoTheo Oxnard, CAMember
    I agree with Walter. On our Sunday swims volunteer kayakers of all skills are able to keep up generally we use the Ocean Kayak Scrambler. The one I have that my wife uses is the 9 ft Ocean Kayak Frenzy. The 9ft fits in my garage much better and on the car and has been great in the California ocean.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Oh cool, so there's hope for Big Red
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    You guys rock. Thanks. The sit-on-top is the one my wife has been leaning towards, so it's good to hear that is the one everyone likes. I am very slow compared to you guys, about a steady 3KPH swimmer in the water, at least that's my speed when no one is helping me aim straight. Sounds like my wife will have no trouble keeping up. And yes, @WaterGirl, that bennie you mention will be important to Fembot when I start doing even longer swims. ;)

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    IronMike, the pee issue was very important to me when I chose my kayak.
    Also, that's about the speed I swim, too. It's not slow, it's unpretentious.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    I have a 16 ft sea kayak. My wife and others have paddled for me and we've had pretty good success. I've also used it when I've trained others. I lash milk crates on the deck fore and aft of the cockpt for coolers and other gear. I can also stash stuff in the cockpit as well. It is easy to put a cup between your knees and fill it with drinks while still going in the right direction.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I told my wife the about the pee issue and she's sold.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

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