By Emily Peyton

Buying the right kayak can mean the difference between discovering a passion and throwing away money on a miserable experience. Steer clear of these 5 common mistakes and discover why so many people are passionate about kayaking!

1. Assuming beginners and recreational kayakers don’t need an expensive kayak. Actually, this is the wrong way around. An experienced kayaker has a much better chance of being able to get a cheap kayak to go straight and not in circles. If you are just interested in occasional recreational kayaking, you need an easy-to-paddle kayak, and cheap kayaks are never easy to paddle – they are like trying to steer a bath tub. People often say to me – I’ll start with something cheaper and if I like kayaking, I’ll get a better one, but if you get a cheap kayak, YOU WILL NOT LIKE KAYAKING!

2. Buying a short kayak because its easier to carry and transport. Long kayaks go faster and straighter – and if you don’t think this matters, try paddling a pool toy across a lake and you will see what I mean. Short kayaks are great for white water because they turn easier. But if you are not into white water, DON’T GET ONE. If you want a lightweight kayak that fits in your car, check out the huge range of quality inflatable kayaks that are now available – you’ll be much happier than you would be with a short hard shell.

3. Buying a no-name brand. Design is the most important factor in determining the performance. A well designed kayak will glide through the water, be comfortable to sit in, be stable and be durable. If you go with a no-name brand, it is unlikely that the company will have invested heavily in the design, and you may find that it has no momentum, goes in circles or continually veers to one side, digs uncomfortably into your back or your bum, and then breaks.

4. Buying a tandem kayak. If you are soon to participate in the Olympics tandem kayak race, then this purchase might be justified. But if you are a recreational kayaker and you think you might get a tandem so that you can go out with your partner, think again. A bit of independence and distance is healthy in all relationships! Tandems are a cause of tension between kayakers – the person in the back gets splashed, the person in the front isn’t setting a steady rhythm, either person isn’t paddling enough, etc – and when you want to have a break from all this, you are stuck with a kayak that you can’t take out by yourself. If you are hooked on the romance of the tandem, compromise with a convertible kayak that can be paddled solo or tandem.

5. Reading kayak reviews without considering 1-4 above. When you are reading a review, think about whether the person might have made any of the mistakes I have listed. They may be complaining that an inflatable kayak got a puncture on the second use, for example, but did they buy a cheap unknown brand? Similarly, if they are complaining that the kayak is hard to steer straight, is it too short? And if they are complaining about their paddling partner, forgive them – tandem kayaks bring out the worst in people!

Emily Peyton has five years experience selling kayaks in Australia as the owner of

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Read More: What You Need to Know to Buy a Kayak

“The most important things are length, width and weight,” Kitt says. “You have to get the right boat for the right job. The main difference is distance. You have to determine how far you want to paddle. A longer boat goes farther with less effort”.

Day 74 – 1.5 Hour

First coat of varnish is applied. 2-3 more coats to go. The smell is terrible in the house. We are moving the project to the garage to complete the project. Weather is finally becoming warm enough to finish everything there, plus I have better light.

First coat of varnish is applied. 2-3 more coats to go.

Day 75-77 – 4 Hour

3 ½ coats of varnish later and I pulled off the painters tape. I will have to repaint parts of the hull. In the better light I can finally see where it didn’t cover well and I have some varnish runs. I have installed the seat back and drain plugs. Next I will be applying the contact cement for the seat after the varnish cures completely. I must say I am pretty happy.

3 ½ coats of varnish later and I pulled off the painters tape.

Day 78 – 1 Hour

Short day today. Installed the seat. I used a “dry erase” marker to outline the seat placement and estimated the interior space necessary to apply the contact cement. After allowing it to dry, I positioned wax paper over the surfaces. This allowed me to place the seat in position without immediate contact being made. I then pulled the wax paper out and applied some bricks and spacer to hold it in position.

I positioned wax paper over the surfaces.

Day 79-80 – 1 Hour

I touched up the hull with a little more paint in the areas where it did not cover well. DONE! Moved it outside for some photos and realized I hadn’t installed the foot braces. It will be in the water this week.

DONE! Moved it outside for some photos

DONE! Moved it outside for some photos

Day 81 – IN THE WATER!

Today we led the boat to water and it did swim. Most rewarding part was the smile on my lady’s face. It is exactly what we were looking for in another boat. Now our biggest problem will be to find some place to store it among the other boats the two of us have. We are now up to eight. I am certain it will get much usage.

This has been a great project. The major problem with the build was shown in Report 7. Trying to fill the fillets between the planks in one step was the killer. If I had done this in two steps I estimate it would have reduced 20-30 hours from the build and given me a much smoother surface to finish. Well, that is why I documented the build. Don’t repeat my errors, learn from them.