MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

April 9, 2009

Kayak No-Win Scenario: Speed vs. Stability

I love my kayak!

I love fishing from my kayak!

I love how it handles both rough and calm waters!

I've never tipped over in my kayak!

(Ok, I did tip once at Montauk but that was coming back in and a breaker hit me from behind. Any yak would have tipped.)

I have a 14 foot Heritage Marquessa (basically the same as the Heritage Redfish).

But truth be known, if I had it all to do again I would have most likely gotten a different model yak. This is based on share experience over he last 3 years of using and fishing from it. No advice or review or demo/test ride would have helped. I just had to take a chance, buy one, and see how it worked.

Why do I feel differently about my yak?

To answer that let me list what I see as the Pros and Cons of this model:


It's very stable. Supposedly I can stand in it without needing pontoons. I've tried but felt too unsteady. Anyway, I didn't buy it to stand in it.
The cockpit is deep and roomy.
Good back well storage.
Thick hull.
Handles the scrapes and dings of use well.
Very reasonably priced.
Easy to add most accessories (like my fish finder – yes, I have a fish finder on my kayak!)


It's heavy! People who help me lift it can't believe how heavy it is. The box specs say 60 pounds But I don't think that's right. Can't be.

It's slow. My normal "cruising speed" according to my GPS is 2.9 knots. If I pump hard at paddling I can get to 3.7 or so but that's about it.The front storage well is very small and the hatch cover too small to put much through it.

And there in lies the paradox scenario I have come to learn: The factors that help make a kayak stable are the direct opposite of the factors that help make a kayak fast on the water.

To be sure, all kayaks have an element of stability. But certain factors in the design contribute a lot to help (or hinder) that stability.

For example:
- A wide kayak is more stable than a narrow yak. The side-to-side roll is much less.
- A heavy kayak is more stable than a narrow yak. The weight means more effort needed to make it roll.
- A deep cockpit kayak with high gunnels is more stable than a low gunnels/shallow kayak. More of the yak is in the water adding to the stability.

But these stabilizing factors are exactly the kinds of the things that slow down a kayak in the water.
- A wide kayak means more resistance as it moves through the water.
- A heavy kayak means it takes more energy to get it going and keep it moving.
- A deep kayak also adds to water resistance.

So what's the answer?

I don't know.

Speed is definitely important. Not that you're often in a rush to get somewhere in your yak. But speed means you can get out to the fishing area more quickly or get back to the launch site quickly too incase of bad weather, an emergency etc. And speed means you can cover more area and/or travel further for the same given amount of time. You also to exert yourself as much for the same distance traveled.

But stability is not to be short changed either. I feel very confident in my yak. I've taken boat wakes across the side and bow and never felt I was going to tip. I've launched in very rough conditions where water filled the cockpit continuously (until I got under way and it could do some self-bailing) and never felt uncomfortable. (Common sense is always to be exercised too!)
So, like most things in fishing, it comes down to personal preference.

Speed vs. Stability.

Choose your goal.

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