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Author Topic: Kayak or Canoe?  (Read 11312 times)
matt4626
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« on: March 21, 2008, 11:55:42 AM »
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Can anyone share their experience photographing for Kayaks and/or Canoes. Which offers the best combination of stability, flexabilty etc.?
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skibum187
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2008, 01:14:48 PM »
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There are advantages and disadvantages to both and it somewhat depends on what kind of water you'll be kayaking/canoeing on.  If you will only be on flatwater (lakes, slow water rivers), then a canoe or sit-on-top kayak is probably the way to go.  You'll have easier access to your gear and a lot more space. You should look for a boat that is wide, has little rocker and has a large keel. Look into Hobie kayaks. They're expensive, but the pedal drive systems work REALLY well and allow for nearly hands free operation at a surprisingly quick pace.

If you're going to be out in a fair bit of cold/wet weather, then a sit-in traditional style kayak will keep you warmer and drier, but can be much more constricting.

If you're looking to get into some whitewater rivers or into the ocean, then things get a little trickier. I'm assuming that you're probably going to mostly be on flatwater, so I won't go into a ton of details about whitewater/ocean kayaks, but if you are, post again and I'll post more input.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2008, 02:29:13 PM »
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Yes, the choice really needs to be made on the basis of the water environment you will be in.  I used a canoe in the Boundary Waters of Wisconsin because it is flat water and because it's the perfect mode of transportation for small lakes and rivers with moderate or no rapids.

I used a Sea Kayak in Lake Superior, going around the Apostle Islands, because this is a huge lake in which the waves are significant and where a water-tight craft is necessary.  

With the kayak I had to carry my gear in waterproof bags and work out of the bag, carrying it between my knees.   Plus, I had to shoot while balancing the kayak while on the water.  

Carrying gear isn't very practical on a Kayak.  A canoe makes things much easier since you can carry a lot more and you have easy access to the gear while on the water.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 02:30:42 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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matt4626
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2008, 02:37:32 PM »
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Thanks for the info. I'll most often be on one of the local lakes, so it seems a canoe is the way to go.
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John Camp
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2008, 07:37:00 PM »
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Lots of things to consider. If you're by yourself, then consider the smallest sea kayak that you can find. Many have waterproof storage hatches right under your hands, and the good thing about this is, after shooting, you almost *have* to put the camera away -- there's no place else to put it..

I personally prefer canoes, and have had several in my life (and I once solo-paddled the length of the Mississippi River, from the headwaters lake to the Gulf of Mexico.) The problem with canoes is that they're wonderful when you're canoeing, but you can get in trouble if you're deeply distracted by something like photography -- that's especially true when there are two people aboard. For example, if you come across a point and suddenly see a bunch of wading birds on the lake, and both you and your partner shift your weight at the same instant, to shoot the birds, you can find yourself rather quickly in the water. Furthermore, a canoe is big enough that you tend to put the camera in front of you, *on* its waterproof bag, rather than in it, for instant access. You can lose a camera that way, since most don't float that well.

An advantage of a canoe, that you can never do with a kayak, is that you *can* -- very carefully, and after some practice -- stand up in them in flat water. Just getting the camera up five feet can make a radical difference in perspective.

You can carry a lot more in a canoe, but if you're mostly going to be on local lakes, that's probably a non-issue. You can also carry a canoe into small lakes where there are no landings, but you can do that with a kayak, too. I mention it because there's a third alternative. If you go to a big boat place, you can find very small aluminum row boats, dinghies, which also can be portaged short distances, and carried on a car top. You can then either row them or use a small electric motor or even a sail, and they are more stable that a canoe, and carry as much. Like this:

http://www.ghboats.com/10_dinghy.shtm

Or this:

http://www.walkerbay.com/products/original_walkerbay8.php

I haven't had a great deal of luck finding compelling shots on the water, but YMMV. One time, however, a friend and I, in a canoe near the headwaters of the St. Croix River, floated into a herd of whitetail deer which were standing at the edge of the stream, drinking. They apparently didn't recognize us as human, as we sat motionless in the canoe, for we virtually floated into them before they broke away.


JC
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 07:41:00 PM by John Camp » Logged
Colorado David
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2008, 09:18:50 PM »
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The thing about canoes is that they are beautiful themselves.  They can be your transportation and the subject of your photos.  Here's a site from a builder that I know;

http://www.quietcanoes.com/Quiet%20Canoes%...ome%20page.html

Wooden canoes are both beautiful and way more sturdy than you would think.  Part of their endearing quality is that they can be nearly silent, getting you into positions you'd have never gotten with any other type of craft.  It could be to your advantage to have a partner who does the paddling while you concentrate on photography.  George Shiras, III, the father of wildlife photography, would attach his camera to the bow of a canoe to get some of his wildlife shots.
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CREEKCOVE
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2008, 10:05:12 PM »
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I switched from a sit in kayak to a new super stable open style type Kayak It is sort of a cross between a kayak and a canoe. It is made by Naitive Watercraft http://nativewatercraft.net/index.html The model is called the Ultimate. It comes as a 12ft or 14.5ft. They are the most stable kayak / canoe I have ever paddled/ You can sit on the side and hang your feet over, you can stand up or you can slide the seat forward and back to retrieve gear. They cater to the kayak fisherman, but it makes an Ideal photography platform. I have a regular 12 foot kayak ( current designs - kestrel) and It is no where near as stable as the Ultimates. I bought a 14.5 ( which can be rigged solo or tandem). It is a better as a solo boat, which is how I rig mine. I tested both lengths and you can't go wrong with either. The 12 ft is a little more manuverable and has a drop down skeg to improve tracking. The 14.5 ft tracks very well and is a little faster. Niether one of these boats are speed burners but are no slouches either. But if your purpose is a stable safe platform over speed than these are great boats. You can buy skirts that will enclose some or all of your boat like a regular kayak or just leave it open like a canoe. I did test several canoes as they started out to be my primary purchase ( to gain more equipment carrying capacity) All of the canoes felt tippy to me . The canoes that felt the best were the ones you could still paddle with the double bladded kayak style paddle. However, the Ultimates blew the canoes away as far as stability. The ultimates have a unique tunnel hull design that provides the extreme stablity. The seating is super comfortable and allows a great leg / foot position.
Check out the above link and look at the tips and techniques videos under the information tab.

Ralph Alfors
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 10:07:24 PM by CREEKCOVE » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2008, 12:07:39 AM »
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Ralph -- I really like the looks of  those boats, and I've got a dealer right in town. I was curious about their flotation. Do they have flotation, or are they sinkable? Thanks.

JC
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framah
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2008, 08:44:42 AM »
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You also need to check out the Pokeboat. It is also a hybrid kayak/canoe. You can shoot a shotgun broadside and not roll over. I have one and I used to photograph from it all the time. It is very stable.

I can't imagine carrying my equipment on a kayak that you sit on top of. In my eye, they are quite unstable and you are just asking for trouble if you get into any rough water.
Sea kayaks are another story. That's what they are designed for.
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CREEKCOVE
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2008, 12:31:20 PM »
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John,

They do have flotation. There are styrofoam blocks in the points of the bow and stern. I have never swamped it before, but I believe like most boats the flotation is for neutral bouancy when filled with just water. There is also a drain plug on top of the stern to help drain any residual water after pulling it out of the water.

Looks like the website moved the "tips & techniques" from the information tab to the media tab. Some of these tips are short videos of the boats in action. Also click on the word "photography" Under the picture on the home page, then click where it says "view previous articles here".

They are adding more and more accessories and options all the time. I really like my boat (14.5 ultimate) for its stability. The poly hull is very durable and the weight is on par with a small canoe, but they now offer a new material (Tegris) witch is durable and very light, albeit expensive. My dealer takes trade ins and I have put a deposit on a tegris 14.5 ultimate ( they are not out yet ). The 12 ft tegris ultimate is starting to show up at the dealers now.

I still keep my photo equipment in waterproof bags till ready to use, but I have no fear of tipping over. I would never do that in my other kayak (12 ft kestrel). I would instead have a series of small pelican cases that could fit into the confines of the hatches. I would then assemble everything once ashore at a likely spot. The shots from the moving kayak were taken with a p&S Canon S70 in a waterproof housing. Not great when you have a better DSLR to use, but afraid to use it for fear of losing it.
With the ultimate I keep my DSLR ready to use at all times. The waterproof bag is used mainly to keep water spray or paddle drips off the equipment. I have sat on the edge with my legs and feet hanging over the side while photographing. I water tested the boat for a few hours before buying it. I was able to stand up and paddle and was even able to stand with both feet on the same side of the boat without tipping over. You can see on their website that a lot of people buy these for sight fishing, flyfishing and they even have a a new pole/paddle to stand and pole the boat along.
I have no affilation with the company or any dealer, but when someting comes along that really does the job I am happy to spread to word (this happens rarely).

Ralph Alfors
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 12:54:03 PM by CREEKCOVE » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2008, 01:40:20 PM »
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Ralph,

Thanks. I'm out the door, going down to look at one. I'm particularly interested in the Tegris model (I assume that's something like Kevlar?) and like you, would probably go for the longer one if they're going to be available in the next three or four months. I both fish and photograph, on small streams and lakes in northern Wisconsin, and this should be perfect.

JC
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2008, 01:55:52 PM »
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Another small light-weight boat is a John or Jon Boat. Usually made of aluminum, they take a small outboard, are broad beamed and stable. Made for lakes or rivers, I would not take on out on the Chesapeak Bay, but they should work well on the many rivers that feed into the bay.

Jay
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skibum187
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2008, 01:40:05 PM »
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I'll second the suggestion on the Ultimate series (though I should mention that I DO work for a LiquidLogic/Native/Heritage dealer).

Because of their pontoon-esque design, they are quite possibly the most stable canoe/hybrid on the market. I would recommend going with the 14.5 if you have the ability to store/transport a 14 footer, simply because they are the most versatile, especially if you want to take another person along (yet are still easy to paddle solo).

As far as the Tigris goes, they are very nice when loading them on the car, but are not the most durable boats in the world. I haven't seen one of the Ultimates in the Tigris yet, but I have sold a few of the Compass model, which are the same material. If you are going to be paddling in any shallow rocky areas, I would avoid the Tigris material and go with the rotomolded version.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 01:41:33 PM by skibum187 » Logged
ceedave
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2008, 03:42:28 PM »
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Recent 'recreational' or 'fishing' kayaks are pretty useful for photo work, if you're not on big open water. They are much easier to handle in the wind than canoes, and less tippy than most alternatives. The large fishing market also makes them pretty cheap. They have wider, longer, more open cockpits than sea kayaks -- plenty of room for camera gear.

I paddle a Pungo 12 duralight around bayous, rivers, and small lakes in Louisiana.
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duranash
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2008, 04:00:47 PM »
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Let me add yet another option that I have found to be very stable - a Folbot, and especially the Greenland II version.  Look here for info:  http://www.folbot.com/  Read thru some of the forums too - lots of info here.  A very active group of users.
My wife & I have had our Greenland II for about 4 years and have enjoyed it a lot --- although we are getting a bit "long in the tooth" and haven't used it at all in the past couple of years.
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John Camp
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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2008, 09:36:10 PM »
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Note to Ralph [Creekcove]:

You say you've put in an order for a 14-foot Tegris Ultimate -- I tried to order one today, and the place I was ordering it (Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis) called the company, and were told that they had trouble with the mold for the 14-footer in Tegris and they wouldn't be producing any this year. I ordered the 12-footer, which is available. Looks a little porky, but I'll give it a try.

JC
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CREEKCOVE
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2008, 10:09:18 PM »
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John,

I put my deposit on the 14.5ft solo tegris back in the fall. The dealer called me to say there was going to be a delay with the 14.5 ft however, he wasn't sure how long. I assumed a few months, so not this year is a bit of a suprise. I still have my 14.5 poly to use until the tegris is made. I may have to evaluate if I want to go with a 12ft or wait. So, thanks for the heads up. you may want to consider the new rudder option on the 12ft as the tegris model doesn't have the drop down skeg. I agree they look porky, but I think you will find it moves along pretty well. The 14.5 poly moves faster than my other 12 foot kestrel kayak. I can only imagine how much faster the tegris hulls will move 12 or 14 .5.

To skibum187: Are you sure you are not confusing the compass material. As far as I knew in the past the compass and even the ultimates were also made with a composite material which is light but not very durable as you say espically in rocky areas. However the tegris material is the newest hull material that is supposed to be very durable as well as light. (poly is the most durable). I don't think they have produced a tegris compass model yet. I looked at the compass at one time and decided against it partly because of the not so durable composite material. There is a chart on the website comparing the differences between all three materials.

Ralph Alfors
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MarkBarbieri
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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2008, 12:35:01 PM »
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Of the two, I recommend the canoe.  I paddle in the front seat of a canoe with my camera gear frequently.  I usually have the camera sitting in front of me on a foam support.  It's easy to grab and shoot at any time.  That's much harder to do with most kayaks.  Sit-on-tops are usually too wet to leave the camera out.  Sit-inside's usually don't offer enough room in front of you to comfortably hold the camera.

Here's a shot of our canoe on a multi-night camping trip along the Buffalo River in Arkansas.  If you click on the image, it'll take you to my photo gallery from that outing.  
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2008, 11:45:22 AM »
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Quote
Can anyone share their experience photographing for Kayaks and/or Canoes. Which offers the best combination of stability, flexabilty etc.?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=183249\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

They both work just fine. Go paddle a few boats and see which will work best for you on your body of water.
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JDClements
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2008, 07:35:39 PM »
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I've placed a Pelican case on top of both a flat water kayak and a sea kayak, directly in front of me, strapped in by the deck bungees. It was real easy to flip it open, pull the camera out and shoot. It was a small pelican, though, and only holds the camera and one lens. But if you start to drift, then it is very hard to reposition the boat with the camera out.

The biggest problem with kayaks is portaging them. A real pain. A canoe can carry a ton of gear and it is not too difficult to portage all that gear on your back and the canoe on your shoulders in one trip. On the other hand, going solo in a canoe requires more skill than piloting from the stern with a second person in the bow.

That is why I have both kayaks AND canoes. I wouldn't want to give up either type of craft.
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