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Surf kayak in a small creek?

I have a kayak at my disposal for a while.

It is a 10' Perception Pescador, a SOT designed for open lakes and surf. It has what I would describe as a tri hull.

My question is this: How should I expect it to handle in a small, slow flowing creek.

I mean, I know it will float of course, and it will go where I paddle it, but how will it differ from a kayak designed for small creeks or rivers?

I would like to go paddle a tidal creek and spend a couple days on a small island  (locally called Hummucks) , but if the performance of a kayak designed for a creek would perform much better than a surf kayak maybe I should go to the trouble to rent one.


Thanks, Mike G.

If it is a tidal creek, it probably won't have too much gradient. Your challenge is to overnight in a 10 boat that doesn't feel like a submarine. Keep you outfit below 25 pounds and give it a try. Chances are it will not paddle well, but you will have a good time.

I am not personally familiar with this particular boat, but I did some searches on the web for reviews and the manufacturer's description. To begin, it is short and wide with a 325 maximum capacity. As ppine says even if you are light, you will have to go really light with your gear. Remember, although this boat is stable, the more weight you put on and in it, the less stable it will be. Not only is your challenge to keep weight down, but also to distribute it equally in the boat. Too much weight in the bow(including the hatch) and the boat won't track well and be slow. If the creek is slow moving, it will be fine. boats designed for creeks will turn faster and not track as well. Although pine is correct that a tidal creek may not have much gradient, there are many that can turn into rushing torrents on an ebb. Timing your trip to tides will be important. In short, you probably won't need a creaking boat, but more capacity would be preferred. It is essentially a day tripper and fishing SOT.

Thanks guys!

I appreciate it.

I can get my load to around 30 lbs IF I leave my cast net and other fishing gear at home - I weigh 155.

I may look around for a longer kayak with more weight capacity.

I have a local guide helping me with the planning of the trip & coordinating it with the tides.

I would like to bring a cast net along to do some shrimping, so a kayak with more load capacity would be nice I guess.

If Mike is on the East Coast it is a submerged coastline with relatively few problems with tidal rips and currents. The West Coast on the other hand is an emerging coastline with plenty of relief near the water. As Erich cautions, the massive amount of water forced to move during each tidal change can be confined by the topography resulting in current in places like Deception Pass, WA with speeds of over 10 knots. People commonly use river kayaks to surf the big waves on the ebb.

I am on the South Carolina Coast very near the Charleston peninsula.

We have expansive grass savannas that make up the salt marsh lands. These areas are very flat with tall grass, pluff mud like quicksand, and contain a myriad of small tidal creeks.

In these creeks you can harvest shrimp, blue crab, flounder, spot tail, etc.

 The down side is that you have to bring all your own fresh water.

Mike, whether you get much current will depend on the tidal swings. While pine is correct that here in the PNW places like Deception Pass actually produce significant rapids, this is driven less by overall elevation of the surround area, and more about the tidal range and the amount of water that needs to be cleared in each phase. I have seen significant rapids(Class 2) on sandy river deltas with a 3 foot tide. In those places, as the river drops due to the tidal change, the river gets channeled from the broad flat expanse, into narrow channels. They are fun when you time it right, but timing is everything. When reading the tide charts, remember a key element. If it is slack at point B, two miles distant, your point, point A, might be slack an hour before that or an hour after that. There are also channels in which you think the channel should be going one way at flood, when in fact it actually flows the opposite way at the same time, still ebbing. I raced sailboats, inshore, and knowing certain tidal irregularities is important. In Admiralty Inlet in Puget Sound, the tide always flows north near the beach. On the ebb, the tide is going out. On the flood, a point creates a huge eddy. So it always flows one direction. Confusing.

Thanks Erich, ppine.

The things you guys mention is exactly why I have a guy helping me plan, I have a lot to learn about paddling in the tidal environment even though I live on the coast.

Think of the tides as a chess game with Mother Nature. Always carry a tidal chart and learn to interpret what it means in terms of the current in front of you. Sometimes the smart thing to do is wait.

When many people paddle rivers, they often describe it as "floating". This is most common with people in rafts, but also applies to other types of watercraft. I often work harder paddling rivers than I do on lakes. Paddling rivers is not just going with the current, being carried down river, at the current's mercy and whim. The current is never constant, flowing more slowly on the inside of bends, flowing up stream in eddies. It is often a technique when poling or paddling, to move upstream, hopping from one eddy to another. This often requires careful planning, getting to the top of one eddy and ferrying to the other side of the river to the bottom of another eddy. Salt water can be viewed much like a river, albeit a river that changes direction periodically, and also incorporates wind. Timing is everything. If you don't time things correctly, then you could be stuck waiting for the turn or even stuck on mud flats.

So after talking with a couple area paddlers I have been advised to do a couple creeks North of me.

These are a good ways inland and the High - Low Tidal range is only a couple feet.

Both are small tributaries that meander through a Cypress - Tupelo Swamp in a National Forest with islands you can camp on. The water holds good Bass & Bream populations.

I think I will go do a day paddle tomorrow and scout it out.

Sounds like a really cool adventure, I hope everything goes well. 

Thanks Anthonie,

I had a good time. I have a couple photos that I can post later.

November 25, 2020
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