The kayak I usually use for Estuarian excursions is a Delta 12.10 recreational kayak. I choose this kayak because it is:
The Delta 12.10 is 42 pounds light.
The Delta 12.10 is easy to handle out of the water. It weighs 42 pounds. I can swing it up onto the car by myself without straining. (I’m in my mid sixties.) I have no need for a kayak cart once I arrive at the launching area. Storage ashore is easy, too.
I have two other kayaks. They weigh 49 and 56 pounds. Those extra pounds are the decisive difference when it comes to choosing which kayak to use. The heavier kayaks usually stay home.
Excellent Handling on the Water
The Delta 12.10 is classified as a recreational kayak because its wide beam and hard chines give it a lot of stability. It is a good, stable platform for photography—important for an Estuarian.
At less than 13 feet, I had expected it to be dog-slow, but it surprised me. I paddle as fast (as measured by GPS) in this recreational kayak as I do in my supposedly much faster and elegant 15.5 foot Eddyline Journey, my “fastest” kayak. In the 12.10 Delta, I can keep pace with my paddling friends in their 17 to 18 foot kevlar Neckys.
This kayak has a fine bow and stern which, together with the hard chines, act like keels to keep the boat going straight when it is plumb upright. It goes straight when you want it to.
Still, turning is no problem. Its short length make it easy to steer. Lean a little to one side or the other and those fine entries loosen their grip and the boat’s wide beam induces “helm.” The boat veers easily when “edged.” (Lean left to turn right and vice versa.) It has no need for a rudder or a skeg.
The Delta 12.10 has comfortable accommodations for the paddler. Its seat is adjustable and it is as comfortable as they come—and I’ve tried a lot of kayaks. I’ve owned eleven kayaks including some made by the big names: Eddyline, Current Designs, Old Town, Ocean Kayak, and others.
The Delta 12.10 has three easy-to-use hatches: a good sized hatch in the bow; a jumbo storage locker in the stern, and a handy small compartment on deck immediately in front of the cockpit for items you want at hand: sunscreen, sunglasses, an energy bar, a water bottle.
Delta kayaks are made of thermoformed ABS plastic—much tougher than the more expensive kevlar layup composites and much lighter than the roto-molded kayaks.
On Big Water
The Delta 12.10 is a recreational boat. When I’m paddling on big open water, I prefer the security of a larger kayak with a rudder. On those days, you’ll see me paddling my 56-pound Delta 15.5 Expedition Touring Kayak.
The other boat I use from time to time is my Old Town Pack Canoe. Like the Delta 12.10, the Pack is light at only 33 pounds. If my mission is to pick up litter, this little canoe is just the ticket. It is rated to carry up to 500 pounds of gear, it’s easy to enter and to exit, and it handles the calm conditions on estuaries with aplomb.