If you have been out with us, you have seen a few different types of boats. The three types that most Mice paddle are recreational, sit-on-top, and touring.
Sit on tops are easy to pick out of a crowd. There is no cockpit, just a molded seat that you sit in and on. Hopefully, there are holes in the bottom of the boat, making it self bailing. A good sit on top for the type of paddling we do is the Ocean Kayak Scrambler or Scrambler XT. It is rock solid stable, and tracks pretty well. (When a boat tracks well, it goes straight well.) Chris Hoyland has the lime-green Scrambler and loves it. There are other sit on tops around also. Sit on top boats are easy to get in and out of, and never need bailing. if you happen to fall out of one, just flip it back over and climb in! You may find yourself sitting in a little bit of water in your seat- no big deal, unless the water is cold! You are also more exposed to the elements, and may find your season shortened a little.
Recreational boats are basically entry level sit-in kayaks. They have a large cockpit and great stability, and are the least expensive of the sit-in boats. They are often light enough to carry by yourself, and very "user friendly." Bill Larson and Cheri Lewis both have recreational boats. If you don't want a huge investment, but want your own kayak, this may be the way to go. Just remember that the longer the boat, the easier it is to go straight.
Touring kayaks are made for paddling longer distances with ease. The cut through the water easier than the recreational boats or sit-on-tops. The cockpit is generally less roomy, and relatively tougher to get in and out of. Rudders are common, and really help with turning the boat, as most of these kayaks track quite straight. Jerry Schneider and Jeanine St. Romain have touring boats. The Perception Carolina is the most popular, and you will often see more than one at a River Mice paddle. For the paddling that we do, the only real disadvantages to the touring boats are slightly lower stability (still solid), slightly tougher ingress and egress, and expense. A Carolina will run you around $1000 when the bill is totaled.
WHERE TO BUY
Wild River Outfitters- Virginia Beach Boulevard and Rosemont.
Appamattox River Company- Oyster Point Road, Newport News
Southeast Expeditions- Sunset Beach, eastern shore
Cool and Eclectic Furniture- Shore Drive or Laskin Road, Virginia Beach
They sell Ocean Kayak sit-on-tops, believe it or not!