I'm 5'10", 220lb, wife is 5'1", 110lb, buddy Fred is 5'8", 240lb.
Which Kayak or Canoe for: calm lakes, rivers, Gulf of Mexico: some surfing, paddling 1.5 mi to a jetty to hunt fish. Scuba diving, snorkeling, some fishing. And, of course, if there are some rapids...well you know what will happen. Ditto for being on the lake in a storm, it will happen, I know myself.
I want my wife to be able to come along sometimes and my 240lb hunting, diving, shooting, bikeing buddy Fred at other times.
Must be able to get back into the boat in deep water easily.
I might have to get two boats. Getting one or the most versitile one first is important...gotta take the wife...if I'm gonna be 'happy'.
Trailer, cheap one, from harbor freight is a possiblity. I'll set it up for 4 kayaks or two canoes and some other stuff. Might get a small boat trailer instead. Car topping...been there, done that. I'm too old and weak for car topping now days.
I'm looking at Ocean Kayaks: Malibu 2, Malibu 2 XL, Scupper Pro TW (tank well), Scrambler XT, Drifter, and maybe a Frenzy for the wife or a Venus.
Right now I'm thinking Malibu 2 XL for me and wife and other times for Fred to use for diving, and a Scupper Pro TW for me for a dive and general use boat.
I have solo paddled the Malibu 2 and thought it paddled very well. Also paddled the game warden's WS Ride. Thought the Ride paddled well but was harder to turn than the Malibu 2...but with limited experience I'm not sure about that.
Also looking at Canoes, they can carry a lot more but my experience is that they catch a lot of air and are not too good in strong wind. Boarding out in the middle of the lake looks like a problem as is turning one over. The Canoes look better for trolling motor power.
What do you think? What do you paddle?
How do you transport it? What hull materials do you like?
Mike, I can't speak for a canoe but if you are in the market for a kayak I have a few suggestions:
1) Try before you buy. You could be very disappointed in a kayak's performance. Many dealers offer "demo days".
2) Don't try to save money on a kayak. A cheapo from Sam's or Academy will suck. You are on the right track looking at OK, Malibu, etc. Also look into Wilderness Systems. I have two WS's, a 120 (12') and a 160 (16'). I weigh 280 lbs and I can still fish comfortably from either boat.
3) Seriously consider a rudder. It's better to have it and not need it......
4) go to texaskayakfisherman.com.... great site, great people. and all the info about kayaks you would ever want to know.
ETA: to answer your questions, my kayaks are both roto-molded plastic (polyethylene?). That will likely be what you want to start out with because it is most cost-effective. I transport them in my pickup bed, strapped down. If carrying the 160, I have something called a bed extender that goes into my hitch. That supports the part of the kayak which hangs out the back. I don't need it for the 120.
I've got a Necky Looksha ocean kayak. I like it, but I do not think it would be suitable for your purposes.
It sounds like you are wanting to do a lot of different things. If you are looking to dive off of a narrow, small watercraft, one of those inflatable diving kayaks is the only thing I can think of, and it looks like something of a compromise.
In my limited experience with Aire higher-end inflatable kayaks, they are suitable for river running but are pretty much a joke for directional travel over distances. The only things they have going for them is toughness and transportability.
What I would suggest is that you look at a poke boat out of Berea, Kentucky. I don't have personal experience these, but they are low profile and can fit two or more people on them. Plus they seem light for their size. They are $$$, just like everything else.
Also, Nautiraid, Klepper and Folbot offer similar form, but skinned (ie pain-in-the-ass collapsible) open or closed cockpit folding kayaks.
I have both, favorite kayak is a 14' Old Town Loon, perfect for flat water paddling. Favorite canoe is the Old Town Guide model, best for size and maneuverability.
check out paddling.net and ask over there. Lots of helpful folks.
I really want a kayak. I decided to cruise on over to ebay to look for a used one, funds are kinda tight right now for me new baby and wife is not working. I thought about asking the guy if he would trade this kayak for my SAR-1, Then I thought what if I come home from work on day after working overtime and I find my wife in bed with some guy, what am I going to do say "hey do you want to go Kayaking". Its even in the perfect color.