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Diving from a Kayak - Advice Please!

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Jul 29, 2001
I've been diving freshwater springs and spring caverns mostly, but would like to do more ocean diving along Florida's Atlantic Coast.

I've heard that diving from an ocean kayak is the way to go as it provides the flexibility to leave from the beach, allows sufficient range to get to reefs a few miles offshore, and is relatively safe.

Is this true, in your experiences? Any thoughts, experiences, or advice would be appreciated.

If diving from a kayak is really a good way to enjoy ocean freediving, I would guess a tandem open top kayak would be the way to go?

i have a few friends that spearfish out of their kayaks. i think both have large models for stability and what not. there are some spots down in the keys that are pretty much only accessible by kayak and are just mindblowing. as far as you're concerned, i'm not sure on the reef structure off the st augustine area. it might be a hike and a half to get out to at least the first reef.

i'll private message you in regards to contacting my buddy in south florida. he works for divers direct.

Absolutely, but let me hasten to distinguish between decked, usually fiberglass kayaks (downriver or touring or Sea Kayak varities) and the "sit on top" types, usually rotationally molded plastic, in which you sit in an open well.
The latter is DEFINITELY the way to go. I spent years diving out of my trusty canoe, which I love but is a rotten ocean boat an very touchy to get in and out of in deep water. (Almost impossible to get back into it tipped, unless you do modifications)
Then I used various decked kayaks. What a pain in the butt they are. Not all that easy to launch or land in surf (especially sea kayaks, which are tippecanoe city), fragile if impact rocks, scar up on sand or gravel. VERY difficult to get in or out of, I could go on....
On the other hand the sitontop ("SOT") type is MADE for diving. They are completely sealed, so you can roll, go under, fall off, etc, and nothing happens. You can get in by simply rolling over (hard to get easier than that), get back in by just vaultin over the stern like Roy Rogers getting on his horse. (Or getting it on with his horse, I always had my suspicions about that.) There are sealed holds for your stuff (unlike decked kayaks, where everything is both trapped and exposed to soaking or loss unless stowed in something that hassles you.
They are soft and tough, take rocks and sand in stride. (You might scratch them, but won´t notice it). They are light and more easily cartopped. Superior in every way, except, I gotta admit, top speed. Which is like saying jeeps are better than Ferraris for hunting trips, except they aren´t as fast.
They come in one and two seater models, but check them out extensively, some are much better for diving out of than others. Oh, almost all SOT boats are better for surfing than sea kayaks are.
I bought an Ocean Kayak Scrambler about 8 years ago for scuba diving. I have since used it almost exclusivly for freediving. You can carry a lot of stuff on it and it will go through the surf pretty well. At least it works well on the surf we get on Lake Michigan when the storm waves start coming in- there are guys out there on long boards when that happens.
You can drag them across the rocks and not damage them as well.
One other really nice thing about them is how well they tow. I find it easier to tow my kayak through the water than a dive flag and float. Because of its shape it just slices through the waves.
I have since moved up to a Futura sport surf ski last summer. You can't put scuba tanks on it, but it is twice as fast as the palstic dive kayak. It still has a hatch to store things in too.
Windsurfing /Kayak

Has anyone tried or seen one of those windsurfing boards converted into a kayak? I think they would be especially great.

All you need to do is epoxy or attach a seat of some sort (or don't bother with one at all), attach net bags to the footstrap inserts and sit on it. You can usually pick up an old 13 foot long longboard for dirt cheap (under 35 bucks) and happily drill holes into it and use epoxy or whatever. This is a much cheaper version of the ocean kayak, it can never flood, and if you want to bring dry stuff for camping or a picnic, just find yourself some airtight containers. I've been thinking about this for a while and might have to design it over the winter. I would be cool to kayak from cove to cove and island to island. You could even coil a small depth line (100ft) in a bag on deck and use it as an anchor/dive line and to check the bottom profile as you explore.

Another version is to add an outrigger (pontoon with a two foot extension) off to one or both sides to keep the whole things from flipping over. Heck, with outriggers, you could pitch a tent on the board!

I have an image of a super-duper kayak/windsurfer hybrid, only mine would plane and would come with a sail. If you see a guy in a picasso suit, doing thirty knots on his sailboard, with my monofin flat on the nose of the board, then it's probably me....:cool:

I'd be in seventh heaven if I could combine my first favourite sport (windsurfing) with my second favourite sport (freediving). Yes, I know it's hard to believe that there's something I like more than freediving, but there you have it. I've been windsurfing for over ten years and freediving for only one. So now it's time for a convergence.... winddiving is born!:duh

Aloha from Nova Scotia on Vacation,
Thanks for all the info.

In the meantime, I found the following website devoted to the subject:

The book advertized on the website supposedly contains some information specific to freediving. I plan to order it when the new, updated edition is in print and will post interesting info if others are interested.

Pete, Don't forget knee straps on your winddiver . . . for when you are sitting. You could also rig up a small stern to attach an outboard motor, just in case you get tired of paddling or sailing and want to go inside your tent for a beer.

This is a loose follow-up on transportation. I use a 16' canoe equitped with outriggers
and a 1.4 hp outboard. I works great in water that I might want to be diving in. If it is real windy, like Laminar, I'll be windsurfing, but the rest of the time the little rig works fine.
The canoe has a 1200lb capacity, so it is a bit on the big side for a 16 footer, but I can usually manage it alone in a pinch as long as the outriggers and the motor mount are dismounted.

Best wishes,

consider a foldable

I disagree with the assertion that you must go with a sit-on-top.

I have done both, and prefer a 2 person kayak with an open cockpit --a foldable that is .

It is a bit harder to get into, but once you are in, you are more secure. The best part about it, however, is that you can take it with you to your favorite destination. And if you will be out for multiple days, you apreciate all the extra space for storing gear.
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