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Pinguinos on the cobbles at Sturgeon Lake, Mt St Helens and Mt Baker in the background

A Buyer's Guide


The Pinguino Sport kayak is not going to be the best choice for most newcomers to paddling. It does have these wonderful qualities:
However the Pinguino Sport is also much more expensive than entry level kayaks. Think of the Pinguino Sport as a possible next boat, after you have decided that you want to make paddling a part of your life. A good progression would be
  1. Learn the basics of paddling in an inexpensive boat with inexpensive equipment. Do a lot of borrowing, especially of different paddles. Study the ways to efficiently use your muscle power to move the boat where you want it to go.
  2. After you have enough experience to know what kind of paddle is going to work best for you, buy the best of that type that you can afford. A lightweight paddle with the length, feather angle, and shape that fits your personal style is probably the single most important thing for increasing your enjoyment on the water.
  3. Paddling is like bicycling or hiking in that you will get more fun out of it if you stay hydrated and eat an occasional snack. However managing a water bottle and snack bag in a small kayak cockpit means learning what will work best for you.
  4. After you are comfortable with all of the above, and you have decided on the kind of paddling you want to focus on, then start looking at a more expensive boat, like a Pinguino.

The Pinguino is the size of a recreational kayak but has many of the features of longer sea kayaks. If you have been paddling a long boat for some time and are thinking about something that would be easier to put back on the car after a day on the water, or let you ease around that snag blocking your access to a channel that beckons to you, or let you comfortably carry— and use— your most expensive camera without worrying about dunking it, then you perhaps you should look into the Pinguino.

Side view of Pinguino carried on a Suzuki SX4Its short length and light weight— 13 feet over all at 35 pounds— make it easy to car top even on small vehicles, even after a long day's paddle. It rides very nicely either on foam pads or in J cradles. The short length makes it easier to store, too. And its laminated construction is immune to the kind of warping that can happen with rotomolded boats and some fiberglass boats when they are stored incorrectly over a winter's time.
 

bottom of boat showing the chinesThe Pinguino has a multi chine hull, which makes it very responsive to turning by leaning: the shape of the boat at and below the waterline becomes curved instead of straight as soon as you give it a mild lean. Yet bow and stern are quite sharp so despite its flat bottom in the mid section it tracks very straight. This is especially noticeable in a cross wind, when its short length gives it an advantage of less sail area than the longer sea kayaks.
 

Pinguino in the woodsThese factors combine to make the Pinguino Sport the boat for exploring the lakes, rivers, and sloughs of the Willamette Valley and lower Columbia River. It is an excellent boat for maneuvering through obstacle courses where longer or less nimble boats cannot take you. Such as the seasonally flooded wetlands where the bird song is loud.
 

Pinguino in the woodsOr the back channels of sloughs, where you zig zag around logs and snags to get to places that are rarely visited.
 

Pinguino in marsh
Its shallow draft allows you to glide over spots where other boats would go aground.
 


Pinguino in woods
This is what Pinguino Sport kayaks are good for. Yeah, they can keep up with the longer sea kayaks on overnight outings. And there are some guys who surf in them. But getting you into places not very far from the city where so few people venture that the raccoons look at you with curiosity is perhaps what they do best.
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