Archive for the 'Reviews' Category
 

Sea Kayak Sailing – Enhancing The Seafaring Experience

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

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South Pembrokeshire

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West Coast of Ireland

Sea kayaks enable their users to explore and play on life-affirming journeys.  Part of the challenge is to safely utilise the currents, swell and winds.  The direct energy of the wind has been largely unused by most modern sea kayakers.  In recent decades sailing rigs have become far more manageable to use on sea kayaks and their distribution/availability outside of Australia and New Zealand is only now becoming a reality.  This exciting development is opening up brand new sea kayaking opportunities and challenges for all.  From downwind coastal runs to traversing huge exposed island chains, like the Aleutians, sea kayak sailing is putting bigger smiles on people’s faces and aiding in epic journeys.

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Tropical beach on Caldey Island

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Windy day at Cadnant Bay Menai Straits

History

Kayak sailing was invented in 1865 when John “Rob Roy” MacGregor designed and built a sailing kayak for his 1,000 mile journey along the inland waterways of Europe.  Those early Rob Roy Kayaks subsequently evolved into the huge variety of kayak types that we know today.  Sail equipped kayaks remained popular into the 1930s.  In 1934, Alastair Dunnett and Seumas Adam (“The Canoe Boys”) used their sail equipped Lochaber kayaks on an impressive and pioneering journey to explore the west coast of Scotland.

Kayak sailing also became popular in continental Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.  In 1928 Franz Romer kayak sailed across the Atlantic from Lisbon to Puerto Rico.  He attempted to continue his journey onwards to New York but went missing, presumably killed, in a hurricane.  Oskar Speck’s similarly epic seven year kayak sailing trip from Germany to Australia should have been widely celebrated as an amazing achievement.  However, arriving at his destination in September 1939 he was interned for the duration of the Second World War.

Kayak sailing subsequently went out of fashion in Europe.  Towards the end of the twentieth century sails were beginning to be developed for use on modern sea kayaks by Australia and New Zealand-based kayakers.  Sea kayak sailing is now commonplace in these countries and is beginning to take hold in Europe and North America.

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Skerries Lighthouse, Anglesey

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Surfing in Ireland

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Surfing near Stackpole

Why sea kayak sail?

  • Speed/endurance/fun

Maintaining the top displacement hull speed is easier when sea kayak sailing.  It is also much easier to get your kayak planing in swell and tidal rapids.  This is particularly useful when attempting to catch less steep waves.  In essence you will catch more waves, considerably increasing your speed and range.  Average speeds of 7 knots with planing top speed runs in excess of 10 knots are not unusual in conditions where it would be considerably more difficult for conventional sea kayaks to plane and maintain average speeds of more than 3-4 knots.

When the waves become too steep it is best to stow the sail away as it will no longer enhance the experience and will, most likely, become a liability.

  • Enhanced safety

The sail appears triangular and conspicuous from afar and/or in overhead rolling swell.

The exposure of paddling along coastlines with less frequent safe landings is reduced if the wind and sail combine to add to the kayaks propulsion.

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Caldey Island tiderace

Getting into sea kayak sailing

Equipment

The main airfoil sail available in Europe is the Flat Earth Kayak Sails range of airfoils.  They are designed and manufactured in Australia by Mick MacRobb.  Other airfoil sails are being manufactured for sea kayaks but they are far less common in Europe.

Sea kayak manufacturers

Many composite sea kayaks will need strengthening in order to accommodate a sail mast. You can assess this by pressing down on the deck near the compass recess and gauging whether there is much flexibility in the deck and hull.  Most kayak companies will strengthen your kayak by special order. Plastic kayaks tend to be more robust in taking a sail mast.

Since 2012, P&H kayaks have produced all of their composite kayaks with enough strength to accommodate a sail mast.  Their plastic Scorpio MKII range of sea kayaks has been designed with sailing in mind. It easily accommodates a Flat Earth Sail and handles superbly well when sailed.

Have a go/purchase

Scotland – Karitec are the main UK distributor of Flat Earth Kayak Sails and have a range of demo boats to try out under sail.

http://www.karitek.co.uk/

England – P&H have demo kayaks fitted with sails and attend many sea kayak symposiums.

http://www.phseakayaks.com/

Wales – Sea Kayaking Wales (SKW) are based on Anglesey and have a range of P&H sea kayaks and Flat Earth Kayak Sails to try out.  SKW also run sea kayaking (including sailing) courses in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Llŷn and the Gower.  Flat Earth Sails are available to purchase from SKW.

https://seakayakingwales.com/

More Information

http://seakayakphoto.blogspot.co.uk/ – An excellent blog written by, Douglas Wilcox, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of sea kayak sailing in Europe.

http://www.flatearthkayaksails.com/ – The most popular airfoil sail in the UK at present.

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Tenby

Geth

www.seakayakingwales.com

Anglesey’s Stacks and Skerries in the Pyranha Octane

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

After paddling the Octane on Llyn Padarn I wanted to try it out at sea in wind, waves and moving water. My kayaking buddies for this trip were Ed and Abi Loffil.

Porthdafarch Skerries Map

 

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The Pyranha Octane with the Flat Earth Sail fitted

Ed and Abi had a head start on the outward leg so I followed them 20 minutes after their departure. This leg had up to 10 knots of southerly wind with a slightly post spring tidal current to propel us on the flooding tide to The Skerries. Time of leg – 1.5 hrs.

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Approaching Penrhyn Mawr

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Approaching the middle race of Penrhyn Mawr

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South Stack

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Rush Hour in Holyhead Bay

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The Skerries

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Departing The Skerries

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Surfing circuits at The Skerries

The return leg had 10-17 knots of southerly wind against the south flowing ebb tide. Time of leg – 3 hrs.

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The rough journey back south

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North Stack

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Taking a rest at South Stack

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Sailing home to Porth Dafarch

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The team returned at Porth Dafarch with our paddling friend Jan

 

Initial thoughts on the Octane

Previous to receiving the Octane I had never paddled a surfski. The closest speedy boat I had experienced to compare it to is the Rockpool Taran. The Octane, like the Taran, is great fun to paddle fast, especially in surf. At speed the surf ski is particularly stable, locking into its watery path. Its stability seemed further enhanced with the addition of the Flat Earth Sail, as this gave more propulsion. It is even better to sail than the equivalent P&H Scorpio or Delphin sailing kayaks as it is super quick and responsive to the rudder. With its open cockpit it felt a lot like a modern sailing dinghy, especially with the gurgling sound of the self-bailer.

Paddling downwind with swell was far, far better than the reverse into wind and waves. The former situation gave much greater speed than the accompanying sea kayaks, whereas into wind and swell the surfski was only marginally quicker, despite lots more effort from my core muscles. I probably need to improve my technique in these conditions.

The Octane is a very positive boat. It rewards good posture and technique with better performance. This feedback is proving really useful as I try to get better at paddling a surf ski.

Next time I want to try some more downwind runs!

Geth

www.seakayakingwales.com

The Cetus

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

When I was looking to replace my trusty P&H Scorpio Lv with a Cetus I spend hours looking on the internet to find footage where I could see the boat in action. I know what you’re thinking, why not testing it rather that looking at videos?  Well, I already did and I was sure that the Cetus was going to be my next boat.  The kayak customizer page on the P&H site is awesome, I think I made my boat virtually one hundred times.  But it’s even better to see the boat on the water, with a paddler in it.  To see it’s colours, to see the different options, to see its behaviour,…  Even when waiting on the delivery I searched “Cetus videos”.  The only downside was that there are not many to be found where you can see the boat from different angles.  So I remained a bit unsatisfied for the time being…

With the delivery I felt like a kid with his new toy (and I still am by that matter). It was my first composite boat, new, shiny, glossy!  I already paddled several hundred kilometres with it, in a wide variety of conditions.  Just like its polyethylene brother, the Scorpio, it never lets me down.  On the water it has to perform, it goes fast while being stable, very stable.  Even when paddling in rough seas it still feels like I am paddling from my couch.  When putting it on edge it steers and turns very well.  Anyway, don’t take my word for it.  I am perhaps a tiny bit subjective.  When looking to buy a quality sea kayak, make sure to test this piece of craftsmanship and see for yourself!

Enjoy our short video, a big thanks to Sylvie, who filmed from different angles to get the best result.

Paddle safe and take care of each other on the water!

Dimitri Vandepoele

NORTHSEAKAYAK

Handa Island – New boat, custom colours and perfect light.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The Cetus MV was, yet again, my boat of choice to meet all my coaching and personal paddling needs for this year.; whether it is introducing aspiring sea kayakers on sheltered waters, running 5 Star courses in the Pentland Firth, away on expeditions around Scotland’s amazing coastline or playing out at the Grey Dogs, for me, it just does it all. It also gives me a real stable platform for on-the-water-photography when doing my books, articles and sponsors’ photos; with an expensive SLR digital camera in my hand, and the opportunity to capture that ‘perfect front cover picture’, that’s pretty important!
So, when my latest Cetus MV arrived the other week, as always I was excited to get it out on the water, but this boat was just that little ‘more’ special; PeakUK have updated the colours on their sea range of kit this year, and knowing this, it seemed rude not to have a boat to match! With some helpful collaboration between PeakUK and P&H, the colours were matched and that allowed P&H to do their ‘magic’ in customising the perfect boat for me! As you would expect, they really went to town on it and not only was the boat colour matched, but all the trimmings (decklines and bungees) as well – brilliant!!
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With the perfect boat from P&H and the awesome kit from PeakUK, a suitably spectacular venue was required for its first outing, along with some great light to get the photos to show it off; the North West Highlands of Scotland were the destination and the amazing Island of Handa was the prime spot to visit. If you’ve not been to Handa yet – go… It offers towering cliffs, caves and arches aplenty, along with the enormous ‘Great Stack’ of Handa. All this is guarded by thousands of sea birds, with the raw force of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the relative shelter and beaches of the Sound of Handa on the other. It’s easily accessible to paddle around, yet once there you will feel on the edge of the world in a very exposed way!
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So, with some careful weather watching, some great evening light was found to paddle around Handa Island and ‘wet the hull’ of my rather unique boat – may she see many more such great trips in the months to come… thanks to all the P&H team for making her so brilliant!!
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P&H Hammer Vs “The Shubie”

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

We just had Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend and what better way to burn off the turkey then to head out for a paddle. Not just any paddle but a paddle on “The Shubie” tidal bore.

There as no bore on this day but the tidal range was around 49 feet and it would be the first time I would use the hammer.

“The Shubie” tidal bore is a world class sea kayak play sport. It bore runs on a river called the Shubenacadie River located at the top of the Bay of Fundy. This video was shot on a tidal range of 49.3 feet. The river is a magical place and the hammer has to be in the top 3 boats I have used on the “The Shubie”.

Once the hammer was up to speed I was able to do cutbacks, bottom turns and surf waves for 2 to 3 minutes at a time. My fears were eased after the first small set on the river.  The hammer picked up the waves quickly.

ThePddler

 

I was once told the hammer was to slow for “The Shubie” but after paddling it I would have to say it was one of my best days on the river. In this video there was no Bore wave to speak of but depending on the conditions there is a great front leading wave that forms a fun play wave and once it does up the river it leave us with plenty more things to play on. come to Nova Scotia.

You will be glad you did. There is a full writeup about “The Shubie” in ThePaddler online magazine

I hope you like the video

P&H Consistency, Flat Earth Sails and Much Deserved Respect

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

About two weeks ago I came to another difficult point in my life where I had to sell another one of my precious P&H kayaks. I’ve done this about 3 times now over the past 5 years and it never gets any easier with the only bright side being the thought it was not only going to a good home but also knowing that 6-12 months from now I will own yet another fine watercraft from P&H with new colors, a new seat and whatever other awesome thing they have come out with. I started kayaking in a Venture Skye 17, an older version of the current Easky 17 from P&H’s little brother Venture Kayaks. I did things with that kayak at the time that, looking back, I wonder how I made it but it started my future of sea kayaking. I have since owned 3 Cetus LV’s a Capella 163 and what looks to be a 4th in the works as selling the last was only to fund the next.

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So in my sad Cetusless world I find myself taking out the Capella 163, which I coincidentally enough just thew one of the new P&H distributed Flat Earth Sails and it has created a whole new level of fun to the kayak. Rigging took more time looking at the deck making the commitment to drill a hole than to do the rest. The sail and all hardware looked really high quality and I was sailing that day. It has really been a blast and has added to the speed of the Capella. I was worried about a sail on a skeg boat but it works fantastically. After doing a full day sea kayak lesson in the Capella (2011) today I was just blown away at how versatile it had become but more so how incredibly sound all of my P&H family boats have been over the years and the craftsmanship of every single one of them. I have taken these kayaks all over the place and put them to the test and never have a I felt the “this boat can’t handle this” syndrome.

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So for now I get to go through the process of dreaming up options for the next Cetus LV and wonder if a sail with meet that as well……

 

Hammer – Reveiw from the Woodmill Sea Symposium

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Woodmill Sea Symposium 6-7th July, 2013.

Test report: P&H Hammer.

I’ve been going to the Woodmill Sea Symposium ever since the first one three years ago. Being fortunate enough to work there as a volunteer coach also means I get to try out the centre’s demo fleet.

However, it’s always nice to see P & H come to visit us so you can see what their latest offerings are. Even better when you can have a paddle of it and put a boat through it’s paces.

Despite arriving early for trip leader & back up coach briefing I managed to find myself looking short changed on the boat front. Our trip leader Pete Brown had jokingly replied that I could always paddle around Hayling Island (our particular trip ) in a Burn!? Many a true word spoken in jest it seemed. I went over to the P & H rep Jim Pearce who kindly stepped in & pointed to a new “ Hammer”.  I looked over to a yellow/ mustard coloured boat that looked like someone had taken a Burn stretched it, added hatches, deck lines & a skeg & then put a Connect system in for good measure.

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So what’s it like? Well actually very comfortable, stable & tracks quite well without using the skeg. The kayak itself has a fairly pronounced rocker at the front; not unlike a river runner. The bow is softly rounded & you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a white water kayak. Following back towards the cockpit the manufacturers have thoughtfully put two recesses for resting the ends of your split paddles into. A little further on is a forward hatch with more than enough space to store a fair amount of kit. The deck elastics continue on before you arrive at the cockpit. I found that the deck elastics were ample enough to keep a tight grip on my splits & still hold my pump & water bottle. The cockpit is a keyhole shape & I found that my keyhole size spray deck fitted on comfortably without the usual dramas you sometimes get with stretching your deck over. The seat is a standard Pyranha type with the connect system for ratcheting up the tension on the back rest & ensuring a snug fit into the thigh braces. A white water type footplate with the alloy runners & plastic nuts for adjustment is there for giving your feet something to brace against.

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Behind you is a day hatch; with loads of space more deck elastics & then another hatch for gear stowage. Interestingly the fore & aft have been fitted with river boat type grab handles as well as the toggle grip on the ends that you would expect to find on sea kayaks. Top marks to P & H on this one as it certainly made portages up & down the beach easier. The hull is a planning type with a skeg recess towards the rear. Again the end of the hull here has been given rocker but in a more subtle way.

I have to be honest & say that initially I was privately having a few misgivings as seeing that everyone else was in a traditional style sea boat I realised that I was probably going to have my work cut out keeping up. I also got a few little off the cuff remarks about my new sea kayak playboat!

Well I’m always up for a challenge to try something new & the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover is ever true. The Hammer did not disappoint. I was told by Jim the P & H rep that what the Hammer had been designed for was rock hopping, playing in the surf & for being able to get in & out of caves without the usual reverse in or trying to swing the boat around in a confined space with water that may be falling & rising with the swell.

Photo courtesy of Karl Midlane.

Photo courtesy of Karl Midlane.

 

First impressions? This is a comfortable boat that you could put a reasonable amount of distance in without the usual little niggles or cramps that I’ve had with other manufacturer’s boats. You could do a day trip in this boat with long periods before you had to get out & stretch your legs. On launching through a gentle swell I found the Hammer to be very stable with none of the slight twitchiness that some sea kayaks have. This includes following along the coast with a beam on sea; a situation that for some novices is not always comfortable to be in.

The weather for the trip could not have been better.  There was a gentle swell off the coast where we launched & virtually no breeze. Interestingly I noticed that my cadence rate for paddling was no greater than that of my fellow paddlers. I’ve usually found that experience has shown me that if I’m not comfortable in a boat I usually know within the first thirty minutes or so. At this point I was still comfortable & enjoying the Hammer. On entering the harbour mouth to Langstone the usual squadron of jet skiers & holiday boaters were there to meet us with varying degrees of wash to play on. I was now starting to see what the Hammer was all about as I gleefully bounced over the first wave to execute a low brace turn with a surprising turn of speed for a longer boat. Images of surfing larger waves & pulling off surfing type tricks were starting to form in my mind. No such luck in Langstone harbour! But you can’t have everything. The kayak edges & turns easily & would give confidence & comfort to the beginner.

Another hour or so of paddling placid water, albeit with a slight tidal flow working against us didn’t seem to be causing me to work harder than anyone else. In fact the ability to turn quickly in this kayak is an advantage when you have novice paddlers with you & may have to effect a prompt rescue. This didn’t get put to the test on the day, but I got the impression that the Hammers stability would make it ideal for this task.

I swapped with Jim after the lunch break as he hadn’t paddled it before & he wanted to test the Hammer for himself. Somewhat regretfully I found myself paddling Jim’s Cetus MV; a boat which I do like. I’d paddled the Hammer for half of the trips 22km & was pleasantly surprised with it’s abilities & comfort.

Making our way through Chichester harbour back towards the open sea I noticed that Jim was having no trouble keeping up with the group. When we found a nice big sandbar with breaking waves to play on & I watched Jim surf on the wave & then pull off turns on the downward face with such ease, I was envious. Don’t get me wrong I was also having a great time in the Cetus, but you need greater input to achieve the same effects on the wave.

This is the sort of situation where the Hammer comes into it’s own. For me this would make a great day trip boat with the ability to keep up with the pack for the shorter distances. I wouldn’t see myself doing long open water crossings or week long expeditions maybe; but a couple of days wouldn’t be a problem with the roominess of the hatches fore & aft makes short trips a possibility. This would also make a good boat to put a novice sea kayaker in to build confidence & ability. Another thought was as a coaching boat when out with absolute beginners because of it’s swift turning abilities. Unfortunately I have had nothing else to compare the Hammer against as a bench mark for comparison purposes. Possibly because it’s quite unique within the sea kayak world; the nearest comparison I could come up with would be the Rockhopper made by RTM.

Photo courtesy of Ben Lawry
Photo courtesy of Ben Lawry

Like all things in life it’s horses for courses. If you can afford a traditional sea kayak as well as the Hammer for playing in then you’ve got the best of both worlds. However, if you don’t want to do multi day expeditions, but do a couple of days away, still keep up with your mates, but have the advantage of quick manoverabilty when it’s playtime out on the sea, then the Hammer may just be what you’re looking for. I was certainly impressed & if funds allowed I would buy one.

Pete Sarginson – Volunteer Coach at Woodmill Outdoor Activity centre.

 

 

Aries 155 – Review by Olly Sanders

Monday, June 10th, 2013

A review of the Aries after a years coaching and playing with Olly Sanders.

P&H Aries Review

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The P&H Delphin has shaken things up in the world of sea kayak play over the past couple of seasons and the new Aries is sure to do the same. What do you get out of P&H’s newest composite sea kayak? Lets take a look. (more…)


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