One of the most obvious features on the Beaufort made by Skimkayaks is the some 80mm wide, semi-circular groove running centrally fore-to-aft on the deck. Its purpose is to stiffen the kayak all the while keeping the amount of fiber and resin used to a reasonable minimum and thus keeping weight down. Makes sense!
As an added bonus this groove feature also provides a nifty place to stow, items such as a waterpump, water bottle, gps, etc. A nice one!
However there is a little minus from this groove. Not a big one, but there it is: It adds extra challenge in the installation of a deck compass and mast base plate. Like I said, it isn’t really a big minus. If you don’t kayak sail, then the mast base installation point is moot. Also if you don’t use/need a deck compass, other than the bungee cord quick installation type (Silva 58 Kayak or Suunto Orca ), then these “minus” points will not affect you! Win-Win! 😀
Personally I prefer to have a permanently installed deck compass on all of my “long haul” expedition kayaks. Up til now I have predominantly used the Silva 70P (Whisper and Willow). However the groove would require some form of a baseplate/cup, installation set up-custom-modification-geegaag-thing-ama-jiggie to make the installation of the 70P sit nicely , work well and look good. Since I’m unaware of any ready made solution on the markets for said purpose, all this would require some form of extra spurt in my imagination aka brain synapses ! In other words I would have to come up with some DIY solution and then make it. At this time I’m not THAT motivated!
While pondering my conundrum, I remembered another Silva compass model, the 70UNE, (and its non-illuminated version 70 UN). This is more expensive than the previous two models mentioned. It does have an extra bonus that it can be easily removed from its holder (and stolen!) and used as an hand-compass on land. Uptil now the high cost, easy removability (without tools) characteristics have been reason why I have shied away from this model. Also the deck holder of the compass feels a tad “flimsy” in my mind. A careless, tired whack in cold weather with a paddle onto the holder may be enough to break it?.. maybe? Plausible..?
Anyhoo.. at this stage the only available quality option for a semi-permanent deck compass installation for the Skim Kayaks Beaufort would appear to be the Silva 70 UNE. One big nice plus for this model is that it has a red led light for night illumination.. which can be really nice on night paddles! This adds to the “COOL” factor nicely!
After doling out the required amount of cash for a Silva 70 UNE. I went home to see if the compass would actually fit the deck groove? I was lucky I hadn’t paid for nothing. The compass actually fit quite snugly in the groove! As a nice extra extra bonus, the compass holder sat within the groove and thus would be protected from random whacks by paddles,other kayaks or hostile objects ! Nice!!!
Then it was just a matter of some DIY magic. Hopefully the following picture show is self-explanatory. 🙂
Fittings used were Stainless steel M4 x 25 sized bolts, flat head
At the writing of this article, I have installed SeaDog sails on three different kayaks. Each installation has been different due to differing circumstances. Each installation, while requiring some extra work, has been reasonably easy and straight forward. In this article I will concentrate on making an adapter for the mast baseplate on a Skimkayaks Beaufort.
The Beaufort however, with its negative groove (or gutter) running down the center of the deck is the most demanding installation thus far. The negative groove will require an adapter for the mast base plate. The flat bottom of the plate needs to be mated with the bottom of the groove. Otherwise this may cause pressure ridges onto the deck groove which may later cause cracking. Also the mast base plate needs to be slightly higher to allow enough counterclockwise rotation of the mast attachment piece!
More about the actual installation process of the mast will follow…
So… Long story short. I was helping a friend pick a kayak for his upcoming expedition along the Finnish coast summer 2016. He got his kayak.. and so did I! I really had no real need for a new kayak.. seriously! 😉 But it is a NICE kayak! So what the hell, there went my retirement emergency funds! My fleet had space for a shortish sea kayak that had a very nice speed-to-agility ratio…
Skim kayaks is a Finnish base company that has several seakayak models to offer. The Beaufort doesnt have very much visibility on the web, probably due to the smallish manufacturing numbers..? Who knows? A couple German paddlers, Eike Köhler and his friend Basti have used the Beaufort on long sea expeditions; Gothenburg to Helsinki and more recently a trip along the Norwegian Coast. So the Beaufort cannot be all that bad?
At the writing of this, I have logged less that 50 kms with it, so I will not dwell too much about how it goes on the water, suffice to say; If I’m confident that enough to paddle the finnish coast in one, it can’t be bad? For now I will do a short review on the initial impressions.
These are the spec’s , as copied off the manufacturers website:
"Length: 513 cm
Width: 53.1 cm
Hullshape: Shallow/medium V, Strong chines
Cockpit depth front: (inner) 32 cm
Seat depth: 20,5 cm
Forward: 88 liters
Cockpit: 147 liters
Day hatch aft: 71 liters
Day hatch bow: 5.2 liters
Aft: 47 liters
Total: 358,2 liters
Optimal paddler weight: 70-100 kilos
TR: glass fiber/diolen/polyester
RH: Hull: vacuum infused Kevlar, directional glass and Carbon sandwich/vinylester Deck: Kelar reinforced glass/vinylester
CL: hull: infused carbon fiber sandwich/ vinylester, deck: vacuum infused carbon fiber sandwich/vinylester
Hatches: 44/26 cm
Dayhatch aft: 20 cm
Dayhatch bow: 15 cm
Manufactured in: Finland"
We ordered our kayaks thru North-West Import, located in Espoo, Finland. The service was top-notch. The icing on the cake was that we were able request certain modifications made for our kayaks! This was something new and pretty darn cool to boot! I requested that my Rockhopper version would have a Kevlar rubstrip installed along the keel. This is serviced offered at an extra fee of 150€. Also I really liked the KajakSport Flexjoint-footpads on the footrests. I Don’t recall how much they cost.. but they are quite nice! Time will tell how long lasting they will be. Initially I thought these were .. umm yuppy posh extra luxury items that no real seakayaker would use !… but after trying them out.. oh well, I guess I’m getting old or sumthing.
Being a short Hobbit sized paddler I wanted the forward bulkhead moved back some – to minimize extra space in the cockpit and maximize “dry space” up front.
Normally the cockpit aft bulkhead is installed slanted and right up-to the lip of the cockpit. This is to facilitate easyish emptying of kayak in case of wet exit, rescue situations. Personally I prefer to have some extra space behind the seat for an anorak, waterbag, thermos etc. So I requested that the aft bulkhead was to be installed vertical and approx. 40mm more aft of its standard located.
Since it is my intention to use a sail on the Beaufort whenever possible, my last request was to add an reinforcing layer of Fiberglass under the deck for about 350mm just forward of the fore-hatch.
Initially my intention was to buy the “Traditional” layup version but I envisioned that I may wander off to more rockier waters in the future, so I ordered the Kevlar re-inforced “Rockhopper” (RH) version.
Finishing quality was good-to-excellent. It is comparable with more expensive british made kayaks. finishing of the interior was smooth and clean. The only minor flaw that I found was a tiny blob of dried adhesive along the cockpit rim, under the lip. A small annoyance that would probably caused the spray deck edge to wear thru on the long run. However a couple gentle swipes on the offending blob with 320 grit sandpaper smoothed things out.
All hatch lips were installed smoothly flush to the deck. Kayaksport hard rings with the soft/hard variety of hatch lids. No fault there! All installations were neat and clean.
Among the immediately visible peculiarities on the Beaufort are: The reverse slanted stern, a largish semi-circle groove along the center-line of the deck, a paddle attachment, and the cam-cleat attachment point for possible tow-line.
My immediate guess for the reasoning of the stern shape would be to increase waterline length and thus possibly increase speed? I cannot say whether this actually works but for a kayak thats overall length is a modest 513 cms , she does paddle very easily at a rates 7.5-8.5 km/h even with a load of 20 kgs! So there might be something to it? I will get back to this later when I have more experience on the matter.
The paddle “park” , or attachment point (not sure what its called?) was another quirky looking standard option. At first I was going to go without it, but then I decided it may be useful on extra uber long crossings. If need be I could use it to make an out-rigger, for a lunch break or sumthing. Not sure if the manufacturer had that in mind when designing it or how they feel about my idea of its possible use.. but thats what I thought.
Being a short hobbit sized paddler I quickly found that having a belt towline on while paddling got to be a little stuffy. There really isnt much space between the lower edge of my PFD and the spray skirt. Wearing a belt pack-towline would very quickly wear a hole thru my neoprene spray skirt.. which is a no-no to my budget. The installed cam-cleat with re-inforcing bar on the aft deck were features that I’m hoping would ease matters a tad.
The final immediately visible oddity on the Beaufort is the half-circle groove along the center of the deck running front-to-back.
The grooves purpose is to make the deck more rigid. as an extra bonus it offers a nice spot to stow stuff like water bottle, water pump etc. Also it makes the installation of a compass and kayak sail slightly more challenging, but more about those at a later post.
SO initial impression on the Beaufort is that it is a very well made kayak, that has several promising features that I eagerly await to test out properly on a long, very loooong trip! Sofar, Very good!
More to follow…
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