A new toy..

I’ve never been too excited about live picture/video capturing. Have always considered myself a “still image” type of guy. Looks like that may change…

Marko had recently acquired a GoPro Hero4 Session camera and attached Ram Mount hardpoints where to install the camera on his kayak.

The GoPro Hero4 Session is a camera produces to my uneducated eye actually pretty decent net worthy video! Also it is pretty darn small!! In addition it has only TWO buttons to operate!! This is borderline limit for my feeble mind to comprehend.  Sounds like something I may learn to use?

The kit is pretty small. From left to right: GoPro remote, RamMount 6" Mount, GoPro Hero 4 session camera, Holder for the GoPro Hero 4 session camera with Ram Mount adapter ball for the Go Pro.
The kit is pretty small. From left to right: GoPro remote, RamMount 6″ Mount, GoPro Hero 4 session camera, Holder for the GoPro Hero 4 session camera with Ram Mount adapter ball for the Go Pro.

Also the Camera can be  operated with a separately sold remote control, OR a smart phone app. So if the camera is further away from the operator, one can still start and stop the filming!  This can be handy on a kayak!

I have the understanding that these GoPro Devices are reasonably robust and actually may operate successfully in marine conditions.. so this might be  working formula!

1" Ram mount ball on bow of the Beaufort
1″ Ram mount ball on bow of the Beaufort

The 1 inch ram mount B- size balls are reasonably low in profile, yet sturdy for intended use , particularly this small camera and has a large selection of adapters, gadgets etc available and whats best these were all  available from Finland without complicated, unsure, expensive “order from abroad and pay taxes” spiel!

1" Ball on the stern
1″ Ball on the stern

I acquired the necessary parts from local company nearby with excellent service and which pretty much covers the whole Ram Mount catalog of parts available: Yepnet. Whats best, the whole package was under 100€!! This hardly ever happens in Finland anymore!

Camera installed on the stern hardpoint. The white line is the DIY safety line for the camera. It will be attached onto the deckline.
Camera installed on the stern hardpoint. The white line is the DIY safety line for the camera. It will be attached onto the deckline.

Installation of the hardpoints was easy/hard. I used SS M4 Hardware + White SikaFlex 291i to attach the Ram Mount balls on the bow and stern. Evereything  else was easy apart from holding back the nuts while tightening the screws. Here and additional pair of hands was necessary.

So.. now I have another toy to play around with.. and if all goes well I might actually have some videos to post at a later date.. Ofcourse before that I will have to try to learn the complex world of digtalvideo editing! 😉

A possible alternative for a sheet pulley..

I’ve used a couple different set ups for my kayak sail sheet pulleys. First off, the term is a bit misleading as I don’t actually have a ‘pulley’ in any of the installs! On a couple installs the sheet line passes thru a plastic pad-eye on the deck and on the other install the ‘pulley’ is actually a SS thimble knotted. I don’t see any added advantage of having an actual pulley ! Thus far my systems have been adequate.

The first "sheet pulley" I set up on the Beaufort. It works but its a bit.. clunky.
The first “sheet pulley” I set up on the Beaufort. It works but its a bit.. clunky.
The first time I used a thimble as a sheet pulley was and still is on the my Vortex. This was a VERY quick and dirty solution, which has worked just fine for one season. I need to do something about this..
The first time I used a thimble as a sheet pulley was and still is on the my Vortex. This was a VERY quick and dirty solution, which has worked just fine for one season. I need to do something about this.. jumble of knots!

However the thimble approach is a bit clunky in my mind. Maybe it’s because I’ve used a knot instead of splicing the thimble eye nicely into the line.. or maybe it’s just too.. Clunky!??

Anyhoo, some while back whilst surfing boatchandlers websites I noticed a very inneresting product. Something made by Antal, a lowfriction ring.  Whats more, they have a product called a soft link, which at least looked  aesthetically nicer than my self made unspliced thimbles!!!

Must have” me thinks! That is, until I saw the price! The soft link with the smallest sized (7mm)low friction ring was slightly over 31€ + postage !! Ofcourse Finland is known for generally overpriced everything when it comes to yachting products.. but 31€ is just ridiculous!!

OK.. so time passes by and every time I see the clunky thimble on the deck in front of me, it annoys me ever so slightly.. which with time just gets worse. So then I get to thinking that mayhaps, I’ll buy one of those darn low-friction rings and a bit of 4mm dyneema line and make the rest meself! The ring itself costs 11€ which in my mind still  IS highway robbery.. but fortunately I’ll need just the one for now (Imagine the poor yachtie who’ll need 10, 20 or more.. oh wait.. there is no such thing as a POOR yachtie… Haahaa!)

I did contemplate trying to fabricate a ring myself out of several materials.. aluminium coated with epoxy+graphite powder, or laminate something with CarbonFiber+Graphite powder etc etc etc.. And in the end the highway robbery of 11€ seemed quite decent! After all , I’ll just need the one! 🙂

So finally when the mail  arrived (well, actually I had to pick the mail from the store 2 km’s from home.. but that’s Finland for ya, and another story) I was a happy and eager new owner of some 4mm dyneema line, a D-Splicer F15 .. splicer thingy, a couple Antal 7mm lowfriction rings. Add to the mix some semi sharpish scissors, splicing yarn , needle, some odds and ends. Finally armed with knowledge gleaned from a confusing dutch language instructional online videos: here, I was ready for the real deal.

Stuffs needed to DIY a dyneema softlink shackle with Antal low friction ring..
Stuffs needed to DIY a dyneema softlink shackle with Antal low friction ring..

First attempt, I cut the total length 35 cm.. which was way too short!  Repeat after me.. 35 cm is TOO SHORT!..

Dyneema loop spliced and ready for the sewing and locking the Antal loop in place. Not sure if the 1.4mm polyester line is right for this use.. but its all I had at hand! We shall see..
Dyneema loop spliced and ready for the sewing and locking the Antal loop in place. Not sure if the 1.4mm polyester line is right for this use.. but its all I had at hand! We shall see..

Second time around.. I cut the initial dyneema line to a length of 45 cm, which at first seemed 5 cm too long but now that the first self made softlink is at hand.. it maybe just right?

"Sheet pulley" just about ready.
“Sheet pulley” just about ready.
Overall length is just about 9 cm.. Looks like it'll be a snug fit
Overall length is just about 9 cm.. Looks like it’ll be a snug fit
The softlink installed. Not sure what to call this knot? Basicly its a Prusik styled knot. It has only two loops around instead of three (which the Prusik has) . Short test would indicate that it will not slide.. but that will yet to be determined!
The softlink installed. Not sure what to call this knot? Basically its a Prusik styled knot. It has only two loops around instead of three (which the Prusik has) . Short test would indicate that it will not slide.. but that will yet to be determined!
Adjustability is key here. Have the pulley point as close to center as possible.. but keep the line clear of the compass.A
Adjustability is key here. Have the pulley point as close to center as possible.. but keep the sheet line  (pink/white) clear of the compass.
Sheet pulley point seems to be inline, right below the sheet attachment point on the sail.. Maybe thats a good thing?
Sheet pulley point seems to be inline, right below the sheet attachment point on the sail.. Maybe that’s a good thing?

How well will this work? Dunno. A couple questions that will be answered in due time:

  1. Is the polyester line for splicing was proper?
  2. Is  is spliced properly?
  3. Is two loops around deck line enough to keep the softlink from sliding and following the sail, left and right across the deck? It might need the three as in a proper Prusik knot…

Time will tell. Needs to be tested in use and go from there.. well hopefully sail from there!

Making a modern dyneema spliced loop was surprisingly easy and quick work with the proper tools! Making the closed loop, on second attempt took less than 10 minutes! Doing the splicing with string took  about the same. Overall time was probably approx 30 minutes. I kinda liked it.

If working with Dyneema , good sharp scissors preferably ones meant for the job is a must. Making one or two soft links will go wit a sharpish household scissors.. sort of. but it will nut “cut it” in the long run! 😉

Atleast this version looks nicer than the previous version! 😉

Beaufort: Sail installation

The time had come to make my Beaufort even better than it was ! Time for a sail ! A kayak without a sail is boring.. sorry I had to say it! Now its out there. 😉

I had ordered the SeaDog Commander sail last year with the primary thought of using it on the coastal paddle  and since the Beaufort is the chosen kayak for the trip,  I needed to modify the Beaufort accordingly!

There are several ways to install a SeaDogstyle sail onto a kayak. Heres a very rough categorization of what I have found online:

  1.  3 stays +1 uphaul the most common method: 2 lateral side stays, 1 aft stay and 1 uphaul opposite the backstay. A good set of instructions
  2. 2 stays + 1 uphaul : Gnarlydog
  3. 4 stays + 1 uphaul : 2 lateral sidestays, 2 diagonal back stays and 1 uphaul : Some excellent advise by Douglas Wilcox

I’m sure there are several variations of the above mentioned set-ups all have their merits and faults, heck I have used a sail set up which differs from all the above mentioned methods.. which works “ok” , I might share  it hereabouts at a later date..

Currently my preferred installation method is the last of the three described:  2 lateral side stays and 2 diagonal back stays +uphaul. Ofcourse this adds the amount of itsy-bitsy strings on-deck.. but the fun of sailing over-rides the negatives of them strings..

The installation of the sail can be divided into the following bits:

  1. Mast base plate installation
  2. Sidestay points
  3. Back stay points
  4. Uphaul pulley
  5. Sheet pulley
  6. Sheet cam cleat
  7. Uphaul clamcleat

Basicly the method for sail installation described here will probably work with most kayaks. The biggest difference would be the use/need for the mast baseplate adapter to mate it on the deck, as was done here.

Mast Base plate Installation

Due to the Beauforts peculiar deck profile: a semiround groove running down the lenght of the deck from bow to stern, this adds some challenge to make a sturdy and water proof installation for the mast. I had to prefabricate a mast base plate adaptor.  The actual installation was ALOT easier than making the adaptor, thankfully so.

Apply masking tape, mark centerline along the area where mast base plate will be installed..
Apply masking tape, mark center-line along the area where mast base plate will be installed..
Base plate adapter "dry fitted" I decided to install the mast so that the mast centerline is approx 790mm from the tip of the bow of the kayak.
Base plate adapter “dry fitted” I decided to install the mast so that the mast center-line is approx 790mm from the tip of the bow of the kayak.
After drilling the first hole, I used the actual adapter as a template to drill the second hole, thus (hopefully) ensuring that the drilled holes will align with adapter plate AND actual baseplate...
After drilling the first hole, I used the actual adapter as a template to drill the second hole, thus (hopefully) ensuring that the drilled holes will align with adapter plate AND actual baseplate…
Voila! Two neat holes thru the deck! Crikey! I've just drill two holes thru my kayaks deck!!! what the heck is wrong with me? ;)
Voila! Two neat holes thru the deck! Crikey! I’ve just drill two holes thru my kayaks deck!!! what the heck is wrong with me? 😉
Next I used window seal, weatherproof EPDM seal with a self adhesive backside. This comes on the bottom of the adapter - against the deck surface. to help seal against water ingress thru the screw holes AND even the pressure against the deck.
Next I used window seal, weatherproof EPDM seal with a self adhesive backside. This comes on the bottom of the adapter – against the deck surface. to help seal against water ingress thru the screw holes AND even the pressure against the deck.
Here is the whole shebang: mast baseplate, maste baseplate adapter, EPDM seal and 2 Stainless Steel M4 x33mm flat head screws.
Here is the whole shebang: mast baseplate (red), mast baseplate adapter(black CF), EPDM seal and 2 Stainless Steel M4 x 33mm flat head screws. EPDM seal has been roughly scissored to the outline of the adapter!
Underneath, I used a 2mm thick rubber washers under the SS washers to help seal against potential water ingress.
Underneath, I used a 2mm thick rubber washers under the SS washers to help seal against potential water ingress.
Side stay points

The sidestay hardpoints needed more drilling thru the hull. One would normally want to use the existing  installed “Recessed Deck Fittings” (RDF) .. and that would be fine BUT.. Usually the  installed RDFs have not been installed with the pressures/stresses that a sail will put on it in mind. Without extra re-inforcement there have been cases where a RDFs has been pulled off/thu the deck causing a pretty big hole on the deck! Not to mention annoying extra work to fix it!  The Sidestays will have considerable load stresses when sailing beam reach or close reach…  So its better to install the sidestay hardpoints on the side of the hull rather than “topside”. Also the fact that the Beaufort has  nice 50mm Aramid/Kevlar tape running along the hull deck seam on the inside, gives a good (solid) place to install the hardpoints.  The hardpoints were drilled approx 792mm aft of the bow tip..

In the two previous kayaks Vixen and Vortex I've used this method for side stay hardpoints. 25mm wide nylon webbing folded (approx lentgth of webbing before folding is approx. 100mm). Melt a hole for the M4 screw with a hot solder, use a crown washer outside and an epdm deam washer against the hull. Inside another rubber washermated with a correspondinf SS washer and hatnut..
In the two previous kayaks Vixen and Vortex I’ve used this method for side stay hardpoints. 25mm wide nylon webbing folded (approx lentgth of webbing before folding is approx. 100mm). Melt a hole for the M4 screw with a hot solder, use a crown washer outside and an epdm deam washer against the hull. Inside another rubber washer mated with a corresponding SS washer and hatnut..
Hardpoint installed, jsut above the seam... (yikes! hope this holds!!) Even though I have used this method previously, successfully I might change the nylon webbing to a kajaksport hardpoint at a later date.. will have to wait and see.
Hardpoint installed, just above the deck/hull seam… (yikes! hope this holds!!) Even though I have used this method previously, successfully I might change the nylon webbing to a kajaksport deckfitting at a later date.. will have to wait and see.
The quick snap shackle, even though bigger than the U-shackles I have used previously does make the take-down and set up much faster and easier!
The quick snap shackle, even though bigger than the U-shackles I have used previously does make the take-down and set up much faster and easier!
The "inside workings" of the sidestay hardpoint. Here additional re-inforcement was /isnt required.. as the hole goes thru the Kevlar tape!
The “inside workings” of the sidestay hardpoint. Here additional re-inforcement was /isnt  (hopefully) required.. as the hole goes thru the Kevlar tape! Otherwise an additional patch of Glass Fiber or Kevlar Or Carbon Fiber might be a good idea!
These quick snap shackles weren't previously easily available in Finland, now this (52mm) is the smallest size available in Finland, hopefully the next size smaller will become available soon!
These quick snap shackles weren’t previously easily available in Finland, now this (52mm) is the smallest size available in Finland, hopefully the next size smaller will become available soon!
The quick snap shackle next to the variety of U-Shackles I have used previously.. size difference is apparent!
The quick snap shackle (on left) next to the variety of U-Shackles I have used previously.. size difference is apparent!
Back stay points

Contrary to what I said previously about NOT using the existing RDF’s, for the backstay hardpoints I decided to use the existing RDF’s !!! Woo twisted logic!
The logic here is that the RDFs. are so far back that the pull angle is shallow PLUS I will be using TWO points that hopefully will share the load! This is all theory at this point. However I’m confident that this set up will work – time will tell!

The big plus side of using the existng RDF’s is that I dont need to do any thru-deck drilling. Just add a 2mm dyneema loop thru each RDF for the quick-snap-shackles!

The diagonal backstays (green lines).
The diagonal backstays (green lines).
Uphaul pulley
The uphaul pulley was another easy installation. Adding a small 16mm SS pulley with a 2mm dyneema line onto the Bow RDF. A small U-shackle for semi-easy removal.
The uphaul pulley was another easy installation. Adding a small 16mm SS pulley with a 2mm dyneema line onto the Bow RDF. A small U-shackle for semi-easy removal.
Sheet pulley
On two previous installations I have used a thru-padeye installed on the deck centrally fro the sheet pulley, this usually requires two thru deck holes! I cringe at every etra hole I drill thru the deck. One previous installation I tried a pad-eye styled pulley, it seems to work so I decided to try it with the Beaufort installation. Another consideration for this choice was the compass installation which prettymuch rules out a "central installation! Here pictured I have replaces the pulley with a 4mm SS thimble which has been jury rigged with a Prusik styled knot onto another 4mm dyneemaline (darkblue/white) running across the deck. The idea is to find a working position for the "pulley/thimble" line so that the sheet line will not snag onto the compass.. (yes sounds complex..)
On two previous installations I have used a thru-deck pad-eye installed on the deck centrally for the sheet pulley, this usually requires two thru deck holes! I cringe at every extra hole I drill thru the deck. One previous installation I tried a thimble/ pulley, it seems to work so I decided to try it with the Beaufort installation. Another consideration for this choice was the compass installation which pretty much rules out a “central installation! Here pictured I have replaced the pulley with a 4mm SS thimble which has been jury rigged with a Prusik styled knot onto another 4mm dyneemaline (darkblue/white) running across the deck. The idea is to find a working position for the “pulley/thimble” line so that the sheet line (pink/white) will not snag onto the compass.. (yes, it sounds a tad complex complex..)
Sheet cam cleat

To lock the sheet line, I use the smallest cam-cleat available, with a wire gate of sorts. This allows for reasonable fine-tune-control of the sheet line, especially when tightening the line, but it still reasonably easy to loosen as well.

 

Also needs to be reasonably close to center. ALSO thru bolts need to have a reasonable flat location so that the washers wont be in the way of any underdeck countours, such as the "mini glove-box hatch" etc etc etc...
Finding the correct position for the cam-cleat is always a bit tricky. It cannot be too far forward, but cannot be too close either so that it will be in the way of low angle paddle strokes either. Also needs to be reasonably close to center-line of the kayak . ALSO keep in mind that the thru bolts need to have a reasonable flat location so that the washers wont be in the way of any underdeck countours, such as the “mini glove-box hatch” etc etc etc…
Same modus operandi for drilling holes here as previously: masking tape, mark, drill one, use actual component to use as a drilling guide for second hole.
Same modus operandi for drilling holes here as previously: masking tape, mark,(double check correct location of markings), drill one, use actual component to use as a drilling guide for second hole.
since the deck is slightly curved and the cam cleat base is staright AND I was a bit lazy I decided to used some leftover EPDM foam washers.. betwix the two ...
since the deck is slightly curved and the cam cleat base is straight AND I was a bit lazy I decided to used some leftover EPDM foam washers.. betwix the two (deck and cam-cleat).
Here the cam cleat is prior to tightening.. the EPDM washers stand proud!
Here the cam cleat is prior to tightening.. the EPDM washers stand proud!
Screws tightened! A slight gap between the center of the cam-cleat and the deck, yet no wobble on the cam cleat! looks good me-thinks!
Screws tightened! A slight gap between the center of the cam-cleat and the deck, yet no wobble on the cam cleat! looks good me-thinks!
Cam-Cleat installation as seen under-deck. Note the close proximity of the glove-box! Also Before installation check to feel that the nuts will not be anywhere near where your, knees, thighs etc may be.. during normal paddling modes!
Cam-Cleat installation as seen under-deck. Note the close proximity of the glove-box! Also Before installation check to feel that the nuts will not be anywhere near where your, knees, thighs etc may be.. during normal paddling modes!
Uphaul clamcleat

Since the uphaul line basicly has two clear positions: Mast DOWN and Mast UP, then a simple clam-cleat would be enough! Another added bonus  of using a CLAMcleat compared to a CAM-Cleat (as with the sheetline) is that the CLAMcleat is lower in profile, thus less likely to be on the way of anything: paddle, knuckles, lines otherkayaks etc. !

Clamcleat CL-241 , aluminium seems to work best for me.
Clamcleat CL-241 , aluminium seems to work best for me. Feels the sturdiest available. The more common open sided plastic versions  work too. The mirror version of the CL241 is CL273
Same consideratons for the Clamcleat installation applies as with the CAMcleat.. (I wonder when I will mix the two up!??) :)
Same considerations for the Clamcleat installation applies as with the CAMcleat.. (I wonder when I will mix the two up!??)  🙂
Clamcleat installed! Prety much the same wasy as the CAMcleat! only difference that the screws used were SS M4 x20 , instead of M4 x 35
Clamcleat installed! Pretty much the same way as the CAMcleat! Only difference that the screws used were SS M4 x20 , instead of M4 x 35
Almost there…

Now most of the big dirty work, ie drilling is over.. hopefully!  Some final tweaking of knots and lines.

Starting to look cluttered. LInes have been roughly placed. On the bottom of the picture the blue/white line is the mast uphaul laine. The loose tail has been wrapped aroound the deckrigging ( blackline) . On the top of the picture, the PInk/White line is the sheet line. Both lines have been pulled thru their respective Cleats.. Also PADeye/Thimble is visible on the lft above the compass.
The deck is tarting to look cluttered. No worries!  Lines have been roughly placed. On the bottom of the picture the blue/white line is the mast uphaul line. The loose tail (excess)has been wrapped around the deckrigging ( blackline) for the duration  . On the top of the picture, the Pink/White line is the sheet line. Both lines have been pulled thru their respective Cleats.. Also thimble/pulley is visible on the left above the compass. At this stage the thimble/pulley is for testing purposes as is. Once its location has been tested and deemed fit a smarter solution will be applied. On the far left on the green lines are the two quick snap shackles of the diagonal backstays just visible.

 

Here all is more or less visible.. Mast has been left ever-so-slightly tilted aft. Not sure if it makes any difference or not.. may straighten it later. Lines and knots still need to be adjusted /tightened to their final setting. BLUE= Sidestays, PINK/WHITE=sheet, BLUE/WHITE= Uphaul, GREEN= Diagonal backstays. BLACK= standard deck rigging,
Here all is more or less visible.. Mast has been left ever-so-slightly tilted aft. Not sure if it makes any difference or not.. may straighten it later. Lines and knots still need to be adjusted /tightened to their final setting. BLUE= Sidestays, PINK/WHITE=sheet, BLUE/WHITE= Uphaul, GREEN= Diagonal backstays. BLACK= standard deck rigging,
Adjusting the mast  tilt/angle

Getting the mast just right will take a couple sessions on the water testing and tweaking.. for this the right type of knot is essential, recently Douglas Wilcox (Again !) has come up with a suitable looking knot the adjustable grip hitch. At the writing of this post I haven’t personally  tested the knot in action but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work..? This is the knot I have used on this particular installation! Seems GOOD!

Some final words..

Adding a sail onto a kayak adds to the fun but there is also added risk of things going wrong. Maybe even REALLY wrong! The writer will assume no responsibility  if something goes drastically wrong with this set up! Common sense “laws” should and will apply here. Each does as each sees fit with each own responsibility!

That said, after I started kayak sailing a  paddling/emergency knife became a permanent fixture on my PFD! For those extra lines…

Take care and have FUN!

Beaufort: Deck Compass installation

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! 😀

Here the Suunto Orca, hanging.. not very functional. Some people use this compass alng one side or the other of the groove, but those spaces are already reserved fro spare paddle and mast.. More about those later.
Here the Suunto Orca, hanging.. not very functional. Some people use this compass along one side or the other of the groove, but on my kayak those spaces are already reserved fro spare paddle and mast.. More about those later.

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. 🙂

Due to the mast installation fore of the forward hatch the only place left for compass installation was just aft of the forward hatch. One should take in consideration the space needed to remove and close the hatch cover!
Due to the mast installation fore of the forward hatch the only place left for compass installation was just aft of the forward hatch. One should take in consideration the space needed to remove and close the hatch cover!
Once the location of the compass was decided, the required holes were marked and drilled. BEFORE marking and drilling cover the area involved with masking tape, keeps the area clean, scrtach free and also keeps the drilled holes neat!
Once the location of the compass was decided, the required holes were marked and drilled. BEFORE marking and drilling cover the area involved with masking tape, keeps the area clean, scratch free and also keeps the drilled holes neat!
Due to the concave surface the compass holder needs a baseplate for it to work. here I used a scrap piece of 2mm carbon fiber. One cannot deny the "cool" factor
Due to the concave surface the compass holder needs a baseplate for it to work. here I used a scrap piece of 2mm carbon fiber “plate”. One cannot deny the “cool” factor
Here the compass holder setting on top of the CF-plate. Don't worry, the compass holder comes with the compass! Also here is the glaring challenge evident. The gap between the concave and flat surfaces, The problemati area is basicly where the thru deck screws go!
Here the compass holder setting on top of the CF-plate. Don’t worry, the compass holder comes with the compass! Also here is the glaring challenge evident. The gap between the concave and flat surfaces, The problematic area is basicly where the thru deck screws go!
Under the deck, the same problem exists. If there nuts were to be tightened taut against the bottom of the deck "as is" the washers would probably do some drastic "cracking" accompanied damage..
Under the deck, the same problem exists. If there nuts were to be tightened taut against the bottom of the deck “as is” the washers would probably do some drastic “cracking” accompanied damage..
Topside, I decided to use Sugru to make a seal/gasket/semi hard point between the CF-plate and deck. Lucky I had white Sugru! At this stage it is good to point out that all metal fasteneres used are stainless steel (SS) and as an extra precautinary I put all of them in a plastic bag which I waved moved about near the compass to see if they give any interference.. this time none did!
Topside, I decided to use Sugru to make a seal/gasket/semi hard point between the CF-plate and deck. Lucky I had white Sugru! At this stage it is good to point out that all metal fasteners used are stainless steel (SS) and as an precautionary measure, BEFORE installation I put all of them in a plastic bag which I waved / moved about near the compass to see if they gave any interference.. this time none did!

Fittings used were Stainless steel M4 x 25 sized bolts, flat head

I rolled small snakes of the Sugru and wrapped them around the preinstalled screws. Making sure to pack some "extra" stuff on the inside.
I rolled small “snakes” of the Sugru and wrapped them around the pre-installed screws. Making sure to pack some “extra” stuff on the inside.
After the Sugru wrapping, Ipressed the whole assembly in its place. Gently pressed in down. Noting that the Sugru blobs spread more or less evenly. After this Iwaited 24 hours to let the Sugru harden.
After the Sugru wrapping, I pressed the whole assembly in its place. Gently pressing it down evenly. Noting that the Sugru blobs spread more or less evenly. After this I waited 24 hours BEFORE doing ANYTHING ELSE!  To let the Sugru harden.
rubber gasket washers under the stanless stell washers. Incase the topside gaskest seep/leak then these should be a secondary backup againste water ingress! IF this fails I'll just go to the good ole faithful Sika-Flex polyuretahne sealant!
After waiting for 24 hours, I did the final tightening. The idea behind the waiti was that the once hardened Sugru ‘seals’ would atleast  be tight.  Under the deck I used 3mm rubber gasket washers under the stainless stell washers. Incase the topside gaskets seep/leak then this should be a secondary backup against water ingress! IF this fails I’ll just go to the good ole faithful Sika-Flex polyuretahne sealant blob solution! Also note that I use the “hat” nuts, hopefully they minimize the cutting/damaging  fabrics, stuff sack, etc that are being packed/unpacked. Sloppily cut bolt ends have been known to cause similar damage…
Compass installed!
Compass installed!
Compass installed on the deck of the Beaufort. Fit is snug. The installation hardly interferes with deck bungee fittings. Actually the bungees ensure that the compass will not become dislodged by "accident"
Compass installed on the deck of the Beaufort. Fit is snug. The installation hardly interferes with deck bungee fittings. Actually the bungees ensure that the compass will not become dislodged by “accident”

Making a bent shaft Aleutian paddle – part 1

Hybrid Aleutian paddle, Top view
Hybrid Aleutian paddle. Prototype#2 Two seasons of use showing, but still going strong.   Top view
Hybrid Aleutian paddle, sideview
Hybrid Aleutian paddle.Prototype #2.  The power face is the flat face.  Side view

A paddle design I’ve exclusively used the past 3 years. The first prototype I built and used during the summer of 2013. It performed well but due to the materials used; maple, alder and pine,  was slightly on the heavy side ( 1500+ gms), but booy, oh boy is it robust!

For the coast of Finland kayaking trip in 2014,  I built a second prototype from lighter materials (total weight in the 950g range): Western Red Cedar (WRC), nordic pine and alder. I’ve used that paddle now for two consequetive summers and some 2500+ kms of touring. It still needs improvement but still its the best paddle I have made. While its not the lightest paddle out there, it IS strong enough for touring/expedition use! NO question! It has  slight flex, just enough to let you know there is flex, But it is sturdy for serious heavy duty use! I’m not sure it will withstand the greenland definition of a multi-use-dependable paddle = “one can use it as a pull up bar”, but it’ll come very close!

The dimensions of the paddle prototype# 2 are: Length 220cm, Loom length 55cm, Blade max width 92mm. The loom cross-section is a mix between a Tri-oval and egg shape, kinda asymmerical oval. The loom cross-section dimensions are:  width 28mm and thickness 32mm.

Marko, who will be paddling the Finnish coast during the summer 2016, asked me to make him a similar paddle with slightly tweaked dimensions to suit him. Here’s a quick and dirty photo-album (part 1) of “How, what and possibly why?

Part – 2 will follow once I get the paddle made… and mayhaps later of how it all worked out? Or did it?

 

 

Making a mast base plate adapter for the Beaufort

Beaufort - side view
Beaufort – side view

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.

Vortex and Whisper with Instaled with SeaDog Sails
Vortex and Whisper installed with SeaDog sails
Mast baseplate on the Guillemot expedition single
The deck of “Whisper”, a Guillemot expedition single has a very large radii curve. So I screwed the mast base-plate “as is”, with only a thin 4mm EPDM foam strip between the deck and base-plate. Thus far it has been enough. deck is strong and no water ingress has been observed.

 

The Deck of the Vortex has a slight ridge, which more or less requires an adapter, if the baseplate is to be installed on the centerline. Here I fashioned a clunky looking adapter from a scrap piece of HDPE. A quick and dirty solution which has worked thus far. To ensure against water ingress I put a blob of (Black)SikaFlex polyurethane based sealant/adhesive between the adapter and deck when installing the whole set.
The deck of the  Tiderace Vortex has a slight ridge, which more or less requires an adapter, if the base-plate is to be installed on the centerline of the deck. Here I fashioned a clunky looking adapter from a scrap piece of  white HDPE. A quick and dirty solution which has worked thus far. To ensure against water ingress I put a blob of (Black )SikaFlex polyurethane based sealant/adhesive between the adapter and deck when installing the whole set. The purpose of the sikaflex sealant is to seal, rather than attach The two m4 SS thru-bolts do the job of attaching.  Also under the deck I made the opposite shape from a similar sized HDPE block. Thus hoping that mast pressure will be spread out on an larger area.. somewhat anyways.. SO far All seems to be working nicely.

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!

Mast baseplate sitting at the intended location on the deck of the Beaufort... See the problem? mating a flat bottom against a concave surface..
Mast base-plate sitting at the intended location on the deck of the Beaufort… See the problem? mating a flat bottom against a concave surface..

 

I had some balsa/WesternRedCedar scrap blocks leftover, which I decided to use in thie project. Initially I made two test prototypes which are in their very rough form here. Mast balse plate to give idea of shape
I had some balsa/Western Red Cedar scrap blocks leftover, which I decided to use in this project. Initially I made two test prototypes which are in their very rough form here. Orange mast base plate to give idea of shape.
20160216_144737
After a rough pencilled in outline, some imagination, the actual shaping of the balsa/WRC pieces was fairly easy and quick work with a carving knife and a sanding block.
After rough shaping the topside of the adapter block I still needed to shape the mating surface, ie. bottom surface of the adapter.
After rough shaping the topside of the adapter block I still needed to shape the mating surface, ie. bottom surface of the adapter.
In order to get te best fit with minimal effort, I used the deck gunnel as a shaping form , by putting 120 grit sandpaper on it and sanding the adapter block bottom to the corresponding shape.
In order to get te best fit with minimal effort, I used the deck groove/gutter as a shaping form , by putting 150 grit sandpaper on it and sanding the adapter block bottom to the corresponding shape.
After Sanding the block sits nicely in the groove.
After sanding, the block sits nicely in the groove.
While I was at it, I made prototype#3, more of a teardrop shape. No practical purpose, more aesthetic if anything.
While I was at it, I made prototype #3, more of a teardrop shape. No practical purpose, more aesthetic if anything.
After the final shaping of the balsa/WRC plugs, I vacuum bagged them. 1 layer CarbonFiber + 1 layer of carbon/glassfiber combo in epoxy. Being prototype work the workmanship is a bit rough. Operative term being here "quick and dirty. Later several layers of varnish to close the pinholes visible in this picture.
After the final shaping of the balsa/WRC plugs, I vacuum bagged them. 1 layer CarbonFiber + 1 layer of carbon/glassfiber combo in epoxy. Being prototype work the workmanship is a bit rough. Operative term being here “quick and dirty… Later several layers of varnish, to close the pinholes visible in this picture.
The undersides of prototype #1 and #3. The grooves purpose is to let water run pass under the adapter down the groove and not cause a "dam" onto the deck.. yes..I know it might be splitting hairs... ;)
The undersides of prototype #1 and #3. The grooves purpose is to let water run pass under the adapter down the deckgroove and not cause a “dam” onto the deck.. yes..I know it might be splitting hairs… 😉
Prototype#1 setting on deck prior ot installation.. Looks ok.
Prototype#1 setting on deck prior to installation.. Looks ok.
Prototype #3 looks good on the deck. I think this is the one I will go with!
Prototype #3 looks good on the deck. I think this is the one I will go with!

More about the actual installation process of the mast will follow…

Kayak Sailing is FUN !!!

Sail vs. non-sail... which one looks like a "cool cruiser" ;)
Sail vs. non-sail… which one looks like a “cool cruiser” ?  😉

Now  be honest! Have you ever fantasized, in a following wind, under a heavy load , somehow .. harnessing that wonderful wind to help you get along….? Now don’t lie! I suspect EVERY sea kayaker has in one point or another thought like this. 😀

Springtime 2015 I found myself trying out something completely new. GnarlyDog  convinced me to give kayak sailing a try. Uptil now I’d only tried using windpaddle sail briefly, but did not like the concept at all as it is strictly downwind sailing and while it does not require a rudder equipped kayak, it works better with one… And I’m not going to install a rudder on my kayaks. End of discussion! Also it ties ones hands to operating the sail…

First time kayak sailor getting the hang of it! :D Lake Vanaja, Finland
First time kayak sailor getting the hang of it! After about 45 minutes 😀 Lake Vanaja, Finland

Gnarly suggested  SeaDog Sails, whom I contacted and some weeks later I received my first SeaDog Sail ! Its been fun ever since! It was early may 2015 when I was able to go out and start learning to use the sail.

About the sail, it is surprisingly smart set up. Contrary to common beliefs it DOES not require a rudder for installation! A skeg would be nice to have but basicly one can sail decently without a skeg installed, however here one will need to use corrective strokes or a paddle rudder quite often. That said I will be retrofitting a skeg in all of my kayaks!

Vortex and Whisper with Instaled with SeaDog Sails
Vortex and Whisper installed with SeaDog Sails. Sails are “up”

The sail basicly operates as follows: When you want to sail. You release it from “Stowed on deck” configuration, pop  the mast into its “mast up” configuration, cleat the up haul line and “Voila” ready to sail! If the going gets rough or you need to go into the wind, then you reverse the previously described operation and your kayak is back in its “pure kayak – mast down” mode. Quite simple! With a little practice each operation takes  no-more than 5-7 seconds to perform.

High wind testing and learning. This was Markos (orange kayak) second time out kayak sailing!!! No he didn't swim
High wind testing and learning. This was Markos (orange kayak) second time out kayak sailing!!! No he didn’t swim

While under sail, one can still use the paddle for correcting strokes, stern rudder or bracing… or not! So the sail does not tie the hands while sailing. Only during mast uphaul or downhaul, and tweaking the sail angle with the cam-cleat,  ones’ hands will be doing other than paddling. This last feature is one of my favourites!

Peacefully coasting along autumn 2015, Lake saimaa, Finland
Peacefully ghosting along autumn 2015, Lake saimaa, Finland

Another misconception is that this sail is purely for downwind sailing. Not true!  Depending on the sail set up,  kayak configuration and your sailing skills one can sail beam reach and perhaps even close reach. My rough best estimate has been to sail maybe 25 degrees into the wind, on a sharply chined kayak and quite a bit of edging…

However there are some little requirements or rather common sense suggestions before one should start installing a sail on ones kayak!

  1. One should be a confident and able kayaker. Minimum requirement (in my mind ) for kayak sailing is that one should be able to do self rescues, braces + some kind of eskimo roll. I haven’t had to do a single roll or self rescue under sail, but the fact that I know I can perform these gives me all the more confidence to handle the kayak under sail… me hopes ! 😉
  2. Some understanding about the concept of sailing comes handy.. though starting with light winds and  an instructor close-by one can be self taught quite quickly to kayak sail! I’ve had two “experimental students” to test this claim and both are still alive and breathing and in friendly terms with me.. 😉
Punching thru.. Lake Vanaja, Finland
Punching thru.. Lake Vanaja, Finland

While kayak sailing isn’t for the first or second time, “beginner” kayaker it does open a whole new world for the more experienced confident kayaker- A world of fun if nothing else!

At the writing of this I have logged some 360 kms with sail, of which approximately half have been under touring/expedition conditions. Most if not every km has been either fun or educational and thus very interesting! Introducing the sailing concept into kayaking also opens the world of sailing and wind in a new way to the kayaker.

I will not dwell into sail installation in this post, that will come later. However there are a couple of excellent blogs that covers sail installation: Douglas Wilcox’s site and  GnarlyDog News

Contrary to common beliefs.. A kayak sail will not make the kayak go faster! Well THAT fast.  Usually the defining factor is the maximum hull speed. But it does help make the kayak go at hull speed with minimal paddling! Going above hull speed will require high winds and following seas.. and that while is FUN as anything, it does add certain risks. I’ve usually been able to clock 9-11 km/h in winds of  approx 10m/s. This wind speed I have found to be the maximum safe wind speed. Any higher than 10 m/s one needs to be on ones toes, alert, awake and accept the fact of a cold bath.  I think the strongest winds I’ve encountered and still stay upright was in the 14 m/s range. The highest speeds that my GPS have logged momentarily under sail, high winds+following waves have been 16.4km/h and 17 km/h. This was with the Guillemot Expedition Single without any load.

Coasting along in a light to moderate breeze. Lake Saimaa, Finland
Coasting along in a light to moderate breeze. SeaDog Commander installed on the Guillemot Expedition Single Lake Vanaja, Finland

Under full expedition load I have been able to coast along at 6-7.5 km/h in a run or a broad reach, using the paddle as a rudder only. With light assisting strokes I have been moving about 8-9.5km/h.

The newest SeaDog sail , the Commander is my favorite, the added reefing points add more versatility to the sail. The sail is more efficient sailing into the wind than the previous models. The older Code Zero Black Diamond maybe easier to handle for a beginner than the Commander,  but the commander has the reefing option so this changes the balance quite nicely.  I have ordered the sail with the lower panel with Clearview panel, giving me some forward visibility, which can be useful in narrow (and congested) waterways.

Clear skies and Fairwinds, Lake Saimaa, Finland
Clear skies and almost no wind.. SeaDog Commander installed on the Guillemot “SnG”, Night Heron kayak Lake Saimaa, Finland

All of the SeaDog sails I have used thus far have excellent work quality!

Autumn sailing in Lake Saimaa
Autumn sailing in Lake Saimaa

Here’s a couple of my favorite sailing videos that I’ve found online – from downunder. Courtesy of GnarlyDog The first one shows how the sail works.

And some just sailing that brings a smile on your face..