I visited the Helsinki Boat Show. It has been 17 years since my previous visit. A lot has changed since. A lot of it for the better. This post however has nothing to do with the merits of the boat show, rather about some goodies I found there, maps!!!
Being a paddler who spends alot of time on the waters traveling from point A to point G Via Points X, Y and Z, I am somewhat obsessed about good quality maps. Yes, the printed variety that do not require wi-fi, 3G or a battery to operate! Sure I have a GPS, but that I use to log and track where I have been. Not so much of where I’am going. Yes yes.. in otherwords I’am a dinosaur navigator.. but if it ain’t broke…?
Traditionally printed maps in the Finnish hemisphere have been prohibitively expensive, however during the recent years that has been changing for the better.. maps are becoming more affordable. Another thing traditionally has been that there have not been that many maps or charts that are suited for the paddler! Now .. sloooowly this too is changing !
I bought three maps from the boat show; Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki 1:50 000, Canoeing Map, An inland waterway chart 1:50,000 Puula and a ring binder set of charts printed on weatherproof plastic for the waterways area between Varkaus and Kuopio @ 1:55,000.
The latter was on sale for 29 €. This particular set of charts was of an area I have planned to paddle in the future but lacked any maps. So it was a “must have” purchase. the bonus of this set is that it is slightly larger than A3 size and printed onto solid plastic sheets. As is it is suitable to be used on a kayak deck, as long as a safety line keeps it attached to the deck. Does not require water proof packing.
The Puula region inland waterway chart is a standard inland waterway map which is suitable for paddling use, even though it isn’t a particularly designed for it. It has the standard maritime chart markings and navigational aids. This one is printed on paper and needs to be used within a waterproof maps case while on the water
The Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki 1:50 000, Canoeing Map is aimed particularly aimed for paddlers. The map is printed onto weatherproof paper basicly could be used as is, but it is always good practice to use it in a map case which can be attached onto the deck, so that it stays with the kayak in case of a sudden wind gust or rogue wave.
The map is clearly marked with the boating+shipping lanes, restricted military areas, camping areas, protected nature preserves, shallows and pretty much all the standard topographical map data. Pretty much everything a paddler needs!
This chart will definitely be on the upcoming summers Finnish coastal paddle!
Thus far there arent too many of these “paddlers choice” maps, but hopefully with time these will become available to other areas around Finland.
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!