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
“Not another photo gallery?” You may question.
Yes, Yes! It’s another photo gallery!
During the summer of 2014 I did A LOT of paddling, more than ever before! As a result I spent a LOT of time on the water, in a kayak, and yes, paddling! As a result I got to visit and see lotsa nice, cool, awesome looking places. If you haven’t guessed it by now, I did take a bunch of pictures while I was at it!
These pictures were taken along the coast of Finland, between Virojoki and Tornio, one place or another…
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?
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…
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…
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 ! 😉
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.. 😉
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.
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.
All of the SeaDog sails I have used thus far have excellent work quality!
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..
This post doesn’t have any kayaking.. but it still has something to do with kayaking ! Orkney is one awesome destination for sea-kayaking and it is my sincere wish, hope, plan, nay a master-plan to go kayaking there someday… hence this post and hopefully pictures will explain more!
Last summer, during a 10 day visit to Orkney I was strictly on land and while watching the waves, came to the conclusion that when the day comes to go kayaking there.. I should know more, be more experienced and hopefully have some local expert to teach the quick low down.. ie. “where not to be and when..? ”
I bought the local sea chart of the Orkney area waters… and I must admit there were some new markings and timetables to learn. I gathered that they have something to do with the tidal flows, waves , BIG water thing-ama-jigs! .. yikes – Crikey!
There was something in the rugged, windswept look in and around Orkney that I found alluring. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but somehow it felt like a place I might like. The most foreign feature in Orkney was the distinct lack of forests! Very very rare occurrence! For someone who works with wood and lives in a country where there are like a zillion trees.. this was very Veird! Takes abit to getting used to.
In the meanwhile, enjoy some pictures from Orkney! It’s s surprisingly nice place! 🙂