One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

New NDK Explorer

Out with the old. In with the new, yet only slightly different.
I got a great deal on my ExplorerHV. So good that I could overlook at few things that were wrong with it. The seat was a little off, the skeg fluttered every once and a while, and it was an HV. Coming from the world of super-sized rec boats, the cockpit on a normal Explorer seemed fairly cramped. At the time, I still wasn't sure why you'd want your knees to actually touch the boat. What a difference a year makes.
After playing phone tag all week with Lamar, I drove down to Barrier Island Kayaks early Saturday morning. I wasn't sure which kayak I wanted until I got there. Lamar had a slightly used 2007 that was just like my HV, British Racing Green with yellow trim, a dark blue with white trim, and the slate blue with black trim. The British Racing Green color resulted in a lot of positive comments, but it shows every little scratch and it just sucks in the heat and it's fairly hard to see. I wanted something that was easier to see and lighter. The slate blue kayak was perfect.
More proof that I can't take a decent photo of a kayak
More proof that I can't take a decent photo of a kayak
I took it out for a quick paddle just to make sure everything was as it should and let's just say it's an NDK. I found a small hole in the gellcoat that holds in the bulkhead between the back of the cockpit and the day hatch. The back hatch also has a very small leak somewhere, but I was unable to track it down. There's also quite a bit of excess gellcoat. It's an NDK. It has character.
I can't say enough positive things about Lamar, David and the other guys at Barrier Island Kayaks. They really know their stuff and the location is great.
tags: gear

May 31, 2008

Surfing Part 2

Not every paddling outing gets a writeup. Some just don't warrant it and some officially never happened. The first time I took my Explorer surfing was one of those trips. I was fine, the kayak was fine, so it was a success. As with aircraft landings, any surfing attempt you can walk away from is a good surfing attempt. Today was my second attempt at surfing. This time, I was not alone. I was with Matt Carrier. He has quite a bit of experience surfing and despite his claims, he seems to know what he's doing. I still don't.
Matt and I paddled out Masonborro inlet and turned south in front of Masonborro island. Matt noticed the smooth waves and suggested we surf. I figured, why not? I have most of my earthly possessions on my front deck, my boat is for sale, I'm way in over my head, what can go wrong?
My first run in went fairly well. On my way back out, I lost everything on my deck. Matt and I managed to grab everything and I stuffed it in my day hatch. On my next run in, I decided to find a small wave. I found one and somehow managed to not see the big on right behind it. I tried to roll back up, but I was still in the surf and it was a waste of energy. I went for a swim and then rode the surf up the beach.
I decided that it was time for Matt to try out my HV in the surf. He loved it. I enjoyed watching someone who knew what they were doing.
At this point, you'd think I'd do something smart, like say, stop while everything was still intact. But, sadly, no. I had to give it one more shot.
I believe it's called wiping out. Not only was it ugly, I lost my nice sunglasses.
Matt and I headed back in the inlet and over to the mass of boats that had collected behind Masonborro to celebrate Memorial Day. We greatly enjoyed the scenery. We narrowly avoided getting run over by drunk boaters and peed on by drunk losers. We were mocked for our funny outfits by drunk bikinis, and made to look old and slow by some young punk on a surfski. It was a great day.
tags: coastal

May 25, 2008

Kayak Efficiency

One of the gripes I have with my Explorer HV is that it feels slow. Whether or not it is actually slow has to do with the engine (aka me). Speed isn't the issue, efficiency is. Is the Explorer an efficient kayak? Compared to what? The most common measure of efficiency is Winters/KAPER (more info). Using that data as published in Sea Kayaker Magazine, I was able to generate the following graph. The lines represent the percentage difference in efficiency as compared to the explorer.
Based on this data, the Explorer doesn't do too badly below 4.5 knots. Between 4.5 and 5.0, the Explorer seems to hit a wall. At 5 knots, the Valley Aquanaut is over 7% more efficient, the Impex Force 5 is 4% more efficient and the CD Gulfstream is 1.6% more efficient. At 6 knots, the Explorer looks downright pokey. The Aquanaut is 16% more efficient, the Force 5 is 10% more efficient, and the Gulfstream is 8% more efficient. There are clearly more efficient kayaks than the Explorer at higher speeds. What about lower ones?
At 3 knots, the Valley Nordkapp LV is 5.88% more efficient, the CD Cypress is 3.3% more efficient, and the CD Gulfstream is 3% more efficient. At 4 knots, the Nordkapp LV is 3% more efficient, the Cypress is 2.2% more efficient and the Gulfstream is .5% more efficient.
None of these numbers seem to contradict conventional wisdom. It is generally believed that the Aquanaut is "fast" and the Explorer is "slow". It's obvious that the Aquanaut is more efficient at higher speeds. The Nordkapp LV is a bit of an oddball. It is said to be a fast kayak, but the data does not support that. It is more efficient than the Explorer below 4.5 knots and less efficient above. That explains the kayak's quick acceleration, but not the perception of top end speed.
What does all of this mean in the real world? Do a few percentage points of efficiency really matter? I don't think so. If I'm going to go a long way really fast, then I'd prefer to do it in an Aquanaut. However, most of my paddling is done right in the range in which the Explorer is fairly efficient. It may feel slow, but the data seems to indicate that it's a problem with me, not the kayak.
tags: gear

May 21, 2008

NDK Explorer HV and Old Town Dirigo 140 for sale

I'm selling my Explorer HV and my wife is selling her Dirigo 140. After paddling the Explorer for a year now, I've decided that I should have gotten a standard volume rather than the HV. Here are some photos of the Explorer. Heath uses my old Tsunami now so we no longer have a use for the Dirigo. Here are some photos of the Dirigo.
UPDATE - Neither of these kayaks is still for sale.
tags: gear

May 18, 2008 message board search engine

There is a wealth of information in the message boards. Much of it is hidden in the archives and their search functionality is less than thorough. To better access the archived information, I created my own search engine. Take a look at the right hand bar on this and every page of this blog for the search box. It is updated twice every hour and includes all posts currently available. Enjoy!
tags: software

May 15, 2008

2008 Wrightsville Beach Challenge Sea Kayak Race

To race or not? Is kayaking just fun, or is it a sport? Can it be both? This was my first kayak race and I was a little nervous about how I would do. I've paddled 6+ miles many times before, but I've never really done any training at all. I was worried that I'd have no endurance at all, but the issue was just that I was consistently slow. I placed right in the middle of the pack. Not bad for a couch potato who's only been semi-seriously paddling about 14 months.
Is there such thing as a perfect racing kayak? Some say that a racing kayak must be long, skinny, and posses a rudder. And it should come with a wing paddle. By those criteria, an NDK ExplorerHV is not a racing kayak. The wind was blowing from the west so I had the wind abeam for almost all of the race. I never could find the right amount of skeg for the conditions. Too much skeg and the current and wind blew me into the piers. To little, and the boat wakes and wind sent me of in the other direction. Having a rudder would have been nice, but obviously not necessary.
The winner of the race, Matt Lewis, paddled a Gulfstream. Matt Carrier, the 4th place finisher also used a skeg boat.
Except for the surfski's, none of the usual racing kayaks entered this year. There were no QCC's or Epic's this year.
Despite a nasty blister popping around mile four, being significantly dehydrated, and generally out of shape, I had a good time. I hope to at least pretend to train over the summer so I can be in better shape for the fall race.
tags: coastal

May 10, 2008

Carbon is a wonderful thing

tags: gear

May 05, 2008

Odd fellow in a kayak

A kayaker paddles towards the crowded beach. He weaves his way around swimming children, jet skis, and boats. He rides a small wave up onto the sand between two of the many sunbathers. He undoes hit spray skirt and hops out of the kayak. He sticks his paddle under the front bungees and opens the kayak's day hatch and pulls out a hacksaw. He then reaches into the cockpit and rips out a piece of black foam. He lays the foam on sand and proceeds to use the hacksaw to trim off about and inch from one end. He then puts the foam back and rips out another piece, trims and replaces it. He then takes the saw and starts cutting small groove down the center of a piece of foam behind the seat. Satisfied that the small groove will alleviate the pressure points on his spine, he places the hacksaw back in the drywell and pushes the kayak out into the waves. He gets back into the kayak and paddles off.
I can only imagine how odd I must have looked to the people on the beach.
tags: gear

May 04, 2008