One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

2009 East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival - Day 3

The TideRace kayaks are the best made kayaks I have ever seen. The finish is nearly perfect and the design is just smart. You can clearly see the localized reinforcements along the keel and the top deck. I've read online that these boats have foot plates, but both boats I paddled had SmartTrack foot pegs.

TideRace Xplore S

This boat felt like a slightly faster version of my Explorer. Like my Explorer, it felt a little unstable while sitting still. The seat in the particular boat was loose. I've read about the complicated seat adjustments available on TideRace boats on other sites, but I don't remember seeing them on this boat. The 4th hatch just forward of the cockpit is very nice. While not as big as the one on the Cetus, is should be big enough to store a GPS, camera, radio, or snacks.

TideRace Xcite S

I want this boat. If I actually did what I wanted to do, this would be the perfect boat for me. Considering what I actually do, I just couldn't justify spending the money. This is still an amazing boat. The fit was tight, but perfect. The initial stability was rock solid and the secondary was more than enough to immediately feel comfortable on edge. It seemed to accelerate fairly quickly, but I felt like I was easily hitting a wall. Without a GPS or an actual timed run, I'm not sure if this was just an illusion caused by the significant bow wake or if the boat really is slow. The tracking was nearly as good as the Explorer. The skeg flopped around quite a bit when down. I'm not sure if this is intentional or not. Even with the small hatch in front of the cockpit, I would miss the day hatch. I would have to somehow add restraints inside the bow and stern hatches as I find it very annoying when gear slides around in the hatches. This boat is going to make a lot of people very happy.

P&H Cetus LV

After paddling the TideRace boats, I wanted to compare them to the Cetus LV. I'm still very impressed with the LV. It feels much faster than the Xcite S, but as I said, its really hard to tell. I also don't know how either would handle in less than ideal conditions.
If I were really in the market for a new boat, it would be a tough choice between the Cetus LV and the Xcite. Since the Cetus LV isn't available, I'd go with the Xcite S.
tags: travel, gear

April 19, 2009

Charleston Harbor

Heath, Susan and I went paddling in Charleston harbor this afternoon. We put in at the north western tip of Sullivan Island. We followed the shoreline shoreline of Mt. Pleasant north up to Hog Island and back. The weather was perfect. Just enough waves to make things fun, but not too much for Heath. According to Susan, it was a marathon paddle. Little does she know, I usually go twice as far as we did today.
I'm excited about coming back.

April 18, 2009

2009 East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival - Day 2

The good news is that TideRace is here. The bad news is that TideRace is here.
Today was to be a shopping day, but I just didn't see anything I just had to have.
I didn't do any paddling today, but I'll be back tomorrow to try out those TideRaces.
tags: gear, travel

April 18, 2009

2009 East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival - Day 1

Heath, Kate, and I headed down to Charleston again this year for the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival. As usual, it's all about trying gear and adding to my dream list.
Last year's focus was on paddles. This year was all about boats. I like my Explorer, but I've grown a lot (skillz, not weight) and would love to transition to a more responsive boat. I'm also on the lookout for a new boat for Heath.

Wilderness Systems Zephyr 15.5 Pro

According to the Wilderness Systems rep I spoke with, the Zephyr is an old Mariner design that was "cleaned up using CAD". I remembered liking the RM version of this boat last year, but it really turned me off this time. The cockpit is too tall and I just could not connect with the boat. The initial stability was high, but it has the same flopping from one chine to another that my Tsunami has. I asked the rep is they would consider creating a lower volume version and he said that they had received many similar requests.

Impex Force 4

I really liked this kayak last year. I thought the fit was perfect. What a difference a year makes. It just didn't do anything for me this year. It felt stiff and unresponsive.

Impex Currituck

The fit was fine, but the back deck was very high. This boat felt neither fast nor maneuverable. I already have an Explorer. Why would I want another one?

Valley Avocet

The flat lake was probably not the best place to demo this boat. It did nothing for me.

P&H Quest LV

The Quest LV was unmemorable.

P&H Cetus

P&H Cetus
P&H Cetus
Once you get rid of the silly glitter, the Cetus is a nice kayak. It tracks well yet responds to even the slightest edging. P&H seems to have found just the right mix of tracking and maneuverability. I wish I had a better sense of how the handling changes as the chop starts to pick up. The only negative is the skeg control. It took considerable pinching effort to unlock the control so that the skeg could be moved. I just don't see how this is an improvement over the older design. While there was nothing that was obviously wrong, the cockpit fit is lacking. The location of the skeg line seems to reduce the amount of space available for my thighs. Even with the skeg control and cockpit fit, this is currently the one kayak I'd most like to own. Unless...

P&H Cetus LV

Prototype P&H Cetus LV
Prototype P&H Cetus LV
The Cetus LV was just a little too LV for me. The P&H rep I spoke with said that this was still a prototype version and the production version would likely be a little closer to the normal Cetus. If that's the case, then the Cetus LV is the kayak I'd most like to own.

P&H Capella 163

I paddled a Capella RM on a windy day on a large lake last spring and did not like it. The cockpit was too big, it didn't track well, and skeg didn't seem to help. I was expecting this to be the same way. I was mostly wrong. The tracking was much improved, but still not what I want. It was very maneuverable.
Overall, it was a great day at the show. Heading back to David's place for some home smoked ribs was the perfect ending.
tags: gear, travel

April 17, 2009

Yes, this is it exactly

This is one thing that is very important about travel, paddling trips or expeditions if you like. Its not only that you see new things, but that by surrounding yourself with a new environment, even a Tescos in a foreign country, you are able to once again see the world around you more clearly.
I agree completely. Kayaking gives me that perspective, even if I'm just paddling in my usual mundane locations.

April 13, 2009


April 10, 2009