Did you know there was a Romany for fatties?

It's the Romany Excel!  I would figure that I would have seen a couple of these here in the states, but I have not.  Many friends have told me that they love how the Romany paddles and rolls but they wish it fit them better.

I wonder how long they have been making this boat that is designed for folks weighing 220 or more.

Rec Boat vs Sea Kayak

I notice by most measures we generalizes along the lines that rec boats are less than 15 feet and wider than 23 inches.  But where does this put the Dagger Alchemy?

By the way a very good review of the Alchemy is on the wonderful blog you can see here: Woman on water

Lots of boats that are perfectly competent in the sea do not meet the general standard for a sea kayak.  The Mystic is too short and the Solstice GT is too wide. There are too many to list.

There are surf ski's that are obviously different than sea kayaks but are they less useful in the sea?

What about the X15 boat the Tsunami use for their touring, camping, and surf shenanigans?  It is a 14 feet long and 24 inch wide sit on top. I don't think any ACA instructor I know would call that a Sea Kayak, but it designed purpose is playing and touring in the Pacific Ocean.

I think the biggest reason to group boats into types is to make instruction easier.  I was told in no uncertain terms before my instructors course that it was going to be a Coastal Kayaking instructors course and that I must bring a Real Sea Kayak, Sit on tops and Greenland paddles need not apply.

As a very beginner of an instruction I can attest to the problems it can cause when someone shows up with "non-standard" gear. I can show a beginner different stroke with a Euro blade paddle that I rarely use, but I've never been shown any single blade strokes or how bracing is different with a Greenland blade.

The funny thing is that rec boats and sit on tops are outselling sea kayaks and those paddlers are probably not getting instruction because the classes are usually focused on sea kayaks!  Maybe the beginning instructor classes could include the basics of all kinds of paddling.  In the mean time I'll see if I can get some canoe, Greenland and SUP basics down so I can share the beginning skills with people no matter what gear they show up with.

Rec boat sit on top sailing with a Greenland paddle.  I wonder if anyone else is doing this in the salty water?

Thanks for making so many smile!

Nigel Dennis invented the keyhole cockpit and made many paddlers smile. Previously the British favored ocean cockpit allowed great boat contact and control and the American favored oval cockpit allowed easy entry for the surf zone but poor control.  Nigel invented the keyhole and all is right with the best of both systems!

Thanks Nigel!

Kayaking is a water sport!

If you don't want to get wet.

Take up something else!
Or at least try canoeing where you don't expect to get wet every time.

It amazes me the things that are done so people can avoid getting wet.  I do understand it when the water is cold. And in the winter I do wear pogies or paddle with a single blade to help keep my hands warm. But we are almost in summer here and if you don't want to get wet now then try a dryer sport like bicycling.  Or at least try a drier water sport like flatwater canoeing.  When I taught watersking everyone, showed up planning to get completely soaked.  Why do they think it would be different with kayaking.  I do think rowing and canoeing are not getting the support they deserve. A lot of folks would be better served by those type of boats if good ones were locally available.  I wonder, do people ever show up for their first SUP test paddle with jeans and leather shoes?

Carolina Kayak Club trip to Carolina Beach State Park

Thanks to Virginia for organizing this great trip and to Chris for scouting out the campsites at the state park!  We arrived in Carolina Beach Friday night and met at the Tiki on the pier.  Instead of trying to find the Fat Pelican for late night fun, we all decided we should get our tents set up and go to bed early.

On Saturday morning we could not find Chris. He had walked to the grocery store for more food as the park gates were closed. We found him and launched from the marina shore while Chris and Lee carried their boats down a trail to launch.  We paddled through Snows Cut with the tide checked out some marshy areas and had snacks

We paddled out to the Carolina Beach inlet for surf shenanigans. Were Chris looked like a dream on the water.   Virginia was a vision in white. Curry was showing his skills. Lee was getting some of the best rides ever after having a surf class from  Lamar the day before. Lee also had some spectacular wipe outs.  They were spectacular because he held on and did not wet exit and then rolled up when the wave released him. Hurry for Lee; he now has a combat roll!  I had some of my best rides on a longer boat.  I'm really liking the Kestral, but as usually I swam about 3 or 4 times.  I also got to try Rodney's Alchemy and found it to be very forgiving and still a lot of fun in the surf.

.  Afterwards Lee made very very heavy hors d'Ĺ“uvres, while Chris met up with some friends and participated in a "Hash Run".  Apparently a Hash run is where you run from spot to spot looking for a hash mark in the road that designates a hidden beer , then you run to the next hash mark and find another beer!  Now I know while Chris is so fit; he never stops moving. I'm not certain he sleeps much either.

While Chris was running we went to dinner at Uncle Vinny's.

During the night a big thunderstorm came through and lighting was cracking trees right in the State Park.

The next day we found Chris eating cinnamon rolls with icing before we packed up to leave the park.  We launched at the wildlife ramp on the other side of Snow's Cut. We searched out more marshy spots and got into quite a bit of wind and wake for a flat water paddle. We were off the water about noon before the storm clouds looked too bad.  It was a perfect paddling weekend at the coast.

Best Paddling shoes of all time!

OK so my Chuck high tops do not dry the fastest and they are not trendy. But they do protect better than anything else I know about from oysters except for really heavy hiking boots that are not useful for water sports. And they do dry eventually which is slightly faster than neoprene booties. When laced all the way up they will not suck off in the mud.

So far I haven't seen anything better that I can buy today at any reasonable price.  If you have something better I want to know about it.  I'm especially interested in my feet being dry sooner.

Stirrup strap may be teaching the wrong kayak rescue mindset

I was reading http://sandybottomkayaker.blogspot.com/ and thinking about how she set up her very high decked Kruger with a stirrup because there was no other way for her to get on that high high Kruger deck.  I decided to set up a semi-permanent stirrup on my boat so I could have it ready to show others when we practice together.

When I used the stirrup I felt it was working in opposition to everything I knew about getting back in the boat.  The stirrup leads you to push it down and climb into the boat like mountain climber getting up a mountain or a person using the stairs or a ladder.

In all other rescues I show paddlers that they must keep their entire body in the surface and especially their feet by kicking and churning the water surface.  I've always said "You can never climb into a kayak. You must swim onto it".  But I was so wrong! With a stirrup you can climb onto your boat.  Just don't plan to learn any other reentry methods until you change your mindset away from climbing.

If you think of swimming on the surface of the water,  then you may find the traditional SOT re-entry and the paddle float re-entry work better.

SOT vs SinK Skills

Sit on Top Skills vs.  Sit inside skills

These notes are my recollections from practicing sit on top kayak skills with others.  If you have any comments or suggestions to add, I'd be glad to know your thoughts.

SOT vs. SinK

Rolling - I think it is the same but you use a thigh belt just above the knees or thigh straps instead of thigh pads under the deck of a SINK. I cannot roll, but no one has had trouble rolling my Cobra Expedition (18’ X24”) once I show them how the straps work.

Wet Exit – For straps almost no action is needed to exit, but if they are very tight you just straighten your legs to pop them off your knees.  For belts just grab the ball or tap on the buckle and pull to release.

For staying in - Hold your knees as close to your chest as possible to keep thigh straps tight.  SOT’s need straps to keep you in. People don’t wash out of SINKs but in a SOT they will wash out when bracing or during capsize. Discuss and demonstrate thigh strap adjustment and installation. Many boats have the attachment points in the wrong place. Discuss and demonstrate the use of a lap belt.  Show its proper installation and placement near the knees 1/3 of the distance from the knees joint to the hip joint.   Different size people will need different attachment points in the boat. Nearer to the knees with work, but neared to the hips may not.

Rescues – Cowboy and paddle float rescue work for both. But with a SOT you need a hand across pulling on a thigh strap and an elbow in the seat on the close side. Kick hard and swim across. If your feet are not breaking the surface of the water you will not get across.  For those with upper body strength or flexibility problems a foam paddle float is ideal.  SOT’s have plenty of room for a foam float and fishermen do not need an inflatable.  SOT’s never seem to have the rigging for paddle float  rescue, so hold the paddle with your hand against the back rest or back band. For a paddle float re-entry, I teach coming into the cockpit from the front quarter of it with the rearward leg on the float.  Most SOT paddlers have seen the basic scramble rescue in a video but they have never actually tried it. Once they do try it most are convinced they want to do it with a paddle float.  Many expensive fishing SOT’s have fittings and seats that are in the way of any rescue.  I have very limited experience teaching kayakers and yet on several occasions I’ve had paddlers break seats and other fittings while practicing rescues.

Launching from shore - Pull the boat to knee deep water. Turn it parallel to the shore on the shallow side of you and sit down.  The ease of doing this makes SOT’s ideal for wading anglers, older people, and younger folks with joint injuries.

Landing on shore – Put your foot out as you approach the shore slowly until your toe touches the bottom. Turn parallel to shore and swing both legs to the deep side and stand up. It is much easier than a Sink.  If you have gotten yourself too close to shore, do not struggle. Push yourself back out to knee deep water and swing back to the side and stand up.

Standing up in the boat – a painter to the bow 3/8ths or larger diameter is essential to help yourself up. It is a stunt in skinny hulls and a useful tool for scouting in wider hulls

Loading and unloading from a car - A SOT is usually heaver and without a cockpit rim to hold.  Some do not have side handles.  Usually a good method is to skid it up onto the roof from the back of the car using a bath mat for the skid. Then flip it upside down and strap it like a canoe.  Composite boats need a bit of paddling or cradles.

Edging – A very important skill for fisherman in tight quarters or anyone in among the cypress knees.  Straps are not just for rough water. Most boat are wider and flat bottomed and they really need straps for edging. Have a spare set for others to try and see how much better it helps.  Outside edging works best for most SOT’s and is not intuitive to beginners. 

Accessing Stern hatches – For the stern day hatch and main hatch, swing side saddle and reach to the back as needed.  Learn to paddle and maneuver while sitting side saddle.  Learn to open the main stern hatch.  Boats usually need additional floatation bags if main hatches are to be opened off shore. 

Front Hatch access - Starts from the normal seated position and put both legs out from the cockpit into the water.  Scoot forward until you can reach your hatch. Practice opening the hatch and removing items.

Surf and sea – Thigh straps serve the same purpose as deck lines on a sea kayak. Without them you need some deck lines to stay in contact with the boat.  SOT’s rarely have surf ready bow and stern handles I sometimes add straps with a knot that hang over the boat or stern by a six inches. 

Surf and sea assisted rescue – If the swimmer is OK.  Get the boat first! A boat will blow away and can move faster than a swimmer or sometime a paddled boat in strong winds.  Then bring the boat back to the swimmer with a short tow line or have the swimmer come to you if they can easily swim to a calmer spot.

River Rescues – Get the swimmer to shore first. The boat is likely to wash into an eddy somewhere.
Rivers - In rivers you want to remove the deck lines and surf handles because you don’t want anything to catch a snag in the water.

Kayaking and Coffee

I went paddling this morning and to Starbucks afterwards.  My gps turned off for no reason I could tell in mid paddle so I think I did about 3 miles or so in less than an hour or so.  Afterwards I met an associate at Starbucks!

You may note that I've started carrying my sit on top like a canoe.  Hull to the sky, directly on the bars with no racks.  I've had good luck doing this with poly boats, but this is the first time I've done it with a composite boat.  so far it is working well.

Here are the contact points on the bars:



On the back bar you can see the corner of the Scotty mount base.  I installed one behind each hip in the back. One for a camera and one for a rod or light.  They also serve very well to keep the boat from sliding forward.  I've been using a bow line to the front of the car for a safety factor to prevent the boat slipping backwards.  Now that I don't use foam pads or saddles the boat is far more secure and you cannot wiggle it without moving the car after the first strap is tight.

Kayaking for Exercise

I used the white water paddle to go as fast as I could for 3 miles which took me 40 minutes on Lake Crabtree.  There was some wind gusting to maybe 10 miles an hour.  I don't think that is any faster than I go with the Lumpy Greenland paddle and it was a lot of strain on my left shoulder.  My top speed was 5.7 miles an hour.  I think the seat height is fine but I want to move the seat position forward a bit so the stern does not drag when I'm trying to go fast.