Friday, March 13, 2009

"The Coffin"

I read somewhere you have to name your kayak, nothing has really stood out as of yet so temporarily I christen thee “The Coffin”, how’s that for a morbid thought, let’s face it, these things do somewhat resemble a coffin. A more appropriate and less sinister name is forthcoming.

Who knew there are more options with kayaks than there are with cars. After reading review upon review, upon review, I have narrowed it down to the point where I have a general idea what I’m looking for. This is by no means a review of anything (newbie remember) and I’m sure the guy at the kayak store who has more experience than I do will set me straight.

Rent vs Buy? Easy decision, I’ve never done this and can’t justify spending 3-4k on something that I’m not even sure whether I’m going to enjoy or ever want to do again. Rental rates seem reasonable and should run in the 35-50 a day range. Second reason, after spending 15 days paddling, I should have good idea what I like and don’t like. If I want to purchase one after that then I have a better understanding of what I’m looking for. There is a kayak rental place called Swift Canoe/Kayak right where I’m starting, how’s that for convenience.

16-17’ Touring Kayak, anything below this would be more recreational and not have the cargo capacity/stability required for an extended trip, anything larger than that would be too much for novice paddler and the wind starts to be more of a factor.

I’ve read numerous articles debating the pros/cons of fiberglass vs kevlar/composite and they all contradict each other, sure fiberglass is a little heavier but does that really matter when I am packing 100+ pounds of gear into it? I don’t plan on portaging. Other than that, experts seem to go both ways on which one is more durable or perform any better than the other. I view it like golf clubs at this point, I’ve played with $200 set and $3000 set, the later was lighter, which made it easier for the golf cart and the $200 set hit the ball just as well even though they weren’t as sexy.

I’ve also read numerous arguments on the safety of Sit-in vs. Sit-On-Top, I know one thing with absolute certainty. I do not plan to spend 8 hours a day for 15 days being wet. Sit-In it is.

To hell with initial stability, I want something with good final stability, damn, almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about. Initial stability (from what I gather) means the thing is stable when you are sitting still, final stability is that it’s faster and more maneuverable when you are actually paddling. You can’t have both unfortunately, so while good initial stability is perfect for beginners, I think I will quickly pick it up and don’t plan on spending much time sitting still and I have great balance. I will take every bit of extra speed I can get.

I want something with a little higher bow, not necessarily for the extra cargo room but more so the thing doesn’t dive through waves. Not something too high that the wind blows it all over the place. Definitely want a skeg to help with tracking (go straight baby) but undecided on the rudder.

Dual cargo holds are pretty much standard but I am hoping to get one with a 3rd day hatch, I read somewhere that if you are paddling alone it’s difficult to get to the forward or rear hatches, seeing as there is nobody sitting beside me to get something out if I need it, I think the day hatch will come in handy.

As far as paddles go, feathered for sure but what style, material, length etc, will figure that out once I’m at a shop with someone who knows what they are talking about.

Those are my general requirements as I see them, we will see what the experts recommend.

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