Saturday, May 16, 2015

looking for mister right. or why I need to build another kayak

New paddlers and even more experienced ones often ask which kayak should I buy, or if they are planning to build, ask which kayak should I build. The answer of course all depends on what kind of paddler are you or going to become.
Usually in the beginning you have no idea what that means, you don't know that there are many different possibilities and so in buying a kayak at the beginning of your career in paddling or building  you probably  will not get it right.
As you gain experience and skill you develop your own paddling style and preferences, maybe you like calm water, maybe long touring trips, possibly short intensive training runs or  white water river kayaking, Surfing comes later as you improve. Whatever you choose there is always the right kayak for you
This is my favorite, I love rough water paddling, surfing and challenging seas
So finding the right kayak has been my quest even if only now do I realize it as such

First kayak I built was the Night Heron, designed by Nick Shade. You can visit his website and find a kayak for almost any style you want. Today the list is long but 10 years ago there were not so many different kayaks to choose from. I love my Night Heron, its a great kayak , fast and responsive , large enough for tripping and easy to roll, but not best for really rough water

Next I tried the Guillemot Play, But it  wasn't exactly what I wanted

Then Nick designed the Petrel..It sounded great and looked good so I built myself one and it quickly became my most favored kayak. Just perfect in surf and rough water , quick enough on flat water and large enough for tripping. Seeing that I spend most of my time on the water in short  time spans and don`t go for long trips this kayak has become my workhorse.
And then Nick brought out the Petrel Play, so guess whats going to be finished soon and added to the collection.
 Watch this spot for  a new launch coming soon

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Been there Done that and Doing it again

The Sea of Galilee, steeped in biblical history and visited by thousands of pilgrims  is the largest fresh water body of water in Israel, and as is well known where there is water we will paddle 

Every year we take our  optimists on a 2 day trip round the Sea, starting at Kibbutz Ginnosar on the eastern shore and paddling northward. 

Mornings are usually quiet and windless and the water merges with the sky creating a grey background to paddle in

The water level varies from year to year depending on the winter rains, and the shoreline changes as well, sometimes its mudflats and at others there are reeds and submerged trees, all making interesting paddling conditions

Many churches along the way are remains from the time  of  Jesus

and they attract large numbers of Christian pilgrims

We also become part of the scenery 

the priests also have their favourite benches for meditation

A spring with a small waterfall is always an attraction 

When there is good rain in winter we can paddle up the Jordan river as it enters the Sea on the northern edge

the locals watch us with caution

In the afternoon it usually gets windy and the character of the water can change quite dramatically

What was flat and calm suddenly became choppy with a strong side wind

The group spread out in the wind and we battled on for the last couple of hours till our half way mark

landing was also a bit of an adventure in the choppy water

Camping for the evening after 30km was a welcome rest

toasted cheese for breakfast

and way too much food  got us ready for the second leg

before setting out we tried to get a group photo of 24 kayaks, an almost impossible feat but we sort of succeeded

The second day we paddled about 32km slight headwind but mostly good conditions.
 So there you have it , we did it again, some for the first time and others have done it too many times to count. For the first timers its a real challenge, to go from paddling at most for 2 hours at a time to a full day and 30km is quite an achievement, and then to do it again the next day , well I for one  say good work guys and well done.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

fun in the Petrel but when you make a mistake you pay for it.

Kayaking in the surf is a lot of fun, it`s exciting and excilerating and gives you a great adrenaline rush. I guess it becomes addictive at some time. There is a downside though. You need to practice playing in the surf a lot, you need to feel comfortable bracing and you need a good combat roll. Its best to start off in small surf in a protected area and it helps if there is someone who can teach you and help you. Slowly you begin to get more adventurous and head out into bigger surf, and heres where the potential for trouble shows up. Not to forget that even in small surf there is a potential for danger and damage. A kayak filled with water can inflict serious damage if you are between it and the beach with even small waves, a wrongly judged movement can cause shoulder or arm injuries and even head injuries are known to happen in small surf.. There are basic rules to be taken into account, for example, always be on the sea side of a swamped kayak, keep an eye on the surf, never turn your back on the waves and watch out for fellow kayakers or surfers or swimmers.Some wear helmets all the time, others forgo them , they can and do help but not always. Above all take respoonsibility and control, Kayaking is a potentially dangerous sport and if you go out there in conditions you take the risk. Yesterday I was reminded of all the above. We went out to play in the rough water at our local beach, the surf was about 1.5 to 2M sometimes bigger. I had my helmet on as usual and my GOPRO on the front deck. One of our guys had his hatch cover implode and his kayak got swamped, I pulled up next to him and began pumping . We were in the usually safe zone, just under the rock where the surf breaks. First mistake was not watching the surf, we were facing the beach. there was another kayaker watching us and he was seaward of us. A large wave loomed looking to break on us, A warning shout alerted us to the danger just as the wave threw his kayak ont us, we managed to abandon the pump, grab our paddles and brace fotr the wave but in the porcess I got hit on the back of my neck with his kayak. here the helmet didnt help at all, I managed to roll and brace in the surging wave and then went side surfing along until the wave lost its power. Just at the end i saw a surfer who had lost his board some time ago right in my line , I shouted to warn him but by then I was on top of him grazing him with my kayak. The camera sees all and this whole episode was well recorded , look at .48 to 1.42 on the video. At the end of the session we always try to get a good wave for finishing, Here I had another lesson and a reminder that the sea is the boss. I got flipped by a large wave and the force pulled me right out of my cockpit, I managed to do a reentry roll and then had to paddle a swamped kayak back to shore. All in all it was a great day , and I cant wait to get back.

Friday, March 6, 2015

using carbon sleeves for fixing and making paddles

Yosi decided to make a carbon paddle, first he carved a block of styrofoam

until he got the shape he wanted

then he slid it into a sleeve of carbon

made sure it felt good and covered the whole carving

next he applied epoxy

massaged the epoxy into the carbon 

and let gravity do the rest

after a lot of extra epoxy, sanding and sanding  and another carbon sleeve his prototype is finished

and off he goes to test it in real water. He is very happy with the result and has learned a lot on the way,the next paddle will be better and lighter

I used a carbon sleeve to repair a fractured Aleutian paddle, actually I broke 2 paddles, one was repaired only up to the shoulder to keep the look and feel of wood, the other one got a complete covering of carbon

This paddle is great in rough water and good for surfing too.So now we can repair broken paddles . They change from wood to carbon  but at least you don`t have to go out and make a whole new paddle , unless you want to, that is.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

winter paddling, and building the Petrel Play

Winter is a great time to paddle here, the water gets down to about 13C, not very cold by Northern standards, but for us who are used to 30C in summer its pretty cold.
To tell a secret, its not too cold to paddle , and we hardly miss a day on the water, except when the seas are too rough for the group to go our.  And even then all the members with private kayaks and a sense of adventure  get to play in the waves.
Nowadays almost everybody has a GoPro camera attached to their kayak or helmet  and the amount of videos is staggering. Unfortunately  most are too long and because of the limitations of the Go Pro they tend to get tedious. You can loose your sense of perception, don't get to see how big the waves are really and have the same view all the time. Unless that is  you are a bit more creative and can add takes from different cameras or views. Here's my contribution and all the above criticism  is valid.

Meanwhile I have been busy building my new petrel Play, the hull is now finished and glassed, I put carbon in the cockpit area and regular fiberglass in the ends. It goes pretty easy when you have help

We had a group paddle  round the northern coast, visited some small islands and had a great time 

Picnicking on the rocks

parking becomes a challenge with all those kayaks

Beautiful clear water

Back home I started working on the deck, first laying out all the parts, 

Some days are for surfing, some for working and some for kayak building, the trick is to get the proportions right.

Deck wired and glued just before fiberglassing

I  had to try getting the deck on the hull before continuing , just to see how it was going to join up. Looks ok to me so now I can get  all the seams joined and the fiberglass on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

stormy weather, lost paddles and kayak building

While playing in rough water a couple of weeks ago I lost my storm paddle from the front deck of my kayak. At the time I didn`t notice it had gotten free  and only when landing on the beach saw that it was not on my kayak anymore. A short walk along the beach and a good look at the water convinced me that it was gone for good. Maybe with a bit of luck someone will find it and return it  to me, but thats a long shot.
It was a fine paddle with  maple tips and I`m sorry to see it go, and now I have to make a new one. This time it will have my name and number carved into the blade, just in case.
This is the first time that  my spare has been torn loose, maybe I need to rethink how to secure it to the deck. It needs to be tight enough to resist rough water but easily retrieved while underwater and upside down if I loose my paddle while playing in the surf. I have seen many paddlers loose their paddles, being pulled from their grip while tumbling in a large wave, and one Greenland paddle actually broke  in half from  a particularly strong wave..

Heres a picture of Zohar with my storm paddle, for me its a storm paddle but for Zohar its just the right length.
The new paddle in the making, it will have a cedar core and paulonia laminated  blade, it is also a bit shorter  than the old one , so a sliding stroke will be used when paddling with it.

Almost finished, just a few more coats of boat soup and then for a test paddle.

Also  have begun making a new kayak, this time its a stitch and glue Petrel Play, reputed to be great in rough water and surfing.
You can either buy a whole kit or just go for the plans when building kayaks, Getting the kit is probably a bit more expensive, especially with postage , and for international shipping the price is in the sky. But there are advantages, the wood is cut very accurately and all the bits and pieces you need come ready packed and easy to   use. On the other hand if you buy just the plans then you have to go about finding all the supplies, buying them and bringing them home and then transferring the paper plans to the wood, cutting out the pieces , drilling the stitch holes etc etc. It makes the whole process a bit more time consuming.
This is not really a problem  as kayak building is not  something to be done in a hurry, especially if you have another kayak to use while the new one is being built. Sometimes it takes a bit of detective work to find all the right ingredients, sometimes they have to be bought on the internet, and sometimes you can get them from friends too.
First the plans are transferred to the  wood

and they are cut out
Then they undergo quality control

Starting with the stitching

It looks like a kayak right from the start

So as I have a great Petrel for playing in the surf there is no hurry and the new kayak will take as long as it needs