Friday, June 19, 2015

Learning to paddle the Petrel Play

In the beginning there was plywood , copper wire and epoxy

In the end there was a fantastic rough water kayak

Just add waves
.In fact since finishing the sea has not been too cooperative.
  Mostly flat water and not enough stormy conditions to really enjoy the qualities of this kayak
It takes a while to really get to know your kayak, to discover all the ways it behaves , how it rolls and how it responds while surfing. After a while it becomes a part of you and then you feel at one in the water.

I tried to keep it simple this time,  making a kayak that fits the style of paddling I do  and not getting too carried away  with features that I never use. I decided on no skeg as I have never used one and  have learned to paddle in all kinds of conditions without one, I felt that I could leave it out here too. Also very simple bungees on the deck, just enough to hold a water bottle or something else. In fact in rough water you don't really want anything on  the deck as it will probably get washed away by a wave. Deck lines are an absolute must especially in rough water as there will always be that one time you are pulled out of your kayak and need something to hold  on to . To keep the deck as simple as possible I used  Maroske fittings but gave in and put a holder for the Go Pro in the front and back .
The forecast for tomorrow is 1m surf, so here's hoping for a good day

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

KISS or Welcome Home

So whats the smile all about?
Well my loving wife came home after a 3 week vacation with my daughter in Japan, so thats the reason for the kissing, but at the same time I had time to finish my new kayak. She also helped a lot with the fiberglassing and finishing so I have to say thank you too

First test, does it float?
 well yes it does

Comfortable and easy to paddle

Now I need some rough water to play in

Wellcome home Lynn, glad to have you back.
 Thoughts on kayak building and KISS philosphy will come later 

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.