Friday, February 16, 2007

Back in the saddle

Playing hooky

I got lazy this week, but only from the blogging perspective. I have been busy, working on the car I borrowed from my uncle (Note: older Jaguars are pieces of crap), taking three kayak trips, knocking out schoolwork, and for that matter, killing two birds with one stone.

Photography will be limited for the near-future, since the "waterproof bag" I used kayaking on Dauphin Island a week ago wasn't so waterproof. Before I inadvertently dunked the camera and one of my textbooks, here's what I was playing at last Thursday:



I paddled halfway down Sand Island, set up the lean-to, and spent a few hours studying and relishing the peace and quiet. On the way back I saw the first sharks of the season, Sand or Bull sharks I couldn't tell. Don't blame me for not sticking around to find out.

Monday, after class, I set about my afternoon workout of choice: The 9-mile, 2 1/2-hour Chickasaw Creek paddle. See my January 10 post for that route. I actually brought my pace up a little for that one. All this in a cheap entry-level kayak. The only way to make it a bigger pain than this would be to start paddling with a sea anchor. Just imagine what's going to happen when I get a touring kayak. I'm in the market, and Fairhope Boat Company has a great selection. I'm looking for a "touring" kayak, long, lean, and fast, with enough storage capacity for a three-day, self-sustained outing. This will be a layaway proposition, hoping to be in the water on a new mount by May or so. Also, This will be a boat that I intend to have for a long time, so I am looking at durable, higher-end boats.

Here are the three boats I'm torn between:

Wilderness Systems™ Cape Horn™: (approx. $1100)

Necky™ Elaho™: ($1300-1600)

I've seen this one on eBay for under $700. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for deals.

And finally, this beauty, built with smoother material and, to my mind, the best hull-speed potential and aesthetics:

Hurricane Kayaks™ Tracer 165™ (Approx. $1400)


So, which one will it be?

8 comments:

kissyface said...

look at the color of that sand, my lord. beeyoooteeful.

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Anonymous said...

I say go with the last kayak.

Mom

soubriquet said...

This blog's reminding me of good times with a sea kayak..
not having seen the full specs I'd say they all look good.
If you go with the Elaho...It looks perfectly capable, well shaped and laid out...You'll blame a hard day on the water on not buying a more pricey model.. Get the top price? and when you find it flawed, you'll curse spending the extra.
Go for the middle and buy yourself some good gear to go with it?
Only you know the answer.

But keep on photographing and blogging, I'm enjoying seeing the world from water level again.
Good Luck!
Dave, alias Soubriquet

steve said...

I voted last week and was wondering what the results were.... you may have led the constituency as everyone is going for the tracer 165, which you described as "And finally, this beauty, built with smoother material and, to my mind, the best hull-speed potential and aesthetics"...
I had no idea that such watercraft existed, and I'm sure any of the 3 will be High quality...
I am very interested in how the performance increases for you compared to the "Toy" that you are in now!
Doing any fishin'?

Citizen H said...

"led the constituency"? Yeah, I reckon. It's not as if this is a scientific poll. The more I think on it the stronger the case becomes for the Tracer anyway. It's almost 20 pounds lighter than the other two, which becomes important on and off the water (loading on and off a car, and 20 pounds less I have to move through the water with each paddle stroke, for example.) Also, the smoother plastic reduces drag, important once again on long paddles.

The major improvement over my current kayak?
1) More ergonomic cockpit and seat. My current one plays hell with my sciatic nerve. Five miles into a paddle trip my legs begin to go numb.

2) better cockpit coaming. A sprayskirt will actually stay in place, unlike on my current boat, where the sprayskirt pops out of place if I shift myself on my seat.

3) bulkheads. If I do ship water it's limited to a 5-foot section of the kayak amidships, instead of the entire thing filling up. It's a difference between having to pump out 30 gallons of water and 80 gallons of water.

4) Tracking. A model equipped with a ridder or skeg and a better keel is less likely to drift all over the water as I paddle. Also, a straight-tracking boat won't veer to one side or another when I stop paddling.

That's the rundown; all things considered, I'm going to get the Tracer.

jon spencer said...

Someday I am going to get one of these, http://www.pygmyboats.com/ until then I will use my Dagger.
I like the roto molded plastic because I can run it up on the rocks without to much worry.
I also reccomend getting a very good paddle.
The Werner that I use is nice, but just about any brand paddle that is over $150 is a good for starting price point.
Watch for used boats and paddles the price for them runs around 40 to 60 percent of list and the seller usually will throw in extras.

Mrs. Who said...

Just came here via Lady Heather's site.

I have the Cape Horn. (Her name is Nina). While I don't get out very often, I love that kayak. However, the main reason is because it 'fit' me best...I'm barely over 5' tall, so it was hard finding a kayak that I could handle easily w/o 'reaching' with my feet. Your being taller might mean you need something different. But it's extremely maneuverable and smooth.

BTW, in my maiden voyage with her, I went up Wolf Creek (over Elberta Way) and paddled with the dolphins! A mama and baby came right up to me. Ahh, that was wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I've paddled a Tracer, and it is a very nice boat that I plan to make my next purchase.

You may not like how lively it is at first, it will be more tippy then what you are used to, but you will quickly learn to use this to your advantage. A good sea kayak needs to be able to carve a turn, and this boat excels at this, yet still tracks nice. A very good balance. Also a nice fit for taller paddlers like myself at 6'5". I watched the owner of the Tracer put it through its paces. Very nice.. You don't need to be strong or highly skilled to make this boat respond.