Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Testing the new boat

Pimp my kayak

Yesterday the new Cape Horn was delivered. I spent an afternoon outfitting (deck attachments, tiedowns, reflective tape for visibility in darkness,) and tested her today on the waters around Dauphin Island.

What a superlative boat. Paddling at 4 1/2 to 5 knots is about as easy as paddling at 2 1/2 knots in the other kayak. She holds a heading well even in a 1-foot chop, and is more stable than the Pelican in spite of a slimmer beam.

The route was my usual Dauphin Island paddle, launching near Fort Gaines and paddling to the beach by the public pier, an 8-mile route with varying water conditions. These included heaving, choppy 3- to 4-foot seas near Fort Gaines influenced by a stiff northerly breeze and a strong (2 knots +) ebb tide current; calm, placid waters along the leeward side of the island; and the turbulent 3 1/2-knot tide-rip between Sand and Dauphin Islands.

This was a great paddle to put a new sea kayak through her paces and troubleshoot manufacturer defects. The only problem I found was a series of small leaks in the tiedown points. The bungees that comprise the deck rigging are rove through holes drilled in projections from the hull; some of those drill-holes allow water to enter the cockpit in heavy seas or during lean-turns and rolls. The leak amounted to a liter of water only in the cockpit over the course of two hours' paddling.

The fix? After I got home I put a few dabs of silicone caulk inside the cockpit under the molded padeye points. After a leak-check with a hose, everything appeared to be dry inside.

Once again, what a superb boat. Money well-spent.

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