◊ Occasional Blog

This blog mostly describes sea kayaking experiences, but not exclusively. Nor are new posts added regularly.

A Change in the Kayak Fleet

posted Apr 23, 2018, 7:12 AM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Apr 29, 2018, 2:57 PM ]

If you read my earlier entry, you’ll recall that we have five kayaks and I need to sell two, maybe three. At that point, two of these were Explorers, as designed by Nigel Dennis. The 1996 model was very sturdy albeit heavy, and in good shape. The 2007 model is carbon/kevlar and expectedly much lighter, in nearly new condition. I recalled that a friend of mine had a Sterling Ice Kap. So I traded, my 1996 Explorer for his Ice Kap. Admittedly, the Ice Kap is in grim shape, but is recoverable. Plus I enjoy restoring kayaks despite my very limited skill set. Ice Kap problems include:
  • pine sap drippings on the stern

  • gel coat damage along the keel

  • poorly finished inside by the manufacturer

  • also some surface damage in the hatches

  • a crippled skeg

  • a rear hatch leak, perhaps related to the prior item

Resolution of these problems will await our return home in late May. Nevertheless, I have at least cleaned off the pine sap and made initial gel coat repairs.

The virtues of the Ice Kap are that it is a very maneuverable and light boat, my estimate being a bit above 40 pounds. The kayak was supposedly a demo model that Sterling Donalson took from show to show. Perhaps this is the reason for the poor internal finishing, unready to be inflicted on a buyer.

It will be a while before I paddle it. It should roll easily and it may become my roll practice boat. On the other hand I may just sell it, whatever seems appropriate. Donalson insists that none of his boats weathercock, but I’ve heard the Ice Kap does. The seat can be moved backward a bit, so that would help the weathercocking – as would loading it somewhat stern heavy. The potential for weathercocking remains to be tested.

The Ice Kap is about 17’ x 19.5” and with significant rocker, hence the maneuverability. There are front and rear hatches, but no day hatch. It will hold less gear than Sedna, my carbon/kevlar Explorer. The Ice Kap came with no name, so I’ll name her now … Miss Frigid.

A few photos will be added when she is less disheveled.

Start of 2018 Kayak Season

posted Mar 28, 2018, 8:23 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Apr 1, 2018, 11:06 AM ]

The lake water is at ~38º F, dry suit time … with some insulation. The lake level is down by ~9 feet to accommodate any sudden snow melt. The air temperature was to approach 50º F and the mountain skiing offered no fresh powder. So it became my first kayak day this season. It was also my first day paddling in this kayak (her name is ‘Sedna’). Here is Sedna, champing (an aside, not ‘chomping’) at the bit, awaiting her short 6 nm. outing.

Looking to the west, we see the Schweitzer ski area. It’s not apparent, but the snow pack is about 34% above normal … water for kayaking some weeks later.

I drove west from Sandpoint along the water, about 20 miles just before the lake turns south. I launched at Trestle Creek Campground (no one else there). I saw one other boat with one fisherman and two snoozers. The launch site itself went well beyond the concrete pad, into the rocky fore beach. It’s not yet ready for the bigger boats. Looking to the east, I could see the Green Monarchs descending abruptly into the water. Not too many years ago, Lawson Tate skied a line down to the lake. Friends retrieved him via boat.

After my short trip I returned to Trestle Creek Campground. A woman Subarued her way into the campground. I recognized Sally from some years ago. She helped me load Sedna onto the Hullavator. Then back home

Update: now it's a few days later - both cold and snowy. I guess we'll ski tomorrow as the snowstorm continues.

Kayaks to Sell

posted Mar 17, 2018, 8:05 PM by Richard Sevenich

After zeroing in on our preferred kayaks, I find that we now have five kayaks. Eli prefers her Necky Looksha IV and I prefer my SKUK Explorer. So we have 3 spares. We’d like to keep just one extra for guests, so we wish to sell two. All shortcomings have been dealt with e.g. none (currently) leak. Hence we need to pick two to sell from these three, all fiberglass:
  • Noyak DeRide (with the unfortunate model name)

  • Mariner Express (with fore, aft, and day hatches)

  • NDK Explorer (diolen reinforced where extra strength is needed)

My first choice would be to keep the Noyak, because it is light, has neither rudder nor skeg, and is therefore perfect for a guest who might be a beginner. It does exhibit slight weathercocking and would profit from loading it stern heavy.

Perhaps the easiest of our spare kayaks to sell would be the NDK Romany Explorer. It is one of the most classic British designs, a noted expedition kayak, very neutral, and very stout – really a good kayak for a guide. Its storage capacity is adequate at best, because of the skeg box.

Slightly more difficult to sell would be the Mariner. It is a cult classic here in the northwestern USA, but not well known beyond the west coast. It is famous for good handling in rough seas with neither skeg nor rudder. This particular boat was modified quite professionally by John Abercrombie (Victoria, BC) to have fore, aft, and day hatches. Typically the originals did not have hatches, but used float bags for buoyancy. It has a great deal of storage capacity. This would also be a good kayak for a guide … and with enhanced storage capacity.

Spring 2018 Looms

posted Mar 6, 2018, 8:04 PM by Richard Sevenich

Spring of 2018 is looming, but ski season is reluctant to leave, with over 11 feet of snow at Schweitzer’s summit. We’ve had some fantastic ski days, even a few with sun and no fog. Our valley floor Nordic trail system is going strong, but will melt quickly at any point. Next Sunday we switch to daylight savings time, so winter is waning despite its reluctance.

Consequently, I am starting to focus on kayaking. Today I installed some inexpensive refinements to my newest kayak (a slightly used carbon/kevlar SKUK Explorer, named Sedna). These are :

  • a paddle park

  • under deck storage for the bilge pump, just fore the coaming

  • a skeg retrieval string, should the skeg jam on the water

There are a few more things needed, but a keel strip is the only major feature not yet added. I need warmer weather to install this, but have the Eazy Keel product ready to go.

Once the lake ice is gone and the pool level up a bit, I should be on the water, dry suit and all. I must prepare for our Portugal kayak trip (leaving Sedna behind sadly). This is a 30th wedding anniversary present my wife and I are sharing. We’ll first spend a week in Austria, then a week in Portugal, and finishing with another week in Austria. Julie, my eldest, will host us in Austria and join us in Portugal. She will be our indispensable facilitator.

Back from Kalispell

posted Feb 17, 2018, 3:50 PM by Richard Sevenich

As feared, I purchased the kevlar/carbon NDK Explorer in Kalispell. As used boats go, it is in relatively pristine shape. Included were a 220 cm. Werner Ikelos paddle, a paddle bag, and a spray skirt - all in excellent condition. The Werner Ikelos blade is likely too large for my stature, so I may look for a trade. Otherwise it will make a good spare.

Peering through the dust, this kayak is red over white and has the Karitek skeg, which currently works smoothly. If installed properly, the skeg is supposedly kink free. I'll add a few other enhancements:
  • a Keel Eazy keel strip
  • a paddle park
  • an under deck bilge pump holder, just fore the coaming
I'll incorporate photos in this article, once spring is nigh and the enhancements added,

This leaves me with several very nice, serious sea kayaks to sell. Craigslist here I come once spring brings forth the kayak aficionados.

A Rainy Day in January

posted Jan 18, 2018, 1:16 PM by Richard Sevenich

January 18, 2018 is a rainy day down here in Sandpoint, The rain at nearby Schweitzer Mountain has evolved from morning rain into heavy snow, with only the front bowl open for skiing. We’ll declare it a non-ski day and hope for relief tomorrow, as forecast.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about the coming kayak season. In mid February, three of us will drive to Kalispell to ski Whitefish Mountain and maybe find some Nordic trails. What has that to do with kayaking? A second motive for the trip will be to possibly purchase a hybrid NDK Explorer (standard), found on Craigslist. I really like my own Explorer, but it is heavy for me, despite my burly 5’ 5” frame. So the lighter hybrid is very attractive.

I would then have five kayaks for our family of two. Even if we keep an extra kayak for an unwary guest, we still would have two I’d like to sell. I would select the two from these three:

  • 15’ 2” x 22” Noyak DeRide

  • 16’ x 22.5” Mariner Express

  • 17’ 8” x 21.5” NDK Explorer

Of the three kayaks above, the Mariner is a cult classic with neither rudder nor skeg, not needing these even in very rough water. This particular kayak was typically built with no hatches and relying on air bags for flotation. However, this particular kayak was modified by John Abercrombie (Victoria, BC) and has bow, stern, and day hatches, modifications that appear 100% professionally done.

The NDK Explorer is a more well known kayak.It is a very strong layup reinforced with diolen at stress points, hence rather heavy.

From the Internet: [This is a famous sea kayak named as Sea Kayaker magazine's “Readers’ Choice for Best Extended Touring Kayak”, in 2008, in 2011 and in 2012. It has a number of first expeditions with circumnavigations of Britain, Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand and South Georgia Island and a number of the Aleutian islands to its credit. It is what an amazingly high percentage of high level coaches and expert paddlers choose to paddle, yet many novices find it to be very comfortable, responsive and forgiving.]I have added a keel strip, a comfortable back band, an under deck bilge pump storage location, a paddle park in case you need both hands free, and new deck lines and bungees.

The Noyak was built by Noy Palatvong, formerly Mariner’s top builder who then started his own company when Mariner ceased operation. It is an elongated version of the famous Mariner Coaster. It has neither skeg nor rudder and is well behaved and neutral enough to need neither is the hands of an experienced paddler. The beginner might avoid really rough water until accruing some paddling skills. It is a relatively light kayak. I have added a keel strip and some static deck lines.

Any of these kayaks would be happy on a lake or in the sea. Each is fiberglass, so I would be reluctant to take them through river whitewater. Of course, a fiberglass kayak is more easily repaired (even while on a trip) than a rotomolded kayak, but the latter is more durable for most abuse.

Start of 2017-2018 Ski Season

posted Dec 19, 2017, 9:03 AM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Dec 19, 2017, 9:03 AM ]

Our ski season is off to its usual randomized start:
  • Skate skiing at the UI property north of town began in early November (earliest ever)

  • Then shut down after a few days when the warmer weather and rains washed away the snow

  • Schweitzer had its 3rd earliest opening, before Thanksgiving, with a decent early snow pack

  • Which was then nearly destroyed by rains

At this point I have accrued a dozen skate ski days and one alpine day (yesterday). Despite grim alpine conditions the skate skiing has been decent. Schweitzer’s Nordic grooming folks have done a splendid job. Nevertheless the lower level of the Nordic track system has been marginal on occasion, but is now recovering. The Nordic skiing is, at best, a marginal money maker for Schweitzer and it is great that they do such excellent grooming. The poor money flow evidently justifies their decision to loan out and allow the fat tire snow bikes on the track. This sort of multi-use Nordic track is a risky choice. The bikes can leave dangerous tire tracks along with post-holing walkers who can’t ride their bikes up the steeper areas. There is some attempt to forbid snow bikes when the snow is soft, but this is not completely successful.

Schweitzer needs more snow quickly to lure the holiday tourists. Today’s snowfall looks likely to help significantly, although another high pressure awaits.

Later this season we hope to visit Whitefish Mountain (formerly Big Mountain), near Kalispell. Being over 70 we ski for free there. There are other ski areas in our vicinity that provide such deals, but not Schweitzer unfortunately.

End of 2017 Kayak Season

posted Oct 6, 2017, 7:36 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Oct 6, 2017, 7:38 PM ]

We had four very nice paddling days in the Nanaimo area. The first day Eli, Audrey, and I launched at Brechin and circumnavigated Protection Island. The second day we paddled with the club. Led by Gloria Martens, we launched from Kin Hut and circumnavigated Newcastle Island. Among the other club paddlers was a familiar face, belonging to Reale Emond who had traveled up from Victoria. The third day Eli, Audrey, Sean Gallagher, and I launched from Ladysmith's Transfer Beach and made a round trip to Evening Cove. On the fourth day Eli, Audrey, Dominique, and I launched from Lantzville's Sebastion Road and paddled out to Southey Island and back. None of the days was a hard paddle, bur each was fun. We saw many seals, Oyster Catchers, a few Pigeon Guillemots, etc.

Once back in Sandpoint I ended my season with an 8.27 nm cruise from 3rd Avenue Pier to Dover and back. I took three photos at Springy Point:
The Shallows Protected by Springy Poin
Protected shallows south of Springy Point

Looking west toward Cape Ostentatia

Looking east toward the Long Bridge

The weather was cool and fair. I saw thousands of coots, a gathering of ~10 cormorants, 1 eagle, a minipod of Western Grebes, a small grebe I could not identify, and so on. I found that if I paddle slowly, just enough to maintain some minimal speed, the coots are not startled and accept my presence, allowing me to mingle. I saw no Buffleheads at this point, but they will eventually show up. The water level was down to about 2060.16 feet, but will now be dropping to its winter level precipitously.

My year total was 61 paddling days with 20 of those being spent practicing rolling only. I ended the season with a consistent on-side Pawlata roll, even without a pre capsize setup. For most that's minimal progress, but was a big deal for me.

I ended the season with 4 kayaks and was unable to sell at least one of those, maybe next year.

As the 2017 Kayak Season Wanes

posted Aug 31, 2017, 9:03 AM by Richard Sevenich

This has been the first season where I've been satisfied with my rolling progress. Choosing to use the NDK Explorer, in lieu of the Mariner Express, kept me from floundering away my roll sessions making zero progress. At this point I have a very solid roll (even 'inadvertent' rolls) on my on-side with the NDK. This definitely makes me feel safer. I know where I am underwater for on-side rolls. However, for off-side rolls my brain remains confused. Nevertheless, I was semi-confident that I could return to the Mariner and experience some success. This went OK, not great. I was able to roll the Mariner on 12 of 13 on-side attempts. But most of those rolls were something of a struggle. The Mariner doesn't pop up like the NDK. I am guessing I need a stronger 'hip snap'.

Currently we own 4 kayaks and I'd like to move to just 3. This would still give us a spare for guests. I'd like to sell the Mariner, but am reluctantly willing to sell the NDK.

A lot remains to be accomplished, perhaps for next season:

  • My rolls are all Pawlata and I'd like to move to non-extended paddle rolls.

  • I need to move to off-side Pawlata and add non-extended paddle rolls.

  • How about reentry and roll?

River kayakers really need to be able to roll both sides. For a sea kayaker, who avoids surf and rock gardens, this is not as important. But I can get caught in waves and swells, where the need to roll up on either side becomes more important.

It took me a very long time to learn to roll. But the time underwater was somewhat necessary, so that I could learn where I was more precisely. Old people don't learn new tricks easily.


posted Aug 11, 2017, 3:58 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Aug 11, 2017, 4:01 PM ]

At this point in the summer, I've developed a one-sided, somewhat laugh-proof roll. My roll sessions are sometimes solo and sometimes with friends. The water is now warm enough that a Farmer John and dry top are sufficient for an extended session. I believe the next progression is to move toward the one-sided bombproof roll. In particular, I need to mimic an inadvertent roll, where there is no setup before the actual capsize. It seems that I am relatively aware of where I am and of what I'm doing while underwater and it should be feasible to achieve a semi-bombproof roll before summer wanes.

So, what next after the one-sided bombproof roll? I'd hope to follow that with the off-side roll, perhaps bombproof as well. Longer term, I'd like the on-side and off-side rolls to become indistinguishable. So far my rolls are Pawlata (i.e. extended paddle) rolls. Eventually, I'd like to have forward finishing rolls, perhaps before I turn 80.

Unrelated goals might include rolling other boats, perhaps even the Mariner. I am already using a selection of paddles.  How about a half paddle?

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