In June I spent a week paddling with a friend in Venice and the lagoon. The boats were on loan from a Venetian friend. As far as I know, there are no places in Venice where you can rent sea kayaks. My friend didn’t know […]
Today I paddled home from the beach park. Almost as usual, somebody had taken my kayak for use in a beginners course at Kajakhotellet, so I had to settle for something else. First I laid my greedy eyes on a Skim Distance which I haven’t tried yet, but then someone pretending to be a buying customer showed up, and I had to give it back. I don’t know why we free riders must always suffer this discrimination in front of paying clients. It not fair.
The Skim Dex was in use too, and so was the Nigel Foster Legend, and the NDK Romany, and the NDK Explorer had the skeg in disorder, and being a free rider I didn’t fix it, so in the end I had to settle for a Nigel Foster Silhouette, which I have tried before. Life is hard sometimes.
It is a good kayak, though, but it doesn’t fit me very well. It has a very low foredeck which forces me to sit with my legs too stretched for my taste, and the two huge pieces of ham I call my thighs has to be stuffed under the thigh braces. The cramped position gave me an uneasy feeling, and though the boat has good primary stability and very good secondary stability, I didn’t quite feel good in it. I feel I have more lateral control when I sit in a position with my knees a bit raised.
Its a pity with Nigel Fosters designs. I have tried both the Legend and the Silhouette, and both are good boats, but neither fit me. In the Legend I feel like I’m sitting in a deep hole, because it has a rather high cockpit rim. I don’t like it when my ribs touches the cockpit sides when I edge or roll. The Silhouette is much lower around the cockpit, but the foredeck is too low for me and my legs.
Anyway, this was about my paddle home from the beach. The beach park is on the eastern side of the island of Amager, and I live at Islands Brygge on the western side, so I have to paddle some 5-6 km north along the Øresund coast, enter the harbour and paddle another 5-6 km south inside the harbour before I’m home. Well, almost home. I still have a 500m walk from the water.
The first part in the lagoon of the beach park and behind the island of Prøvestenen was quite nice and quiet. It was a bit cloudy, and bit windy, but nothing extreme. There weren’t too many people at the beach, since there was little sun.
I saw a funny wading bird with a long red beak, at the beach. I’ve never seen that kind before, so I’ll have to look it up. I also saw two ducks of a new type, maybe pintails because they has a little loose feather on the back of their heads. I’ll have to look them up too. Of course, they might just have been the few punk ducks that didn’t fit in the with the rest 🙂 Later I saw a flying Grey Heron. They’re very graceful in flight, though less so when they take a shit and almost hits you, as it happened the other day when I walked the dog.
Up at the wind farm at Lynetten, at the entrance to Magretheholm leisure harbour, there are usually a bit of waves. Today they were few and small, but the swells did give a bit of speed. Too bad I didn’t feel at ease in the boat. It did take a bit of the fun away.
When I do this trip, I usually stop halfway to drink and each some chocolate. So I did today, only to discover two tugboats steaming towards me with something that resembled a piece of an offshore oil platform. I had to leave my chocolate on the spraydeck and paddle like a maniac to the other side of the harbour, where the big cruise ships are moored, to get out of the way.
Actually, I think I had the right of way because they approached on my left, but it didn’t quite seem like the occasion to insist.
Instead I had the pleasure of eating my now slightly salty chocolate just in front of the statue of The Little Mermaid, so all the tourists got a bright red kayak in the background of their holiday shots.
The rest of the trip was utterly eventless, like I’ve done it many times now.
The trolley I use for the final 500m home is this: Eckla Sea Kayak Cart
Yesterday I went back to Varberg in Sweden to try the Rockpool Menai 18. I had made an appointment with Sara from Escape Kajakcenter in Gothenborg, Sweden, that they would bring a Menai 18 and an Alaw Bach to Varberg for trying.
The Menai 18 is different than the Alaw and the Alaw Bach. They are more playboats while the Menai is an expedition boat. As such it is equipped differently, but it maintains much of the easy handling of the Alaw and the Alaw Bach and the overall lines are very similar.
The Menai is 18’2″ long (554cm),which is a foot more than the Alaw and Alaw Bach, but has the same overall width.
Its hull has the same hard chines at the centre, rounding off halfway towards the ends and ending in a sharp V-shape at bow and stern. The hull stays wider for longer towards the stern, giving the boat a distinctive line from the keel to the stern, as can be seen on this foto of two Alaw Bachs and a Menai 18. It also has two groves along the bottom for better tracking. The Manai comes with a skeg as default.
The deck is somewhere in between the Alaw, which has a very high foredeck, and the Alaw Back which has a low deck both fore and aft. The Menai has a higher foredeck than the Alaw Bach but noticeably lower than the Alaw, and much of that space is due to a separate lunch box hatch (6 litres) just in front of the cockpit. In the front the Menai has two groves under the deck lines which makes it a lot easier to put in a split spare paddle, and it has a flat area in the middle for a compass.
Seat and footrest are just as in the other two Rockpool boats. When I tried the Alaw Bach, it had an almost perfect fit for me, but the Menai I tried was much loser around the hips, even though the sides had more padding than were in the Alaw Bach. Rockpool can deliver two sizes of seats. The Alaw Bach defaults to the small seat and the Menai to the large. The small seat is definitely better for me.
I also had some problems with the thigh braces. It was hot and I paddled in neopren shorts, and when I pushed my legs up for a tighter grip on the boat, the sharp edges of the thigh braces would cut into my leg in a rather painful way. The braces definitely needs some foam padding, and on later inspection I noticed that the Alaw Bach I liked so much, had the braces carefully padded.
The Menai 18 paddles extremely well, just like it’s sisters.
It is very responsive to edging, turning swiftly as you move, and it can be edged to extremes I haven’t dared in any other kayak. It’ll edge further than I can twist my ageing body. The Menai will respond even to a slight edge and it will turn on a dime if you edge it until the keel is out of the water, and it’ll do that just as the Alaw and the Alaw Bach.
It tracks better than the Alaw Bach, probably due to the longer waterline and the groves in the hull, and with the skeg deployed it tracks very well, while still responding well to edging.
I paddled the Menai for a couple of hours, but in placid waters with very little wind, and unloaded. I have little doubt it’ll be great in rough waters and windy conditions, but I haven’t tried. During my test paddle of the boat I only had two small grievances: the sharp edge of the thigh brace and the too wide seat, and both can be easily remedied.
I have made up my mind now. I’ll be getting a Rockpool Menai 18.
There are more photos of the boat I paddled on Flickr, and an extremely boring but very long video of me paddling the Menai. It does show a little of how well it edges and manoeuvres. Sorry about the pale legs, but its only at the beginning.