A new coworker of mine has been sea kayaking for several years. We talked recently about our kayaks, paddles and styles. He paddles a carbon composite Epic 18X, which I would describe as a fast touring sea kayak with a swedeform hull, large cockpit and a rudder. His Epic weighs about 37 pounds, goes fast and has plenty of room for touring. It has a plumb bow: all of the boat length contributes to the waterline. He is a firm believer in rudders. He says many kayaks have problems weather cocking in strong winds and most kayaks will have problems tracking in a quartering sea. A retractable skeg might help with these issues but a rudder is far more effective. Skegs also add drag even when they are not deployed because of the slot in the hull, and since their mechanism is internal (as opposed to a rudder's mechanism) they are difficult to fix when they break. He likes the large cockpit in the Epic that allows him to lift his knees occasionally while paddling long distances. Often he doesn’t dress for immersion because he would cook in a drysuit during the kind of workout he gets when paddling, and usually doesn’t wear a sprayskirt. He does not roll, but is proficient in various self−rescue techniques.
I don’t think the IceKap tracks very well. There -- I said it. That’s Lesson#3. This isn’t supposed to be an advertisement for the IceKap anyway, just a collection of my impressions. During the crossing over to Cypress the kayak tended to wander and I’d be doing draw strokes to avoid running into Tom. I thought at first maybe it was because I packed it too heavily in the bow, so we stopped at Strawberry Island and I shifted some cargo. It didn’t make much difference. Dropping the skeg fixed it though but also added more drag. With the skeg up I tended to lead just ahead of Tom but with it down I found myself right beside him.
"The original Coaster was designed by Cam Broze of Mariner Kayaks in 1985. This 23" wide 13'5" kayak quickly gained cult status as a superior kayak in the surf. Surprisingly it went on to prove itself as a remarkably versatile sea kayak for smaller paddlers as well. Whereas the Coaster won’t win a sprint against a longer narrower kayak it is very fast for its length, it draws no penalty at cruising speeds and is actually more efficient than much longer kayaks at speeds up to 4 mph because of its reduced wetted surface. Every sea kayak is a compromise but the Coaster seems to get away with a bit more than it's fair share. Some sprint speed in exchange for better cruising efficiency, maneuverability, portability, and large usable cargo space, a pretty good trade. This kayak is very stable, swift, turns especially quickly yet tracks well even in difficult cross-wind and following sea conditions. And it screams in the surf zone without pearling. A great boat for kamikaze surfing AND peaceful flat water exploring."
I met up with Tom Sharp this weekend and went camping on Cypress Island. He gave me a free copy of the new Dubside video Modern Greenland Kayaking (can't wait to watch it!) and brought along a classic Mariner Coaster. Saturday was clear and sunny. Sunday I was awakened by a warm rain. The wind remained calm, despite a forecast of winds up to 25 mph from the south. I was paddling a fiberglass boat (more on that later).