Now that I'm done building boats for the year (yeah, RIGHT) it's time to enjoy and get to know the kayaks I have. That means more paddling, measuring and getting quantitative with the GPS. I've learned so much already. For instance, The Jewel performs a lot better than Moonlight Dancer in the wind. The wind had been blowing all night before the second day of the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium. It whipped up the waves enough that they closed the Demo Beach. A handful of paddlers were messing around that afternoon and a few on-water classes were still going on as the vendors were packing up their tents to escape the rain and go home. Moonlight Dancer leecocked badly. It was a struggle to point upwind. The Jewel however turned around very easily and didn't weathercock at all. Her upturned bow rides over the waves without punching through them, so despite the flat foredeck she really isn't a wet ride. She also surfs the waves smoothly, without the bow digging into the water. She could be a very nice boat for rough conditions. More study is needed.
I've always wondered if the hull shape of a skin-on-frame kayak changes when it's loaded. We know that the skin gets pushed in when it's on the water, so the surfaces between the keelson and chine stringers are actually concave. From what I can tell from pictures and video, the kayak is stiff enough so that the rocker does NOT change when a paddler gets in.
As I expected, The Jewel rolls very easily. I can balance brace without a paddle, and hand roll both sides. But why? I knew the hull shape, with it's flat bottom and flared guwales combined with the moderate beam, would provide plenty of initial and secondary stability. What I didn't know is that the extreme rocker helps lower the center of gravity, and the upturned ends of the bow and stern help to resist capsize and provide buoyancy that assists with the righting motion of the roll (I am reminded of the upturned ends of the NDK Romany).
Check out this video clip of my handroll. I'm trying to keep my head on the back deck the whole time, but at the end it gets a little sloppy.