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loving your kayak

Posted May 24 2007 12:00am
derrick-justine-wales07.jpg
Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town
When something comes up to me he don’t even try
Cause if (it) had a set of wings man I know she could fly
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
-beach boys

Would you just look at those pretty kayaks!?? Of course in the back there is Justine and her world famous leopard Explorer and me in a lovely little Alaw Bach. Of course these days there is no reason not to get a kayak that expresses your personality. More and more companies each day are offering custom designs. And more than you may think, expressing your personality has a lot to do with which boat is right for you.

I’ve received a few emails recently asking about Rockpool and looking for comparisons… How does it compare to an Anas Acuta, or Explorer of whatever. Well, I’m not sure I’m the best person to make those comparisons. I’m not really a technical sort of person. When I compare boats it’s more on a sense of feel which of course is personal and may not be what you “feel”. With that said. I can say this;

I love both Rockpool & NDK kayaks. It’s hard for me to compare them in a plus or minus sort of way. These are great boats from essentially the same bloodlines. You can’t go wrong with either. I own an Explorer, Romany & A Greenlander and am getting an Alaw Bach for my Puerto Rico Trip in August. Wales was my first chance to really paddle the Bach. Although I have to say, if you are going to test a kayak, Wales is the place to do it!

First someone asked about comparing an Alaw Bach to an Anas Acuta which as you know I have as well as a roller. Thing is, these are two totally un-related kayaks. The Acuta is, in my opinion an advanced skills kayak. It of course is based on traditional Greenland designs and is fast, & nimble to the point of squirrelly. It’s hard chines can certainly give you a wake up call in broaching waves and surf. I love my Acuta, but it’s not a kayak I would use for tripping. A skeg is a good thing in this boat! Of course others would, so what do I know?? LOL!

In general specs the Alaw, Alaw Bach & The NDK Explorer are very similar. All around 17 feet and 21 inches wide. However the Bach has a lowered deck and thus less volume. On the up side if you are around my size, 5′7″, the fit in incredible in the Bach. Rockpool recommends the Alaw for big & tall guys, Shorter people should try the Bach. In the water I can only make a couple small comparisons. The Alaw Bach to me seemed a bit more “on” the water. It’s hard to describe but my impression was that it was a bit more stable initially than the Explorer. Which has it’s ups and downs. In big broaching waves I had to adjust to the Alaw which seemed to want to be more upright, whereas in my Explorer it seems to more naturally want to lean or edge into the wave. On the other hand the secondary stability of the Alaw Bach was almost crazy. I could edge that beast way over and not need to brace. I could balance it on edge easily. I was really shocked by that.

In the surf my Explorer has always been my guardian angel. The warhorse keeps me safe, and I can feel that in surf. It just moves through the water with amazing grace and stability. I hate to use this comparison but it’s like a leviathan moving smoothly through rough seas. I’m never afraid of waves in my Explorer. The Alaw on the other hand, while still feeling amazingly stable is more playful and wants to run with the waves. It accelerates quickly and responds easily to even small edges. It’s an exhilarating boat to paddle. It’s a dolphin.

So see, I’m no good at comparing boats. Each has their selling points. All are good for certain things more than others. Then there is this; When I’m in my Explorer I cannot help but think of Nigel and my friends who all paddle the boat. I feel somehow more skilled just by being in the boat. I can visualize those great skills my friends have and sometimes, when I’m lucky, emulate them. In the Bach, I feel like I’m in a BMW. I sense the posh quality and craftsmanship. In it I feel almost spoiled. And to be honest, how you feel in YOUR kayak has an amazing effect on how it fits, and handles under your guidance.

If you love your kayak, it will be perfect for you.

* photo by Axel.

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