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That’s a Mighty Big Boat Cha Got There

Posted Dec 12 2005 12:00am
Tuesday I saw her down on the beach
I stood and watched a while
And she looked and smiled at me – queen

I promised something useful today didn’t I!? Ok, Regarding the tuna fish, fill the day hatch with water and for heaven’s sake don’t kill the fish!*

When Mary first got into the Greenlander she was a bit taken aback by how hard it was to keep it on a line. Hey, Greenlanders are MEANT to stay on a line. They go strait and fast, that’s what they do. However, there is a lot of nose on the boat. The cockpit seems to sit slightly behind center. So when I paddled up along side her I could see that the bow was riding pretty high as most of the weight was in the back. She was suffering from artificial rocker. With only the back two thirds of the kayak actually in the water it would not easily stay on course. The next day when we went out, we put a couple dry bags full of gear in the front hatch. Not too much weight really, maybe a 4 pounds or so. But that did the trick.

These days there are lots of people who paddle sea kayaks as “day boats”. Nothing wrong with that. Most of the time, my kayak is a day tripper as well. But when we do that we don’t often put much gear IN the boat. Yet, that’s the whole point of a big sea kayak. It was meant to carry gear for a week or more. For those of you who are lucky enough to be a feather weight this can be a problem. Often the boat will not track properly and will weather cock something awful. Meaning it will react to even the slightest wind and waves; and make your day miserable. It really sucks to have to spend your day just trying to keep your boat straight.

Your sea kayak is meant to be actually in the water. Without enough weight, the bow and stern tend to sit above the water like great big sails pushing you with the whims of the wind. In addition, with the ends of your boat out of the water, you suddenly have a 9 foot boat with a high rocker. It’s an artificial rodeo boat just happy to sit and spin!

Ok, so now you’re thinking you may need to bulk up a bit. How? There are a variety of solutions. One is to do what we did and just throw some gear in a hatch. Normally you want to keep the weight near the cockpit, but in our case the boat was low in water in the rear and lifting up in front, thus we put weight in the front hatch. I know a couple local women who carry small sand bags and put them right behind their seat as well. We’ve had some discussion about where those bags go when you roll. . .

Sometimes just an extra water bottle or two in the day hatch will help. Extra water is a grand idea. One lady told me she carries 15lbs of lead shot in a bag! Yikes! I don’t know where the heck you actually get “shot”. Ok, now don’t say “Milwaukee”!! Another solution may be to discover a meal between breakfast and brunch but I don’t think that’s an advisable solution either.

Certainly there are a variety of low volume kayaks out there these days. However for whatever reasons you may not be able to just run out and get one. Even then sometimes the lower volume doesn’t really solve the problem. Plus like me, there may be times when you need the volume and other days you don’t. The moral of today’s post is just this; if you are a fairly light person in a fairly big boat and having control issues; take a look at how you’re boat is sitting in the water. Maybe you just need a bit more weight.

I’d love to hear from some of you light folks who would like to share your solutions!

* Disclaimer for US Liability Control: Do NOT fill your day hatch with water. What are you crazy or something!!??

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