Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weighing the Issues

One of the great advantages (aside from cost) of building a wooden kayak is in getting a lighter weight kayak. Many sized as sea kayaks are completed weighing 45-50 lbs, some as low as 40 lbs. Of course when building your own kayak, you also have opportunity to make changes and customizations, these are usually in opposition to “keeping it light”.

My main goal with the Grand Diva was first and foremost to have a lighter faster kayak. I’m starting to feel old dragging around these heavy kayaks of mine, an NDK Explorer and Kruger Dreamcatcher. But drag them I do, and I now I even have a kayak trailer so I don’t have to lift them on and off the car myself. Both weigh a bit over 65 lbs, the Kruger might be in the 70’s.

Faster was secondary, but I figured lighter would add to that too. My Explorer, which I absolutely love paddling in the rough stuff, is not known as a speedster. I'm a WaterTribe lifer; I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a kayak that’s just a bit faster for those challenges. Don’t we all want a boat that’s just a bit faster? The Grand Diva is not over the top and certainly not a racing kayak. Like many sea kayaks, its 17 ½ feet long, but was designed by Graham Byrnes who’s known to maximizes his designs for speed.

But I’m not a racer, I’m an expedition paddler. So when we started customizing the Diva, I wanted a day hatch, this meant another bulkhead. Graham said that adding fiberglass on the inside of the hull was optional, but I decided necessary (one time the sump pump of my foot pump in the NDK worn a hole through the inside of the hull under the seat). I also insisted on watertight hatches, which meant the heavy rubber hatches (three of them), and I wanted them recessed, so more fiberglass and epoxy to design the wells for them to sit in and attach inside. Then of course I insulted the kayak by adding a rudder, lots of added pounds there.

Paul was quite careful with the glassing and the amount of epoxy and paint. He has enough experience with that to know how it can add unnecessary weight. And he did occasionally question my need for the heavier hatches etc…

So it turns out that in the end, I’ll have another sea kayak, with features I want, but I will not have a lightweight kayak.  She seems to paddle beautifully, and will be strong and sturdy.  But unfortunately all my changes have put it in the 60 lb range with the rest of my sea kayaks.

Isn't it interesting seeing how high it sits on the water (for all it's weight), very different profile than my Explorer when emtpy.

I can always lighten the load a bit with some modifications to self, and take more care in my packing. I know that speed is always more about the motor than the boat anyway, so guess I’ll have to keep up my training and adhere more to the weight training.

But I sure was looking forward to a lighter kayak.  Maybe the next one:)

1 comment:

Michael said...

Much like building SOF kayaks, I wonder if any of us can ever build exactly the boat we dream about! This Diva looks pretty darn close IMO!