Saturday, 25 January 2014

Pimp Naughty and sailing it

In my last post I introduced Naughty, an Ocean Rider kayak that Barnabas lent me. As I am going to paddle it for 2 weeks doing many km each day I wanted to customise it so I could 'wear' the kayak and feel comfortable in it.
The first things I did were easy minor cosmetics, like tethering hatch covers and adding handles. Then I added some protection to the battery in the day hatch. Unfortunately the battery is not inside a box but just exposed inside the dry day hatch. In case of flooding the battery will fry but if just dump gets inside the compartment, the contacts will hopefully survive now.
The kayak has a rudder and I always said that when I get a ruddered kayak I would install a tiller similar to what the K1 use to control the rudder. With a lot of help from Roger, an expert carpenter and handy man, we.... ahem, mostly he, installed the new system.

Roger doing final adjustment
The system presented
The hard part of the installation
New rudder control ready
Then we went for the weekend trial where the rudder system worked wonderfully. I could steer the boat and still apply my full pressure on the fixed footrest. Also during the weekend I found out that everyone else was going to carry a sail on the trip south of Tasmania. Barnabas' other boats have sails installed but not Naughty. With help from Matt... ahem, again mostly his handy work we installed all the fittings for the sail.
Matt doing the reinforcement
Making sure the fibber inside is well placed.
I had never sailed a single kayak before, just had a brief experience in a double once. The forecast for Saturday was strong wind warnings and swell of 3meters, both from the South. Matt made sure the sail was ready for the event and we organised cars at each end of the almost 35 km of coast we wanted to paddle/sail. We met with Wade and the three of us launched into the wind. I carried my GPS but had forgotten to replace the batteries so it didn't record anything and I can't say how fast we went with the sails up, but it was faster than just paddling and some of the waves were easier to ride with the extra push from the sail. For me it was not a relaxed paddle while the sail was up. The first time the boom (the horizontal tube on the sail) swapped from left to right because the wind was coming more from the left, the event got me by surprise and I almost went over. Similarly, when I was on the face of a big swell I was not sure what the kayak would do and had to paddle a bit more defensively than what I did later when I had to put the sail down. Definitively the kayak moves differently with the sail up and I have to get used to its new behaviour before I can relax and really enjoy the ride.
Sailing was good while it lasted
This is all the video I got from the paddle:

When we had covered about 10 km and my sail decided to swap again sides it went down. The clip that was holding it from that side had become loose and there was nothing holding the sail up. We rafted to see if there was something to do and decided to keep going to a protected beach to try to fix it. We kept riding the waves but without the aid from the sail. That was more of what I was used to and I really enjoyed the 3 or 4 meter waves when they rolled and became white water blown by the wind or being shot down these big faces to bury the bow in the trough in front.
By the end of the previous weekend long paddle I had felt my forearm a bit strange. On Monday my forearm was sore and I could not hold anything heavy with the right arm. I applied ice and by Wednesday I didn't have any discomfort. However, soon after I had to lower the sail my forearm started to feel funny again. With the big trip only 2 weeks away I didn't want to risk pushing the arm further. The pit stop to fix the sail become my exit for the day while Wade and Matt had a ball completing the route we had planned. I went on slower, without the 'hurry' to catch the waves and nurturing my arm. In front of me I saw a big brown 'thing' . Usually these brown 'things' are just drift wood and leaves but this time I discovered it was a turtle. Quickly got my camera out and shot a photo but in the hurry and excitement I didn't turn it on. When I realised and corrected the error the turtle had realised it was being watch and promptly dived. I just got this photo of it about to head for the deepness.
The quick shot before the turtle went down
That night with Barnabas help we fixed the sail and now instead of D shackles it uses small carabiners. We also replaced some bungees and lowered the electric pump that was a bit too high and left too much water inside the kayak. The only things left now are the camera mount and get my arm good, then we are ready for the long trip.


  1. Just use the little quick release spinakker shackles me and Wade do, they are fast and work properly unlike everything else I have seen fail and fall apart.

  2. I wish you all the best for you forthcoming adventure. I'm sure you will get to love the sail as it adds a whole new dimension to your kayaking experience.