bespoke East and West Greenland paddles UK paddle canoe custom
Most paddlers I know always want to know what the other kayaker is paddling. Usually to compare with their own kayak, to admire or criticise, but as my brother pointed out to me when I was lusting after a beautiful £3000 carbon-fibre, low-volume British-style Greenland kayak: the best boat you have is the one you've got. He's got a Venture Easky 13 BTW, which is a very nice kayak, (but still not as fast as my old Perception).
The paddling posse I mess about with have a very varied selection of kayaks. The one thing they all have in common is they now all use my bespoke West Greenland paddles.
So as you can probably see, I'm no purist or Olympic standard paddler, just a normal someone who wants something better than a normal "Euro" paddle. If form follows function, then the Inuit kayakers of Greenland got it dead right!
Perception Sealion Fastnet
A long and heavy dreadnought of a rotomoulded kayak, takes some effort to get it moving, but then she glides, out paces most of my kayak buddies.
Initial stability is quite twitchy, having a rounded bottom (soft chines), but I haven't flipped it by accident for a couple of years now (pride cometh before a fall). I do have to pay attention all the time when in the sea, a moment's distraction and I feel like I am going to roll over. Note to self: must learn to roll back upright!
I suspect that my boat is heavier than the stated 27kg (60lb) weight because it is an old model with a metal tube running between the two bulkheads under the seat. The combined adjustable foot rests and rudder peddles slide along the pole. I think it has probably been changed and lightened for later models. One day I will weigh it and scare myself.
The seat is not the best in the world. Later models I have seen have much better seats that offer greater back support. I have bolted on small D-rings to attach a sit-on kayak back-rest / lumbar support for long trips and this works well. This holds me very firmly in place and seems to add to overall stability.
It's got the usual shock-cord deck ropes for tucking paddles, gloves and other bits and bobs under, as well as a rope that runs from bow to stern on both sides, presumably to hang on to if you fall out!
It has an aluminium rudder, which I hardly ever use. Most of the time I find I can keep her tracking straight in a difficult sea using the sliding paddle technique.
It has loads of storage space under its 2 hatches, which still seal very well, if they leak, it's because I didn't shut them properly.
It was my first sea kayak, so I have a big soft spot for the old girl.
length: 5.02m (16'7")
width: 0.58m (23")
weight: 27kg (60lb), but some days it feels like 1000kg (2205lbs)
Sealion Fastnet (discontinued) kayak page
A great little cross-over boat (if a bit ugly), very stable and very alive, cuts through the water well for a fat thing, bobs through waves well, rock gardening is a hoot in this tub!
Very nippy and manoeuvrable, in this boat I feel completely in control. It is wide and stable with a flat bottom and hard chines. It is very hard to roll over. The only time I have flipped this boat is on the River Avon when I got caught under tree branches when the river was in flood, obviously the best time to go paddling, not.
It has a rear skeg to help track straight, but to be honest I never use it. My beginner kayak buddies did when they borrow this kayak, but even they now prefer not to, it tracks straight enough without due to its sharp bow and stern.
For such a short wide kayak it has good speed. I managed to keep up with Perception Essence 16' and 17' kayaks when we were playing around the Donegal coast, much to their surprise.
Under the 250mm (10") rear hatch and behind a bulkhead it's got a small rear storage area for your bits and bobs, which leaks just a tiny amount on my boat.
It's got simple adjustable foot rests and small fixed thigh pads, so fits most people, including my baby brother (6'2" with size one hundred feet!).
Any bad points? The deck around the cockpit is quite bulbous, and this makes carrying a spare paddle a bit awkward, as you can see in the above photo. But there is loads of room to stow a 2 piece paddle inside the bow. Also, I think the logos are ugly and tacky, but that's just IMHO.
If I had to choose just one boat from my extensive collection and massive experience, one boat for rivers, lakes, seas and surf, it would be this puppy.
length: 3.15m (10'3")
width: 0.72m (26")
weight: 22kg (48.5lb)
image ©Björn Thomasson
I am seriously considering building my own cedar strip kayak and am currently researching strip built kayaks before I buy the plans and attempt to build it. A man can dream . . .