Friday, June 23, 2006

New Kayak - Avalon Explorer

Well after a lot of hard work and many hours in the workshop, my new kayak is on the water. I've called it the Avalon Explorer. The name reflects my home paddling area, the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, and the design roots of the boat. The hull lines are adapted from the popular Nigel Dennis Kayaks Explorer made commerically in the UK. I say "adapted" from the NDK Explorer because I had to modify the lines in designing a multi-chined stitch-and-glue boat to be made out of marine plywood and fiberglass. The deck is modified even more from the original lines of the NDK Explorer, since I had to make some changes to the curves at the forward end of the cockpit.

Check out what she looks like in the photo taken on the June 2006 KNL Father's Day Paddle at Cape Broyle.

I am extremely happy with her performance, turning ability, and weight. I'll have more to say on that once I get her out in rough conditions and surfing. The differences between her and my first boat, a Pygmy Arctic Tern, are noticeable. The Avalon Explorer turns and edges much more easily. Her speed is about the same as the Arctic Tern, despite being 6 inches longer. In current, the Arctic Tern's hard chine would be grabbed by the current on the upstream side when doing eddy turns. The multi-chine Avalon Explorer is better behaved in current.

The Avalon Explorer is a dream to roll (due to the pronounced upward sweep at the bow and stern). The Arctic Tern is not an easy boat to roll in comparison (due to the flat profile of its deck). The Avalon Explorer has consistent secondary stability as you increase the degree of edging. In contrast, the Arctic Tern had increasingly strong secondary stability that made edging beyond 30 degrees real work. This was due to the strong flare in the hull below the shear. This makes the Arctic Tern a great boat for beginners and folks who aren't too worried about extreme edging. But I had outgrown this and was looking for a better boat for edging and rolling.

I'll talk a little more about designing and building the Avalon Explorer in future postings.


Catching up on things

Finally back to the blog. Things have been so busy that I haven't been posting often.

Anyway, the new sea kayak that I have been working on is nearly finished. Once I figure out how to post photos I will add a few. I've had it out on the water several times. The hatches and bulkheads are finally installed so all that is left is the finish sanding and the deck lines. I am taking all of July off work to paddle, so I will worry about adding the spar varnish in August.

I had planned to co-lead a club paddle and beach clean-up this weekend, but high winds have forced us to cancel the trip. Instead, I'll see if there is interest in getting out for some surfing south of St. John's. Stayed tuned for photos of that.

More later,