What's this then?^

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MikeB
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Re: What's this then?

Post by MikeB »

I dont disagree with your thinking at all - in fact, I think that using a rudder is indeed counter to the original design. Which was never intended for journeying in the first place.

That said, as it is used for journeying these days, clearly it makes sense to make the process as easy and efective as possible. Even on a day outing, or a weekend away, spending two hours edging / bracing / adjusting trim is a pain. A rudder would resolve that and allow concentration of effort on moving the boat thro the water as it is used as a trim tab to offset the effect of wind and tide.

However, what has happened is that we now use these boats for playing in rocks. And, becasue we've had to, as the whole design concept is (possibly) fundamentally flawed owing to it's origin, we've adapted and now want to learn a counter intuitive skill (edging) possibly because it is difficult and adds to the mystique and indeed the whole experience of paddling a sea kayak. It does for me anyway. But when you look at the number of really nice old Nordkapp HM's which pop up occassionally it's clear that a lot of people didn't get that same sense of enjoyment - if the culture was to enjoy the experience of paddling a boat which didn't try and tip you into the water, and which went in your chosen direction, would that have been a better introduction to sea kayking for all those people?

And then, once they had a little more experiecne, they could learn the more advanced skills necessary to control a boat which needs those skills to get the best of it.

I know exactly what you mean about the counter intuition of using a rudder system controlled by movable pedals. I dont paddle a ruddered boat so when I was presented with a Seaward barge in Canada a few years ago, it phased me a bit. Nothign to brace on - - - - all of us just dispensed with the rudders and left them in the stowed position, much to the amazement of everyone else we met. ("You guys aren't using the rudders - how do you turn?") Mind you, they didn't edge turn especially well.

Much will come down to the design of the rudder system. A system controlled by direct in-line, moving pedals is, in my view, an overly simplistic and poorly thought thro concept. For the very reasons you've outlined. It's necessary to have something to brace on - as in the "C Trim" or "butterfly" system where a bar crosses the cockpit to brace from, and the rudder is controlled by your toes on a pivoting tiller bar.

A variation of that is to have pedals, but fixed solidly, with control coming from toe flaps of some sort.

Both those systems allow intuitive directional control. If you want to go right, you press for right. Which allowed the two chaps I've paddled with in ruddered Nordkapps to explore rock gardens and tight spots with concumate ease.

All that said, there is a distinct pleasure in mastering something which is inherently difficult and requires careful handling to get the best from it. Old British sports cars being good examples. Well, actually, all old British cars, and MSR stoves.

Mike.

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EK Sydney
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Re: What's this then?

Post by EK Sydney »

Yep, all good observations. Obviously the old HM design had it's limitations, but all good things evolve & the current incarnation of the Nordkapp displays none of the vices I've read about the original designs. The SeaBird I paddled did have a fixed rudder system - a 'remarkably similar' (is there a theme here?) system to the excellent Smart Track, but still the feeling of control I have in big water sans rudder was unsettlingly absent. Again that's my paddling style & my choice to take the harder road to try to master these clumsy sea kayaks, which can be inherently difficult.....
Mark.

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MikeB
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Re: What's this then?

Post by MikeB »

EK Sydney wrote:Yep, all good observations. Obviously the old HM design had it's limitations, but all good things evolve & the current incarnation of the Nordkapp displays none of the vices I've read about the original designs.
Aye, the HM can be an evil beast - fundamentally, the latest Nordy is the same as the original HS - except, it has the drop-down skeg of course.
The SeaBird I paddled did have a fixed rudder system - a 'remarkably similar' (is there a theme here?) system to the excellent Smart Track, but still the feeling of control I have in big water sans rudder was unsettlingly absent. Again that's my paddling style & my choice to take the harder road to try to master these clumsy sea kayaks, which can be inherently difficult.....
Mark.
With you on all those points - it's all part of the enjoyment of it. For those of us who choose to take that road.

Regs, Mike.

DominiqueS
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Re: What's this then?

Post by DominiqueS »

One funny thing nobody reacted to: given the rocker of Freya's Epic X18, without any rudder she would probably now be crossing the Pacific toward California... so clearly some boats need it...

Had no clue of Sean Morley's Irish Sea crossing comment, and wonder (I'm not at his level... just in steerage) what makes a paddler like him need a rudder in certain conditions: for moves (or boat handling) that just could not be done without a rudder, or because a rudder helps conserve energy? I’m used to ruddering in other boats in all kind of seas, still I’m not sure of the answer here for a kayak.

As for the elitist side of it, it's like all these quarrels about "who is a pure ..." (insert any category here: ethnic, religious, school of thought, etc). Endless and pointless. On that count there is something really funny in Gordon Brown's book "Sea Kayak".

As you might know he raised a storm with Greenland paddlers with his comments on p. 28 (last two paragraphs starting with "For serious sea kayaking..."). There he clearly argues against purism – let’s use the most appropriate tool.

Tricky though because who is to judge? Inuits now use fishing boats and outboard engines on canoes, not kayaks, and like MikeB says kayaks were never for journeying anyway – umiaks were. So using the same logic, one may conclude that in 2009 kayaks are not for "serious" mariners...

But then, writing on navigation, he says on page 94: “We could, of course, use GPS but I think that takes a lot of fun out of the sport and turns the art back into science”. Oh, Oh Mr. Brown...

GPS, Euro paddles, rudders… Compasses, Greenland paddles, hedging… More power on one side, more skills required on the other, but the true key words here are “serious” and “fun”… I think Mr. Brown unwittingly nailed it down: you may want to be serious (take yourself seriously?- and have fun debating if this or that is serious enough), or you may just want to have fun (and use whatever works for you)…

Looks like there could be fun on both sides though...

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EK Sydney
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Re: What's this then?

Post by EK Sydney »

Mate, you've nailed it....
I have a screaming good time chasing down swells with the rudder on my Rapier keeping me on the straight & narrow, and maximising the amount of energy I can use on my forward stroke & leg drive. Speed is the aim of the game & going fast is howling good fun. I also have huge amounts of fun zig zagging around in a choppy sea or clapotis in my Aquanaut, or surfing it on on a beach bar, or turning it through the great rock gardens around the Sydney cliffline. Horses for courses.....

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Jim
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Re: What's this then?

Post by Jim »

Reaction against rudders is for many reasons (including snobbery) but chief of them is probably reliability/fragility and murphy's law which says that for the trip you need it most, you'll break it on launching.

Now, for most kayak forms the rocker causes problems in certain sea directions so we can use a skeg or rudder to compensate for that. The lifting skeg has less moving parts than a rudder and can be retracted to prevent damage when launching/landing, although many people still hate them because things can still go wrong mechanically. Most of the time all you need is a skeg to help you keep pointing the way you want/need to go. A rudder can do this even more effectively but with more complexity, more to go wrong and a need for more continuous control.

The reason for fitting a rudder to an HM is that it's fixed skeg is actually bigger than it needs to be and proves to be a handicap in some conditions. Some people have cut down, or worn down, their HM skegs to a size where they never find it a handicap - I think this is probably a very hit and miss method though! To be honest fitting a rudder behind the HM skeg should improve the flow into the rudder and make it even more effective than the rudder on a plain rockered hull. With a lifting skeg you can vary the amount of skeg (and it's centre of effort) by setting it partly raised (or lowered) which gives you a lot of scope for adjusting the handling for different wind/sea combinations, although it has limitations because you change area and CE at the same time. Rudders are not designed to be used partially raised or lowered (the stress on the system for a sea kayak rudder deployed flat would be a problem because they are so delicate) but you change the angle to provide more lift in one direction or the other - the penalty for lift is drag, so obviously there will be slightly more drag using a rudder than a skeg but you get infinite variablility....

So why is it that you don't need a rudder for normal paddling, but they are useful for circumnavigations? Well most people I presume plan to do trips with tide and weather whenever possible (I do). Yes we do legs in the wrong direction, but generally we can alter our plans to gain whatever assistance we can. For circumnavigating there will always be a phase where you need to paddle against (or accross) the prevailing conditions, perhaps for many days, so you are forced to deal with sea and weather combinations that most recreational paddlers would probably only endure for a couple of hours if at all. There is a world of difference between edging for a couple of hours and edging for a couple of months, but even so it seems the circumnavigators are split between lifting skegs and rudders?

I think it is quite telling that 'european' style sea kayaking has developed from plain rockered hulls like the original Nordkapp, then following some early expeditions slip on or permanent skegs came into use as the expeditionary paddlers began to find that over long duration it was exhausting to keep control without them. This followed at some time by lifting skegs and rudders, and now we find that the really long distance guys seem to prefer a rudder. The more specialised and adventurous we become the more control gear we need, or at least appreciate...

The time spent maintaining the control system is bound to detract from the experience of owning a boat, and I'd say that the more complex, the more of a pain it is. Mind you my only control system is the chines on my boat and I've put a fair bit of time into maintaining them, so maybe the middle option (lifting skeg) is the least problematic? :-)

Jim

DominiqueS
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Re: What's this then?

Post by DominiqueS »

Jim, thanks.

Regarding fragility and maintenance, it could also be noted that on "expeditions" the equipment is often more abused than in normal use. However, it is often reinforced before hand AND it does not have the time to suffer from the slowly wearing effect of time: rust, aging components, drying gaskets, etc. So simplicity might be an advantage, unless you do not mind the maintenance.

Rethinking the serious-elitist/fun-whatever-goes views, I came to think that in the end there is no "really serious sea kayaking" if it means "kayaking as an essential tool to an end" (like feeding yourself in Greenland or traveling between islands in the Aleutians). There is no purpose of real consequence left in it - for each possible purpose there are now much better tools. So it is only done as a sport for challenging oneself or as a mean to further pleasures like being on the water.

So kayaking boils down to being a very personal leisure activity where every one can choose the level of its own challenge, and modify it in time. There is no real "right way" or "serious way". With no imperative of efficiency, everyone is free to choose the tools one wants or like to work with, whatever their practical efficiency for the task at hand in the eyes of others - there is nothing wrong with liking to pole a coracle...

That some people live off kayaking (it is serious enough for them, and they have economic stakes that make them try to influence the direction the sport takes) and that it can have serious consequences (crossing the street too) does not change that: if kayaks were to disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow, a few would be sad, a few will have to find other jobs, but everything else will go on as ever.

Now, it's a holiday here, enough depressing thoughts, time to go and see the boats...
Last edited by DominiqueS on Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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MikeB
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Re: What's this then?

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DominiqueS wrote: As for the elitist side of it, it's like all these quarrels about "who is a pure ..." (insert any category here: ethnic, religious, school of thought, etc). Endless and pointless. On that count there is something really funny in Gordon Brown's book "Sea Kayak".

As you might know he raised a storm with Greenland paddlers with his comments on p. 28 (last two paragraphs starting with "For serious sea kayaking..."). There he clearly argues against purism – let’s use the most appropriate tool.
Absolutely - it's the same with folk music - all the tradionalists would have us wringing every last nuance from the old folk songs and never changing them in any way. Thank God for the Pogues and the likes of Red Hot Chilie Pipers. That said, it is important to keep the old knowledge, and to keep the traditions alive. That doesn't mean things don't / shouldn't evolve.

Mike.

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wilsoj2
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Re: What's this then?

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M-J-B wrote:Hi,

1975 was indeed a good year. The Nordkapp was born and so was I. It took me about ten years before I learned about the Nordkapp but I have paddled different variations of the Nordkapp ever since. I started with a ruddered Nordkapp equipped with the sea cockpit (but without hatches or recessed deck lines), moved on to an early kevlar/carbon/flake HSC (hatches, retractable skeg, slalom cockpit), then to an early model Jubilee, and now a LV.
So, I think we can agree that 'C' stands for slalom cockpit.

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gasserra
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Re: What's this then?^

Post by gasserra »

I came across the post with this link: http://www.paddling.net/photography/gal ... 168&num=23 while doing a Google search for something else. The picture is one that I took to illustrate the "for sale ad" my old boat, which I owned from 1997 to 2009. This particular boat was, as noted, a HMC Nordkapp, manufactured in 1993 (last four characters of its hull identification number were A393). The "C" in HMC refers to the cockpit. This boat had the "slalom cockpit", with the optional installed Valley thigh braces. I sold it when I purchased a 1995 Nordkapp HM (ocean cockpit)--I just like the ocean cockpit better. Plus I came out $400 ahead on the transaction... This was a great boat, which I paddled extensively between Maine and Virginia. I have about 15 additional photos of the boat illustrating it in its entirety, that I used while arranging the the sale to a distant purchaser, if anyone has an interest in such details.

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MikeB
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Re: What's this then?^

Post by MikeB »

Hi - isn't the web a wonderful thing!

Pics would be great - editor@ukseakayakguidebook.co.uk will get them to me and it could add to the Almanac article on the Nordy.

Cheers - Mike.

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wilsoj2
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Re: What's this then?^

Post by wilsoj2 »

Thanks for the additional information on your old 'kapp. I've added the year to the information accompanying the picture in my paddling.net album.

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