Starting from scratch

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Jonny Hightower
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:41 pm
Location: South Wales

Starting from scratch

Post by Jonny Hightower » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:45 pm

I'm new to sea kayaking - just nearing the end of the CIWW's Introduction to Flat Water Kayaking course, so pretty green. I was pointed to this forum by an experienced sea kayaking friend of mine, and I've lurked for a while reading the excellent articles and discussions which are to be found here. I have no equipment whatsoever (CIWW provides everything for the course), and therefore am on the bottom of a steep but enjoyable learning curve which will hopefully lead to my buying enough kit to get out in local waterways and coastal areas to build up my experience.

As well as gorging on YouTube videos about sea kayaking techniques and expeditions, I've been reading product reviews and generally trying to get a feel for what sort of brands I need to go for in terms of boat, paddles, clothing etc. Cost is not an overly restrictive factor but as a beginner I don't want to buy really expensive items in case I lose them, break them, or just chose the wrong things. And most importantly of course, my wife will be closely watching what I spend!

I've pretty much decided on a Dagger Stratos 14.5 L (I'm 6'5, 94Kg - tall and not a wide build) - all the reviews I've read on this boat have been encouraging and it will allow me to get a feel for paddling in rivers, coastal seas and surf without spending a fortune. I happen to live reasonably close to Escape Watersports, so would be able to pick up a graded Stratos for about £640, and maybe get a deal if I buy a bundle of kit from them in one go.

Another thing I want to get right from the start is a decent carrier, because without that I won't be able to buy a boat! I've read the other transport thread where the poster wanted a means of carrying a plastic sit-on-top. I already have Thule square-section roof bars that are reasonably new (use them for a roof box when camping), so was thinking of something like the Malone Seawing Kayak Carrier (https://www.escape-watersports.co.uk/eq ... ier-detail).

In terms of clothing I think I'll start with a wetsuit rather than a dry suit or a dry top, as I'm bound to end up in the drink a fair bit, and the prices of dry suits are a big hit to take in these early days. I've read mixed reviews of Lomo kit, but I think they should be fine for a beginner and as I get a bit more experience I can move on to potentially better kit if the Lomo stuff develops problems. I read a couple of other people on here saying they were happy with the Lomo spraydeck so I'll probably go for a Neodeck as I imagine I'll be spending a fair bit of time rolling (as much for practice as by accident ;-)). I'll probably also go with a Lomo PFD. I'm thinking of an AquaBound Manta Ray fibreglass paddle. Paddle prices range from £35 to £350 but this one (£70 from Escape) is a good bit lighter than the £35 paddles on Lomo's website without breaking the bank.

Any advice or opinions for novices buying kit and on my general approach would be gratefully received. In particular, feedback on the Malone Kayak carrier and paddle selection would be great, as they would be among my very first purchases. Whilst I do intend to do some river touring, my real aim - once I'm confident with the kayak - is to explore the coast around the Vale of Glamorgan and wider South Wales area, and hopefully then further afield.

Cheers,
Jon

TM.
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:21 pm

Re: Starting from scratch

Post by TM. » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:52 am

Hi Jon... join the Sea Kayak Cymru Facebook page, lots of trips posted, free coaching opportunities, advice etc. You may even be able to borrow a boat for a few trips if you ask. The page is all Wales, but is actually South Wales dominated. So also lots of people to paddle with. See you on FB and on the water!

Chris Bolton
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:26 am

I wouldn't bother with a carrier like that; you have to lift the boat further to load it, and it's not necessary (spend the money on a better paddle). Your boat will be fine upside down on the roof bars (ideally, I would position it so that the front of the cockpit rim is touching the back of the front roof bar) and secured with a pair of straps like these. I would also tie the bow to the front of the car with a rope, but opinions differ. If you'd prefer not to carry it flat, or want to carry a friend's boat as well, a pair of uprights is all you need.

If you want a better paddle I'd go for something like this. It's robust, you can adjust the feather to what suits you and since it's two piece you can carry it as a spare if you get really into sea kayaking and upgrade to carbon blade.

Jonny Hightower
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:41 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Jonny Hightower » Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:13 am

Thank you very much chaps. I've put a request in to join the FB group - it looks great and I'd much rather be out on the water with other paddlers than on my own, especially starting out. Thanks TM! I like the idea of saving money on the carrier and spending it on better kit for the water. An adjustable two-piece paddle that could be used as a spare later on certainly makes sense, so I'll get some foam pipe insulation from B&Q or Wickes and carry the boat upside down as you suggest Chris. I've no issue carrying the boat flat as it's unlikely to start folding around the roof bar under its own weight. Cheers!

pathbrae
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by pathbrae » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:13 pm

I have no equipment whatsoever (CIWW provides everything for the course), and therefore am on the bottom of a steep but enjoyable learning curve which will hopefully lead to my buying enough kit to get out in local waterways and coastal areas to build up my experience.
Sound like it might be the bottom of a steep but enjoyable spending curve indeed..... :-)

You might do well having a look at S/H kit - a lot of which is in very good condition at a fraction of the new price. Ask your paddler friend (or even on here) for a bit of advice to avoid the extra expense of buying something which isn't suitable.
S/H sea kayak, paddle and possibly even dry-suit could save you a fair bit of cash. Avoid the costly mistake of buying something "which will do for now..." and in particular, don't skimp on your paddle, it's the one piece of kit where spending a bit extra really makes a big difference.

As far as the car carrier - most folks usually end up with J-bars of some sort eventually. Malone bars are good, ( Karitek (http://www.karitek.co.uk/shop/ ... y=15487442 ) and KCS ( [url]http://kayakcarriers.co.uk/J-CRADLES.html[/url ) also sell some fairly robust j bars. A lot of people like the folding J bars, so they can be folded flat when not in use - just be careful as there have been reports of the plastic becoming brittle with UV exposure and breaking under load.

The other piece of kit which you should buy fairly early on is a set of decent dry bags. (Lomo do a good range) Never trust the hatches in a sea kayak to keep the water out completely and there's nothing worse than sitting in a soggy jacket eating a soggy sandwich with a packet of soggy (and salty) biscuits after a hard mornings paddle.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by TechnoEngineer » Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:03 pm

I'm 6'5" too, 120kg, and have some kit to sell.

I have a Prijon Kodiak sea kayak for sale (£600 ONO) and also a 2-piece drytop (Palm Caspian Semi-Dry Cag XXL) and salopettes (Palm Sidewinder Dry Pants XL) - £100 for the pair.

Depends on the type of paddling you wish to do; if you want to cruise on the sea or do any long trips (e.g. Caledonian Canal) then the Kodiak is a good option.
XL-Burn-3 / Monstar / Kodiak / My Videos

Jonny Hightower
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:41 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Jonny Hightower » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:06 pm

Thanks Pathbrae. I had thought of 2nd hand kit - the main things that put me off were the thought of a) picking something I want and then having to wait an unspecified amount of time until one becomes available, b) driving huge distances to pick stuff up, and c) the risk of finding out you've bought a piece of junk and having no return options :) But I guess like any risk, it can certainly pay off. Good tip with the dry bags - thank you: I'll definitely get some at the same time I get a boat. I looked at KayakCarriers.co.uk previously - got the feeling it was run by someone on this board. Seems like really good kit.

TechnoEngineer: That's really handy - thanks. The Kodiak looks like a really great kayak, but I think it would be too much of a handful for me at this stage. I'd like to try a variety of types of water, including a bit of surf, so I'm looking for more of an all-rounder than an expedition cruiser, but thank you :)

Chris Bolton
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:16 pm

For dry bags, if you have a branch of Home Bargains nearby, their dry bags are ridiculously cheap (£3 or £4) and seem robust.

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Jim
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Jim » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:31 pm

I always recommend going S/H for a first boat because until you have one and get some time in it you won't really work out what suits you, so you might as well pick up something that you can move on for the same price when you have the experience to work out what suits you better. Don't try to get the perfect boat first time, unless its the kind you have been using on the course and already know it suits you, even then your perspective may change after you have been paddling on your own for a bit.

Wetsuits don't really work unless they are wet, apart from occasionally falling in you will be mostly dry(ish) and fighting with a dry wetsuit. Wetsuit leggings are often suitable because you move your legs less when paddling and they give you insulation when you fall out (I use wetsuit shorts, but I very rarely fall out), but for the top half go with thermal layers and a waterproof top - ideally a paddle cag because they are shaped not to flap in your way when paddling but you can use any cag, it won't keep water out especially but it will keep the wind off (reduces evaporative chilling, which can be a problem with wetsuits unless you go for a windproof type) and thermals stay warm and re-warm quickly when damp. Carry some spare thermals and fleece tops in a dry bag just in case you get so wet that the ones you are wearing won't warm up.
For kayaking in the surf, a wetsuit can be suitable, it is a bit like being in the washing machine, but saltier.

No need for a carrier with a polythene boat, in fact I would recommend taking your actual boat if you decide to buy one and ask to try them first (in the car park) to find one that fits your boat properly at the rack spacing for your car - Vectra hatchback roof is so short and curved that bars tilt over and none of the carriers I tried would fit my Taran so I ended up building my own.
Some people don't like tying the ends of the boat down for a variety of reasons, the thing to understand is that the end ties are not to keep the boat on the roof rack, they are to stop the roof rack being peeled off the car if the wind gets under the boat. For this purpose the front tie down is most important (at motorway speed you have 70mph wind on a still day, more driving into a headwind), but if the straps on the rack do fail for any reason, the boat will slide back still attached at the front and end up hanging over the rear of the car damaging the roof and rear window, so it makes sense to also use a rear tie down to prevent a backward movement. The tie downs should be adjusted to take out the slack, not tensioned up such that they make the boat bend, the straps onto the rack should immobilise the boat, the tie downs are just to prevent lifting.

Mac50L
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Mac50L » Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:26 am

Jim wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:31 pm
the end ties are not to keep the boat on the roof rack, they are to stop the roof rack being peeled off the car if the wind gets under the boat. For this purpose the front tie down is most important (at motorway speed you have 70mph wind on a still day, more driving into a headwind),
Reread Jim's post, probably the most important bit of information about travelling with kayaks that you will get. The end ties also stop the kayak(s) twisting when you have side winds.

My hold-downs on to the rack are bits of bungy, just to keep the kayak there (in the wind) while tying the end ties.

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MikeB
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by MikeB » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:10 am

Bungee?? Please - straps, not bungee!

Mrstratos61
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Mrstratos61 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:55 am

I've just got a stratos second hand moving on from a venture flex 11. It's a great boat . I lie mine cockpit down on a Mazda 2 and have found palms cam straps good. Not too heavy and a 1 man job I do tie to bow and stern due to overhang. I paid 500 for a barely used one with a good spray skirt. Paddle is a Werner Skagit and I got end of season dry cag and trousers for good price. Local store give 10% off now routinely I am very happy with the boat yet to hit the sea as need more training . Have messed on Thames weirs boat goes on edge very predictably . Final tip is the c tug trolley is perfect complement easy store in hatch and doesn't slip. I've wasted money on inferior ones that I have binned.

Jonny Hightower
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:41 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Jonny Hightower » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:57 pm

This is brilliant - thank you all for your great advice. I don't have time to type a long reply now sorry, but it's very much appreciated. Having only recently discovered this forum, I'm blown away by the helpful nature of the people here. Thank you!

Mac50L
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Re: Starting from scratch

Post by Mac50L » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:36 pm

Mrstratos61 wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:55 am
Final tip is the c tug trolley is perfect complement easy store in hatch and doesn't slip. I've wasted money on inferior ones that I have binned.
Or better still don't pay anything for your trolley (chuck-out golf cart wheels) and have a lighter, better pack down one than the C-tug. Build your own.
http://www.kask.org.nz/t-bar-kayak-trolley/
Note that this is where the design came from and they are built in Germany as well as many other places taking up the idea.

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