Three piece kayak

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seanr
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Three piece kayak

Post by seanr » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:16 am

Hi

I'm considering buying a three-piece kayak, specifically a Rockpool GT, and wondered if anyone has one and would be prepared to answer the following:

1. Is there any discernible paddling difference between the three piece and the traditional boat?

2. Can the clips be damaged, do they every come lose, how much maintenance do the clips require?

3. How does the boat hold up in the surf and rougher sea conditions?

4. Any other useful advice you might want to add.

Many thanks,

Sean.

robhorton
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by robhorton » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:48 am

I've got a 3 piece Romany which I think uses the same clip system as the Rockpool boats.

Once the boat is assembled it's as solid as a one piece boat - the only disadvantages are it's a bit heavier and a bit more expensive. I do worry a bit about the strain on the bulkheads when transporting it whole on a roof but haven't noticed any problems so far. I've not had any problems in some fairly big surf / tide races etc.

The clips are pretty robust but I guess they *can* become damaged. I think that happened to Sarah Oaten on her Alaska trip - if you're going somewhere where that would be a complete disaster you might want to look at a boat which bolts together instead but for typical UK use I think the convenience of clips outweighs the very small risk of them failing.

In terms of maintenance - I give them a blast out with the pressure washer to get any sand etc out and maybe a spray of wd40. You may also need to adjust the tension to keep them tight (with a small screwdriver).

seanr
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by seanr » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:04 pm

Thanks very much.

PlymouthDamo
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by PlymouthDamo » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:03 pm

Just in case anyone reading this is feeling adventurous, there's actually a straightforward way of converting a normal kayak into a 2 or 3 piece. The basic technique is to install extra bulkheads - one alongside your existing foot bulkhead and one by your rear cockpit bulkhead. Then cut in between those bulkheads, to give you your three pieces. Finally, install a connection system. As discussed above, there are two basic approaches to connecting the pieces - either clips around the external circumference of the boat (which requires good clips and the two halves to mate exactly into each other - like a plug and socket) or just run a few big bolts through the bulkheads. The latter option is undoubtedly easier to do, but requires a lot of fiddling round inside a dark compartment to get the nuts on, and always ends up with water leaking into your compartments.

I've come up with a variant on the bolting-through-the-bulkhead approach: install the bolts through the bulkheads, but cut openings into the external hull of the kayak to access them. You can then 'box in' the chamber where the nuts/bolts live so water can't get into the compartment. It makes it very easy to assemble, is very strong and it's impossible for water to find it's way into your boat. I did this as an experiment and assumed I'd need to install some sort of cover over the openings in the hull to prevent drag. In fact, having tested it against my usual paddling buddies using exactly the same boats, it makes no difference at all to the speed and actually feels faster - either a figment of my imagination or some weird aspect of fluid dynamics which I don't understand.

It took me a fair amount of time to convert my boat to a 3-piece, but that's because I was making it up as I went along and swapped from clips to bolts half way through. Now I've perfected the method, I think I could do it very quickly indeed. There's a bit more to it than in the description above (e.g. you almost certainly need to strengthen your existing bulkheads, and you'll have to move your skeg controller further back in the boat) but nothing too taxing. I'm surprised there isn't more interested in sectional kayaks - I'd have thought that with standard garages being just a little too short, and many people not having garages/gardens anyway, the ability to store a full-sized boat in your hallway would be a major selling point.

RickC
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by RickC » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:58 pm

This is the advice I would give to any customer taking possession of a brand-new three-piece sea SKUK kayak from me. I believe Rockpool use the same/similar technology as SKUK but some of their models have 5/6 clips per joint.
In terms of maintenance - I give them a blast out with the pressure washer to get any sand etc out and maybe a spray of wd40. You may also need to adjust the tension to keep them tight (with a small screwdriver).
Steer clear of WD40 or any other similar oil-based lubricant as it will attract dirt/sand etc. Instead, use silicone spray which will repel and lubricate. The recessed clips have a built-in locking mechanism which prevents them from releasing accidentally but there is a very small theoretical chance that one could be unlocked by dragging/catching on a rock. Even if one clip becomes released the other three will hold the section together. Each section interlocks with a mortice and tenon bulkhead which provides stiffness and strength and putting the kayak together is very quick and easy. The four clips per joint are simply to hold the kayak together. Don't over-tighten the clips - tiny adjustments on the screws have a big effect on clip tension. They may need to be adjusted for seasonal variations in temperature.

We expect our customers to use a three-piece kayak in exactly the same conditions as a one-piece. There are plenty of examples of three-piece Sea Kayaking UK kayaks completing mega-expeditions, for example Simon Osborne around Madagascar (Explorer), Fiona Weatherall and James Corfe around both North and South Island, New Zealand (Explorer, Pilgrim Expedition). These are seriously harsh coasts with huge surf and rocky landings. Their kayaks looked after them all the way.

I've never experienced or heard of any issues with transportation of a SKUK three-piece when it's fitted together. And as Damo says
I'm surprised there isn't more interested in sectional kayaks - I'd have thought that with standard garages being just a little too short, and many people not having garages/gardens anyway, the ability to store a full-sized boat in your hallway would be a major selling point.
I'd add that if you live in an apartment you can store it on the balcony or in a lock-up box in the parking area. If you live on a boat, it's easy to store on deck or down below. If you struggle with lifting onto a roof rack, or carrying down the beach... the advantages go on. And yes, they do cost more!

If you intend to fly with a sectional kayak you need to understand the maximum dimensions accepted by the carrier. Many airlines will accept a length of up to 199cm but British Airways (and some of it's Codeshare partners) only accept 190cm. So check with the dealer/manufacturer that a new kayak order meets your required specifications and don't assume all sectional kayaks are the same. Be careful if you buy a second-hand one and measure carefully before parting with your money. It may affect your ability to re-sell in the future.

It's much easier to position the "cuts" or joins on shorter kayaks like the Romany without affecting the cockpit setup. However, the Rockpool GT is a long kayak and the "cuts" will need to be very accurately positioned to give sufficient space for day hatch and/or front bulkhead. Make sure Mike Webb (or the dealer?) knows exactly where you want these cuts to be to allow for your leg length/footrest position/seat position and remember the tenon element counts towards overall airline length, as does any padding/protection. It's easy to mess this up and you only cut once Mr Bond!

Hope this helps, Rick

British Sea Kayaks www.britishseakayaks.co.uk

seanr
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by seanr » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:50 pm

Thanks for taking the time to produce some very informative responses - a lot of food for thought.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:22 pm

Hi Sean

My friend has a sectional Valley which uses bolts through the bulkheads. It was considerably more expensive than a one piece. The boat is significantly heavier than a one piece making it a brute to get onto a roof rack if assembled. It is also a real faff to assemble, especially if there is any sand or grit (Rick has given excellent advice re WD40) about and if it is cold. As a result, it has spent almost its entire life, some 15 years, assembled. He would buy a one piece next time. Unless you really need a three piece, think carefully. A three piece Nordkapp LV I know took a couple of years to sell. One piece ones sell very quickly.

Douglas

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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by PlymouthDamo » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:50 am

I've also seen a lot of trash sectional boats - heavy, leaky and miserable to assemble. But like any kayak, you just need to do your research and avoid the junk. Clip-together boats are bone-dry, lighter than bolted boats (no need for massively reinforced bulkheads) and quick to assemble. My boat, described above, weighs less than 21kg, is also bone dry and can easily be assembled within 6 minutes. I don't have to worry about resale value as I built mine for £400, but surely a manufactured one would be worth the cost if it meant the difference between be able to own a sea kayak and not?

seanr
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Re: Three piece kayak

Post by seanr » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:59 pm

Thanks again everyone

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