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Post by Owen » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:49 pm

These are questions for owners of Rockpool Alaw/Alaw Bach kayaks.

Their advertising suggests that the hull shape will hold its track even in a cross wind without a skeg; do you find this ture?

If they do require edging to keep on track how easy is it to hold them on a bearing, could you hold that position for several hours as on a long crossing?

I feel that these are being marketed as a park and play sea kayak rather than a boat for doing trips in. Has anyone tried doing overnight trips in one, how long did you go for and how did you find them in this role?

I think I've probably already made up my mind as to what my next boat will be but I want to check out all options.

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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:10 pm

Hello Owen I have been paddling an Alaw/Alaw Bach for over a year now I think it is a fabulous boat particularly for Rough water day trips. It is very well balanced ain a wind and responds superbly to edging. But I have arthritis in both hips and find edging a pain on a long windy crossing. If you do not edge it weathercocks especially in flat water (it is easier to correct your directionwhen in waves). I have used it for two nighter trips and on one 50 km windy paddle out round the Garvellachs then to Scarba and back to Arduine through the Grey dogs, I decided I would not use it for such trips again.

Having said that thre is no boat I would rather be in for having fun in wind and waves!

If they do require edging to keep on track how easy is it to hold them on a bearing, could you hold that position for several hours as on a long crossing?
this is important to you and you still want a manouverable boat why not look at the Nordkapp LV? It is just as manouverable as an Alaw but faster at the cost of stability. It has a skeg and is great in long windy crossings.

The build quality of the Alaw is incomparable and the comfort and ergonomics of the cockpit (if you are not trying to hold an edge for hours) is the best of any kayak I have sat in.

I am in the very fortunate position of having access to my wife's Alaw Bach and my daughter's Nordkapp LV. I like them both very much but absolute perfection would involve the best bits of each!

Douglas :o)

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Post by Dave Thomas » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:26 pm

Interesting. And potentially interesting for the Menai 18 as well. Will that have an adjustable skeg? And will it need one? After all, it is certainly not being aimed at 'Park & Play'!

I believe I recall hearing Nigel Dennis claim he only started fitting skegs to the Romany and Explorer because the market demanded them. Yet plenty of people seem to find them useful, if not essential, on those boats. It seems to be a feature of the Anglesey school of boat design to try to avoid the design/use of skegs - perhaps without total success?

As they say - discuss!

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Post by Fast Pat » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:45 pm

I’ve owned one for nearly a year now my conversion was pretty instantaneous, after spending twenty odd years in various boats looking for the ideal boat, I tried one and thought I’d finally cracked it – I immediately came home and put my Sirius up for sale the next day.

Unlike Douglas I have to find one boat to do it all in from “Park and Play” to week long trips – for me this is the boat, as when I do my longer trips I still like to play, you do have to be sensible with regards the amount of kit you can take on longer trips but I’ve always thought that most sea paddlers carry too much.

With regards your specific question, I’d have to disagree with Douglas as I find it doesn’t weathercock, and remains neutral (– this might be a weight thing as I may have more of the hull submerged!) It holds its track well and when you do have to give it a bit of edge, as it holds its edge so well this is not hard work, indeed I think this adds to the experience as others look on in awe at your mastery! The lack of skeg also means that you have more space in the rear compartment.

I use my boat on a weekly basis as I work next to the North Sea, and go out after work once or twice a week, I’ve also used it for a couple of longer trips and found I had more than enough space.

I would agree with Douglas that build quality and comfort are second to none.

If you haven’t tried one already then I suggest you seek one out, as everyone always says on here when folk ask about buying boats, try everything as buying the wrong one is an expensive mistake to make.

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Post by CaptainSensible » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:04 pm

When I last saw it (on the 20th of March), the Menai 18 had a small drop down skeg that retracted in the built-in skeg section of the hull instead of the rear bulkhead and an unconventional (for a sea kayak) hull bottom to aid tracking.

I don't know if this skeg will end up on the production boats though; the skeg that Aled showed me was an improvised solution aimed at getting the boat ready for the paddlingforpudsey circumnavigation ASAP.

I have similar concerns to Owen. I'll be ordering an Alaw as soon as my financial situation permits it, but as I won't be considering any long crossings for a while... they are not significant.

If I was aiming to do long crossings this year, then I would definitely check out the Menai 18 before considering anything else; the only unknown is how much liveliness has been sacrificed for that extra 18-19 inches of waterline length.

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Alaw Bach

Post by tpage » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:33 pm

I tried an Alaw Bach on wednesday night- I wish I hadn't- as I now really want one.
Build quality, manouverability, looks and comfort are unbelievable. I want one. But I am also a bit worried about lack of a skeg and longer paddles in windy conditions.

Ill need to do some more testing, but my wallet is starting to get nervous!

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Post by Jon Wood » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:02 pm

In my limited time in an Alaw I noticed that the boat tracks extremely well in a cross wind, but will eventually weathercock as the breeze increases.This is paddling the boat lightly loaded on day trips.

With the high knee position and footplate, I find the sitting position comfortable and dynamic, so holding an edge is done with ease to make any correction.

I have shadowed other paddlers setting crossing angles in NDK boats with skegs, and never felt that I could have done with a skeg to match them.

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RockPool Boats

Post by Harvey.Anderson » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:22 pm


If you are ever in the Largs area you would be welcome to have a shot of my Alaw.

I did have concerns about the lack of skeg however the boat is so responsive to edging I do not need a skeg.

You might need to work a little bit harder with a following wind but given the quality of build and the ergonomics of the is just wonderful.


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Rockpool Kayaks

Post by Sharky » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:24 am

This should give you an idea of what the Menai 18 looks like.


The colour scheme is meant to represent an Oyster Catcher.

The skeg design is yet another innovative approach adopted by Rockpool in that it doesn't take up lots of space in the rear compartment but is very effective for maintaining a good track.

As for the school of thought on skegs - some people like them, some don't, some people don't know how to use them and some boats don't need them. I don't think these issues are isolated to Anglesey.

There is no doubt that the Rockpool boats have a great build quality. They are all put together with amazing attention to detail by Mike Webb. You just need to look at the 3-piece to see that.

Whether its about Park & Play kayaking or extended trips the Rockpool range offers something new and challenging for paddlers to think about.

Above all you can't knock that fact that Aled & Mike are passionate about sea kayaking and just want the rest of us to have as much fun as they do :0)
• aimin' to be misbehavin' •

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Post by Owen » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:25 pm

Interesting if not very conclusive feedback. I've arranged a test drive in both Alaw's for later this year and maybe the Menai 18.

Although its being discribed as a small to medium sized boat it vital statistics suggest its the same volume as the Nordcapp which is why I wondered how good they'd be for touring.

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U.S. Distributor for Rockpool?

Post by tvcrider » Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:22 pm

Does anyone know if Rockpool will have a stateside distributor in 2006?
I would love to give one a spin on our side of the pond.

To the best of my knowledge there is only one Rockpool boat in the entire US.

Body, Body and Blade on Orcas Island in our Pacific Northwest has a Alaw Bach demo boat.
To bad they are located 3,000 miles away from me. : - (

Kayaks: P&H Scorpio LV & Aries 150

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