Monday, July 05, 2010

'fessing Up
We all know how hard it is to adequately test drive a sea kayak. It cannot happen in one day. It takes several outings to paddle the boat in all conditions, and that may not be practical before making a decision. So it was with me when I ordered and took delivery of my P&H Cetus. If you regularly read these pages (have you no life?), you know I had misgivings about the boat when I first starting paddling it, and that was on top of a few minor structural irritants.

To begin, the rear hatch took on water and the skeg control system gave me problems. Those issues were diagnosed and completely solved with the close support of Brian at P&H. Next, I wondered about tracking problems and speed. These were issues I had to solve for myself.

The Cetus does have its share of rocker and does not track as well as some other hulls. On the other hand, with proper edging (more on this later) it turns as well or better than any boat its size. Taking all that as a given, I felt I was having to pay way too much attention to the boat to go straight and worried about being caught out in conditions with a broken rudder (which can happen on any boat). As with most of the problems I have experienced in life (both in boating and ashore), I found the solution was in the basics. I asked JB to paddle the boat and to observe me doing the same.

Looking back, the problem was, at least in part, me. I was expecting the Cetus to act exactly like my Romany, and the Cetus is not a Romany. I had gotten lazy with the things the Romany did for me and expected the Cetus to do the same. To skip to the chase; in the end, it was a matter of adjusting my technique to my new boat.

It took JB to remind me that I wasn't using foot pressure on the pegs to transmit the energy of my stroke to the hull. This was especially enlightening when athis was pplied to the forward sweep stroke. It took a while for me to realize that I was also not edging as effectively as I did in my Romany. This I figured out was due to fit. There was too much of a gap between my thighs and the braces.

I put my portable neoprene Masik over my legs, and the results were superb. Now, without rehashing whether we edge with the thighs of by lifting our butts, I found I need to feel the thigh contact to make me comfortable enough to be aggressive with my edge.

Anyway, things have improved a lot. Sort of like the guy who notices how much smarter his father is now than when the guy was a kid. The Cetus is now a better boat than when I first got it. It suddenly has learned to behave in all sorts of conditions and rolls fairly easily. Any caveats? Just one, and that is, I wonder how I would fit into the MV boat. After all, I am only 5' 9" and weigh in around 168 (before putting on my gear). Perhaps I will get a chance to try one at one of the upcoming symposiums. My fear is that I will like it too much.

Paddle safe...


paddlingOTAKU said...

everything in Kayaks is a trade off. If you want it to go straight it isn't going to turn as well, etc. etc. etc.

I am glad you got the fit tweaked out. There really isn't a great way to test paddle kayaks, you can't really tell what a boat is like until - as you said - get to see it all sorts of conditions. I am glad this worked out for you.

It is a beautiful kayak.

Yeah, that leg lift, vs butt lift question is really making the rounds isn't it? I have some comments coming up in the next week or so. I am curious where it started though?


Silbs said...

I look forward to your comments on the edging question.

paddlingOTAKU said...

don't be looking for anything too insightful! I wrote it this morning and it will probably post the beginning of next week. thanks for your interest though!