I finally got my fiberglass Aquaterra Sea Lion cockpit set up so it’s more comfortable for longer time in the seat and took it out today for the first relatively long outing this year and took a Magellan Sport Trac Marine GPS (thanks CD1) along for the ride for the first time for the dual purpose of 1) seeing what my average speed is in the Sea Lion and 2) to get an idea how many miles it was around one of the local lakes that I like to paddle.
I know that 4mph isn’t very fast to many of you, but it should be fast enough to help me keep up with CD1, bruce and Chuck_IL with out me having to work too hard or them having to slow down too much to wait for me and it seemed pretty easy to maintain. We had winds gusting to 20mph today and sometimes it was with me and sometimes it was against me and and sometimes I was mostly sheltered from it.
I did two circuits of the lake. The first was using an ONNO Mid Tour of signature construction set to 210cm and the rudder down most of the time. The ONNO required a little more effort than I prefer and my right shoulder and elbow started bugging me before the half way mark of the first lap. The rudder did seem to introduce noticeable drag and require more effort to keep the boat at about 4mph. The rudder drag was likely a factor in the ONNO feeling like it required more effort and feeling harder on my joints than the Epic Relaxed Tour with burgundy shaft that I used on the second circuit of the lake.
For the second circuit of the lake I used the Epic Relaxed Tour set to 215cm and kept the rudder up the entire time. The Epic felt better on my elbow and shoulder from the beginning and they felt better for the entire second circuit than they did during the first circuit with the ONNO.
I prefer the handling of the Sea Lion without the rudder up rather than down. Even though the rudder does turn the boat quite nicely and keeps it on track nicely in the wind, it’s just much more fun and maneuverable with leans when the rudder is up.
COCKPIT CHANGES FOR COMFORT AND FIT:
- Turned the mounting screws for a couple of the deck rigging loops inside out so that the screw heads are inside now, rather than the excess screw length. The excess screw length was catching on the toes of my mukluks when I was sliding the rudder controls and it was really annoying. It works fine now and the excess screw length on the outside does NOT interfere with my stroke when it slides right along the edge of the hull.
- Removed the stock seat back pad and replaced it with the RapidPulse seat pad / back band that came stock in my 1997 Swift Caspian Sea. The stock pad hit me in the wrong part of my back. The RapidPulse pad works much better for me in than the original back pad.
- Used cable ties to secure the loose ends of the deck rigging in front of the cockpit toward the middle of the kayak instead of them pointing out over the edge of the hull where they interfered with my stroke. That was quite annoying.
I wasn’t comfortable paddling the Sea Lion until I made these changes. Now it’s ready for me to take it out on longer day trips with the locals.
Any lighter weight boats that would fit me (5’6" and 155 lbs) similar to the Sea Lion and handle similarly? I like the fit and handling of the Sea Lion, but don’t like carrying and loading the 55 lb boat on to my car. I do like the relatively narrow 22" beam (compared to my 24" beam Caspian Sea) and the cockpit fit and handling.
I haven’t had the Caspian sea out on this lake yet with the GPS, but in some comparisons last weekend on a much smaller lake, the Caspian Sea didn’t seem as easy to maintain at 4mph as the Sea Lion. Some of that may have been due to the fact that I was follwing the convoluted shoreline of the lake rather than paddling down the middle and the Caspian Sea requires a lot more effort to make those tight turns than the Sea Lion and I slow down more in tight turns with it than with the Sea Lion. Those time trials were only 1 mile long and were within 45 minutes of each other (I went home to swap boats).