Are hard chimes my problem?

So I’ve been kayaking for a few years and I’ve owned two boats thus far: Current Designs Whistler (14’6" x 24" w/ soft chimes) and Nigel Foster Legend (17’10" x 21" w/ hard chimes).

I sold the Whistler, while it was a good boat for a beginner I wanted something a little faster, and then bought the Foster. When I tested it it felt great and seemed pretty sleek. Since then I’ve come to kind of hate the boat. I kayak on a pretty calm lake the majority of the time just paddling around with some friends and relaxing. I started noticing a problem though, when I stop paddling for a few seconds and if I don’t play complete attention my boat will just start curving one way or another. It’s extremely hard to keep it going in a straight line once I stop paddling and relax. I’ve taken it out several times and find this happens every time to some degree and it never really turns one direction more than the other it’s generally 50/50. I also seem to have to do a lot more corrective paddling to keep on course than I did with the Whistler. Putting the skeg down helps some, but only a little bit. I never had that issue with the Whistler so I’m thinking it’s probably a chime issue (hard vs soft). Am I right?

It’s not the chines
It’s the boat. Caribou has chines and it’s less noticeable . The Legend is one persons design, it may not be yours.

Not chines; probably rocker
Yeah, after I switched from hard tracking boats to boats better suited for manuevering, I noticed the same thing. It makes photography difficult, because you’d like to drift in a straight line while lining up shots and working with the camera. (Ha, it gets much worse shooting pic from a whitewater kayaks.) If your boat has a skeg, put it down when you need to coast. When you take off again, you may find your boat seems sluggish… then remember to flip the skeg up.

Could Be Boat Size, Too

– Last Updated: Aug-03-13 9:04 PM EST –

The hard-chined VOLKSKAYAKs I build and paddle are sensitive to paddler weight - too little, and they like to wander,since there's not a lot of chine in the water. A heavier paddler will find it tracks well. I've cut down both the beam and topsides height in my last 2 VKs, and like that far better for non-loaded paddling.

Try putting one or two 2 liter pop bottles filled with water in both the fore and aft compartments; if that steadies it, the boat's just got more volume than you really need.

Keep in mind that the skeg doesn’t need to be deployed All the way down. Try a half inch at a time or so to help maintain your course.


sort of
Legend is an awesome design if one desires a boat that will react to each butt wiggle - it reacts to edges like very few kayaks.

My guess is that you edge boat this way or that way, and off it goes. It could be made worse by the boat being unloaded, or you being too light for it. Moving the seat will have some effect as well.

Next time you paddle it, try to use edging for directional control.

not the chines
You’re paddling mostly on a calm lake. and find directional control extremely hard.

You’ve gone from a kayak catering to unskilled paddlers to a kayak catering to performance kayakers.

I own a Legend. I was out in it yesterday. So I’m very familiar with it. You need a fairly heavy dose of directional control and maneuvering practice to appreciate this type of kayak compared to where I’m guessing you are at right now based on what you’ve typed. Directional control isn’t difficult in this kayak. Everything will flow with relaxed hips. relaxed edge control. and relaxed blade angle control. The paddler you described does not have this.

I’m no expert but
I have gone through this same sort of thing. I have paddled open canoes in all conditions all my life and I appreciate the differences between boats designed for straight ahead paddling and boats designed for great maneuverability. There is also a middle ground. I have discovered that kayaks are the same. No one boat can do everything well. So if you are looking for a boat that is easy to keep on track without a lot of conscious effort then you don’t want to be in a boat that is designed for the opposite. I do agree however, that years in the saddle, and the skill development that comes with that, minimizes the problems the OP describes. My personal choice is to paddle a boat that is highly maneuverable. My first sea kayak (purchased 3 years ago) did not have that quality and I lasted about a month with it and got rid of it in favor of a much more maneuverable boat. I was frustrated by the fact that my first boat took huge effort to do a simple eddy turn - frankly, no matter how much effort I applied it was extremely sluggish in this regard. Also, I think that paddling a maneuverable boat regularly forced me to develop my skills quickly. I enjoy it much more than I did my first Kayak. There are very fine kayaks available across the spectrum of maneuverable v straight ahead tracking to meet anyone’s personal preferences, skill level, etc.

there’s no problem here
Every boat does this. The last stroke you take creates spin momentum. When you stop paddling you start spinning, no matter waht kind of boat you’re in.

Besides the other advice

– Last Updated: Aug-04-13 4:31 PM EST –

could also be a trim issue, particularly with the issues you describe. Some boats that seem to wallow may be trimmed too low in the bow, and will tame out if trimmed a little heavier in the stern. Have someone check your fore/aft trim. Throw a jug of water in aft if you can, or two ...not completely aft or it may make things worse, but just behind the cockpit if you have a rear compartment...then try it. Sometimes a skeg will help to correct for trim problems, but what you really want to do with it is correct weathercocking in a properly trimmed boat.

Paddler Weight

– Last Updated: Aug-04-13 5:51 PM EST –

I read that might be an issue, but I couldn't find the paddler weight recommendations anywhere. I ended up calling Seaward, who makes the boat now, to see if I was the appropriate weight for the boat. Apparently Nigel Foster himself is the same weight as me, 150lb, so my weight for the boat should have been fine.

Weight and edging
That would be my guess as well. I bet it’s a really sweet boat for rough water, but for calm water I don’t think it’s a few good match, at least for me.

According to Seaward I should have been the perfect weight for the boat since Nigel Foster is the same weight as me. I ended up selling it, so I’m on a quest for a new boat and I’m just wondering if I should try avoiding hard chimes in the future or not.

Seat Time
I imagine to some extent you are correct. If I paddled it a lot more and had more experience the drifting would have probably waned, at least to some extent. I paddle on pretty flat lakes and creeks and about 95% of the time go in a straight line so using the Legend was somewhat frustrating to me. I sold it, for various reasons, but I think the lesson learned is no more hard chimed boats. I just want something that goes straight. ha

At your weight, that boat is going to be extremely responsive to edging.

You have to understand - going from Whistler to Legend, is like jumping from a dump truck with ball bearing recirculating steering with 90 degree free play to race bred steering setup where you sneeze and car reacts, AND all the input comes from your lower body.

Stop fighting your boat, relax, use edges creatively, and you will be like Mr. Nigel Foster in no time :wink:

If you get a chance to take a class with him you will find money very well spent.

That’s a true statement, but the extent of turning I was noticing was not simply due to my last stroke. I’d glide straight for a while until I would relax and then I would just go where ever.

For what its worth -
hard chines may not be the big issue. My boat does not have hard chines but it is still very maneuverable. I have a WS Zephyr.

It’s “CHINE”, not “chime”…
…and no, it’s not the problem. If you actually had CHIMES on your kayak, that could be a problem.

Considerations for the next boat
If you expect to find a hull that behaves better based only on the lack of hard chines you could find yourself in the same situation all over again.

Any boat with a lot of rocker will be harder to make go straight and will respond more to the wind. So you could find a much more rounded hull with a lot of rocker to be easily as frustrating as the Legend was.

You repeat twice that your issue is the boat going off course for you when you are gliding and/or stop paddling, eg when you reduce forward momentum. ANY boat is going to be more prone to doing that, it is just a matter of degree. If you shift around in the seat to boot, something which yo were probably doing, or if it is windy, the effect will be more so. It just comes down to whether you are noticing it.

I also suspect that you are drawing your paddle too far back, something that the Legend will have more of a response to than less sensitive boats.

It seems that the Legend is not your boat, and that happens. But focusing just on the chines is not going to assure you any better experience on the next boat. You need to understand the hull as a total package, not just one of its features.

thread title brings this to mind
Not trying tease OP but title in advice section just brings this song to mind and uTube has this silly version that made me laugh further:

Totally agree with weight
The legend is a long boat and thus designed to carry a lot of weight for expeditions. I have paddled the boat many times and I weigh 185. I found the boat teetering from one side to another. I’m sure with more weight in it, it would sink deeper and settle down. I had no real problem with not tracking straight but I might have been subtlety correcting ??