Brit boat defined

Be like sing

– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 9:05 AM EST –

and have a fleet!

Every boat has different characteristics and personality. We only have 4 boats - 2 each. My current two boats (Elaho drop skeg and Aquanaut) have very different strengths. I'm now looking for a day boat (c.16') that will be fast and snug fitting. I'm looking forward next season to demoing Epic, Kajak-Sport and Lincoln boats that seem like they may fit the bill. Though if I could find a Foster Echo, I might be very happy. We've just had our rear porch rebuilt and now we can store more boats!

rough water skills
What are they? As far as I can tell, rough water skills are merely quick reaction by hip snapping and water slapping (braces), and reading the waves so as to position the boat and the body as they come at you. It’s all pretty intuitive and I don’t see much in the way of improvemnt after doing this for 7 months. I just have a bit more confidence is all. I am hoping there are kayaks which are more suited to rough water.

No improvement in 7 months?
It’s not the boat. Try something other than forward stroke sometimes.

You may find you like some of the Brit designs, I like several, but they still require skill from the paddler to handle conditions. Some will demand much more from you than your Q700, which is a very predictable and well mannered boat in some pretty sloppy stuff.

If you want to sit in the slop and play - shop around for something a little shorter with more rocker. If you want to paddle through it, you already have a great boat.

That’s what lessons are for!
Try surfing, rolling, developing the ability to plant the paddle at the top of a three foot wave and avoid being swept on with it. Assisting another paddler with a rough water rescue, rough water self-rescues, towing. Having a forward stroke that enables you to make headway into a 20 knot wind for an hour if you life depends on it. Ferrying in heavy current. Turning the boat quick in rough water.

Having the finesse and timing not to have to brace as much.

A world of skills in which I am a mere neophyte. Flatpick, Sanjay and other titans could much enlarge this list.

differently suited
I’ve not paddled a QCC700, so I don’t know how it handles rough water as compared to a Nordkapp, Explorer, Aquanaut etc… My experience with other Winters design boats leads me to think that the QCC boat handles rough seas very differently than most Brit boats. (Not to mention that different Brit boats handle differently.)

I have paddled a few different boats in rough water and can say, IMHO, that some are better suited than others. My Elaho, while being a fun boat for water play, is not well suited to safely getting through quartering confused and challenging seas. It really gets kicked around. My Aquanaut does not get kicked around as much in the same seas.

That being said, there is a world of skill that takes years to acquire. Hell, this summer I spoke to Tom Bergh (4 star BCU coach, Antartic expedition, etc…) after he had come back from taking a three day forward stroke class!

Lessons, practice, and experience are all essential.

“rough water skill”
>As far as I can tell, rough water skills are merely quick reaction by hip snapping and water slapping (braces), and reading the waves so as to position the boat and the body as they come at you. <

Just staying upright in rough water isn’t enough. Able to make headway to your target, even when water isn’t placid is the next step in “rough water skill” once you can stay IN the boat.

So, turning in heavy swells and/or wind waves; staying on course when the wind/wave is trying to turn you to a different direction; surf launch/landing… the list goes on.

if you serious about tackling rougher waters in a systematic and progressive way, I would suggest getting John Lull’s book, Seakayaking, Safety and Rescue. Lull is a member of the Tsunami Rangers and has bit of a rough water experience. What I like about the book is that it lays out a progression for skills development to take on increasingly challenging conditions. Where one wants to take it, or stop, is an individual choice but the book is helpful framing and understanding the necessary steps in skills development.

Taking lessons will expedite the process for many folks. Personally, I don’t think lessons is the only route. I enjoy researching, studying, being and doing it alone. It’s more my learning style not only in paddling but other pursuits as well. The pitfalls to this approach are there. The biggest I’ve seen is that folks generally practice what they are good at (an ego thing) and avoid what they are not good at. The latter is actually what they need to focus more on. So, without external prodding, e.g. a coach, some folks never work on their weaknesses. Coming from another arena/pursuit, I generally don’t have a problem in this area. I tend to focus on weaknesses because these are what I believe will get one hurt or killed in physical pursuits.


Define "Rough Water"
Brit boats are designed for conditions around Britain. Conditions here in NORCAL are similar, so Brit boats are popular here.

You live on a huge continetal shelf, and you really just do not get those conditions in south Florida. I lived there, and I know. It gets rough there but not in the same way.

You get wind driven chop, but not the huge ground swells we get because here we have really deep water right off the coast. Your sea bottom is flat and sandy. Ours is rocky, and uneven and that causes the big swells near shore where the coast is exposed.

My rough water
The rough waters I paddle are along the coast of Maine (very similar to coast of Scotland and Wales), as well as Lake Champlain & Lake George both of which are subject to high winds with resonating chop from rocky shores, islands, etc…

This is the dimensional or bumpy or textured water in which my boat must perform.

I Don’t Know
The northeast is one region I have never visited, but from reports here, it sounds more like NORCAL. But I lived in Florida for a long time, and I know it is totally different.

coastal similarities
with all due respect, i just got back from wales about a week or so ago and casco is my paddling backyard and the differences in the 2 i found to be profound.

wales has races…the irish sea moves through there very similarly to a big, big river through that narrow 50 odd mile gap between GB and ireland and in doing so creates some remarkable races and overfalls as it forces that water around headlands, over the bottom and into every little nook and cranny. in addition to these races, once you add the swell and then the wind (we didn’t have a day where it didn’t blow F3/4 and then up to 6/7) you can have quite a mess/fantastic time!

while maine does have a tidal range (11 feet or so as compared to welsh of 15 or so), there is no tidal race and we haven’t got the effect of wind/water that they have there. with our prevalent prevalent winds we just don’t have any fetch to build up into proper wind waves and create the big stuff.

less of course we have a nice little NE’r and then really…it’s pretty freakin’ cold out.

the only north american boat i have ever owned was a boreal design narwhal that was wide as hell with no secondary and a paper thin layup. to paddle that boat there would have been a great challenge. i was quite pleased with the exploere/romany and the poseiden that i paddled while abroad.

Thank you. I’ve never paddled Wales or Scotland but had been told that among the reasons Brit boats are favored by folks like Tom Bergh at Maine Island Kayak is because of the similarities between the Maine Coast and that for which the boats were designed.

I mostly paddle Muscongus Bay while in Maine and there is a great amount of tidal wash (especially through narrow passages between islands), resonating chop and out rush from rivers. I have to say my Aquanaut and my wife’s Explorer handle these conditions as if it exactly what they are designed to handle.

The Atlantic Kayak Tours site has an informing description of coastal conditions and how they affected kayak designs:

‘Most British and “Greenland style” kayaks are designed for windy, exposed conditions so their decks are low to the water. The rear deck of VCP’s Anas Acuta is barely two inches above the waterline. It can’t carry a lot of gear, but the low profile makes it a joy to paddle on a windy day when others are struggling. Another striking feature of these boats is how the bow and stern rise up to peaks, even though most of the deck is low. The peaked bow and stern help keep the ends from “submarining” under steep waves and add buoyancy that makes the boat easier to Eskimo roll up in case of a capsize.

These boats were designed to handle rough conditions along exposed coastlines.

A different style of kayak evolved in the Pacific Northwest, where there are hundreds upon hundreds of miles of relatively protected waterways. They tend to have high straight decks with lots of room below and long straight keels. These boats are ideal for carrying lots of stuff on long Point A to Point B trips. The trade-off you knew was coming is that with so much boat above the water these kayaks can be hard to handle in windy conditions. Which is why so many of them have rudders.’

tom would know better than dang near anybody. he coordinated the training for us over there and the facility, he and the other coaches and the experience was all pretty remarkable.

i can see where anyone who deals with any rough water on the sea would have a preference for ndk and/or vcp boats…those builders are making boats for some remarkable water…whateve we manage to throw at 'em here is nothing too special considering where they are made to be paddled!

My wife and I are depressed that we cannot make Tom’s Scotland expedition next June. A neighbor is a co-leader and it sounds grand!

Narrow upturned ends add buoyancy?

– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 5:16 PM EST –

Before anyone gets their knickers twisty, I'm not about to argue for or against any type (my fleet has extremes at either end [pun]). Too hard argue any points when all posts use "some", "most", "can", "tend to" and other similar non-specific words, but I would like some clarification on that bow volume comment.

I find that type of ends (Brit) to have LESS volume (fine ends not fat) and cut into waves more/ride over less than higher volume bow/sterns. This slicing can help smooth out the ride (with a speed loss) which could be described as a favorable characteristic (or not). If that's what you're used to - a fuller ended boat will feel quite different, perhaps more harsh. If you're used to fuller ends - the fine may feel a bit mushy. It's all relative.

The advantage to the up-swept and lower volume up-swept ends is maneuverability (but this works both ways - and what gets you back on course faster may also be what got you off course to begin with). If playing around in one area (particularly close inshore with rocks), the Brit style in most likely the better choice. If paddling through/across an area - I'm not so sure it's going to be better (again - gets back to what you're used to).

So I don't disappoint those expecting the inevitable QCC comments from me (and as fair warning to those who have weird anti-QC bias), let me add that the differences between the Q700 and something like wilsoj2's Aquanaut are not as extreme as some may (want to) believe. Q700 has more waterline length - so handles like a slightly longer kayak (maneuvering difference, but not to the point of any difficulty) - otherwise, classifying them into widely different types in terms of design/handling is a bit of a stretch.

The Q700 is certainly not a "Brit" style kayak (which I also own) - it is also not like the larger volume higher decked PNW designs either (which I have only test paddled). At 12", Its foredeck is a good bit lower then larger PNW kayaks, and actually lower than several Brit or Brit inspired designs (and much lower than all other QCCs save the Q600 which is 1/2" higher). Rear deck could be lower - but only a handful of commercial designs have that right (for wind wave anyway - most keep the volume up for gear).

In wind wave and heavy chop, and particularly rear quartering conditions, the Q700's handling is hard to beat. Don't take that on my word alone - others here have a heck of a lot more textured time in one than I.

All kayaks will submarine, even the fuller and more plumb QCCs. I had the entire front half of my Q700 under water during my last paddle (going upwind), and before that most of the rear was awash several times (in rear quartering wind waves). Not big stuff either. 2-3' at most, majority less, but very confused and short/steep. I love the way it steadily surfaces as it punches through. In bigger waves with actual wave period instead of just slop it's drier and even better handling.

PS - Would like to try an Aquanaut sometime - as I have this odd idea it's handling may lie in between an Explorer and my 700 (not that I need that - just like to try kayaks!). I've paddled an Explorer a few times (regular and HV - regular much better) and think it's a great hull! Heavy, and could be faster, but like the feel and love the rear deck height. Quite similar sense of security and predictability to my 700 but with a different personality. If Aquanaut is as well mannered as reported, and a bit faster than an Explorer, well, you might see where I get this crazy idea it would lie in between.

Each is different

– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 5:48 PM EST –

My Aquanaut cuts through much textured water my wife's Explorer rides over.

My Aquanaut has much less rocker than my wife's Explorer, let alone an Anas or Pintail.

My only experience with Winters boats is Swifts which seem to get knocked around alot in chop and confused seas. They are beamier and higher decked than a QCC700 so they probably handle seas as differently from that QCC boat as from my VCP boat.

The Aquanaut might be somewhere between an Explorer and a QCC700. It has a longer narrower waterline than an Explorer - also than a Nordkapp. It handles quartering seas better than an Explorer. It does seem noticably faster than an Explorer. The Aquanaut also has lower decks than the Explorer. Lower than the QCC700 as well.

As far as upswept ends adding boyancy...

Please, one favor.
Except for being from the same designer, and having a certain family look, please don’t compare the Q700 to Swifts, Enlighteneds, or even to the other QCCs, except the Q600 regarding performance.

They really are that different. Your experiences with Winters designs are apples and oranges as it relates to the newer QCC designs. Comparing your Aquanaut to a Swift/Q400/Q500 is like comparing it to a Wilderness Systems kayak but only trying a Cape Horn, then using that test to judge an Arctic Hawk or Tempest (which are more in the Aquanaut’s’ league).

Some related QCC design/model history:

“QCC inherited the molds for the Q 400 and Q 500 from the Swift Canoe and Kayak Company” - Winters.

QCC built those for Swift before selling direct, so the resemblance to Swifts is more than just similarity. They are Swifts.

The Q600/700 are QCC commissioned designs. They are intermediate to advanced designs in comparison to the others. Lower decks/volume, narrower, faster, more capable in conditions. The 400/500 and earlier Swift incarnations are more beginner/intermediate oriented.

Thought so…
I realized that the Swifts are barges compared to the QCC700. That is why I noted that they are beamier and high decked and that they probably handle seas as differently from the QCC700 as from my Aquanaut.

I did not realize that they were much older designs.

I am intrigued by the QCC700. I’ve wondered why so many of Winters’ boats are so high and wide. The 700 is something else. A paddler in my usual group has a QCC600. I hope that I can at least test paddle that sometime soon. Someday, I’ll encounter someone with a 700 and finally get a chance to feel what is is like, rather than just reading and trying to extrapolate.

We can…
…continue this another time on another tread - as I’ve taken it too far off thread here already.

Q600 is similar - but the extra length and deck differences make it feels pretty different to me. I much prefer the 700 (but I hear Winters favorite is the 600) Hope you get a chance to try both. If Winter chases you south for a break, let me know.

Slightly more on topic (very slightly), my Q700’s been Britified a bit - having skeg, non-stock backband, a bit more than stock thigh padding, and foamed foot surface - so maybe not really typical. Those little fit differences probably distort my perceptions of how a Q700 paddles, particularly in chop. Then there’s the extra bungees fore and aft for GPs…

rough water skills
if you really want a lesson in rough water, find a used white water boat and head out on the river. You will quickly learn there is a whole different world out there in the moving water. I have hit some play spots over the last few months in a ww kayaks, and really learned alot from them. I think for any sea kayaker who wants to tackle surf, and rough water, learning ww is a terrific training ground. Skills like low bracing, which seem awkward and forced in sea kayaking are natural and necessary. Rolling, and all the “nigel” strokes become very usable, (i.e. bow rudder, side slip, hanging stern draw, and so on). Edging is much more important. Edging is a very under rated and under used skill by most sea kayakers.

i wish I had access to more ww.