So, having been blown out of my cockpit while surfing some bigger waves, back in the day when I surfed with long boats and surf specific kayaks, I have a slight paranoia about any kayak with a “big” cockpit. (This is also another reason why I am pretty much a dedicated waveski surfer – because I am strapped on the ski by a seatbelt that doesn’t release unless I intentionally do so!). What’s big for kayak cockpit? Anything sized more than an ocean cockpit which is about 16"x20" for rough water. That is the size that was on my greenland SOF and I had never I come out of that boat unintentionally.
The SINK I have kept in my collection of kayaks is a limited run Roto Mystic by Impex. It’s a perfect day/play boat that I used to go out with and play around some of the rocks cliffy shorelines around the northshore of Boston and out sometimes in the smaller surf. But, always, I was leery of the bigger cockpit and didn’t want to take too much of an adventure venue. Anyway, I decided to build up a “masik” of minicell and cemented plastic (for stiffness) for the boat to give me a bit more control and a sense of safety (from getting sucked out of the boat or having the skirt imploded by a dumping wave).
This effectively reduced the s/m cockpit (18"x32") down to almost the size of an ocean cockpit (18"x20.5"):
In addition to built up and sculpting of the foam masik from three 3 layers of 1" thick minicell, I also build up a foam bulkhead between and around the footpegs:
Now, essentially instead of standard sitting arrangement in the cockpit, with feet against footpegs ,and knees bent ,and legs splayed to make contact against the thigh braces and sides to exert better boat control, I have the footpegs farther in the cockpit with the foam bulkhead which allows my legs to be almost straight. I have the slightest bend in the needs to provide contact/leverage against the pegs and built-up bulkhead. The the downside of the foam masik is just slightly above the top of my thighs. If I bend my knees just a big more, my thighs lock into the underside of the foam masik. The entire set-up makes the roto Mystic almost as snug as my SOF.
Having done this modification over 7-8 years ago, I never tried it out then because the skeg in the Mystic was stuck in a deployed position. I never got around to fixing the skeg and was frankly just really enjoying my surfing with waveskis and fishing with my SOTs. Having fixed the Mystic skeg a couple of weeks ago, I finally took the Mystic out for a little Oscar generated surf this past week. While back to sucking at long boat surfing (i.e. not have directional control of the ride), I had plenty of opportunities to do bracing, sculling and rolling when I broached and flipped. It’s been a long, long while since I have been in a SINK, but the Mystic felt more like my SOF. I was able to roll the Mystic effortlessly on either side (while on my waveskis, I am aware of a definite “offside”). I could also do a sculling brace with my body practically to a horizontal level by employing a more “greenland” approach of letting the top leg drop down next to the bottom leg, arching my back and extending out with the paddle. I wondered if it would have possible to do a static balance brace but I didn’t try as I was using a ww paddle rather that a GP to provide buoyancy. Next time.
Anyway, I find the built up foam/plastic masik a worthwhile modification. It may also for others, especially for those who really favor a smaller cockpit but can not get that as an option in their desired SINK model(s). Too bad, there were/are very few manufactured kayaks with ocean cockpits in the first place., e.g. the WS SparrowHawk, Anas Acuta, Pintail, ND Rumour, Betsie Bay.