Owners of Force kayaks help please
I am looking to replace the IR shockwave skirt I am using on my Force Cat3 with another neoprene skirt. I am getting quite a bit of water either through or around the skirt. The Force cockpit rim is quite narrow and close to the deck so I am do not think just any skirts will fit. Even the IR I have sometimes catches between the rim and the head of the bolt that holds the seat in place despite having a small diameter bungee.
Please suggest any skirts that you have had good luck with and any special sizing or fit-type you specified when ordering.
Owners of Force kayaks help please
call Impex, IR, or Snapdragon
any of them should recommend a skirt style/size that fits the Force 3 very well.
All of those companies will give you personal attention and make sure you get the fit you are after. Snapdragon (and probably IR) can make a custom skirt if you aren’t satisfied with the production models.
Did that with bad results
I did that and got the IR shockwave that I do not really like.
I really want some feedback from people who have used and liked a particular skirt on the Force kayaks.
mark did you call IR or Impex?
If you called IR and they recommended a skirt you aren’t happy with call them back and let them know. I am sure they will work with you.
Talked to both
I talked with Impex and IR before ordering the skirt. It was quite wet from the beginning, but I just figured that was the way the neoprene skirt of this type worked. Finally realized that friends skirts were much much drier.
Not sure if it is something I am doing or a skirt problem. Skirt is too old to return.
how old is the skirt?
call IR again and explain your problem (ask to speak with John) and see what he can come up with.
If that doesn't work try a snapdragon Ocean Trek or Ocean Tour Exp, but call them for sizing.
they suck on the phone or email. products may be good, but they have a distinct lack of interest in dealing with the public, i can say this from first hand experience on 2 occasions.
I have had great service from them
on many occasions.
Another choice …
is to visit Seals website where you will find information on how to make a cockpit tracing and how to order a custom skirt. Then you have a dealer place the order for you. Custom skirts are the same price as stock models, but may take a few weeks once ordered. You also might want to talk to Seals about which skirt and rand would work best for you and your boat. I custom ordered a skirt for a Wilderness Systems Sparrow Hawk this summer and have been very happy with the fit.
IR might be best for that boat
My wife’s F3 has a low cockpit rim and the only skirts that we found which worked were the IR’s. Something is not right if the Shockwave is not dry. It is a popular WW skirt and a good one. Maybe leak elsewhere? I think the advice to call Impex and IR is good. Both are responsive and fair companies. They will make things right.
Not sure who else makes solid small bungee skirts which is what you need.
Very experience w/Snapdragon
I have three of their skirts (also Seals and Bomber Gear). My experience has been consistently good.
On my first a few years ago, I called Snapdragon with a few questions about how to get to a neo skirt that would still not ramp up my then-major anxiety. I was called back by Rich within a couple of days and he advised me well on which skirt.
The second time it was a boat that required an unusual sizing for an extra small keyhole. I spoke with the guys at Portland River Outfitters to order the skirt but I also got a phone message from Rich confirming they were on it.
The third time, less than a year ago, I sent back a Flirt skirt with a tracing of the Piedra cockpit it was pulling off of too loosely. I called and spoke with Mike before I sent it, describibg the problem. I skirt back with a heavier bungee within ten days and a handsritten note from Mike explaining what they had done. It worked great, my best WW skirt as long as I can get a little help from a longer armed guy pulling it on the first couple of times.
I am told that Seals is equally responsive. I haven’t happened to deal with IR, but it seems that in general the major companies for skirts are quite responsive.
Have Force 4
with a Wildwasser Neo skirt. However, there’s nothing about the rim that would make me think there’d be a problem with any skirt, there’s plenty of clearance between the rim lip and the deck all the way around, well over a half-inch.
Makes me wonder if there’s something unique to either the F3 or your particular example. Do you have any nearby you can compare it to?
Clearnace on Force 3s
Based on personal experience, there is some variance in the distance between the deck and cockpit rim on F3s. Have seen this issue with many brands including NDK and P&H boats. It pays to examine any boat you buy. Anyway, the clearance on a few F3s is on the small side which is made even tighter by the bolts used to mount the seat and a small bungee skirt is needed. I have never seen a F4 with clearance as small as on a few F3s. While I have and like a Snapdragon, the normal bungee/rand on them is too big for a low clearance F3. My wife has one of the low clearance F3s, she uses an IR skirt, and it works well. That is why I suggested something is wrong as opposed to a general product problem. As an aside, it is easy for long threads to get started which suggest something is wrong with a product (like the “soft” NordLV thread), readers assume what is being said is gospel, and even if the company involved goes the extra mile to make it right or the user discovers the product was fine after all; that fact is seldom shared here. Generally, most of these companies are small and they are try to do the right thing when problems arise.
Something to rule out
When I first got my Seals neoprene skirt, I was getting water in, and it turned out that I was not putting the skirt on correctly, and water was getting in through the tunnel (not the coaming). I corrected this, and I can now practice rolling all I want with very little water in the boat.
Just a thought before you go spending money.
to go along with what eel said
I had a ‘problem’ with a IR Shockwave skirt. It was pulling apart around the bungee from being stretched over the cockpit coaming. It was a medium deck for a NDK Explorer. So I emailed IR and got a response within a few days and an invitation to call and discuss to the problem. The person I spoke with at IR explained that the problem could be from the cockpit coaming being ‘sharp’. He suggested sanding down the edge of the coaming in the spots where the skirt was pulling apart. He also said the would fix the skirt and beef it up a bit. I got the new super shockwave on steroids and haven’t had a problem since. I also tried a couple of different skirts before and after I sanded the coaming. As it turns out the problem was the coaming, not the skirt. So IR repaired and improved their skirt for free even though the original problem was not their fault.
More info on my situation
The skirt is about 1.5 years old. This is not a new problem it is just one I put up because I thought it was normal. Almost none of the paddlers down here have neoprene skirts so there was no reference for me. Recently I did a couple of calm water trips with a new paddler who uses a neoprene skirt. I complained about being wet and we got to comparing skirts. Mine was soaking wet on the underside and his was completely dry. He took off for the holidays, before I could try paddling his kayak with his skirt to see if I stayed dry. According to the IR fit guide, my IR is too small to fit on his kayak so we could not just try switching skirts.
I measured the clearance,between deck and rim and it is about 1/2 in max, but at the bolt heads it is just less than 3/8. I am in South Texas so is probably over 900 miles one way to the nearest Impex dealer so comparing it to other Forces is kind of out of the question. It is 400 miles round trip to the nearest dealer who even carries any neoprene skirts.
The IR fit guide says the same skirt should fit my Mariner Elan and the Force3. On the Elan it goes on with slight difficulty, but on the Force it is a struggle. I often have to wet the skirt before getting it on. Even with that, the skirt pops off the Force3 much easier than the Elan.
Not trying to put down IR or Impex. I just wanted feedback from people who have used specific skirts on a Force3. Great info about the rim depth varying is exactly what I was looking for.
Wet on the underside?
The lower clearance you measured on the boat could certainly be an issue, but it’s not clear to me why that would cause wetness on the underside of the skirt. That just plain puts water into the cockpit and you are sitting in it as it sloshes around.
Is the underside you are talking about over your legs as well, or just in the area where the catch may be challenged because of the low coaming clearance? And are you rolling or sculling deep enough to drop that area into the water, or staying upright?
I wonder if some of it is just the diff in the neoprene materials of the two skirts. Some neo skirts include a layer that restricts water seeping fully through it and others don’t. If you have one of the wetter ones - at least a couple of mine are that way - water from splash and paddle drips will land on the front deck and wick thru to anywhere your leg is against the skirt quite happily.
Snap D is awesome
on phone & via email. They give excellent service.
Last spring, I always got thru every time I called - to a real person who was genuinely interested in helping me.
Even tho I was NOT the original buyer of the Snapdragon Ocean Trek skirt (it was only a few months old, but used, came w. the kayak) they adjusted the rand twice, customized the tunnel to my small waist, added the “oh shit” strap, AND because they had to adjust it twice, they did not even cash the $40 check I sent for shipping & the tunnel work.
AND they gave me, a Snapdragon sympatex/neo skirt, fully customized, for free.
I love those guys.
I am talking about a situation with no rolling or deep edging and no waves over the deck.
After about 45min the underside of the skirt all around the edge is damp, but the center of the skirt is dry. After about 1.5 hrs the entire underside of the skirt is wet and starting to drip in some places. After 3 hrs of padding I am wet, there is usually 2-3 cups (5 or 6 spongefulls) of water in the kayak, and I can wring water out of the underside of the skirt.
I was thinking it might be some kind of wicking where water on the outside nylon covering wicks under the bungee and onto the nylon on the underside. The outside fabric does wrap under the bungee to the inside of the skirt. I do paddle with a GP and pump a lot of water onto the deck. In one experiment where I kept the top front of the skirt dry from paddle drips I did not see any mositure on the inside of the skirt.
Suspect it’s wear and stitching
What you describe seems to be more of a fabric issue than closure around the coaming. I’d guess that you may have some areas of stitching where age and use has worn out some of the sealing, and any coating on the nylon fabric has also lost a lot of zing. My first neo skirt is a study in leaks, but it has more than earned the right.
A year and a half of use in sun and/or salt water can take some of the zip out of most any material, and it’s not clear to me exactly how waterproof your skirt was intended to be to start with aside from sealing around the coaming.