Pygmy Borealis & Spray Skirt

I’m considering purchasing and building a Pygmy Borealis XL kit. I have built the Coho and love it but I have such long legs that even with mounting the seat back 1" I still have to “skin” my legs into the cockpit when sitting down in the boat. The Borealis has a 19" X 36" (vs. 17" X 33") cockpit opening but I’m concerned that there may not be a spray skirt (and cockpit cover) that will fit the larger opening. I haven’t been able to find anything in the general “online catalogues” that would work.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a sprayskirt brand/model that might work with this larger cockpit?

question, have you paddled the Borealis?

– Last Updated: Sep-10-09 7:24 PM EST –

If the displacement of the Coho is satisfactory I don't see the reason in building a larger kayak in order to get a longer coaming unless you've put on 75lbs. The Borealis is a HIGHER volume kayak than a Coho which is already a big boat. Rebuild your Coho with a longer coaming, it's a lot easier than building a new kayak. The other benefit to doing that will be to install your own coaming recess w. integral thigh braces.

I just finished making a Penguino and made a recess using the existing coaming pieces and some more 4mm for the recess with keyhole thigh braces. Not sure if you have to cut off the top of the hip brace or cutting the entire piece out then rebuild a new one. I don't like the narrow 3" wide brace in the Pygmy design and prefer a 5.5" wide piece angled outwards to follow the angle of ones splayed thighs. No real reason for hip braces to be angled in the direction of the keel, your thighs aren't straight forward when bracing.

ps. there are snap dragon sizes that fit the longer 36"x18" coamings. I forget the size but they fit fine. I think it's the XL size. I tried one on the 36" long coaming of a Penguino at Pygmy last month.
Seriously unless you need a kayak for a 350lb + payload (200lb paddler plus 150lbs + gear) it's a huge kayak. It feels like it needs 300lbs just to keep from blowing sideways in the wind.
In the same way that a Coho is a much better alternative to the Chesapeake 17 the Borealis is a much better choice than a Chesapeake18. The Borealis and Ch18 are kayaks for 275lb-350lb paddlers.

If you are worried about new wood/epoxy/glass matching up it won't be that noticable, just a little lighter color at first and a very slight rise where the new glass goes over the sanded old glass. When re-varnished I bet that only people who've done the work will notice.

Pygmy Borealis & Spray Skirt
I guess I should explain a bit more; first I’m 6’4, 215 and have a 36" inseam. Secondly, I need to build a 2nd boat anyway: my wife (6’0) will “inherit” the first Coho (yeah, we’re not the smallest of people). Therefore either I build a second Coho and carve/sand a “notch” under the front of the cockpit coaming or build a different model. When I built the Coho I installed the backbrace 1" further rearward (and the footbrace track 2.5" further forward) than the instructions call for…and it’s barely a fit with the footpegs in the most forward position. I used spare minicell foam to build and install kneebraces under the cockpit rim.

So… I really do need a longer cockpit if available and provided I can get the rest of the gear to work with it. I’d be quite happy with a Coho with extended cockpit but I don’t want to weaken the coaming by carving too much of a bevel from the underside/front of the opening.

tall but not heavy

– Last Updated: Sep-10-09 7:44 PM EST –

The Borealis is built for heavy. If you haven't paddled the Borealis imagine a Coho that is a LOT more stable. At 215lbs you'll be a cork but your height provides plenty of paddle/deck clearance. It's more stable than the 25" wide Penguino. That said the Borealis is a nice handling boat like the Coho, I could be wrong but it seemed like it weathercocked less than the Coho.

Deck strength at the peak of the deck is kind of academic as any kind of failure in a triangulated section of ply where the recess and two deck panels meet in front of the coaming would be preceded by the long hull seams cracking open. Actually the seams wouldn't crack, it would be the center of the panels. Seriously, make some test panels and you'll see what I mean.
By installing a recess you have a triangulated peak that makes the underlying 3" reinforcing section of 4mm ply moot. Where deck strengh will manifest itself is in the open panel sections between the deck seams where someone elses bow hits your deck and there's no underdeck glass, only 2" glass tape on the seams. You're better off glassing the entire underside of the deck with 4oz than putting only 2" 6oz tape on the deck seams.

Seriously consider it even if you go for the Borealis. You can have a normal coaming without a peak in the front that sticks high up above the deck and normal keyhole knee braces that are an integral part of the coaming/deck without aftermarket shenanigans.

ps. I'd be curious to see some destructive testing as I don't thing that 3" wide piece of 4mm ply is really necessary.

pps. if you really don't need a higher volume kayak see if Pygmy will include the Boreal/Penguino cockpit coaming in the kit and you can narrow it to 18"x36 when you build it. That's what I did with the Penguino. Bringing the coaming in provides a little protection from dings when rolled on hard surfaces.

ppps. not sure how much you rounded over the inside of the coaming on your Coho but the Pgymy manual and most kits I've seen leave it way too sharp cornered. You can round over that inside corner a LOT with glass providing necessary connecting strength to the coaming . For a 3/4" bonding surface on the spacer I'd round the inside edge of the coaming 3/8" which only gives 3/8" of a full 4mm thickness of the coaming on the spacer to anchor the sprayskirt flange. For an unglassed coaming that's probably marginal but glassed it's no problem.

tall but not heavy
Now that’s an idea I hadn’t thought of (asking Pygmy to include coaming pieces for the larger cockpit). Thanks for the thought. If they won’t do that then I can always use the original pieces as a pattern and make my own, adjusting for length. If I were to do THAT (making my own) then I could use a thicker “backing ring” so that I’d have the room to “carve out clearance” without excessive weakening.

Still it would leave me with the issue of trying to find a spray skirt/hatch cover that would fit. When I first built the boat I got a Seals Adventurer skirt that was supposed to be the right size for the Coho (1.7) but would pop off at the sides whenever I tried a high brace or roll. After mucking about for a month or so I gave up on that (saving it for either the wife or the possible double) and bought the Snap Dragon Glacier that Pygmy sell (L). Last weekend I hit the highway with the Seals cockpit cover on; driving into a 60 kph headwind at 115 kph I met a semi going the other way… “POW”… off came the cockpit cover! (Good thing I had the retainer clipped down).

I smell a solution in the wind. :o)

that’s the problem with fabric skirts
they don’t stretch.

Good Ideas!
Hi, Tootsall as you know I am building a Borealis XL and will probably be giving this on to my wife as she is 5’10" but probably over 200+. I am 6’4" and 280 with a 34" inseam, and will probably move my foot pegs forward and inch and the back supports back an inch also. I got the Borealis because I have limited mobility in my lower body.

I really like your ideas LeeG, I am about halfway into my build.