Question for Island Qaarsut Owners...

Does your Qaarsut weather cock considerably. Any traits to be aware of? How do you get the darn thing to go in a straight line without much correction …sometimes I think its bow is like a sniffing dog out of control. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


too much rocker
I have heard comments about the island boats just having a bit too much rocker, so a skeg is required.

I believe your boats has no skeg? so maybe it really needs one? bummer


Maybe this
I occassionally have run into issues with my Explorer LV unloaded where the wind is coming from a direction kinda sideways and pushing the bow to where I don’t want it to go. Dropping the skeg is only going to aggravate the problem since it is the bow that is getting moved, and I agree constant correction strokes get really annoying over a distance. What has worked at times is to just shift my butt over a bit towards the side the wind is coming from and drop weight on that sit bone, then paddle on holding that slight edge. I haven’t really figured out whether it works because I am giving the wind a deeper edge to try and push or I have altered the amount of bow or stern in the water, but up to 20 knots it makes an appreciable difference in how many correction strokes are needed.

The Island boat is very manuverable - you may get more effect out of this than I do in the LV.

Weather Cocking Qaarsut
Too much rocker? For what? Sweeping generalisations will get you in trouble.

As we all know kayak design is always a compromise.

Larger Island Kayaks (Expedition etc.)are pretty skeg dependant but depending what you are looking for this makes them very versatile. I like the blend of maneuverability, speed, tracking etc. On the down side it makes you more reliant on moving parts if the skeg fails I have a harder time than in my Explorer.

The Qaarsut on the other hand has a built in skeg, same as the original SOF that it and the Anas Acuta were based on. In some ways the Qaarsut is a closer copy of the original. For sure it is a very lively kayak but will go straight with a little guidance. Analogy comming up; “If I wanted to drive straight highways with the cruise control set and my hands of the wheel I would probably not choose a small sports car”.

I’ve paddled the Qaarsut personaly and seen a wide range of other paddlers in them in very varied conditions, including some considerable distances. Weather cocking due to wind does not seem to be a problem but it will obviously depend on how the kayak is loaded etc. What I suspect is happening is sea cocking or broaching as waves catch the stern. Focus on working with the waves, surfing following sea, moving at the same speed as the ocean/waves etc. Contrary to some other posts it is possible to do this in a non ruddered kayak with a non wing paddle.

Let us know what kind of conditions you are having problems with this may give some clues.

more info
First the skeg issue. Well, its an “integrated skeg” …but really I don’t think of it as a skeg. I can keep the boat upright (no edging) and still turn it very easily … my last boat (a NC 17) had a real integrated skeg but it was a real pain in the ass a lot of times).

Ok, first a little about me. I am somewhat of a lousy forward stroke paddler. Taken a few classes and can keep an aquanaut,tempest, Point65 XP in a fairly straight line with little or no effort.

I am new the Qaarsut and while I love its maneuverability. All info below is with a 140 # paddler and nothing else in the boat.


I find it hard to keep it straight even when there is a lack of wind. In fact the only time I can keep it straight is in a headwind. It seems that I can edge the boat and sweep on the right to turn left but it will turn right. It seems that once it starts to turn (by slight body movement) it takes ALOT to stop it from turning and then one over compesates and it starts to turn the other way.


Here I am as stumped as can be. I am paddling trying to maintain my course in the wind. Minute I stop the boat will turn around into the wind (not eaxact facing into the headwind …maybe 20-30 degrees off) really quickly. I try mooning downwind to lock the stern …but the minute I do that (takes whatever keel it has …left out of the water) …it turns even quicker into the wind.

Any thoughts/ideas would be welcome. I want to really learn how to paddle this boat!



Not a coach but…

– Last Updated: May-02-07 2:18 PM EST –

On a blind guess, I'd venture that the no wind issue may be that you aren't holding a consistent edge turning. So you end up losing and then renewing the edge thru the turn, and going thru contortions with your upper body to compensate such that the sweep stroke is not producing an even or maybe even desirable effect all the way thru. At 140 pounds it is easy to get used to arbitrarily lifting to set an edge rather than dropping your weight in your seat over to find that that is more comfortable to hold - most boats will make you do that because of their volume.

With wind - not clear what you mean by mooning the stern. Are you putting weight more forward when you do that?

Put Some Careful Time in the Boat
I suspect this is the most responsive boat you have paddled and you need to recalibrate how you paddle as you are likely doing what worked in the other boats and expecting this one to behave the same. It won’t. Try spending time on a calm day and paddle it gently with a focus on how the boat reacts to a variety of inputs. Get in synch with how it works and it will work for you. Whether you like the way it works and enjoy the boat for what it is, is another question. I find both my Force and Anas Acuta very rewarding and enjoyable boats to paddle, but they are not even remotely similar in how they work. The Anas took a fair bit time to appreciate, and I suspect your boat is the same.

Island Kayaks
As a participant in the final testing of the Qaarsut 16, I’ve been asked to respond to the discussion about the need for a skeg in this and other Island boats.

Whether to include a skeg or not on any boat is a design choice that has both pro’s and cons. The pro is that skegs are an effective counter to weather cocking. The primary con is that they do so at the cost of added swing weight.

The addition of even a few pounds so far away from the boat,s center of balance causes resistance to correction. This resistance tends to compromises the paddler’s ability to fine tune directional control, to make well timed, coordinated corrections with body, boat and blade. You could say, that swing weight robs the paddler of a certain degree of finesse. Thus, having a skeg means you will be more likely to need one.

The choice is driven by design objectives. In the case of the Expedition and Expedition LV, a primary design objective was to have a boat that remained playful, even when fully loaded. These boats do an exceptional job of that, but as a consequence, they tend to weather cock when empty (particularly on flat water). They are probably best fitted out with a skeg. The effect of swing weight is proportional, so the added few pounds astern have less much less effect when the boat is used as intended in its fully loaded state.

The design objective for the Qaarsut was very different. It’s a low volume boat meant for day paddles and at most, weekend camping trips. It is very responsive to corrections and should not need a skeg. In the case of a very light paddler, add weight carefully, low and centered so as not to compromise trim. The Qaarsut does fine with a load, but it is best paddled light so you don’t compromise its inherent balance. This balance and the pronounced rails make it possible for the paddler to affect quick and precise corrections. Adding a skeg would reduce the requirement for “active paddling”, making it less effort to paddle down wind, but it would reduce the boat’s potential.


Weather cocking when stopped
This sounds strange nearly all boats (kayaks included) will turn across the wind when stationary and only weather cock in to the wind when forward movement locks the bow in. Do you mean stationary or not paddling.

Similar experience, but still game

I too find it necessary to make constant corrections in order to maintain a straight path with the current and the wind behind. I am lighter in weight than you and not a skilled paddler. I knew this would be a tricky boat, but that it can be mastered, and that the challenges it presents: no skeg, no rudder, highly responsive, will make me a better paddler. I am glad that you posted your observations as you have elicited useful advice. Even though this is a low volume boat, the cockpit feels roomy to me. I am therefore planning to customize the cockpit and will experiment with seat padding and knee and hip bracing to improve my control. I don’t usually carry much in the hatches, I will also try adding weight to see if that makes a difference.


Just a hunch, but…
… I suspect your light weight may have the boat riding high and also trimmed a bit forward (bow slightly down). The effect would be a looser stern that would slide out and cause the kayak to wander a bit more easily and hard to correct if trying to aim the bow (your no wind situation) and also let the stern blow downwind more easily (as you described sitting).

I rarely recommend adding ballast, but this might be an easy way to test handling differences. Try adding some weight behind you. This will do two things: 1. It will trim the boat more aft and dig the stern in a little more, and 2. It will get the hull a little deeper and more on it’s lines. Both should help your situation.

To just adjust trim you can use a smaller weight placed far aft. If you want to adjust trim and freeboard it will take more weight placed just behind your seat, or forward in the rear hatch.

See if that makes a difference. If it does, you have a couple other options than carrying added weight for a more permanent solution: Move the seat aft a bit (if possible), and/or get heavier yourself!

Brilliant comment!
“Contrary to some other posts it is possible to do this in a non ruddered kayak with a non wing paddle.”

Thanks for the dose of reality.


Give it a year…
…or 200 paddles whichever comes first.

It may take the boat that long to train you. One day you just may fall in love with it.

A common choice
As someone who does primarily whitewater but also sea kayaking it appears to me that you face the same kind of dilemma that WW kayakers face. Do you want to be in control of the kayak even though that means you assume greater risk of screwing up or do you want to give up control to the boat design and water circumstance with less chance of getting into trouble but being bored and not learning as much? Maybe that is a loaded description but I hate WW boats that don’t allow me to control what is going on. On the other hand there are boats that are genuine turkeys in the sense that no normal human can be expected to be able to handle it. For example, a few years ago I rented an Inazone 240 when I went to Oregon to visit my aged parents and wanted to add some excitement to the trip by boating the Klamath River while I was there. What a snoozer! That is the perfect example of a boat that will never flip you over but it hard as hell to get to do what you want it to do. You may have a sea kayak that is lively and fun and requires skill and experience to control. Or you may have a dog that is badly designed that people like because they are captivated by traditional designs. I haven’t paddled it, so I don’t know the answer. My guess, and this comes from my bias, is that you have a boat that is a good boat but requires more than the usual laid back skill to control.

Good summary
While compared to some of the much older displacement hulls the Inazone series will ask more of the paddler re edge awareness, what little time I’ve had in my 220 so far indicates that it is a pretty capable baby sitter within its cohort. For now, that’s fine by me.

This Island boat is low profile and intended to be highly manuverable. And it does that quite well - I watched someone with new skills spin it around against the wind quite easily about a week ago, when a lot of others were having to double-paddle to get their boats brought around. It is a great boat, but it is likely to ask a bit more of the paddler in quality of stroke than an Explorer would let you get away with.

dont know if this will help in this

– Last Updated: May-04-07 12:42 AM EST –

situation, Feathercraft makes a strap on skeg that can work on many boats. Its very light and effective. I think BrazilBrazil has put one on one of his SOFs....concerning weathercocking, I've dealt with it in a Jubilee (day paddling so lightly loaded) by placing a water bladder in the bow...
It was also good seeing Dale Williams chime in on the board. Dale is the 'father' of sea kayak Georgia and most respected in kayakdom! (and he sold me a Jubilee so i'm a bit biased.)

In the bow???
Please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought adding weight to the bow would raise the stern which translates in even worse tracking

Depends on the boat

– Last Updated: May-04-07 11:32 AM EST –

I often trim my Explorer LV bow a little heavier than the usual 40% ratio, as does my husband his Romany, because these boats have pretty loose bows and it just makes life a bit easier for regualr day paddling. The Qaasut is also a pretty loose boat, though I don't know whether that looseness is distributed more to one end than the other.

You are Correct, but
some boats need weight in the bow to be properly trimmed and with proper trim they may not weathercock as badly. For example, the Explorer LV with a light person needs added weight in the bow to be properly trimmed. I have no personal knowledge of how one paddles, but its obvious when you see one that it needs bow weight for trim and a respected dealer confirmed this.

well with some water bladders its
easy to play around with it…in my QCC i found that a water bladder inside the rear hatch and up close to the bulkhead is perfect…I glued tie-downs so I can strap the bladder down and put in a ‘port’ for bladder hose eggress:

Keep playing, you’ll find the magic combo soon enough.