I recently bought a sonoma 13.5 airalite. I am very happy with it, but find it does not track the way I would like, so I spend more effort directing it than I would like. Any suggestions? Is there a rudder I can get for it? Would weight help? Anybody else have this issue with it?
Get a longer boat!
Since your boat is fairly short and light-weight, it’s going to be easier to turn, but the trade-off will be in straight tracking and speed.
Also, you might want to work on your forward stroke. Try to be more vertical with your blade placement, and pull out before you go past your hips.
stoke practice first. My 9.5 sundance tracks reasonably well. good luck.
work on stroke
if you’re under 140lbs or so you might consider addding a gallon bottle of water behind the seat,I like it a lot,if you get good at controlling it on flat water you’ll be good in rough water. Sure you could put on a simple over the stern skeg like what Necky used on some of their rec. kayaks but I’d work on getting good with the blade.
Just stick with it! Miles = smiles.
My first was a 9’8" Stearns IK116 inflateable. Handled more like a pointy ended donut/inner tube than a kayak - even with the little fixed skeg (relative to later boats). I got it to track well enough to do 8 mile paddles in it pretty easily. After that kayak - everything tracked well! (Nothing against the IK116 - pretty darn good for what it is and costs.)
Personally I like the longer boat comment too! Personal preference. My next was a 16’ WS Tarpon. After the IK - it felt impossible to turn, but after 10 minutes of me adjusting it seemed responsive! Next boat - 18’3", Then 17’10", then 20’9"…
Could be the yak.
my wife won a 13 footer at a race and gave it to one my many daughters. She hated it because it always wanted to go left.
My daughter finally bought a nice 14’-6" Sole, and gave the other yak to one of my sons.
He now hates it because it only wants to go left.
I finally tried it, and yup, I had to constantly fight it to keep it straight.
We now no why it was donated by the manufacture as a prize.
Is yours just tracking in one direction?
If it is going back and forth it is probably you, but if it is one direction, I would guess it is the yak.
See if you can find someone with a similar length yak who will let you try it out, and that should tell you if it is you or the yak.
Same compaint, though minor.
The Sonoma 13.5 is just a little loose in its tracking with my 150 lbs. I like just enough tracking in a boat so that it glides straight on calm water. The Sonoma will start to wander just a bit, and is also fairly prone to weathercocking. I’ll be adding some sort of tracking enhancement – a small fixed skeg, or maybe a removable one. Maybe we can compare notes later on designs.
I came accross some interesting material that I’l be experimenting with in that regard. At Home Depot, the clear plastic “corner guards” by Tufpro can be cut and shaped into small glue-on fins. The material is very tuff, slightly flexible, and can be thermo-formed in boiling water to fit the curvature of the hull.
I have a sonoma 13.5 as well and have noticed the tendency to weathercock. As for tracking, I’m going to assume that it is a lot to do with my forward stroke and very little to do with the boat. Reason I say that is that in the beginning of my paddles I am having all sorts of trouble keeping the boat going straight but toward the end I’m tracking like an arrow! Also the reviewers in Sea Kayaker didn’t find any problems with tracking. I’d be interested to see how the homemade skeg works out. I’m around 155 lbs. which isn’t enough weight to hold the boat when the wind is blowing across it.
weight will help
The review also stated that the boat fully loaded is much less prone to weathercocking. Also, as I’m sure you guys noticed, this boat is great at edging and that alone can keep you going relatively straight. (another skill i need to work on)
Forward Stroke Connvert
I used to use the word tracking a lot whe I first started paddling. I’ve since been taught that it’s the stroke that’s more important. One of my instructors is a kayak racing enthusiast. She can make a whitewater boat go straight as an arrow and fast. I’ve also been taught that all touring and sea kayaks are designed to go straight.
My boat seems to go left more than right but I was told to check my hand position on the paddles next time I go out. I might be holding the paddle to one side or the other causing a pull to one side.
Thanks for all of the advice - it was helpful. After using the sonoma a few more days, I definitely agree with comments that my technique impacts the tracking. So I am going to work on that for now.