Well the brand new replacement •≈Anas Acuta≈• is on the way. The only major decision with this boat, is wether to get it made up into three travel friendly bulkheads, or to leave it as a standard 17ft one piece. I've given myself a week to decide, or at least to justify the practicality of finding an extra £600 to gain the additional practicality of a split kayak. There's also a probable extra 2kg of weight to consider in the overal construction & reinforced bulkheads. Well 2kg is unnoticable in the water really, it won't effect the handling & it's not as if I'm going to walk around with the thing on my heid all day. Given that I'm shying further & further away from road travel & metal clad tarmac madness every passing year, preferring the wooded path - it makes sense, even if in monetary terms right now, it doesn't. If I ultimately live the rest of my days never driving, a 3 peice Acuta will become a highly versatile aquisition, easily accomodated on Greenlandic or Norwegian flights North, ferries going South & panel-vans just going wherever. A sea kayak is like a well loved shoe, a precision tool in a toolbox, that can see you through decades, & it should fit you perfectly, as much as it should cut with finesse. It should become moulded to your style, your physics, your approach. It should compliment your lifestyle, in & out of the water & as much as it aids you in conquering seas, it should inspire you travel across land, not once hindering or burdening that call toward vivid exploration. You don't buy size 11 shoes when you're size 9 - nor do you buy wellies for practising ballet, ergo, you cchoose your kayak to suit the size of your soul more often than your wallet, & eat cold beans with a smile, & say, tomorrow we will have a new tide, & it will be fine.
I'd phoned Mike for another extensive blether to soundboard him on 3 peice composites since I have no experience of their stress patterns & reliability over time & constant distortion through rolling, edging, wave bridging etc:
So they're quiet robustly built then Mike eh?
Aye, like lego with clamps in a way, but don't worry about the kayak coming undone halfway to Kilda Si - it's not going to happen.
OK, so they don't just shove 3 bulkheads at you, a tube of wood glue, a G-clamp & say on yee go then?...
Hahaha, things have moved on a bit from those days bud - maybe not for NDK, but...
Having had a good old blether with Freya, back home after her Iceland circumnavigation, she explained how her Rockpool male/female -lego system- coupling with outer-clips was absolutely bomb proof & how the NDK bolt together system was shoogly, allowing movement & section shift under load, leaks & awkward assembly, close to impossible alone. She has never tested Valley triple bulkheads, but felt NDK needed to radically change their system, telling me in her no-nonsense German lilt -which feels like an order rather than a concern- Don't do it! If Valley has use zis similar system to NDK, it's not good, things go wrong... This is what I needed, Freya's opinion - her collective experience based on nothing more than hurling abuse at both styles of triple bulkhead coupling in the ocean, where performance & reliability matter. So if Valley use the lego system, all is good. She then went on to say that when I fly to Greenland with the new 3 piece Acuta bagged up, don't tell them it's a kayak. It only confuses the customs control.
Just say it is a surf board & you get straight through easy. Don't say kayak OK?...
OK. Thanks fae that Frey, enjoy the NZ trip, I'll go away now.
Good, I am trying to cook dinner.
So, July & I'm looking forward to autumn on Skye this year. Not least becuase I can kick leaves through the woods everytime I return home from the shore or the mountains, but becuase autumn will call me into wooden shed clearance by the brisk lochside. It will call me to disturb tired spiders from deep beams & mice from unquiet sleep, sweep dust storms & motes & curls of shavings into the light of clattery weathered doors thrown wide open. This year, it will task me with mending that dirty cracked window with more than just tape & newspaper, so the snow does not whistle in & stick to my ear through winter - & I'll be careful not to disturb old Domhnaills pipe, layered in dust from the 40s, still tinged & tobacco scented. This autumn, as the Cuillin shadows creep further across the reeks, stiffened brush paint pots will shoogle to one side, & awakened movement will dilute these odours of oil blocks & creel tools & stains with sharp air, as work starts on the new skin on frame. The flask will steam on a log seated break, cut with salt air & the Black Pearl will slowly find form, based on Björns excellent design - This year autumn & I will create another black knife of natural elements, working side by side, into the snows & dark evenings.
The Black Pearl is based on the East Greenland qajaqs from the late 20th century - narrower, lower, with more overhang & a straighter sheers, less deadrise & more flare than western types. The Greenlandic designs are overall faster, particularly against the wind, & better storm maneuvered than anything else on the water. With less initial stability they are demanding craft at first. In Eastern Greenland seal were hunted from the qajaq until a couple of decades ago & those traditions in todays design of qajaq that made them a design of ancestory, remain unbroken.
Björns take on this tradition with the Black Pearl, has resulted in a qajaq that is neither stable nor unstable, not directionally stable nor maneuverable, not fast nor slow - but a qajaq subtly following the padders intentions. Like a good collie, it doesn't presume to read ahead of your wishes, with it's own plan. There is no qajaq feel between the paddler & the sea, no built in safety margin that saves the erring paddler & little mass to compromise fast maneuvering - it's a very reliable responsive qajaq.
The Black Pearl is loooong, & following Greenlandic tradition, 3 times the height of the paddler. The waterline length is relatively short with sloping stems resulting in good maneuverablilty at low speed & good directional stability at higher speeds. The narrow waterline also means it's an excellent tippy qajaq, always a good sign to my mind, the total beam being hip width plus 4 fingers for a rolling qajaq or 8 fingers for at touring qajaq: approx 46-52 cm. Björns own Black Pearl is 555 cm x 48 cm & 22 cm highon the initial fore-deck. Björn is 185 cm tall, 80 kg & size 43 feet. Isn't that a Hobbit spec? Initial stability is therefore low & a novice or someone used to wide commercial kayaks will have a good few nervous & intimidating first trips, but stay with it & with an excellent secondary, it's easy to get used to the responsive movement. In wild surf or large swell a paddler who invests his confidence in the Pearl, will get a pleasant surprise, high seas often having less of an effect on initially tippy kayaks, than initially stable ones aye. When cross surfing, the Black Pearl settles in its own wave system quickly & becomes confidently stable & easy to handle. The almost flat bottom -5° deadrise-, the hard chines & the short waterline length means that the qajaq is a dream to turn, on a penny in fact, & reacts instantly to severe edging & weight shift. The low deck will take some getting used to for the un-intitiated, but after a while there are some excellent benefits. Most immediately obvious is the comfort of not needing to cram padding against the knees, hips & back etc. Working with the knees as a additional power source for strokes or fluid rolling momentum gives further enlightenment & testament to his blueprint.
The aft deck is very low & flat helping to fascilitate a wide range of layback rolls without interference. You will need to be a reasonably highly experienced paddler & interested in developing skills in rolling, qajaq acrobatics, day touring etc to get 100% out of this qajaq.
That said, a novice with ambition, patience & perseverence might be able to use the Black Pearl confidently enough under guidance, as an introductory crash course to advanced paddling. I will use the newly completed s.o.f qajaq as an integral tool for teaching traditional styles in 2008 & beyond. It's a form everyone should experience. Some convert & never look back. Soooo, when it rolls out of the shed in spring, we'll take a dawn stroll down through the test loch, sliding up on Ben Tianavaigs shadows, edging righthand into the rip & tracing down through the Narrows for a sharp u-turn inside a shroud of frozen early haar. At that point, it may well be the only skin on frame kayak with Greenland heritage in service on Skye. Maybe even the Hebrides. Hell I might just nip out Kyle way for breakfast & pirate some of those tourists with the gulls as back-up... Will that make me Cap'n Jack Sparrow? Yo ho ho...
Labels: Anas Acuta, Black Pearl, Hebrides, Qajaq