J.B.K & Paddlesports Co - BLOG

Getting More Type 1 Fun Out of Your Kayak

JBK Team - Thursday, March 23, 2017

Type 1 fun is the utter joy we get from some activities that are just fun in the moment. It feels effortless and we just don’t want it to end. People that ski on a powdery day know what this is all about, as do surfers etc. etc. If in doubt, have a look at kids playing with a hose on a hot summer’s afternoon. Sometimes I think we, as sea kayakers, get a little stuck in the mud in our boats and lean too far to Type 2 fun. We all know about this – it’s the fun that we only realise after we finish the activity. Anyone ever paddling for hours into a headwind or slugging it out on a long flat water paddle will know all about this!!!! Sure it’s character building when we look back at the experience, but I reckon we could all get a lot more out of our paddling if we mixed it up a little – keep it fresh, learn new skills and just have some more fun. So if you are getting a little stale with the same weekly paddle, read on….

Hit Some Small Surf
I know, this can be really intimidating and can sometimes drift into type 3 fun…….that is no fun at all. But if you pick the conditions and the place, small surf can be as good as it gets. I’ve had the best times of my paddling life in small 1-2 foot clean surf with my sea kayak. Once you get used to it and build up some skills, there is a realisation that small surf is really safe and you move from being a bit scared to loving every minute. In a sea kayak you can ride the waves all the way to the beach over and over again. If it's really tiny, you can try surfing backwards or sideways. The skills that this develops are second to none. Edging, bracing, rudder strokes, balance in turbulent water, I can go on and on. It’s the best all round training ground you can find.


 Surfing on the North Island New Zealand

Find Some Structure
Ok, this may just be me…. and I am a paddling tragic….but I love finding a bit of an obstacle course to play with. Moored boats, marker buoys, jetties, rock gardens, floating debris - all of these features can be played with. If you see an opportunity to cut through a little rock garden and make a tight turn to get out the other side – have a go…. then do it backwards. Experiment combining different strokes such as bow rudders and draws with some edging to see just how maneuverable a sea kayak can be – and these skills translate beautifully into real world conditions – such as trying to turn into the wind. If I see a buoy bobbing around, I am going to see if I can use a side draw to slip into it, then have a go at doing a really tight turns around it, maybe a high brace combined with a draw stroke. If I am paddling past some closely moored boats, well I could simply paddle past them……..boring!! Or I can turn this into a slalom course and go from edge to edge to snake around them as tightly as possible. Many times I’ve enjoyed a fantastic hour’s paddle early in the morning and have not made it more than a few hundred metres from the launch site. There is just so much fun to be had running some obstacles forwards, backwards, sideways…..

 
Playing around the rocks, Jervis Bay

Follow the Runners Downwind


This again is one of my favorite pastimes. It can take place in a range of situations. From small windblown chop in moderate conditions to full on epic paddles with cresting long period ground swell in a near gale. Catching runners takes a bit of skill. It can be frustrating at first and it helps to have a fast kayak. But once you are on and careening down a little face, ploughing into the wave in front with sea spray flying everywhere and the world whizzing past, it can be highly addictive. The skills sneaking up on you here are fantastic. Not only balance and control, and great paddling fitness, but a fantastic sense of the environment and feel for the sea. You learn to read the sea state and weather conditions and become really tuned to find the best path to the next runner.

 

Embrace the Rebound
Paddling near cliffs and dealing with the dynamic sea state in this area can be something many paddlers avoid……..but I love it. The sea state is all over the place and if you fight it, you creep into Type 3 fun territory again. But if you relax and just go with the flow, it can be great fun. Catching little surges, bobbing around and responding to multi directional sea state can be really rewarding and fun and usually accompanies some dramatic landscapes. It teaches paddlers to relax in dynamic water and really helps when paddling in rough conditions.


Mucking around in the rebound - Beecroft Peninsula, Jervis Bay

There we have it – a few ideas to break things up a little, have some fun and gain new skills. Try out some of the ideas above and I guarantee that you will broaden your paddling horizons, discover new skills (and muscles) surge in confidence and find some more fun in your paddling.

Perception Pilot - its here!! - First Impressions

JBK Team - Sunday, February 05, 2017

The world of hands free fishing kayaks has a new player in town.  US powerhouse, Confluence Outdoor, have been busy working away on three propeller based models.  The first of these, under the Perception brand, has just arrived in Australia and we have taken our demo boat for a quick spin in the waters of St George’s Basin to check it out.

 

Let’s get straight to the all important pedal drive….it’s a prop based system which means easy backward and forwards propulsion.  It’s attached to a solid metal housing via two pins.  To stow away, it neatly swivels into the pedal scupper and is locked into place.  The main advantage of this system is that it stays quite low on the deck so the kayak can be easily paddled and fished on in shallow water or over weed beds with the pedal drive stowed away and not getting in the way on the deck. If it gets fouled up with weeds etc, it is a bit fiddly to get to the prop as it does not swivel onto the deck without taking it completely out of its housing. With a bit of practice, I quickly got the hang of the mechanism and it was easy to work with.  Cruising speed can be easily maintained at 6 km/hr and I got it to 7 without too much lung power. It feels pretty smooth and easy to pedal.

 

There was a bit of wind around and the boat and drive handled chop and upwind paddling without much fuss.  The rudder system is a straight forward traditional trailing rudder which can be flicked up and stowed onto the deck while sitting on the kayak. 

The seat is comfy and easily adjusted for leg length and back support. The seating position is quite high which allows for easy pedaling and fishing while seated.  The kayak has 238kg of capacity and I found standing up on it quite easy.  Even in a fair bit of wind, I was comfortable standing and casting. 

The storage and outfitting are major draw cards of the Pilot.  You really get a fair bit for your money here. There is a convenient paddle park to stow your paddle while using the the foot drive. Universal track mounts are included for mounting of extra rod holders, fish finders and other accessories. Storage includes large stern and bow wells – the bow has stretch netting over it, very simple but practical. The two front consoles and universal transducer bracket are well thought out and allow for easy fitting of a fish finder system.  The other console doubles as glove box storage for bits and pieces (phones etc) or fishing tackle.  Four molded rod holders are a nice touch – while they are quite wide and not as neat as some flush mounted systems, they do the job and come standard as part of the kayak package.

 

 

In conclusion………..you get a lot for your money here.  AT $2,599 this represents outstanding value when we take into account the US manufactured hull, quality of components and outfitting of this kayak.  While still quite new on the market as a pedal model, Perception is a quality brand that has been around for a long long time, and they don’t make poor quality gear.   This is an all round package that has all the key features.  It comes across as well made and thought out.  The drive system is smooth on the water and is easy to mount.  This is a game changer at this price point and will give the established players a run for their money.  We will continue to play with the Pilot and hopefully it can help bring in a few flatties!!

 

An Introduction to Stellar Recreational Skis

JBK Team - Friday, November 11, 2016

We are really excited here at JBK to introduce the Stellar range of recreational skiis to our store.   The folks at Stellar have been in the market since 2009 and have a range of elite skis, recreational skis, touring sea kayaks and K1 kayaks in their stable.  Build quality is excellent and they have some really innovative products.

We think that their recreational skis are a unique offering in the market.  I have been trialling the shortest of these, the S14, over the past few weeks (it’s a hard job but someone has to take the hit!!!).

Check out the review below and the video of me having a good old fashioned muck around on our demo boat.

The Stellar 14s

Firstly, what is it….well the S14 is an entry level recreational touring ski for paddlers looking for a versatile, light, and stable craft that can accommodate anything from a fitness paddle to a long day out on the water or even a lightly packed overnighter.  The real beauty of the Stellar Rec Skis are their versatility.  They would suit a large range of paddlers looking for different experiences.  For beginners this offers a very stable ride with performance well above traditional plastic sit on top kayaks and without the complication of the cockpit of a sea kayak.  For more experienced paddlers, the S14 is a perfect entry level ski with a decent cruising speed and capability to handle a range of conditions.  

Primary stability is a real asset, provided by the generous beam (~63cm) and deep bucket - check out the video for a few of my tried and true stability tests…here is a sneak preview....

 

 I would have not qualms about recommending this for a novice paddler  looking for a step  up in performance from  a traditional plastic sit on top (and the step up in performance is huge) without sacrificing the ease of use and safety that a sit on top kayak offers.  Most paddlers can just jump in and take off in the S14 which is certainly not the case on a lot of skis out there. Self rescue is easily managed and it’s not far off a plastic sit on top in terms of ease of re-entry.  A little practice will make it straight forward.

The S14 cruises really well – easily sitting on 7.5 – 8.0km / hr.  With a trailing rudder making it really manoeuvrable and easily paddled in windy conditions. Two hatches provide a good amount of storage with proper rubber hatch covers giving a waterproof seal, opening up the ski to longer paddles as a day cruiser. 

Can it be used as a fitness craft ? Yep.  I got it to a top speed of 10.2km/hr.  It felt like that was pushing the limit of the hull length, but for a highly stable short ski, this is a testament to the hull design.  Given its light weight  (depending on the model chosen  this is anything from 12.5kg to 17.5kgs) the S14 accelerates well with a nicely tapered hull and clean cut-aways on the foredeck allowing for a cadence that will turn up the heart beat to exercise levels.

The construction quality is excellent.  The composite lay-up looks very clean and well finished and the outfitting is first class with a carbon footplate, trailing rudder, lots of handles, heavy duty hatch covers and deck bungee.  There are 4 choices in lay-up which vary in weight from 12.5kg to 17.5kg.  I have the Advantage version which is a heat cured infused epoxy Fiberglass – weighing in at 15.5kg.

Off the water management of the S14 is a delight.  With the recessed deck and handles in the sides, back and front, there are plenty of places to grab.  At under 16kgs, it’s easily manoeuvred into place on the car.  The trailing rudder that comes standard can be locked into the “up” position via a deck cleat which means that the ski can be put straight on top of the grass   - not the case with traditional skis which often have a permanent inset rudder which is highly exposed when moving them around off the water.  This also makes it a lot more versatile and able to handle shallow water, beach landings etc.

Performance on the water - it paddles like a longer and narrower ski.  The hull design is really efficient with a gradual displacement, minimal rocker and a nice sharp keel line at the stern and bow.  This means that the S14 glides along with little effort at a comfortable speed.  It also has plenty of secondary stability with a soft chine and a large sweet spot – with the rudder drawn up, I was able to easily lean on the “edges” and spin the ski around. You really have to work hard to push it past the point of no return…which I did for scientific experimental purposes!!

 

Comfort – the footplate has plenty of adjustment on it and can accommodate paddlers from 1.5m to 2.0m in height and up to 145kg. The bucket is nice and deep and there is plenty of room to move around even for bigger paddlers.  I would add a foam pad for longer trips.  Like with all skis, they do require a certain amount of core stability as they do not offer a high backrest.  However the shape of the bucket is deep enough to allow paddlers to lean back and get some support if needed.

The footplate adjustment can be a little fiddly to lock but slides along well and is rock solid when locked.  In the scheme of things, a bit of fidgeting with the locking mechanism is a very minor gripe.



 

 Summary

The S14 opens up a new world of ski paddling and is a real surprise packet.  It has all the features of a go anywhere craft and is just a really fun craft to paddle.  User friendly, easy and stable, it can go at a good clip, cope with surf and wind and double as a day tourer.  A great beginner’s ski or a tourer that can easily accommodate some decent distance. 

The length of the s14 makes it really easy to manoeuvre on the water, but also to get on and off the car and store at home.  At sub 16kg for the Advantage lay-up, it is easier to deal with off the water than basic sit on tops, but on the water, it’s in a different class. 

A great choice for first time ski paddlers, those looking at stepping up from a basic sit on top or preferring a sit on top tourer to a sit-in touring kayak. 

There are 3 recreational skis available from Stellar.  For those looking for a slightly longer and faster version, there are 16 and 18 foot cousins.  Check out the comparison chart below for more information.

Testing the Stellar- S14 Recreational Ski from Jervis Bay Kayaks on Vimeo.

 

 

 

S14

S16

S18

length

4.4m

4.9m

5.5

Width

63cm

58m

53cm

Depth

34cm

35cm

36cm

Weight

12.5-18kg

12.5-18kg

12.5-18kg

New Zealand, Bay of Islands Paddling Wrap Up

JBK Team - Friday, April 01, 2016
What an amazing couple of weeks spent Sea kayaking in New Zealand’s north east.   It was a real pleasure joining Mark Hutson on his 10 day Bay of Islands Outer Coast trip.  Mark has been running NZ Sea Kayaking Adventures out of Paihia for over 25 years and I was really pleased to be invited to come along and join his longest trip of the year.
This is a spectacular area to paddle, with something on offer for everyone.  We started at Mimiwhangata Bay, south of the Bay of Islands, at an amazing campsite.  Based here for the first three days we spent our time kayak surfing crisp clean waves on deserted beaches, exploring the infinite array of rock gardens in the area and touring around the small islands and bays.  

 

Amongst the day paddles we also took the opportunity for some group training to get ready for the open coastline ahead.  This included finding a few steep dumping beaches to practice landing and launching procedures (and a bit of pride bruising at times) as well as rescue drills and stroke technique.  This was a great first three days and we were looking forward to continuing the adventure as we headed up the coast.
Over the coming days the group was treated to a very special place, and without doubt a world class paddling destination.  We had some pretty experienced paddlers in the group that had paddled in many areas around the globe, but the collective jaw just kept dropping.  The coastline is a mixture of rolling green hills and thick forests leading to a labyrinth of jagged rocky outcrops and mazes, mini islands, protected coves and beaches and towering cliff lines and sea caves.   At times it felt like we were on the set of Jurassic Park.

 

I do go on about the rock gardens here, but they are amazing to paddle and I am a certified addict. The sheer abundance of these rock formations over many kilometres of coast is not something I have ever experienced.   Around every corner there is a new part of the maze to explore.  For those of us looking for some more adrenalin, there is plenty to offer as the swell rolls and breaks into and over the rock formations, through chutes and cracks that create mini canyon like features.  Here there is a mixture of sea kayaking and white water paddling skills and requires careful lines, good judgement and a lot of observation and patience – ohh and sometimes a bit of bravado. The good news is that, unlike white-water, these more advanced obstacles can easily be avoided by those not wishing to push as hard, so the whole group can remain within their own experience level while moving up the coast together.

 

 

The days rolled on and we visited some amazing campsites.  Some were completely wild shingle beaches.  While maybe not as comfy, I loved these campsites most of all.  Truly remote and unspoilt with no access apart from the water.  We felt a million miles away.  The nightly feast, accompanied by solid doses of wine, great comradery and a chat about the day’s paddle was a real highlight of the trip.  As was waking up each morning with a million dollar waterfront view!!!


 

Eventually came the crux of the trip – the rounding of Cape Brett. This is a significant cape and the most exposed area of the trip with few escape opportunities through the day. This is when Mother Nature finally had her way with us.  After days of incredible warm sunny weather and light winds, we faced a tougher challenge with a strengthening offshore wind buffeting the group.  With a fair bit of rebound off the cliffs, we rounded the cape and hid inside a narrow passage (about 3 meters wide) that cuts through the landmass.  No landing spots here, but some muesli bars and a swim to stretch everyone’s legs were available while the kayaks were rafted up together.  After the requisite re-entries, we were off again to a lunch spot an hour away.  Greeted by a steep, narrow, shingle beach, landing required some discipline but all went well and we were joined by a curious Pied Shag that came in for a rest amongst our kayaks.  Launching provided some excellent comedy after lunch as a number of the group attempted seal launches down the steep beach, with mixed results.  After another few hours of bumpy paddling as the weather built, we were finally spat into the Bay of Islands itself,  where a sheltered shingle beach awaited the group.  We were tired but very happy to have rounded the cape and successfully dealt with a bit of weather.   Now in the last few days of the trip we enjoyed the waters of the Bay of Islands as the weather subsided and made for easy paddling.  The rock gardens were still there, as were a myriad of islands to explore and gawk at.  Civilisation now beckoned with more motor boats and camp site neighbours.  After a fantastic final day, we paddled into Paihia with a light tail wind pushing us to the finish where we “de camped”.

After a great roast dinner with the group, I was home by the next evening.  It felt like I had been magically teleported from a remote wilderness to the real world (perhaps it was the wine talking).

Thanks again to Mark and Connor at New Zealand Sea Kayaking Adventures, and the entire paddling group for making this such a great trip.  It’s been my second time paddling this part of New Zealand, and I will definitely be back.  The paddling is world class, the landscape is amazing and the water is clear and warm.  In short, paddling paradise!!

Which Fishing Kayak is Best for You.....

JBK Team - Friday, February 05, 2016

Which fishing kayak is best for me…..   

Over the summer I’ve managed to go out and do some fishing and have been lucky enough to have access to some fantastic demo kayaks. It’s got me thinking about the different types of fishing kayaks out there and the benefits and limitations of different types of designs.  Not necessarily about individual brands, features or technical statistics but more about the different styles.  Having spent some hours lugging kayaks on and off the car, dragging them through forest tracks, over beaches, boat ramps, up and down hills and then paddling them through everything from surf and open ocean swells to sand flats and weed beds, I have experienced just about every environment that a fisho can expect.  I have put together some thoughts to help wade through the myriad of options out there - and don’t forget that it’s not always the most fancy and expensive boat that is going to be best for you – in fact having too many features, with the additional weight and size can actually be an impediment for some anglers.

Firstly some questions to ask yourself right at the beginning:

  1. Where am I paddling (and what species am I chasing)  - am I sticking to estuaries and protected bays or am I going to face wind and swell.  Will I be paddling over weed beds and sand flats or just in deeper blue water?
  2. How far am I going to paddle?
  3. Will I be using the kayak just for fishing or general paddling as well?
  4. I am a serious gadget addict – will I be installing fish finders and GoPro mounts?
  5. How long will I be sitting in the kayak and do I have any issues with my back, hips, hamstring’s etc.?
  6. How much gear am I carrying with me?
  7. How far do I need to move the kayak to get on the water – will I have any issues with loading it on the car?

With that in mind, we can consider some various kayak styles:

The light weight minimalist recreational cross over

Sometimes overlooked - this type of kayak can be a great option. Typically these are recreational sit on top kayaks with a few fishing features such as rod holders, cleats or anchor trolleys. The great benefit to these kayaks is that they are light weight, easy to paddle, highly manoeuvrable and great value for money.   Some examples are the Feel Free Nomad and Mission Catch 290 or Perception Pescador.  All of these kayaks are great as general recreational sit on tops for those just wanting to cruise around – but can easily accommodate some serious fishing within calm waters. We have seen customers with basic sit on top kayaks consistently land monster fish. I have fished with the Nomad quite a bit of late, mainly in St George’s Basin and some nooks within Jervis Bay.  The great advantage of these types of kayaks is just their ease of use.  It takes me 3 minutes to throw it on the Prado (or inside which it fits easily). When I’m by the water’s edge, it’s light and easy to drag through some scrub or narrow paths to get launched. In awkward spots such as steep banks or over rocks they can be easily picked up and moved around.  When on the water I have a simple set up – two rods and a bucket with essential kit. Easy to paddle and very manoeuvrable, I use it to drift over weed beds or drop offs and work plastics or weighted hard bodies looking for flatties on the bottom.  It’s nimble and light enough for me to turn it around with the paddle in one hand while holding the rod in the other.

 

The key disadvantages of these kayaks are storage space is fairly minimal (both for carrying gear and for dealing with fish and setting up rods etc. while on the water). They tend to be shorter so do not cover distance all that quickly or paddle as easily up wind (a key considerations if fishing is some distance from the launch site) and they have a very basic deck set up – this means a basic seat, a single small hatch and an absence of accessory attachment areas,– albeit these can be bought as aftermarket parts and installed separately at home.

The Fishing All Rounder

These tend to be more substantial kayaks, designed for covering longer distances and include some more developed features that are specifically designed for fishing. Here you will find better quality seats, larger storage areas and more nooks to put away gear. You will also find a more advanced deck area with slide track systems to easily attach electronic gear, additional rod holders, tool boards etc. These kayaks generally range from 12 to 14 feet in hull length – the longer keel lines mean that they paddle faster and cover distance with ease.  Some of the models have rudders or are rudder ready – this provides a substantial advantage in wind and chop. While they are heavier than the basic recreational cross over kayaks, I find their weight still very manageable and they are fine to load and move around the launch site. While a little less manoeuvrable in tight areas, they track very well and deal better with wind, chop and distance.

Wilderness Systems have a few models in this area – The Tarpon Angler comes in 10 and 12 feet lengths and I tend to fish with the 12 without a rudder.  It’s a great all-rounder and it’s still light enough to easily manage off the car. I paddle the Tarpon mainly in estuary systems albeit it also gives me more versatility for more exposed bays.  For those venturing further afield, the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140 is a great option. It provides a much drier ride in chop and swells and is 14 feet long with a rudder as standard.  It can cover long distances easily and has heaps of space.  I’ve tested the Thresher through surf and punching out was a breeze.  From Feel Free kayaks, check out the Moken Angler 12.5. Particularly for the larger paddler, the 190kg carrying capacity is a real asset – as is the in-built wheel in the keel that makes it really easy to move around.

 

These kayaks do tend to require a little more planning and time to manage out of the water and the longer open water versions (such as the Thresher 140) creep into the 34kg mark – but with a little planning and technique they are still a one person job. While a step up in cost from the basic kayaks, they are still great value for the additional features and capability you get, making them very versatile.

The Fishing Machine

Now we venture into the higher end fishing speciality kayaks. Often the hull designs focus on very strong primary stability and a sizeable deck area. This allows the paddler to stand up and utilise the kayak as a true fishing platform. These kayaks tend to have high volume hulls that provide this stability and offer accessories such as stand up bars, hi-low seat designs and plenty of room on the deck to stand and change positions.  For hands free fishing you can venture into a foot propulsion system.   Some examples of these kayaks are the Lure from Feelfree, ATAK from Wilderness Systems and Slayer Propel from Native Watercraft.  The Lure particularly offers great value and comes in 10, 11.5 and 13.5 (feet) sizes with the two larger models standard with a rudder.  I’ve fished the 11.5.  The seat is excellent and easily ratchets up and down.  The stability is rock solid and easy to stand up in.  I’ve also spent some time in the  ATAK – for a high volume kayak it certainly covers distance well and is easy to paddle even in strong chop, this is due to its long waterline length (14 feet).  It also feels very  stable and I didn’t have any issues in standing up and casting (apart from not catching much!!).

  

The Slayer Propel is the next step – it comes in 10 and 13 feet versions and the greatest advantage of the foot drive offered by Native Watercraft is that it allows both forward and backward pedalling.  This is a great asset in a bit of wind (and there is ALWAYS a bit of wind around!!) particularly when drifting over drop offs or attacking structure.  I find the Slayer really efficient on the water and transition from forward to backward movement is smooth.

The high end fishing speciality kayaks tend to require some more management off the water.  This means a bit more time investment in loading and launching. The heaviest and largest of these are well into the 40kg range.  The outfitting is high end and the hulls (in the good brands) are very robust.  The foot pedal kayaks tend to be on the heavier end of the spectrum, although Native Watercraft market the Slayer 10 Propel as the lightest foot pedalled kayak around which might be a good option for those searching for a smaller foot driven solution.

If fly or lure fishing from a standing position is a key attribute or for those that are looking for very high stability, then these kayaks are fantastic.  They can easily accommodate long days on the water with extremely comfortable seats, are easy to get in and out of and can even accommodate overnight trips with minimalist gear and judicious packing. The points to consider are the extra weight and time needed to launch and transport the kayaks. They are also not as nimble on the water as lighter kayaks, albeit rudders provide a lot of assistance in this area.

Hopefully the above provides some food for thought for those considering getting into fishing kayaks. It’s really important to match the key areas of usage with the right type of kayak before plunging into the detail. There are lot of different choices out there, but focusing on the high level requirements is the best way to start.  Beyond that, my best advice is to look for well-established quality brands which stand behind their products and can demonstrate some history and longevity.  You really get what you pay for. It’s really important to look for virgin polyethylene plastic hulls which offer a high degree of impact resistance.  Usually you can tell that the hulls have a reasonable degree of plastic thickness as well as some flexibly which provides shock absorption.  Recycled plastic feels rigid and these hulls are likely to be thin. Outfitting should be of good quality as cheap straps and buckles are likely to perish very quickly. Make sure you sit in it and see if it’s actually comfortable or if your back starts to hurt in the first 30 seconds.  Lastly, take a look at the hull design – does it have a keel line and channels running along its length and a nice curve in the hull which transitions from the v to the chines? If the hull is really flat with a shallow v, it might be great for storage on a pallet, but not so great for paddling (apart from going in circles).

The team at JBK is ways happy to have a chat so give us a call with any questions – or information about top notch flattie spots!!

Epic V7 - First Impressions

JBK Team - Friday, October 16, 2015

 

The new entrant into the ski market hit the stores earlier this year with Epic releasing their new roto moulded V7.  Epic have positioned this as a more durable and significantly cheaper version of the hugely popular V8 entry level ski and believe that its performance and durability make it a game changer in the entry ski market.

We have added a demo of the V7 to the JBK fleet and have been putting it through its paces this week. 

The finish and outfitting

I think for a roto moulded plastic construction, the ski presents really well.  The finish is never going to live up to a composite boat but given the V7 is around $1,200 cheaper than its composite cousin, I think any paddler would be pleased with the finish and hull quality for this price point. Epic have also included the full suite of light weight features in the package usually available for their composite skis. These include carbon rudder and side handles, pedals and foot plate – heavy duty handles at stern and bow, adjustable bailer and bungee cord for storage.

This is the first ski in the Epic stable with a hatch.  Included is a light weight hatch cover with draw string mechanism.  I know that there have been some questions about the hatch cover and its ability to withstand surf, albeit on my test paddle this was not an issue. 

I spent a bit of time in the surf where I got swamped and also did a heap of self-rescues where the ski was upside down on the water.  At the end of the session there was not a drop of water inside – I think the key is to tighten the draw string as much as possible and ensure the jam cleat is firm.  If I was going in bigger surf I would definitely put some flotation bags inside the mould to prevent the hatch cover blowing off and to add buoyancy in case it did.

It would be good if there was a tie down point within the hatch to stop dry bags from sliding around.  That aside, the ski becomes a more diverse cruising craft with the ability to take a bit of gear for a full day touring paddle.  This adds an extra element to traditional ski paddling, so in all I think it’s a good inclusion.

For $240 there is an option for a stern mounted flip up rudder which would make beach landings and the general handling of the ski out of the water a lot easier.  So this is another nice option for the paddler who is looking for an all-round cruiser.

The hull is fairly stiff for a roto moulded plastic boat and Epic believe that it is extremely durable and can handle surf, beach landings and being dragged around as plastic boats tend to be (watch out for the rudder though, as its still carbon so does not like to be dragged around in the slightest).

       

Handling off the Water

The V7 is around 22kgs. While its 5kg heavier than the V8, the convenient side handles and relatively short length make it quite manageable out of the water and I was able to load it on the Prado straight off my shoulder (with a bit of grunt and occasional swearing).  Compared to a 5.2m plastic sea kayak, 22kg is still very light.  However If weight is a key consideration, kick in for a composite ski and enjoy the pleasure of throwing around somewhere between 12.5 and 17.5 kg.

Performance and Handling on the Water

The V7 is based on the V8 composite shape. The deck, bucket and cockpit feel similar. It is around 30cm shorter and 1.5cm narrower. Don’t let the narrower beam fool you though – like the V8, this ski is extremely stable. I was able to hold the edge of the ski to the point where water was flooding the cockpit and even push passed this point before a brace was needed. The primary stability is a little loose at first (which I consider a good thing) but once the ski is leaned a little on the edge, the secondary stability kicks in and is rock solid – it’s actually quite hard to tip it right over.  I was able to easily sit in the bucket with legs over the side and relax without any risk of capsize.  These features make capsize re-entry a breeze.

Given the nice edge control and relatively short length, this ski is very maneuverable.  Compared to the V10 Sport which I often paddle, the maneuverability of a V7 or V8 is in another ball park.  In fact, even without using the rudder at all, employing the sea kayaking technique of leaning it on its edge and paddling forward instantaneously threw the ski into a nice turn.  Despite this, tracking on flat water was strong.  In the surf this tendency to turn on the edge can be a double edged sword but I really enjoyed the ease of managing the ski in the break zone and navigating the (very small) waves present at the Husky spit on this particular morning.

In terms of speed – well I am not a noted speedster however it seemed to hit that easy cruising speed of around 10km/hr without too much trouble and with a bit of extra effort I could nudge 11. It does take a bit of effort to get the ski moving – and this is where the extra weight and less stiff hull construction really come through.  The ski definitely feels heavier in the water.  Once it’s going however, it feels good, can pick up runners well and can be used for fitness paddling just like the composite skis. Comparing this to the longer V8 – while the stability is very similar, the stiffer composite hull and extra length combine to make the composite ski faster on the water compared to the V7.

Final Verdict

I found the ski a really good all round package. For those that are purely focused on speed, acceleration, and weight, then buy a composite ski. However for the paddler that is looking for a tough craft with versatility, a cruise one day and fitness paddle the next – this is a great choice. I would see this fitting in very well with sea kayakers looking to broaden their skill base and to poke a toe into the world of ski paddling.  My personal experience with ski paddling was that it did wonders for my sea kayaking skills – the focus on core strength, balance and forward stroke technique gave me a huge confidence boost in rough water sea kayaking.  On the other hand, novice paddlers just looking at an all-round cruiser or to work on a bit of general fitness would get good use out of the V7, particularly when they can drag it up on the beach and take some lunch out of the hatch. At around $2,000 this hits a good price point. With the safety of a sit on top kayak, the performance features of a full on ocean ski and a price point that is significantly below composite models, I think this is a great addition to the Epic stable and should see more paddlers getting into the sport. 

We have demos of the V7 and the V10 Sport at JBK and are happy to arrange a one on one test paddle all year round. For any paddlers that buy an Epic ski from JBK, we are also offering a 30 minute introductory on water clinic for anyone new to the sport.  

Delta 16 Field Test

JBK Team - Thursday, July 02, 2015

I have been looking for an opportunity to give one of the Delta kayaks a really solid workout in open water conditions and recently snuck away for a two day coastal trip from Ulladulla Harbour to Vincentia in Jervis Bay.  With around 70km of coastline, there were a variety of conditions to play in, including crossing of river bars, steep cliffs generating confused rebounding seas, and some exposed stretches of coast open to the full brunt of prevailing wind and sea conditions.  Two solid days in the cockpit of the Delta 16 allowed a proper test in all of these environments and provided an excuse to spend some quality time exploring this amazing coastline and looking for whales (which were sighted by everyone else in and around Jervis Bay apart from me…not to worry).

Weather conditions were moderate with 1-2m southerly swell against a N to NW sea.  For about 90% of the trip I was paddling into or beam on to N to NW winds – this seems to happen to me every paddle, no matter which direction I go.  This included 2-3 hours of 15- 20 knot winds hitting my beam which tested the boat’s handling…and my patience.  Below is a brief overview of my observations.  We are always happy to chat about our range of sea kayaks so please feel free to get in touch with any questions or to offer any views or observations – we also have a number of Delta boats available for test paddles and are happy to arrange a 1 on 1 demo all year round.

Getting it to the Water

I must say that this is one area where Delta kayaks really excel – the thermoformed plastic construction is light – weighing in at 21kg for a sea kayak at a tick below 5m is excellent.  I move a lot of sea kayaks around and always love handling the Deltas.  I can easily load (or unload) it straight off the shoulder onto my Prado and slide it onto the cradles - and same in reverse.  Compared to rotomolded and standard composite glass boats, the light weight construction is a real asset particularly given the price point of these kayaks.

Packing

With no day hatch on the back deck, packing for two days was straightforward and I had loads of space to spare.  There would have been no problem fitting in extra food and water for a longer outing.  The stern hatch opening can easily accommodate fully loaded 20L dry bags.  I like the configuration of a small day hatch on the font deck and full hatches at the bow and stern.  The absence of a stern day hatch is a big advantage for multi day packing.  The day hatch on the Delta looks small but fits all of the kit needed for the day and it does not get in the way of the paddler’s legs when entering or exiting the cockpit.  There is also sufficient room behind the seat for a paddle float, sponge, bailer and cag.

Hatch Covers

I can talk about hatch covers all day long…….I want them to be easily opened and closed, 100% water tight  and indestructible.  Sounds fairly straight forward.  Through frustration, hurt fingers, and wet sleeping bags we all know that these objectives are often missed.  I used one of the new Delta models with the single skin hatch systems constructed with the plastic body and a rubber seal around the perimeter. While not perfect, I think Delta have had a really decent crack at meeting all my lofty goals.  The hatches are snapped into place with the rubber seal fitting tightly around the coaming. A secondary bungee strap over the top locks them firmly into place for added security – I cannot see a situation, even in surf, where these hatches would pop open.  With the use of a toggle and strap they are far easier to open than the full rubber hatches. Closing them can be a bit frustrating though - with a bit of manipulation required to pop them into place.  The process sometimes takes a minute, and one quick curse word to make it work.  Most importantly, they appear to be very dry.  While I have not tested them in persistent surf – conditions on my trip were far from flat with hour after hour of chop washing over the decks and a bit of surfing over the river bar still producing bone dry gear.  Even a few celebration rolls at the end of the trip did not let any water into any of the hatches.

The only complaint I have is the day hatch is not easily operable on the water as it requires a bit of force to close and cannot be easily done from a sitting position, particularly if conditions are a bit bouncy.  So this ends up only being used during land based rest stops.

Comfort and outfitting

I am a small frame paddler at 170cm tall and around 65kgs.  On day trips I would normally go for a tighter boat like a Delta 15s, however I opted for the larger kayak that would be faster and allow for more gear storage.  Although a bit weary of the size at first, I found the ability to adjust seat position, foot pedals and back band, easily produced a comfortable fit.  The boat has a 150kg capacity so can suit a range of paddlers - I found it very comfortable to cruise in – noting that I had the skeg version and  relied on the use of the boat’s edges for directional control so knee and foot placement were important.   If purchasing the kayak, I would invest in a Delta hip pad kit for a snugger fit that would aid in rough seas, surfing and rolling but I could easily manoeuvre the kayak and roll without the use of these during the trip.

The seat is excellent, comfortable with good ergonomics.  I can be a harsh judge on comfort as persistent hamstring issues have caused me to develop numb feet within 10 minutes in the wrong boat.  Thankfully no issues in the Delta - I did get tight hamstring and hips after some hours but that’s more to do with my lack of long paddling days in the recent past.  The fact that I could jump into the boat and paddle for two solid days with ease is fantastic.

The pedals are easily moved (even while on the water) with the use of a twist lock toggle  system with the plastic materials not prone to corrosion.  Once the toggle is locked off, the pedal a firmly secured and are rock solid.  The moulded thigh braces are all finished off with foam padding making the kayak very comfortable without requiring further modification.  The inside of the hull has a smooth finish as well which is not abrasive on feet and heels during a long day of paddling.

The deck outfitting is good quality with full deck lines and plenty of bungee  for strapping of relevant gear.  The spare paddle stowed securely on the back deck with sufficient room for a paddle float re-entry if required albeit the spare paddle shafts would get in the way a bit.  No specific paddle float straps are fitted but the deck bungees could be utilised for this purpose. There is a tow point installed on the back deck and it looks rock solid. The only missing piece of outfitting are the paddle float straps which can be retrofitted.

 Performance and Speed

I think this boat would suit a range of paddlers from beginners looking to progress their skills to advanced kayakers looking for a lightweight all-rounder.  The hull has a moderate V shape with a well pronounced soft chine.  Primary stability is very strong and would be reassuring to a novice.  In sloppy and confused rebounding seas the Delta was very stable and I bobbed around taking photos of cliff faces without worrying at all about getting caught out – beginners will love this.  However it does not take too much effort to edge the kayak and there is a definite a sweet spot on the edge which allows the boat turn easily and manoeuvre in rough and windy conditions. The hull has a moderate level of rocker that strikes the balance between manoeuvrability and cruising speed.

I paddled the skeg model which has the same hull as on the rudder fitted boats. Despite some fresh winds, I only used the skeg in short bursts and found the boat able to handle the beam winds well without a huge amount of weather cocking.  I did have a period of huge frustration when a freshening beam wind persisted in lee cocking but I soon worked out that it was more of a packing issue with too much weight in the stern.  Once this was rectified, the issue went away and the kayak was really balanced and responded well to edging.  The turning ability isn’t aggressive but in a dependable purposeful way, the paddler can manoeuvre, change course and deal with confused seas and wind.  The small amount of downwind running that presented itself was easy with the skeg down without the stern squirting around – but I have not had the opportunity to test this in big conditions. 

 The Delta is not a speed demon.  However for a sub 5m kayak I think that its cruising speed is pretty respectable.  There is minimum overhang over the stern and bow with the design aiming to maximise waterline length.  Over the course of the two days, I averaged around 6.5kms / hr.  This included frequent stops for photos and generally meandering around and looking at the scenery.  Also 90% of the paddling was into the wind so I think it’s a respectable outcome for the boat.  Towards the end of day 2 when the wind dropped (finally) and the waters of Jervis Bay flattened out, the last 5 kms I cruised  in a range of 7.5 to 8.5kms per hour (the taste of a cold beer may have contributed to this) hitting 9km/hr with a bit of effort.  So for a day trip in an empty boat, I think maintaining a pace of 7-8kms / hr for an intermediate paddler is easily attainable.

Rollability

Well….after a 40km day, tired and a bit cold I was able to easily pull off a couple of rolls on both sides….that says it all – no issues there. The deck height is moderate in the Deltas, certainly allows for plenty of body rotation and the roll feels smooth without requiring too much effort.

Verdict

My overall impression is that this boat is full of pleasant surprises.  It’s an excellent all-rounder wrapped up in a light weight construction making it an accessible craft for a range of paddlers.  Novices will find the comfort and stability very reassuring while experienced paddlers will be able to push it a fair bit.  I think it’s a fantastic option for paddlers wishing to develop their skills and start exploring the use of edge control and boat handling skills.  The designers have struck the balance between often competing objectives of stability, manoeuvrability, speed and comfort have delivered a kayak that can accommodate a very comfortable day paddle in rivers and bays as well as deal easily with open water conditions and multi day trips across a range of conditions and respond to the full range of skills. 

Delta kayaks are made in Canada and the workmanship and outfitting is first class.  North American boats tend to be very comfortable and outfitting is a big focus. Overall a great package, particularly given the light weight construction and highly competitive price point.    

We hope this is helpful, feel free to get in touch with the team at JBK to give one of these kayaks a test run.

Technical Details

Length:            4.9m
Width:              56cm
Depth:             31cm
Cockpit:           81cm x 43xm
Weight:            21kg
Capacity:         150kg

Can Your Fishing Kayak Do This - Load in < 1 minute?

JBK Team - Friday, June 12, 2015

One of the key issues many paddlers face is getting their favourite paddling craft from their garage to the water. And, in the world of fishing kayaks, this is no exception. Fishing kayaks are usually well fitted out with comfortable seats and numerous accessories which all add weight and can make them difficult to manage on and off the car. And, as we all know, if we can’t easily manage our kayak out of the water, then we will never paddle!

However, this process can be made easy with the right boat and a little technique. In the video attached, we show how easily a 12 foot fishing kayak, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, can be loaded on and off a car in under 1 minute, by one person – even if the car is tall (and the person is not!). The Tarpon is a great fishing kayak, it is at home in every environment, from shallow flats to open water swell and surf. It is fitted out with loads of storage, an exceptionally comfortable seat and can be set up to accommodate any fishing scenario – and all of this at well under 30kg, making loading and unloading straight forward. 

Fishing Kayak Car Loading from Jervis Bay Kayaks on Vimeo.

Apart from the right craft, some key hints that might help in this process are:

  • Set up the kayak next to the car first, take off all your gear, rod holders, paddles, etc. before loading.
  • Ensure all drainage plugs are open and all the water is drained out.
  • Strap down any loose straps, hatches and seats before loading.
  • Ensure cradles are set at the right width
  • Always deal with one end of the kayak at a time and don’t try and load the boat in one hit – this is crucial. Avoid bending and putting excessive pressure on your back. Use leg and arm muscles and utilise the vehicle to support the kayak.
  • Protect your car by using towels or mats where the kayak may slide or rest during the process.
  • Use some of the great loading aids available.  In the video, we utilised Thule Hydroglide cradles and a Thule loading mat for the back load and a Rack N Roll removable bar for the side load.
  • Practice the process a bit before heading out to find out what works best for you and your boat.

Still having issues?  Come and see the team at JBK and we can help.  Enjoy the video.

 

JBK Fishing Kayak Demo Day

JBK Team - Thursday, May 28, 2015

We had a fantastic day last Saturday, hosting the Inaugural JBK Fishing Kayak Demo Day.  After a bit of bad weather leading into the weekend,  Saturday turned into a beautiful, clear day and it was a pleasure to spend the time on the beach chatting to paddlers and fishos and seeing such a great range of specialist fishing kayaks being tried out. There were some favourites out there, particularly the new Wilderness Systems Thresher which is an open water fishing beast that can handle any conditions - a true hard core go anywhere fishing craft.

It was great to see paddlers standing up on the more stable kayaks and giving them a really good workout.  Once again the range of Wilderness Systems Tarpon and Pescador were very popular given their light weight designs, ease of paddling and ability to handle anything from very shallow water to swell, wind and chop. The fit out of these boats is fantastic and provides everything necessary for the discerning angler.

It was also great to see a wide age range of paddlers and it shows how vibrant the sport of kayak fishing has become.

With the help and support of Wilderness Systems, JBK was able to offer some great deals and we are happy to keep these going for the next week so come in and see us soon if you are interested in fishing kayaks.

Thanks to everyone for their participation, and once again to Wilderness Systems for their support.  Also congratulations to Jai who won the Fishing Accessory prize pack full of rod holders and other goodies , we are sure that these will be put to good use very soon.

Enjoy the pictures and we look forward to seeing more fishos come into the store and see what else is available in the wide world of fishing kayaks and accessories. We’re also always happy to see a pic of The Biggest Catch – so feel free to send them in to us!

 

  

 

 

Rough and Tumble in the Surf...........

JBK Team - Wednesday, May 06, 2015
The recent persistent East coast lows have provided some fantastic dynamic sea conditions in and around Huskisson for some rough water fun in my trusty whitewater play-boat. On a recent dark and wet afternoon, with rain pelting down and the swell breaking against the outgoing tide of Currambene Creek, the surf break was messy and the ripping tide created standing waves and fast running channels. While not for the purist surfers, I have always found confused surf conditions like these excellent cross training for a range of crucial sea kayaking skills – and as you will see from the clip, its plain out and out FUN (and yes these squeals of delight you hear are real).

Surfing the spit in Huskisson from Jervis Bay Kayaks on Vimeo.

It’s often been said that a kayaker doesn't have a roll until they can roll in the surf – I think the same can be said for those crucial edging and bracing skills as well. For the intermediate paddler who has developed a solid level of bracing, rolling and boat control, it can be difficult to hone these skills and take them to the next level in a safe environment. For years now I have ventured into surf to muck around and practice, starting with very gentle conditions at first and gradually building up my skills and confidence while keeping things safe and not getting  beaten up too much (but just enough). I’ve often looked for small and messy multi directional surf breaks which are closer to an open water sea state where swell and wind often move in different directions (and this usually provides some open space with no surfers to run over). I have also divided my surf time between my sea kayak and a smaller play-boat which is more nimble and easy to control. I’ve found that my sea kayaking skills and confidence in rough open water conditions have really benefited from this cross training. Whether it’s a sea kayak, whitewater play-boat or a high performance Mega surf kayak, this provides an excellent option to already experienced paddlers – and can be highly addictive. Remember to think safety first, start slowly and go out and have some FUN.  Enjoy the clip.

Bart