Tuesday, March 22, 2011

June 2010 Evening Paddle with SKABC

On a cool June late afternoon last year I met with some of the kayak club members for a little paddle off Jericho Sailing Centre beach.
As usual I towed my little Safari inflatable behind my bike.

The rig

Everything is unloaded and ready for assembly.

...unroll the Safari

The trick is to inflated the seat and footrest first. 
Then the bottom and finally the side chambers.

Too bad there's any picture of me paddling. 
This one, with one of the guys would have to do.

Here's one of my favourite photos.  An inflatable enjoying some quality time with the big guys.

Another cool picture with Jericho in the background.

We are putting the kayaks in the to have a little fun.  A one-paddle race to a buoy and back.

One-paddle kayaking isn't as easy as it seems. 
Going on a straight line can be a challenge.

Some of the other paddlers are now ready to head back.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My new Feathercraft Java First Paddle

We finally had a half decent weekend without rain, snow, etc...  Time for a long awaited launch.

They promised sunny skies with a high of 8C.  It turned out to be a hazy sun with barely 7 degrees for a high.  Better than snow anyway.
BTW, please don't mind this mini post lack detail and pics... more will follow.

Of course like most folding or inflatable kayaks, it's quite easy to tow the whole thing behind your bike, or at least my bike.  The trailer shown is a Burley Flatbed I purchased from the Bike Doctor in Vancouver.  I usually go to my paddling sites this way... kayak in tow and four panniers.  Of course if there's easy transit access, then I opt to take my kayak on the bus.  But that's another story.
Put-in place is a floating dock belonging to the False Creek Community Centre.  It is actually located very close to the Feathercraft factory.

Set-up was straight forward.  I have been through this a few times in my living room.

...and here she is.  It's still not a 10 minute assembly time like FC claims, more like 30 minutes for now.  With practice, I will be happy to cut it in half to about 15.  In comparison, the Wisper took about 40 minutes with practice and the Safari just about 10 minutes.

Off I go!  Strangely, at first I felt very unstable.  But that's probably because during the winter I lost my kayak legs.  Back in September I test paddled the Java, it actually felt more stable than my Safari.
This somewhat blurry photo doesn't really show I was actually slip-sliding all other the place. Then I realized I forgot to deploy the skeg.  Now I know how the Java paddles without it.

Back to the dock to catch my breath.  I wasn't sure how difficult it would be to lower that skeg.  I heard complaints of this being a problem.  But no, no problem.  A good firm pull on the line and I felt the skeg go down.  Now I'm really ready to go.
The afternoon is well advanced, I will just have time for a short paddle.

Alright, this was a pathetically short ride.  I barely made it to False Creek's entrance on the way out to English Bay.  A total of 3.5km round trip.  A strong current, lack of time and... hunger made me turn back to the start.  It was fun anyway and besides, it was my first paddle of the year!
My first time out was actually a success over all.  I had a taste of how things work and feel.  So far I'm quite happy, the Java is very comfortable and I'm sure I will have lots of fun with it.
Last summer when I test paddled a demo Java I was really impressed by it.  I duplicated dumping and re-entries like I often do with the Safari, for fun.  We all know when we do these practice things for fun is really to avoid future problems when it gets nasty out there.

Back at the dock I noticed how handsome this Java is.  Just like all other Feathercraft products, design is first rate.  I also love the colour.  It was a toss between teal and red.  Colour was probably the hardest decision I had to take.  I kept changing my mind for this-or-that-very-good-reason.  But then at the last moment, just before going into production, I settled on teal.  I like it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Feathercraft Java Sit-on-Top Kayak First Assembly

After long deliberations, I finally decided to order a Feathercraft Java sit-on-top kayak.
Around early February I cycled to FC with my trailer in tow and took delivery of a brand new Java.  It's mainly a single seat kayak configurable as a double to carry the occasional second paddler.  A rudder can be added for double paddling and in following seas conditions where directional stability is often difficult to handle on a kayak, or any boat.

For a few weeks my living room was my paddling playground.  Winter this year proved to be longer and harder than usual.  So I would have to wait for spring.

Java in a bag.  Where it all starts

...out of the bag

Just add air and there it is.  Not as simple as that, however assembly wasn't too bad for the first time.  It took about a half hour.  Hopefully assembly will speed up with practice.  Now it's a two seater, but would normally be a single.

Cool view of the aft paddler seat

Your typical Feathercraft rudder.  Cool and functional.
The rudder isn't generally necessary unless the Java is paddled as a double.  The built-in skeg should be sufficient to guarantee straight tracking in normal flat-ish water conditions.

Storage is secured under these "nets" located towards the bow and stern.  This system will make loading and unloading of bags much easier than with a regular "decked" kayak with hatches.

Last but not least the paddlers "cockpit".  Note those footrests and thigh straps for balance.