Wednesday, 22 June 2011

An unconventional Start to Sea Kayaking

I got into kayaking back in 1980 via an unusual route. As a keen diver, I wanted a way of free diving along the stunning local Purbeck Coast and for my many trip down to Cornwall. At a time when SOT kayaks were unheard of in the UK and having been a boat builder, I fancied making my own SOT composite kayak based on a traditional sea kayak design. I looked around for a sea kayak that would have the basics that I needed before converting it into a SOT. After talks with Valley Kayaks, I decide to get mouldings of their discontinued Selkie Rescue Kayak. The extreme Swede form provided a perfect base for my build.

I elongated the stern, completely redesigned the mid section and aft deck and designed and fitted a sit on pod. I played around the pod position to get the best balance in the boat. What I now had was a fast sit on sea kayak that was light weight, provided enough buoyancy in the stern to carry a fully rigged dive cylinder. I now had the perfect craft for my needs.

This is all very unorthodox (even today) but you can imagine how both the diving and the kayak community viewed it all those years ago. This led to me basically diving and paddling solo in less populated areas to avoid attention. Despite this, I can honestly say that I have had my best dives in this way and managed to paddle virtually the whole Dorset, Devon and Cornish coast over the last 20 years or so. I even managed to paddle over to the Scilly Isles with this craft 14 years ago although not solo this time. I have also circumnavigated the IOW 3 times solo.

I call the this kayak a Selkie as the legend of the half human, half seal fits its use well.

Having now got into traditional sea kayaking and had the opportunity to paddle and compare many of the well know sea kayaks, I am surprised at just how sea worthy and fast my Selkie is. With a lap strap, I can perform all the paddle stokes, braces and even roll.

Which do I prefer? It depends on what I want to do :))

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