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PaddleWise Discussion on Folding Kayaks VS Hardshell

The following discussion occurred on the PaddleWise mailing list. All original comments are presented in their entirety. Some quoting of previous posts copied into subsequent replies are excluded from those replies to improve readability and reduce redundancy. Full archives may be retrieved by PaddleWise members from the PaddleWise digest by sending a message to with the word "index" included in the body of the message. These posts may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission.

A big thanks goes to Reinhold Weber for organizing this PaddleWise Discussion on Folding Kayaks VS Hardshell Kayaks for its inclusion on this web page.

Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 14:31:32 MET-1MST
From: "N.D. VAN LOO"
Subject: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate

Hi everyone,

We have a simple question: Can anyone convince us that buying a 
foldable double instead of a hardshell is a stupid and crazy idea?

Let us explain:
We are new to kayaking and Paddlewise and considering to buy a kayak 
somewhere end of this year. The only experience in kayaking is 
limited to a couple of intructions at a local kayak club.  

When asking around to some " more experienced" kayakers, they all 
told us about their favourite hardshell brands and their moste loved 
types. At an outdoor exibition we saw a presentation of Klepper and 
fell in love immediately. So we started to look around more carefully 
at the internet and  we read a couple of  "standard books" on 
seakayaking  and kayaking in general.

To cut a long story short, our conclusion (for the moment) is:
We want a foldable because its larger safety margin and foldability.
We consider Feathercraft/Klepper/Nautiraid doubles. Among these the 
Klepper expedition (red colour) is the favourite.

This conclusion when presented at the kayak club gave rise to quite 
some resistance. Foldables were "not done". When we asked: "Could 
you give any logical reason why a foldable is a bad idea?" The debate 
focussed on, stability, preformance, vurnerability to rocks, 
maintenance, folding/unfolding time etc. But most of our kayaking 
friends had no experience at all with foldables.

We are curious to learn from people that have experience 
with both foldables and hardshells. Could any of them please tell us 
why we are so wrong?
Anyone of you is also free to explain why buying a foldable is the 
smartest thing to do!

Thanks in Advance,
Diana and Nico-Dirk van Loo
N.D. van Loo, Msc
Dept. Cell Biology
Medical Faculty 
Erasmus University Rotterdam
P.O. 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate N.D. VAN LOO wrote: > We have a simple question: Can anyone convince us that buying a > foldable double instead of a hardshell is a stupid and crazy idea? No. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I paddle both hardshells (I own 3 singles) and a folding double (Folbot) -- probably nowadays about equal time, but used to be almost exclusively hardshell. Ralph Diaz will preside as the priest of folders, so I'll just compare my experience. YMMV Folding doubles are: slower, roomier, more difficult to pack, more stable, require more maintenance, and are generally more costly. My Folbot Greenland II is all of the above except the last, I like hardshells for ease of maintenance, their speed, and their sleekness. I like my folder for its comfort, its HUGE cargo space, and the laid-back feeling of its enormous cockpit. I feel a little nervous when it works its way over swells, as it creaks and bends, but the things are durable. If I broke a frame piece or longeron, I believe a field repair would bne pretty simple. The same is not true for a major hole in a hardshell. Most folks decide to re-engineer the seats in folders. I did that on my Folbot. Folbot supposedly now sells a really good seat. I have, as well, re-engineered the seats on ALL my singles, because they did not fit well. You can not miss -- thery are all boats! -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 From: Scott Ives Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate Diana and Nico, Folders are great boats, I've had four over the past 10 years and currently have an older Klepper. What your friends are trying to tell you is that the Klepper is not a really high performance boat. Think an older prop. plane vs. a jet. Both will get you there, but the trip will be a little choppier and slower in the folder. (I can hear Ralph disagreeing already!). Remember that if you stick with kayaking, you will experience a sharp learning curve. You may find that you desire faster, lighter kayaks soon - and then you will have already invested $5,000 (probably more now) on this boat. I would recommend you try some fast hardshell doubles before buying the Klepper. If you have the $$, it would be great to have one or two fast single hardshells AND the Klepper. Unfortunately most folks don't have such $$. The Klepper is a beautiful, functional boat and you won't go wrong buying it (very easy to resell). But just remember that you might want more speed and manuverability some day soon. Also, two singles allow you to get away from your better half every now and then! - Scott -- Scott Ives - avid father, husband, lawyer, photographer, kayaker, jet skier and Mustang Cobra convertible owner Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate From: Ralph Diaz N.D. VAN LOO wrote: > > Hi everyone, > > We have a simple question: Can anyone convince us that buying a > foldable double instead of a hardshell is a stupid and crazy idea? It _is_ a stupid and crazy idea. Why would you want to buy a folding kayak? It would just put you in a kayak with a long distinguished pedigree of thousands of expedition accomplishments on ever waterway and large body of water from the Arctic to Antarctica and everywhere in between. Who would want to paddle a kayak that is the choice of such dainty, sissy paddlers as special operations forces the world over including those in your native Netherlands? Need I go on? It is a crazy idea, folding kayaks are no good; they are not even kayaks, just, ugh, "boats". Give it up! :-) > When asking around to some " more experienced" kayakers, they all > told us about their favourite hardshell brands and their moste loved > types. At an outdoor exibition we saw a presentation of Klepper and > fell in love immediately. So we started to look around more carefully > at the internet and we read a couple of "standard books" on > seakayaking and kayaking in general. I know, I know. That is just my point. If experienced paddlers say that the hardshells are better you should listen to them. I remember when well before I decided to write a book on folding kayaks, I asked an author of one of those leading seakayaking books why he had said such bad things about folding kayaks. He fumbled for an answer and said that is what "people" say about the boats and it turns out he had never been in one. Folding kayaks are much too stable; that makes them boring in heavy seas and takes away from the enjoyment of having to use all your bracing and rolling skills to survive. They don't perform well except in rough conditions. All those major open water crossing over the last 90 years including the Atlantic were just flukes, meaning exceptions. Yes, they are extremely vulnerable despite being able to be dropped from helicopters fully loaded from 20 feet up and crashed against enemy shores in the blackness of night loaded with a half ton of gear. Maintenance: the instructions say that you should varnish each year; those who never varnish like me, will not get the 70 years of life out of the frames just perhaps 30 years because of our unwise non-maintenance laziness. And that Klepper, it takes all of 10 minutes for two people to make; that is so much longer than putting a hardshell kayak on a roofrack (assuming the rack is always in place), strapping and tying it down, then untying and removing it from the roof at your paddling place. You are much better off in a hardshell that doesn't require assembly at some point. So what if you can't ship the latter anywhere except by special arrangement and at enormous cost or it depreciates 50 per cent in value within the first two years. Folding kayaks go as ordinary baggage everywhere and keep their value far too well; who would want those things. > We are curious to learn from people that have experience > with both foldables and hardshells. Could any of them please tell us > why we are so wrong? You are totally wrong. Afterall it is what people say. :-) :-) :-) ralph diaz p.s. Paddlewise, our Dutch friends who asked the questions know I am doing this tongue-in-cheek. --
Date: Fri, 09 Apr 1999 13:43:48 -0400 From: Leander Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate N.D. VAN LOO wrote: >We want a foldable because its larger safety margin and foldability. >We consider Feathercraft/Klepper/Nautiraid doubles. Among these the >Klepper expedition (red colour) is the favourite. Nice kayaks; we fell in love with folders after paddling them at a symposium a few years ago, and now own Kleppers, despite the initial higher investment in folding kayaks versus hardshells. We have a Klepper expedition double, which my spouse paddles solo, or we paddle double; we had the factory install the extra center seat position. We also own a Klepper 2000, which I paddle; the new two-bag system works great for me. We love the wood frames, canvas deck, sailing potential, and dog-carrying capacity. To my 2000 was added paddle pockets instead of paddle straps, extra D-rings and lifeline like the Quattro has, extra keel-strips to make the hull expedition-quality. I also had Mark Ekhart modify the spray-skirt attachment so that the Velcro would not be glued to my wood coaming; instead, that Velcro portion is on a tuck-under sprayskirt piece, to which the main portion attaches. Mark did a great job on this, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick-remove system without mucking up their coaming. >... when presented at the kayak club gave rise to quite >some resistance. Foldables were "not done". When we asked: "Could >you give any logical reason why a foldable is a bad idea?" The debate >focussed on, stability, preformance, vulnerability to rocks, >maintenance, folding/unfolding time etc. But most of our kayaking >friends had no experience at all with foldables. Their worries are mostly unfounded, as well as worthless since they have never been in a folding kayak; so all they know is hearsay from others with no experience. Not very useful. Our experience in Kleppers and hardshells is that Kleppers are more stable than hardshells, especially in rough water. Both are capable of capsizing, but hardshells are easier to capsize. Yes, Kleppers can be rolled; no, we can't roll them yet (the only sea kayak I can somewhat reliably roll is a Picolo). Both hardshells and folding kayaks require flotation bags; consider the air-filled tubes in folding kayaks as balance enhancers instead of flotation gear and get canoe end-bags to fill the Klepper bow and stern (kayak flotation bags are too small). Kleppers are not slow. The 2000 has phenomenal glide. The double moves well with two paddlers, and moves pretty well with just my spouse paddling(meaning he keeps up with the pack even when he is out of shape)...until we hit rough water, then both kayaks shoot ahead of everyone else, as we use forward strokes and they frantically brace to keep from capsizing. Maintenance is simple; we wash down our kayaks and all our gear with fresh water and let them dry. You can leave them assembled or put them in their bags, giving the option of car-topping like a hardshell, or keeping them safely inside your vehicle. We haven't varnished the wood or put 303 on the hull, but we may get to that sometime. So what about vulnerability to rocks? Well, you can crack and hole a hardshell, you can scrape or gouge its gel coat; you can also tear or hole a folding hull. We have never done any of those things, but we tend to baby our boats, whether hardshell or folding. We don't grind them onto the sand or rocks in takeoffs and landings, and we try to avoid barnacles. We did, however, get expedition hulls and extra keel strips because of the rugged terrain. Finally, folding and unfolding time. I can assemble the Klepper 2000 or the Klepper double in 10-15 minutes, taking my time. We can both assemble the Klepper double in 10-15 minutes, or my spouse can assemble it in 20-30 minutes slow-southern-time (grin) (sitting in a chair while assembling parts) or 15-20 minutes ambling time. Disassembly is equally easy, at 10 minutes more or less, depending upon how tired you are. >We are curious to learn from people that have experience >with both foldables and hardshells. Could any of them please tell us >why we are so wrong? You're wrong to let people who know nothing about folders talk you out of buying what you really want. We have never regretted our decision of going with Klepper. I did own a Feathercraft Khatsalano-S for awhile, which is a lovely craft, but takes far longer to assemble than I am willing to spend; 15 minutes is my maximum tolerance for assembly time. >Anyone of you is also free to explain why buying a foldable is the >smartest thing to do! You will love it. One recommendation, however, is do not get the Klepper paddles. Those paddles are awful, and the $90 per pair (two pair in a double) can be spent on better paddles, probably in the 230-250cm range, depending on who is in front/back, and how tall you are. Try before you buy. Initial investment is higher than for most doubles, but you will never need another kayak; you might add a sail rig in the future, then have a folding kayak/sailboat. If you plan to do that, then I suggest the newer larger sailing rudder assembly. Also, on a double, sometimes a rudder is helpful in cross-wind/current, but I would recommend learning to handle those things without a rudder, then you can use it when you feel lazy (without being endangered if it breaks, as all rudders are prone to do eventually). Hope this has helped. Ralph Diaz can tell you a lot more, and also advise you about the other folding kayaks. You might want to read his book "The Complete Folding Kayaker", which has 1994 prices, and doesn't have boats new since then, but the information is still quite valuable and valid. Hopefully, he'll be using his "Folding Kayaker Newsletter" articles to aid writing an updated second edition for his about it in the works yet? Regards, Leander
From: Peter Osman Subject: [Paddlewise] hardshell/foldable debate and the Klepper expedition Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 As a novice kayaker I was faced with a similar decision 6 months ago and decided to hire hardshells for use in quiet water and to buy a Klepper Aerius Expedition foldable for use at sea. Before the purchase I read Ralph's book cover to cover. Storability, transportability, safety, and the joy/ease of assembly were paramount in the decision. Some observations: Assembly:- It's very easy to put together, taking 1/2 to 3/4 hour both to assemble and to disassemble including adding:- flotation, compass, rudder, daytrip luggage, packing/unpacking the bags, drying the wooden components. Basic assembly with no accessories takes 15-20 minutes without rushing. Assembly is much more pleasant on grass than on sand. Strategic packing with two towels speeds packing the wooden components, which otherwise tend to tip about. I find assembly a very pleasant start to paddling but not everyone may feel this way. Performance:- The Klepper Aerius Expedition seems slower than about half the hardshell sea kayaks I come across except in moderate to heavy seas when it tends to keep up or overtake. (A hardshell owner in turbulent water once shouted behind me "look at that Klepper go" - it was great). If your group paddles fast in calm water you may struggle to keep up. The Klepper Aerius Expedition needs a fair bit of strength to maintain its top speed over long periods. Safety:- The Klepper Aerius is well known for its outstanding stability and seaworthiness. My local sea kayak club normally require the ability to eskimo roll a hardshell for higher grade trips. However, they are flexible and will probably allow an exemption for Aerius users. Clearly the need for good bracing and self rescue skills is still essential. Maintenance:- Allow about 1/2 an hour cleaning and stowage time at home (mainly rinsing with fresh water) and about 1 or 2 days to dry it out before packing it away. To dry the skin I support it on towels over 4 sawhorses under a veranda. Regular use of Klepper wax/303 UV protectant for the hull and fittings (particularly the seam which folds into the coaming groove) is highly desirable but only takes a few minutes. I'm also using 303 fabricguard on the deck on the advice of a friend who has used it regularly on his Klepper to protect against UV. Mild soap/detergent seems to remove the expensive 303 fabricguard so I'm now using fresh water only to clean the deck. I've not regretted the decision although its about the most expensive kayak I've heard of. When trying to keep up with faster paddlers I'm less than thankful. When in roughish water I'm very thankful. Good luck, Petero.

From: [Ralph Diaz] Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 1999 10:23 AM Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] kayak reviews and advice needed > dmccarty@... wrote: > > I have a Looksha IV and my wife has the IVs. Both are kevlar layups. > When we started looking into sea kayaks we started with plastic but after > much hmmming and hawing we slowing escalated to kevlar. One reason was > the limited lifetime on the plastic boats. I have taken out rental plastic > boats that suffered greatly from oil caning. They all suffered from one > degree or another. I just could not stand the thought of that happening to > my boat. It seemed to me that I was going to spend $2400 on two boats and > within a very short number of years I would be looking for a new boat. That > was to expensive for me. Hopefully others will comment on my impressions > of plastic boats. > > Another was weight. It is funny how polyethylene kayaks have this reputation for toughness that lures people into buying them (in addition to cheaper cost) but in point of fact they are not as durable as fiberglass or kevlar composites. Plastic boats suffer from: oilcanning from being on roofracks or resting uneveningly on a beach; scars and strands of plastic that hang from the bottom from dragging them around that also slows them down on the water; and the relatively short lifespan expected of them before they get too brittle to repair easily are all points that get lost in the illusion of indestructability. Then there is the weight factor. They weigh a ton. Take a look at Sea Kayaker review of kayaks. The manufacturer says his boat weighs 55 lb. SK mag puts it on the scale and it is 66 lb.!!! And, at least in some of the plastic boats, a lot of the weight for some reason (the way the molds work, whatever) is at the ends; so when you pick one up and you don't have it perfectly horizontal, you start getting a pendulum effect making the carry even more difficult in addition to sheer weight. While kevlar is expensive, you can certainly shop around. Some companies offer their kevlar and fiberglass boats at a lot cheaper price than others. Take SEDA for example. Prices on them tend to run as much as $500 cheaper than their counterparts coming from other manufacturers. There may be a model from SEDA that suits you. Then there is Dan McCarthy's further comment (which I snipped) about going around to demo days and symposiums. Often these exhibits offer boats at 10-20% off list price which could make a difference or help you buy a nice paddle. Then, if you can wait until the end of the season, many kayak stores offer significant end of season sales to reduce their inventory and later bring in next year's models. I know around here in the NY area, some of the shops drop prices $800 or more on a $2,000 or so boat, perhaps not of the greatest colors but a nice savings. Also, some outfitters do sell off parts of their fleet at the end of the season and you can pick up a good fiberglass boat then at pretty close to list price. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a folding kayak, there are seldom any end of season sales as people will still buy them in winter for travel to warmer climes and dealers often are not stuck with just a local market pool as they can ship 'em by UPS anywhere. Only Folbot offers any such sales in the Fall. ralph diaz --
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 10:47:16 -0700 From: "Mattson, Timothy G" Subject: RE: [Paddlewise] kayak reviews and advice needed It is funny how polyethylene kayaks have this reputation for toughness that lures people into buying them (in addition to cheaper cost) but in point of fact they are not as durable as fiberglass or kevlar composites. Plastic boats don't last as long, but they are tough. I hit rocks in my plastic boat and get a little scratch. Due to the flex in the material, though, I don't ge a depressing gash as I would wiith my folding boat or my Kevlar boat. Also, there is the psychological factor associated with the cost. I paid around $900 for my Plastic Sea Lion. So it just doesn't bug me as much when I slam into a barnicle covered rock in that boat as opposed to my $3800 Khatsalano. I think its this psychological factor that has earned plastic boats their tough reputation. They are considered tougher because their owners are more willing to abuse them around rocks. I will always keep a ready-to-abuse plastic boat in my fleet so when I know I'm going to bash into lots of rocks -- either in shallow rivers or rugged coast lines -- I have a boat to use without suffering mental anguish. --Tim " proud owner of a two ton plastic Sea Lion"

Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 09:43:21 -0700 From: [Ralph Diaz] Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Proud to Paddle Plastic Reeves, Debbie (Debbie) wrote: > > You are not alone! > > Debbie Reeves > Owner of fiberglass, wood, and yes, plastic kayaks Plastic is just fine and don't ever let anyone look down on you for what you paddle. One of the fastest and most reliable paddlers I ever met paddled a Chinook. He would go to symposiums, eye and try out all the fiberglass while considering what he might upgrade to one day. But for years he stayed with that Chinook and remained the best paddler around. The paddler maketh the boat not the boat maketh the paddler. There are however a lot of shortcomings to plastic that can't be overlooked: Weight--they tend to be about 8 to 10 pounds heavier than equivalent fiberglass. Portability--with lots of their weight at their very ends, plastic boats are harder to carry as a see-saw effect starts up if you get 'em slightly off balance in the carry. Deformity--they deform terribly to affect handling and speed. After a year no two kayaks of the same model will handle the same because of this. Longevity--they really don't last long, certainly no where near the useful life of a fiberglass kayak. Repairs--generally more difficult than in fiberglass. Leaky bulkheads--no matter what a manufacturer claims, bulkheads all leak, some more than others, but all leak. So I don't see the choice as a matter of prestige but rather practicality. Fiberglass gives you more than image. Plastic kayaks have an advantage in price and in there lies a danger. It is so easy to get one as an entry boat from a department store and go paddle forth without any knowledge of airbags, self-rescue, reading sea conditions etc. Sooner or later, we are going to start seeing statistics catch up to these paddlers and it won't be pretty. ralph diaz --

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 15:48:36 -0700 From: [Ralph Diaz] Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] experience with folding seakayaks Hendrik Maroske wrote: > > > Hi all, > > > > I am looking for a folding seakayak that is in handling and speed > > comparable to hardshell boats. Are there people on this list with > > hands on experience in boats like the Feathercraft K1 or > > Khatsalano, or the longer single seat Nautiraids (greenlander 500). > > Or may be other alternatives? > > > > Greetings, > > > > Merijn > > > Hmmm, since nobody answered this, I take this as my turn: > > having built a few folding aluminum baidarkas, I don't think they > were in any respect similar to harsdhell boats. Although I wanted > each kayak to be comparable with hardshell kayaks and took > some pain to achive the best results, neither rigidity, nor > speed under paddle were as good. I am not certain what is the situation with the boats that Hendrik has hand crafted but there are certainly some commercially available folding kayaks that are no slouches in the speed department. The Feathercraft Khatsalano is generally recognized as a very fast boat with less than a half dozen non-racing commercially available hardshells being faster. Stepping down from the Khatsalano, the Feathercraft K-1 and some of the Nautiraids are certainly as fast as a lot of other hardshells. I think a lot of the image regarding folding kayak speed is one of thinking in terms of clunky doubles paddled by occasional paddlers in comparison to solo paddlers in hardshells. When it comes to the singles, the folding kayaks can be quite fast, length for length, with hardshells. > Anyway, you might want to look at something narrow and rigid; > I never saw anything in the market that was foldable and would > match at least my selfbuilts with regard to rigidity. They only > _do_ assemble a lot easier. I haven't seen these hand crafted folding kayaks but I can't imagine anything stiffer than the Nautiraid singles. If you pick one up by one end and shake it up and down, there is virtually no flex at all...i.e. they are incredibly rigid; their frames use more cross-ribs and stringers than do other folding kayaks and their external sponsons add lots of rigidity. Feathercrafts have a bit more flex to them. Folbots an incredible amount of flex. > One thing to consider is handling during rescue (-training). > I haven't seen any folding kayak that would match my desires in > this case. So I have equipped my recent folder with retractable > compass and hatchcover-mounted pump in order to survive at > least a TX-style rescue; also, I have lowered the deck beam to > help with rolling. The commercially available folding kayaks are regularly used in TX rescues with no damage; I've seen it done several times this summer with nothing happening by way of damage. I suppose if the boats were not carrying airbags to reduce the amount of water that gets inside in a capsize than perhaps some damage may result to deck bars, BUT no one should ever venture out in any folding kayak (even if using a sea sock) without air flotation bags over and above the sponsons that are normally built in. The same would be true for any hardshell that does not have bulkheads and for polyethylene kayaks whose bulkheads are generally suspect and prone to leak and pop if flooded in a capsize. The deck bars on folding kayaks can take punishment. I once had a very heavy fellow trip over while near my K-Light on dry land. He fell flat with all his weight on the bow deck right between two crossribs: unlike when sitting in water, the boat had no where to sink into to absorb the punishment (as it might in a TX rescue). The result: The top deck bar was ever so slightly bent at the point where it connected to another bar but did not need replacing or fixing. I shudder to think what would have happened with the deck of a kevlar boat. As for rolling, some folding kayaks roll okay; perhaps not as well as many hardshells, but they can be rolled. Ken Fink reports that he regularly teaches people how to roll using the K-Light. And I have never seen anyone who does have a good roll fail when getting into the single folding kayaks from Feathercraft, Nautiraid and Klepper. At worse a good roller cannot do his full array of rolls as he might in his own boat or slimmer boats but that also would be the case with some of the hardshells too, i.e. it would be difficult to do every type of roll in every hardshell single. BTW, I saw a double Klepper rolled the other day. I had heard of people doing it but two guys at the Boathouse decided to give it a try. They failed the first time; swam the Klepper back to the dock. Got their coordination straightened out and went out and did two effortless rolls in a row. ralph diaz --

Date: Sun, 05 Dec 1999 11:22:53 -0700 From: Shawn W. Baker Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Perfect Boat is Plastic! > As a longtime owner of plastic and hopeful upgrader to something else, I would > be interested in further comments along this thread on the relative merits > (durability, speed, whatever) of kevlar, carbon composites, and wood. Any > first-hand experience out there across those lines? Plastic is generally more resistant to abrasion and very large impacts. Fiberglass, carbon, kevlar, Spectra and wood/composite boats are generally lighter and stiffer. For example, a design that might weight 70 lbs. in plastic would weigh 50-55 lbs. in glass, 45-50 lbs. in wood, and 40-45 lbs. in Kevlar. Composite layups can vary according to how heavily they are designed--there are super-light boats that are easy to carry, but very fragile, and heavyweight glass boats that are probably tougher than most plastic boats. Colored gelcoats in composite boats are much more vibrant and glossy than typical rotomolded or blowmolded PE boats. Wood boats are downright gorgeous-- admittedly, though, I'm highly biased in that direction. Some plastic boats are designed somewhat around ease of molding. This is not always the case, but you'll probably notice a few more little intricacies of design in composite boats. Coleman canoes are an extreme example of boats designed for ease of manufacture and shipping, at the expense of performance. Composite boats are easier to modify and repair. Nothing really sticks to polyethylene. Wood kayaks, built well by someone else, are very, very expensive. Wood boats built by the owner are dirt cheap, but take a considerable labor/time investment, and some modest woodworking tools are required. Email me if you have any particular questions about wood kayaks. Happy deciding! Shawn ____©/______ ~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^\ ,/ /~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^ "Everything can be found at sea according to the spirit of your quest" -Joseph Conrad
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1999 12:22:53 -0800 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] (Paddlewise) Plastic is Perfect!???????????????? not! > I however revert to the "ram it full speed up the beach to keep my feet > dry approach" once I have gotten a couple of scratches in the gelcoat > anyhow. If you are of the ram-the-beach school, there is nothing quite like a Folbot folding kayak for doing this. The bow and stern have a thick curved aluminum rail protecting them that runs from the tip of the boat and down and under to part way along the keel. The marks they make on sand and any rocks they hit looks like they were made by a plowshare. I often wonder how a Folbot would do for playing kayak polo against plastic and fiberglass boats. While Folbots don't turn that well and so would lack in agility, they would make a mash of any hardshell they hit with their killer ramming ends. I can see a Folbot on a kayak polo team acting like those legendary enforcers that the Boston Celtics use to employ to break arms and legs of opposing team stars. ralph diaz
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1999 14:45:41 -0800 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Perfect Boat is Plastic! Now Flex Kirk Olsen wrote: > > hmm, time to figure out how to trade hats. My paddling choices include > a skin/frame baidarka, and carbon fiber race surf ski. > > Skin/frame boats flex very differently than plastic boats. > With a skin/frame boat the boat will bend as it goes over waves. To me > this was the most dramatic the day I paddled with a friend, he was paddling > my VCP Pintail ('glass british heavy). We were paddling into a headwind with > 1 foot chop. The PinTail was riding up over each wave and crashing off the > top of each wave. My baidarka was cruising straight forward with the > waves traveling along the gunwales. With the boat flexing as it adjusted to > each oncoming wave. The baidarka was much faster than the pintail headed > into the waves. > > My current take on this is a rigid boat is going to be the fastest on a > flat water course - no flexing induced by the non-existant waves. In > waves I think a skin/frame boat will be faster because it adjusts to each > wave and less forward momentum is lost to the boat coming off of one wave > and pounding down off of the back of the wave. I am not certain it has to do with you observed but rather with some other phenomena. Back about 3 years ago, one of my readers, a physicist of some renown with some 150 patents to his name and voted to all kinds of lists such as Industry Week's Top 50 R&D Stars To Watch, etc., took a crack at it in an article for my newsletter. It is quite a detailed article that I would share with anyone who asks via back channels. The key point he makes is cited below in an excerpt. The phenomenon is phrased in terms of folding kayaks but would apply equally as well to any skin kayak such as Kirk's. >From Folding Kayaker Sept/Oct 1996, pp. 1-5 Scientific Look At Rough Water Drag For Folding Kayaks Vs. Hard-Shells "Flexible Skin In Action In chaotic seas, a folding kayak^“s skin sections defined by its stringers and crossribs pump in and out like a drum head and destabilize laminar flow of water along the surface of the kayak (Handbook of Fluid Dynamics, ibid, page 11-30). The vibrating skin of a folding kayak is extremely effective in pushing the critical Reynolds number of the drag crisis down to lower Reynolds numbers. There also may be a small geometric effect from the less regular surface generated by the framing effect of stringers and cross ribs on the flexible-skin analogous to dimpling on a golf ball. This ^”dimpling^‘ of the surface of the flexible-skin kayak also tends to lower the critical Reynolds number of the drag crisis. However, because of the large lateral size and small height of such ^”dimples^‘ on a folding kayak, the destabilization effect due to this static morphology of the kayak skin is much less than for the dimpled golf ball. Of the two effects, we believe that the dynamic in-and-out motion of skin sections of the flexible skin kayak is the dominant one that causes the critical Reynolds number of the drag crisis to fall. Such in-and-out motion occurs readily in rough chaotic waters and is a common phenomenon that many of you have often exclaimed about, i.e. the feel of the water as it passes along the skin. For the drag crisis regime to cause a difference in drag between hard-shell and flexible-skin kayaks, the Reynolds number associated with kayak motion through water must be near the drag crisis regime. By one of those quirks of nature, it is." By now I am certain James Lofton is scratching his head saying to himself "What! My little ole Folbot is doing all that s**t?" Kinda my reaction too. :-) Anyway it is good reading. happy paddling, ralph diaz
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