Monday, October 25, 2010
Team Ocean Kayak's Jeff Herman in cooperation with Necky Kayaks have donated a Necky Chatham 16 to Artist Boat. ArtistBoat.org is a unique nonprofit in Texas that has literally taken thousands of kids kayaking to learn about coastal margins and coastal eco systems. The Chatham will be raffled to help raise money for Artist Boat and is on display at the legendary Mod Coffee Shop in Galveston.
Friday, October 22, 2010
It's that time of year we are full on with lots of new projects. We are cutting boats out on the cnc machine, making prototypes and doing test paddles. This is a great stage of development as each project is up and running and starting to take shape. Some things are working and other not so much and we have to rethink. We always have more ideas than we can actually get done. So quiet often it is about sifting through and trying to pick the best.
Each person in R/D gets to head up projects and see them through to the finish. But everyone gets to throw there opinion into the mix on every project. So no one is doing designs in a vacuum.
One of the new projects is a LV Elite. I'm trying to keep all the great parts of the Elite just in a smaller package. So it will not have as much packing space but this compact version should be really lively and fun to paddle. It has a slightly smaller fit so should be good for med to small paddlers.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
This is where it all happens the shaping room. For most boats even if we cut them out on the CNC machine we still do the last bit by hand. With hand shaping you can smooth out the lines and refine the shape in a way that is difficult on the computer screen. We set up the room with adjustable lights to show up the lines of the boat. The room is painted a neutral color and sealed up to keep the dust in.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Alex Matthews & Friends – Nootka Island 2010
Alex Matthews here, signing in on the ‘Kayak Noise’ blog.
Last month I had the chance to take off up the coast of Vancouver Island for a 10 day trip to Nootka island and the Nuchatlitz area, launching from the small town of Zeballos. Nick Castro of Active Sea Kayaking (http://www.activeseakayaking.ca/) was the instigator, with his partner Sandra, and their good friend Jen rounding out the gang.
I was paddling Spike’s newest sea kayak design - the Looksha Elite. I’ve logged quite a few miles in the Elite now, and it’s a cool boat that combines positively HUGE storage capacity with a very efficient hull for good speed, and tremendous maneuverability. Because the stern of the Elite has so much rocker it spins on a dime and is very fun and sporty to paddle (great down wind), but it’s quite rudder dependant in some conditions. I really like it and it’s become my “go to” boat for multi-day trips. If I was still guiding I would definitely be working out of an Elite: it’s fast, comfy, is really easy to swing around (ideal for doing a head-count when keeping track of guests behind you), and positively swallows gear! It’s also stable enough when loaded that I think you could put a client in it without worrying about them flipping.
The only downside I encountered is that when FULLY loaded, the Elite ends up weighing a ton (duh)! I wanted to see just how much I could stuff into the boat and went a little crazy. I ended up with my usual gear, plus enough food for over 2 weeks, extra water, extra clothes, and a full complement of camera gear. The kayak swallowed it all with ease but was of course really heavy. So it’s like the old backpacking adage: “be careful with a really big pack, because you will have a tendency to fill all the space available. And then you’ll have to carry it!”
At a measly 150lbs, I’m definitely small for the Elite, but it does a really good job of not feeling like a big boat. And while I am campaigning for a lower volume version, I must admit that all that cargo capacity is pretty corrupting (I’m getting old and soft, and luxury certainly has its appeal). I’m not sure that I’d be willing to give it up.
All photos by Nick Castro or Alex Matthews
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
A couple of weeks ago we had our dealer conference. This is where the dealers get a sneak peak at our new boats for 2011. The conference was at Stone Mountain which is near Atlanta Georgia. It was ridiculously hot but everyone braved the temperature to paddle the new boats. They seemed to be well received I heard a lot of positive feedback.
One thing I love about these conferences is to get a chance to talk to dealers as they always have so many ideas of new boats and improvements to boats. I wish we had time and money to do them all. So a big thanks to all you dealers who took the opportunity to throw your ideas out there it is so interesting and appreciated. Keep it coming.
I was there to do a short presentation on our design process and kayak design. It seemed to go OK. Well no one fell asleep or heckled. Here are a few photos from the beach. I thought I was melting!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Thanks to Richard Parkin of Ocean Paddler Magazine (www.oceanpaddlermagazine.com) for putting the Chatham 16 on the cover.
This is Nick Castro from Active sea kayaking (www.activeseakayaking.ca) paddling up at Quadra Island B.C Canada.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Our composite boats have been well received one of the reasons for this is the materials we use. In all the Chathams and Lookshas and doubles we use a stitched fabric rather than woven fabric. Stitched fabric is fiberglass that is stitched together at 45 degrees rather than woven. When stitched material is manufactured the fibers are not damaged as much as they are when they are woven. This makes the material retain more of it's original strength and stiffness. You can see here how the 2 layers of glass fibers are laid down at 45 degrees and the horizontal lines are the stitches that hold them together. This is Soric it is the core material we use in the layup it adds a ton of stiffness without adding excess wait.Stitched fabric also comes in Carbon.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Savage Island, Resurrection Island and the Unclaimed Coast are just a few titles given to the forboding Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia. An exceptionally isolated, storm thrashed island, South Georgia stands alone in the path of relentless storms and the savage winds of the Southern Ocean.
Sir Ernest Shackleton died there and is buried at the foot of one of the glorious mountain ranges. Numerous whales were slaughtered in the whaling stations that at one time thrived along the eastern coast and the land witnessed a war between Britian and Argentina. Adventureous tourists travel to this isolated paradise by ice-strengthened ships and only a handful of elite expeditioners dare to venture in this wild and often merciless polar outpost.
The changelability of South Georgia's weather beats down on the unprepared and tests those who have had previous insight to its unpredictability. If you happen to arrive on a rare day where the wind is simply a whisper, the seas calm and there are fewer animals scattered along the shores – you may gain a false sense of security. As inhospitable as it sounds, South Georgia is also one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places on the planet and lures you with the compelling stage of this Antarctic Serengeti. In amongst the storms, the fridgid climes and moody appearances South Georgia has the ability to make one believe that it is a paddlers paradise.
During the recent Australasian summer I had the fortune of embarking on a kayak journey around South Georgia alone. I was fulfilling a life-long dream as well as building awareness for the Albatross, a species on the brink of exstinction. My goal was to complete a full circumnavigation (500 nautical miles) which could take up to 5 weeks depending on weather. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the island due to incidences beyond my control which delayed my departure by 3 weeks. However 2 weeks of paddling the east coast of South Georgia Island , alone – paddling by day and camping by night, I experienced far more than I ever imagined possible.
When choosing to paddle along an exposed coast in the middle of the Southern Ocean, the next land mass over 1400km away, you require patience, sound judgement and operating 10 steps ahead with the awareness that those steps may have to change as rapidly as if dancing the Tango. Gravity driven winds known as katabatics occur along this eastern coast frequently and without warning. You can be paddling on calm seas, a 10 knot breeze blowing from the west and suddenly within minutes you could be paddling for your life. There were times when I was forced off the water by accelerating winds that could easily blow me offshore. I chose the battle in trying to make it to shore, paddling against these furious winds that are simply screaming down valleys and glaciers that lead out to the bays I was trying to paddle in to, simply to make landfall and get off the now dangerous seas.
Storms keep you beachbound for days on end which is why the history of South Georgia expeditioning is not a romantic one. A British Military team back in the mid 80's was forced to eat penguins when stranded onshore for over 2 weeks with all food- rations diminished. Elegant and proud King Penguins innocently strutting their stuff along the beaches ended up as dinner. Climbing teams have lost ALL tents as sudden winds that gather speed rapidly tear at anything that stands above the ankles. Every movement, every action, every decision has to be well thought through as you attend the South Georgia school of bad knocks.
Days on the water, when there is a moment of calm is absolute bliss. The whines and whimpers of Fur seals are heard from all directions and constantly fill the air. As you paddle ½ a mile off- shore, riding the swell, avoiding the boomers and the confused, rebounding seas, you are traveling in the realm of the Albatross. The 10ft wingspan of the Blackbrowed Albatross glide above you in absolute silence and if the wind diminishes, they are forced to land on the water. During these times you spontaneoulsy drift by their giant bodies, floating with the current, as they wait patiently for the wind to offer them freedom to fly.
In the early evening, once tucked inside your sleeping bag, warmed by the insulation of your tent, your stomach filled with a Harvest Foodworks scrumptious dinner, the daily chores are done, one can finally find rest. Although you hear tedious groans and grunts from Elepant seals as though they are trying to out-do eachother, and the constant calling from mum to pup in the Fur seal kingdom, as well as the early morning (3am) trumpeting calls from the Kings – you can still experience the peace, calm and tranquilty of this polar paradise.
When I set out on this journey, I came with the understanding that South Geogia would dictate when and how far I would paddle. The weather, ice and wildlife would be my guide as to where I could land and establish camp. The awe-inspiring scenes of snow-capped peaks, glaciers bounding through valleys and slithering into the sea, the fear-less animals that congregate abundantly on the few accessible beaches would be my motivation and inspiration. You are not only tested physically, intellectually and emotionally in these polar parts - you are forced to live in the very present, aware of every single element, action and change that surrounds you. Otherwise it takes only a second for South Georgia to dominate and you are then no longer at the helm.
I feel priviledged to have had this opportunity of spending time with South Georgia intimately. The journey offered a personal gain however it was successful in the way that it put the Albatross in the spotlight. Bringing to the public attention the devastating and unnecessary loss of lives continues as I write a book, create a film and share my adventures and experiences through presentations. For more information please visit: www.hayleyshephard.blogspot.com and www.kayakingtosavealbatross.com. May the Albatross fly forever.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
We have had this baby up to 9 miles an hour. The idea is you move back on the seat as you start to surf a swell and forward again on the flat. It works well. We used a longer paddle since your sitting so much higher. This position was very comfortable and with the foot strapes you could get a very positive stroke. The bow is pretty different, I had never paddled a reverse rake bow before. It had noticeably less resistance than a regular bow untill water came over the whole thing. You can check out how the bow works on the video.