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 Post subject: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
Well, against the advice of everybody I talked to in this forum, I bought an Oru Bay+. That was about 2 months ago and it's been warm enough down here on the bayou for me to use it a fair bit. So that means it's time for a review. This will cover everything except rolling--the water still isn't quite warm enough for somebody wtihout a tuliik, but I'll get to that shortly. Due to character limits in this forum, I have to break this review into 4 posts.

GENERAL IMPRESSION:
I really like it. It's a lot of fun, I really enjoy paddling it, it's made me a better yakker, and it perfectly fits what I bought it for. What I bought it for was as a 2nd, minimalist boat for my landlubber friends, and also something I could toss in the trunk of my car and pop over during my lunch break to the park pond adjacent to my office. It does those things great. But that's about all it can do, so if you need more capability, look elsewhere.

LEARNING CURVE:
I did not come to the above opinion immediately. At first, I was not happy and was thinking how you all would laugh at me when I reported my experiences. But I quickly realized it's just a learning curve. With the Oru, the learning curve covers all aspects: assembly, entry, paddling, exit, disassembly. The Oru is very sensitive to proiper technique all along. Once you get all these techniques, it's a wonderful boat. Before you get it, you won't like it. It took me (and I'm not very bright) about 3 hours to grok the Oru, including several assemblies and disassemblies. Since then, it's just been gradual refinement and increasing enjoyment.

ASSEMBLY/DISASSEMBLY:
This has 2 main stages: folding/unfolding, and doing up the fittings. The main technique for the folding/unfolding is judo. The hull material is incredibly strong and with new boats, the folds aren't yet very flexible, so the key learning when and where to apply pressure. Once you've got that, this part takes no time or trouble. The main effort is in doing up the deck seam, which requires muscle. You have to force 1 edge of the hull into a long slot in the other edge. The fit is so tight that the straps and buckles are largely superfluous. Straddle the boat, squeeze the sides in with you legs, and push down with your arms, and fit the seam together. On the Bay+, the straps are rigid plastic that you can push into the buckles so no real need to ratchet it all together. In fact, the ratchets won't work unless you've already got the joint started anyway. And on disassembly, you have to start at the ends and physically pull the sides apart (after undoing the buckles and noticing that the hull parts don't move at all). But a tight seam means zero leaks.

So far, my fastest assembly time is 8 minutes. It's usually closer to 10 minutes due to installing airbags in the ends. I've never timed disassembly, mostly because I do that in stages as I hose the mud and scum off the boat. The time is decreasing as I get better at it and the folds in the hull become more flexible.

It's quite possible to scrape your fingers on rough areas during assembly, especially when pulling the neoprene skirts and straps up on the ends of the hull. However, again, technique plays a big part here. Do it right, no problem. Do it wrong and you'll bleed.

TO BE CONTINUED


Last edited by Bullethead on Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
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Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
ENTRY/ExIT
I am 5' 11" and 235#. If you're a different size, you'll probably have an easier time.

The joints holding the halves of the cockpit coaming together do fine for that purpose but don't like extra loads on them. When getting in and out, do NOT put any weight on them, or on the deck just behind the cockpit. I did that once and broke one of the clips. Oru customer service was great there--I had I new part 2 days later. Put your hands over where the floorboard clips onto the coaming and you'll be fine. Again, it's all about technique.

Same goes for getting your legs in and out. If you're not careful, you'll scrape your shins on the underside of the front cockpit coaming. I even went so far as to put a piece of pipe insulating foam under there as shin protection, but now that I know how to get in and out properly, I no longer need that.

STABILITY:
The Oru is a very stable boat. See attached pic with me in the boat. With all of my big self in it, it's got plenty of freeboard, and even with all the topweight I give it, I can still lean it over to where the waterline is at or (with a sprayskirt) slightly above the cockpit rim, and it will recover when I let go. It takes work, even for me, to capsize this boat. I haven't done that yet as the water is still a bit too cold for enjoyable rolling. The point is, the boat isn't going to capsize unless you make it.

But there's where the learning curve comes in again. The Oru is very sensitive to user input from butt and legs. If you're afraid of capsizing, then you'll be all tense and your butt and legs will be twitching constantly. This creates a skateboard-like "death wobble" as you constantly overcorrect for the slightest devation from verticality. These oscillations won't come close to capsizing you. In the attached pic with me in the boat, you can see from the scum line (caused by such a "death wobble") that the waterline never got over the gunwhale fold, much less to the cockpit, and the Oru can take a lot more than that.

So you have to lose your fear of capsizing. Once you do that, then you'll be relaxed from the waist down and the boat won't be tippy at all and you can use your back and legs for powerful paddling and really enjoy what the boat can do. It's totally psychological. If you're afraid of capsizing, the more you think you will and the more you'll wobble. If you're not, then you can horse around no problem. So do what you have to do. Lean the boat over in shallow water to see what it can take. Loosen the footrest straps completely and paddle only with your arms for a while. Get a spray skirt, install air bags, watch videos on how to roll, whatever it takes.

Now look at the 2nd attachment (the one without me in it). Notice how much higher the scum line is, the projection of which goes way up on the deck. This is from putting my back and legs into my strokes in a rather overkill manner, deliberately rolling the boat so the waterline was at or near the cockpit coaming. Going for speed and whatnot. This is the difference between being needlessly afraid of capsizing and not worrying about it at all.

TO BE CONTINUED


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Last edited by Bullethead on Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Oru Bay + Review Part 3
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
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Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
PADDLING
I use the Oru 4-piece paddle as I need 2 of everything to have 2 boats and this one was supposedly designed especially for this boat. I have it a minimum length and parallel blades, no twist in the shaft. I have fairly wide shoulders so there's about 1' or less between my pinkies and the inner end of the blade. This makes me a knuckle-dragger when I paddle the Oru. But that's what works best for me.

The Oru weighs less than 30 pounds so it doesn't take much effort to get it going or keep it moving at whatever speed desired. Slouching back, sitting up straight, or leaning forward, arms high or low, out in front or closer in, none of this makes much difference to the effort required although obviously inefficient postures will decrease the max speed you can attain. If you're not trying for all-out speed but just cruising, any posture will work. Which means you can change position as you go along to rest various muscles and relieve what you're sitting on, which is nice for long-distance trips.

The type of stroke does matter in all cases, however. The Oru likes a fairly high-angle, fairly short stroke, which means a relatively rapid stroke rate because the paddle's not in the water very long each stroke. The Oru is also sensitive to improper strokes. If you catch the slightest crab, it's like hitting a speed bump because the Oru doesn't weigh enough to just glide through such mistakes. So again, it's all about proper technique, and learning that will make you a better paddler in general.

The Oru is short and also rather beamy for its length so doesn't have speed lines. But OTOH its lightness makes up for that to some extent. You can leave quite a wake if you try, especially if you're not afraid of capsizing so can put your legs and back into it. This is, for its shape, a fast boat.

The Oru tracks quite well in all regimes, which is to say that it goes in the direction(s) you last pushed it until you push it again. If you pushed it straight ahead, then it will go that way. If your last stroke was a sweep as part of a turn, then not only will it move along the new directional vector, but it will also keep on rotating if you do notihng else. As such, when doing turns with sweep strokes, you usually have to do a sweep on the opposite side to stop turning when you're at the desired heading. When paddling straight ahead, each stroke will angle the boat a bit off course but not too much, at least with proper technique.

The tendency to keep rotating once you start a turn is no doubt because the Oru lacks a keel. As such, the boat also makes a lot of leeway in a crosswind. It's easier to paddle upwind than a heavier boat, though, especially as paddling position doesn't matter that much. Thus, you can lean forward to decrease wind resistance and move on quite well until you get into a lee and can sit up straight again.

The Oru, being light, loses velocity quickly when you stop paddling, but only to a point. It will get down to about 1 knot and then coast seemingly forever at that speed. So, to maintain any higher speed, you have to keep on paddling, no coasting between strokes, but that's no big deal because the boat is so efforless to paddle.

TO BE CONTINUED


Last edited by Bullethead on Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Oru Bay+ Review Part 4
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:29 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
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Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
DURABILITY
The hull is incredibly hard, nearly like a rotomolded boat. I have no fear of puncturing it and if I ever do, there's Gorilla Glue and duct tape. The hull folds are rated at 20,000 cycles which will be longer than I plan on living so that's all cool.

Durability issues come into play mostly with the clips holding the cockpit halves together. As already mentioned, these are fine for that purpose but don't like additional loads. Put your weight on the floorboard clips at the cockpit sides when getting in and out of the boat and you'll be fine.

The other fittings, no problem. The deck seam is mostly done by manual compression, not pulling on the straps or ratcheting the buckles. Nowhere in assembly/disassembly/use do you put any real loads on them.

INTERNAL HEAT
Down here on the bayou, it's been over 80^F the last couple weeks, and the heat is just getting started. This is a serious impediment to using an enclosed kayak. The Oru, however, is quite cool inside, apparently due to being both white and translucent. So far, my legs have been fine, although my crotch as gotten a bit warm from my black Seal "Tropical Tour" spray skirt, which I could only get in black. Not hot enough to be a problem, but there's a noticeable thermal gradient between hip and points further south. But heating the crotch is a form of contraceptive so I guess that's OK :).

BOTTOM LINE:
This is an excellent boat for carrying yourself, a sack lunch, some water, and a Wrist Rocket, for an all-day trip, although you'll have to put ashore to drain your bladder. If you just want to paddle at every fleeting opportunity, it's even better. BUT, that has to be the most you want from a boat. If yuu want more, you'll need a bigger boat.

DONE


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:49 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:15 pm
Posts: 116
Don't know if I'll ever purchase one but it is a kayak that get's your interest up. Thanks for taking the time to write the review. I'm sure it will be very helpful to potential buyers.


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:09 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
Thanks.

Yes, the Oru is a very interesting beast. The largest impediment to speedy assembly/disassembly is that it draws a crowd and you have to explain how it works and let them go all touchy-feely on it. The gadget factor is very high :).

The Oru is very good at what it does, but you have to remember that what it can do is rather limited. I wouldn't recommend it as your only boat unless you have no desire to go fishing or expeditioning because the Oru can't carry much more than lunch and hydration. But it's a great 2nd boat if you've already got fishing/camping covered, or as your only boat if all you want to do is paddle and have limited storage space.

Of course, all small folding yaks are generally the same in what they can and can't do, and what they're useful for. So why get an Oru instead of one of the others? Good question. In my case, it was mostly because the Oru has a hard shell instead of being skin-and-bones. My paddling environment is full of both sharp and pointy things which I've seen shred inflatables, and a skin-on-frame boat isn't much different. Also, the Oru appeared to have the shortest set-up time, meaning more paddling in brief windows of opportunity.


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:45 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Posts: 1712
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)
Your review is very much appreciated! Thank you for taking the time.

_________________
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: '84 Hobie 16; early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift.


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
chrstjrn wrote:
Your review is very much appreciated! Thank you for taking the time.


No problem. This forum is for exactly this kind of info and Lords of Karma would strike me down if I just read and used what's already here without contributing a bit myself.

I'm just surprised nobody's yet commented on my figurehead. That's the Rattlesnake with Wings and Antlers. He's associated with water and the path to the Spirit World, so will either keep you safe while boating or get you to the appropriate afterlife. Can't ask for a better yakking partner :).


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:38 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:15 pm
Posts: 116
I missed that from your previous photos. Very nice! It looks like origami, which would be appropriate.

There has been conversation about the company building making a bigger kayak in the future. Given your first hand experience do you think the design/materials would hold up in the form of a bigger boat.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Oru Bay + Review
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:52 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Lousy Anna's Armpit
I think the material is strong enough to build a rather bigger boat out of. I think the reason they haven't yet is because the folded size would be rather bigger, and the current boat is already big enough to count as oversized luggage and jack you an extra few hundred bucks if you want to fly with it as checked baggage.

In other news, today I took my Oru out in the Mississippi River, which is currently 3' above flood stage where I live. Thus, the water was filled with driftwood and I hit quite a few large pieces. No problem. I linked a video of the trip below and as you can see, the boat is stable and tracks quite well. The only water that got in was on my feet when I boarded. The water was ice cold due to being snowmelt from yankeeland, but it was quite comfy inside the boat. The major issue was dodging balls of fire ants clinging to many pieces of driftwood and most tree trunks, and the Oru was maneuverable enough for that.

https://youtu.be/5SkS8kdGM1c


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