Finally sliding out of lurk mode...

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M4tt

Finally sliding out of lurk mode...

Post by M4tt »

Hi everyone,

I'm on the South coast of England at Brighton, you can't miss it, it has a pier!
Image

Last August I was fortunate enough to buy a Puffin Sport from Chris, (Hi Chris.) I have now been paddling it in the sea around Brighton and up the various small tidal rivers that dot the coast here for about six months - with a break for a couple of months when sea temperature dropped below my foolishness.

It's a great Kayak and is significantly more competent than I am. However, when I saw an e-bay 'buy it now' for a Klepper Alu-lite I couldn't resist it (I couldn't afford it either but that's my problem!) and now I am waiting for it to arrive. Which, I guess, is why I have finally got around to posting.

The Pakboat is a fantastic kayak which is infinitely stronger than its three ribs would suggest and has been a great introduction to the folding sport. I have no intention of letting it go and will keep it for lighter water and travel. However, the fact is that my kayaking skills have not really been upgraded since childhood (and far flatter water) and I'm just not sure how much more I can learn in a Puffin.

So now I have the Alulite incoming and, once I have got the measure of it, I intend to go back to get some more (up to date) formal training to allow me to play silly buggers a little more professionally and safely.

So, as always with the newbie posts, I'm after knowledge. I have searched the net pretty thoroughly and found the two reviews here (which are pretty well hidden) among other bits of web tidbits. So, I know that it is an extremely robust kayak which has a lousy seat, crumbling, but easily fixed connectors, and slightly challenging manners. Reading between the lines, the primary stability is reasonable yet unnerving while the secondary stability is rather too good; it can only be rolled by the highly skilled after moderate conversion. In fact moderate conversion seems to be a key word. As far as I can ascertain the fundamentals are excellent while the rest needs tinkering with - seat fixings and height, assembly clues, fixtures and so on.

Currently my fantasy image is of an underrated thoroughbred which is only as good as the ingenuity and skill of the paddler. Having spent a slightly later chunk of my youth keeping various decrepit old 'classic' British motorcycles on the road I have exactly the masochistic streak for this sort of enterprise.

So, here's the questions: just how good, relatively, is the Alulite? are there any more complete reviews out there that I have missed? (many people refer to the uncritically positive reviews but I can't find them) and finally is there anything else in the way of reviews, tips and anecdotes that anyone can offer?

I know that's quite a lot for someone to ask on their second post but I hope I have offered something to read too.

Cheers,

Matt

M4tt

Re: Finally sliding out of lurk mode...

Post by M4tt »

And here are the photos from the advert:

Image

Image


So, a nicely faded red.

Actually, what should I use for protecting and waterproofing the hull and cotton deck?

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chrstjrn
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Post by chrstjrn »

Congratulations on your second boat!
And I'm glad you've been enjoying the first and using it well!
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Hi,
Interesting part of the world. -(Close to) the Battle of Hastings, the London to Brighton Bicycle Event, the former seat of the regency, cottages on the Isle of Wright, etc. Have they finally done something to keep the pier from crumbling into the sea?
I never got to do much paddling over there and forgot the difference in high and low tides. Do you see rips in the tidal rivers? The rips can give you even more chances to play silly buggers, -as I was reminded last sunday. :roll:

I'll be interested to find out how you like the Alulite. If I didn't already have more fish to fry, I'd be thinking of adding one to my tiny collection. I'm already facing the inquisition explaining why I need to have 2 boats assembled in the garage. :roll:

-Andreas

M4tt

Post by M4tt »

Hi Chris, yes I have been absolutely loving the Puffin and have discovered the joys of Kayak surfing - definitely the most fun you can have with (warm) clothes on! Thanks again for going through all the palaver to ship it transnationally.

Hi KVK,

The West Pier is now, unfortunately, a rusting tangle of girders having been deliberately set alight a while back. There is talk of rebuilding it but frankly there has been talk like for as long as I have been living here. The Pier in the photo is the Palace Pier, now opportunistically renamed the 'Brighton Pier'

I don't think you get them, or at the very least, I have never experienced them on the local rivers.

As for the Alulite, I'm hoping it will arrive tomorrow if I am lucky. I think it will need a bit of fiddling with before it hits the water however, which is why I was hoping for any tips wrinkles or pointers.

Cheers all,

Matt

nohoval_turrets

Post by nohoval_turrets »

I surmise it was my review you read, and as you note, it's not entirely favourable. Just how good, relatively, is the Alulite? Well it's a capable kayak, and much more of a rough water machine than your Puffin Sport would be. Its main weakness is the difficulty bracing your legs for rolls and braces, but mods may change that.

One area I would worry about is self-rescue. That peaked deck would make a paddle float rescue tricky, so practise would be essential there.

Make sure those sponson stoppers are tied on well, they're easy to lose.

[/quote]

M4tt

Post by M4tt »

Thanks very much, yes indeed, yours was one of the ones I have dug out and by far the most helpful. Before buying it I considered how easy conversion might be and decided that there were far more options with the Alulite.

I considered self rescue and thought that the low short back would be fairly good for scrambling up. I practiced with the Puffin for a few hours when I first got it and found it fairly benign to re enter (if rather easy to bend the top stringers) but I simply have not had a problem with stability. As it stands I am currently paddling alone and so I have been largely hugging the coastline in fairly benign conditions so that if all else fails I can drag myself ashore.

Hopefully with the Alulite I will be able to significantly improve my skills.

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chrstjrn
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Post by chrstjrn »

It's actually a Puffin Swift-- 14 feet long. I believe the Sport is the ten foot one-- a much different animal. The 12 foot is supposed to be the best one for surfing, if you can fit comfortably in it (too small for me).

Nohoval: have you tried a Swift? There seems to be a common habit of attacking or low-rating the Puffins, around here, without having any personal experience in them. Please excuse that statement if it does not apply to you. The Swift isn't the most impressive expedition boat you can find, but It's not so bad, either-- and it may well be the most impressive per dollar.
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

M4tt

Post by M4tt »

Oops, yes of course you are right.

Please don't think that I am in any way putting down the Puffin. I have had enormous fun and the condition is pretty well identical to when you sent it to me (well, probably saltier!) However I just felt that something I could meaningfully brace in would be better for brushing up on my skills and tackling heavier water.

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chrstjrn
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
Posts: 1718
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)

Post by chrstjrn »

No worries, M4tt: it didn't seem to me like you were putting down the Puffin at all. We both know it's strong points and weak points-- and if you chose to put it down, you would have a right to do so (as does Christov_Tenn, who did not like his), because you have paddled one enough to know that of which you speak.

I've never paddled a Feathercraft (aside from the Gemini), but I don't put them down, either.
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

nohoval_turrets

Post by nohoval_turrets »

Nohoval: have you tried a Swift? There seems to be a common habit of attacking or low-rating the Puffins, around here, without having any personal experience in them.
No, I've not tried the Puffins, but I don't think I was low-rating it by saying the Alu-lite would be better in rough water. M4tt said he was using the Sport, which is an open 10-foot boat. The Swifts are very different.
Last edited by nohoval_turrets on Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

M4tt

Post by M4tt »

Sorry then guys, my mistake.

However, the Kayak has arrived...

I've slotted the frame together and there are a few rough bits:

1)The bungs for the sponsons are missing,

2) There are dozens of the little spring clips missing (most importantly the ones at the very front which mount the bow!)

3) One of the plastic half moon clips that mount the longerons is missing.

It also smells rather musty; the skin looks ok so far though.

I think that the bow would be well served by stainless R clips and I assume that bungs for the sponsons will not be a problem however I really think that I need to replace the little spring clips inside the tubing and the missing half moon clip before I do anything too adventurous.

So, where the hell do I get these parts from? Do Klepper still support the parts or is there any other source?

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chrstjrn
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
Posts: 1718
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)

Post by chrstjrn »

I had an ebay purchase, a couple of years ago, that didn't go very well-- this sounds a bit like that. If you feel that way, then you are struggling with some disappointment on the one hand, but still happy to have the boat on the other. My sympathies. If you feel the item was misrepresented, then you probably want to get a cost estimate quickly, before the seller disappears.

I think you should be able to get all of the parts for Klepper. Luckily, you're in the EU-- that should make it much easier to get things from Germany, if that becomes necessary. But you probably want to start with whomever represents them in the UK.
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

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chrstjrn
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
Posts: 1718
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)

Post by chrstjrn »

nohoval_turrets wrote:M4tt said he was using the Sport, which is an open 10-foot boat. The Swifts are very different.
Fair enough, Nohoval. No hard feelings, I hope. You probably know that I've been around this issue with others, before.
Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.

M4tt

Post by M4tt »

The seller was, without doubt, in good faith and seems like a really nice guy.

The bungs and the mountings were mentioned although I misunderstood which mountings. I can't find the bungs anywhere but have sourced six large stainless R clips which I feel certain are a far more robust solution than the original one.

The missing spring clips that hold the frame together were not mentioned and seem to play a fairly central role in allowing you to get the frame true before putting the skin on. However, I can see how, once you have got used to it, they might seem unimportant. The missing half moon clip appeared folded in a corner of the bag and only needs re-riveting.

The mustiness is not accompanied by any rot I can find. I assume it is just because it has been stored for a while - everything seems supple and there are not worrying fold marks.

The skin has multiple patchings but no sign of damage on the inside - the seller mentioned patching but said it was all precautionary. This seems to be the case. It's still bloody heavy compared to the Puffin's!

All in all I am happy with what I have got. It has clearly been well used, well maintained and well loved. I think that I opened the packages with unreasonable expectations. On reflection there is nothing wrong that I cannot sort and it has a classic feel to it.

The final thing is that, right now it doesn't half feel intimidating. I am yet to take it on the water but where the puffin felt light and inviting, this feels very serious and almost has a feel of vintage aviation about it. (I once flew in an old de Havilland; it felt a bit like this inside) The cockpit is deeper and far, far more snug (I'm 6'2) than the Puffin and I think I will want to practice my wet exits in benign conditions before messing about too much (brrrr).

All that said, It's a beautiful piece of engineering. The Swift seemed to be an exercise in cleverly getting the most out of very little while the Alu-lite seems to be the focused application of carefully engineered overkill. I feel quite certain that the Alulite could break me before I could break it!

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