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 Post subject: Drogues
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:10 am 
Sorry about the long post. I wanted to share, had a few questions, and right now I'm way over caffeinated :shock:

We just had a typhoon come through Japan last Friday. It went through the middle of the island so by the time it made it to the deep north (jumping over a few tall mountains on the way) it lost quite a bit of steam. As far as tropical storms go, this was a drive-by shooting; it was over before it really got started.

And of course I took the kayak out to the lake, wanting to play in the wind and chop. The wind was gusting, not sustained. This meant smaller waves than expected with 45kmh wind gusts. Going with the wind was more an exercise in steering than paddling, going against quite an exercise, period. As long as the kayak was moving and leaned towards the wind (to offer less of a face to catch the wind) it was manageable. The moment I would stop paddling (the mini Sneakers bars on my dry bag kept calling me) the waves would turn the kayak at an angle to the wind, making it very unstable and moving it at a very good clip back.

It was quite a learning experience. It seems to me that the number one danger of getting caught in strong winds is to freak out. If you lose your cool and start paddling like mad to the point of exhaustion, your options just become close to nil. I would say that if caught in strong winds and being blown away from shore, the number one priority (even more important than to make it to shore) is to remain calm. You freak out, you tire yourself, you capsize, and you then have no control as to where you are being blown to. Also, it seems that if capsized and unable to reenter, the best option is to either grab the bow or the stern if you want to slow down being blown (keeps the kayak facing the wind), or the side of the kayak, if you indeed need to be blown in the direction of the winds.

And finally to the point of this post: it seemed that a drogue or sea anchor would have been such a nice thing to have. As stated, every time I stopped the kayak would turn 90-degrees to the wind, which was the least stable position to be in, not to mention all of the wasted energy needed to get the kayak back in track. I came with the impression that the drogue would had help stability, kept the kayak facing the wind, and allow me to take breaks in the more stable wind facing position, without losing as much ground. I’m even thinking that it would have improved my chances of reentry after a capsize, if such a thing would had even been possible under the nasty circumstances.

So my questions are:

    Have anybody here used a drogue? What are your impressions for this particular scenario?

    How about for reentry through surf? I have seen conflicting opinions as to use a drogue to come through surf. Has anybody here practiced surf reentry with a drogue? What kind of waves would it be suitable for? How about swimming along the kayak while it was attached to a drogue? On some of our rocky shores (at times it seems the only kinds we have) you are better off wet exiting and bringing the kayak in by the hand.

    Also read about deploying it from your stern while going down wind on big swells, in order to slow down the roller coaster ride down the faces of waves (thus making it less likely to get 90-degree turned and capsized, or even pitchpoled). Does anybody has any experiences with this?

    And last but not least, what would be the proper dimensions for a drogue intended for a kayak? I’m going to build a square type drogue out of rip stop nylon fabric, reinforced with 1” webbing and 550 (parachute) cord. How big should the front square, rear (smaller) square, and distance between the two be? I already know that I need to put a swivel, flotation to keep it from sinking, weight to keep it open, maybe a length of shock (bungee) cord to absorb some of the stress, and the means (a line) to retrieve it. What else should I keep in mind?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:42 am 
Funny you should mention this. Saturday I went to a sporting goods store locally to find some hand-grip strengtheners (best thing I've found for rehabbing elboy tendonitis) and saw a waist mounted parachute marketed to runners hoping to improve their strength/endurance. I wondered whether one of them might make a cheap anchor of the sort you've described.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:21 am 
Quote:
every time I stopped the kayak would turn 90-degrees to the wind, which was the least stable position to be in


You may be looking the gift horse in the mouth :) Most paddlers would be overjoyed to have a boat that tracks 90 deg to the wind. You mention that your boat is "resting" at 90deg, but if it will "track" while paddling at 90 degress to the wind, you are dialed in ! That Fujita is starting to sound like a nice boat.

Many boats want to turn into the wind (weathercock) and that causes problems when trying to hold course when paddling across the wind, and is the basis for many a discussion about weight distribution, skegs, and rudders.

Stability at 90 deg. to the wind is another issue, and one that is overcome by a combination of practice , technique, and more practice. A strong side wind / wave can produce a most unstable feeling and can be overcome by practicing to all points of the wind and developing a good brace / bracing stroke . Paddling into the wind is easy.

It's good to hear that you are pushing yourself to become a better paddler. If you haven't done so already, make yourself a Greenland paddle. They are great in the wind once you get the hang of them.

Regards,

Tom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 6:26 pm 
Yostwerks wrote:
You may be looking the gift horse in the mouth :) Most paddlers would be overjoyed to have a boat that tracks 90 deg to the wind. You mention that your boat is "resting" at 90deg, but if it will "track" while paddling at 90 degress to the wind, you are dialed in ! That Fujita is starting to sound like a nice boat.


A Montbell rather, on a brand they call Arfeq. They bought a kayak company not related to Fujita a few years back and started cranking their own boats. Mine has a low profile, with a flat top and rounding edges towards the deck. With a bit of lean towards the wind, said wind just goes over the rounded edge and flat top.

Yostwerks wrote:
Stability at 90 deg. to the wind is another issue, and one that is overcome by a combination of practice , technique, and more practice. A strong side wind / wave can produce a most unstable feeling and can be overcome by practicing to all points of the wind and developing a good brace / bracing stroke . Paddling into the wind is easy.


I'm blessed with a fairly large lake (62km2 surface area) which gives me the opportunity to practice in the rough with minimal risk. Had push come to shove, it would had been a looooooong and wet walk home from the other side of the lake, but a worthwhile learning experience :)

Yostwerks wrote:
...If you haven't done so already, make yourself a Greenland paddle. They are great in the wind once you get the hang of them.


I have been learning how to build them. The local wood, Japanese cedar is excellent but too soft. I'm into the second paddle and building the third, still using them unfinished so I can see the wear patterns and where reinforcements will be needed. I figure by the time I get to the 7th or 8th I'll have the perfect paddle :roll: I'm also thinking about building a single blade paddle as the emergency/spare, something modeled after a greenland design, not as wide as the king island single paddle. I may like it, I may not, I guess I'll have to build it and see how it feels.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:03 pm 
Quote:
A Montbell rather, on a brand they call Arfeq


Alrighty then...That "Montbell" is starting to sound like a nice boat.

Quote:
I'm also thinking about building a single blade paddle as the emergency/spare,


Another option is a breakdown GP. Same feel and performance as a one piece and easily carried on the deck.

http://www.yostwerks.com/AP13.html

Today's Trivia ... Japan produces more folding kayaks in one year than all other folding kayak companies combined .

Tom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 12:37 pm 
Yostwerks wrote:
Another option is a breakdown GP. Same feel and performance as a one piece and easily carried on the deck.

http://www.yostwerks.com/AP13.html

Tom


Wow - that looks reasonably easy to build. I'll bet even I could make one of those. Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:48 pm 
Yostwerks wrote:
Quote:
Another option is a breakdown GP. Same feel and performance as a one piece and easily carried on the deck.

http://www.yostwerks.com/AP13.html
Tom


One thing that has me hesitant of a two piece paddle is the sheer brutality of my current environment. Over here most of the coast is sharp rocks, covered in even sharper shellfish of all kinds. Heck, most fishing ports I put out off are even worse. A two-piece paddle may not like the way I disembark while searching for glass floats, which is by settling the paddle behind the cockpit with the other end wedged on a rock as I slide down the handle.

I'll do a breakdown GP for travel and general paddling, but I still want to try the single blade spare. If it works I can use it for getting in/out of the kayak and reserve the breakdown one for gentler use.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:19 pm 
Quote:
A two-piece paddle may not like the way I disembark while searching for glass floats, which is by settling the paddle behind the cockpit with the other end wedged on a rock as I slide down the handle.


First off, your single blade spare is likely to be destoyed if the conditions, and your application of the aft deck paddle brace are as you state. In any event, a 96" take-apert GP, will have the take apart ferrule resting on the aft deck, so it should be in about the same level of peril as your shorter single blade spare.

My suggestion, in that event, is to use an old fiberglass paddle shaft as seen below, or something sacrificial like a wood dowel or old broom handle. I have been using this old Lendal loom for many years as an aft deck brace for entry / exit in order to spare my cedar GP's any abuse. A flat aft deck sure makes it easier.

Image

PS - Thanks Andreas for the cut and paste info.
Regards,
Tom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 6:32 pm 
Yostwerks wrote:
Quote:

...your single blade spare is likely to be destroyed if the conditions...


Which is why I'm experimenting with Kevlar :D I'm waiting for 1" and 2" wide rolls of kevlar fabric, which I plan on using to make a bulletproof (pun intended :lol:) reinforced single blade to punish to my heart's content.

I don't know if it's going to work; all I know is that I'll have fun trying. In theory, I like the appeal of an emergency paddle that does not occupy as much space as a regular paddle (take apart or not) without unduly compromising performance. If said spare can double as an entry/exit tool by virtue of it being strong/reinforced enough, all the better.

Eventually (if the theory holds) my primary paddle could be a take apart GP and a single blade reinforced spare, strong enough for take offs, landings, sit on it, wedge shellfish from rocks for lunch, and any other indignity that the situation may require :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:35 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 1035
Location: Astoria, OR
Devnull, it impresses me, the lengths to which you are willing to go, in the face of a simple and elegant solution such as tom has provided. Hats off to the the genius of elaboration!!! :wink:

You go, man!

_________________
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:57 pm 
krudave wrote:
Devnull, it impresses me, the lengths to which you are willing to go, in the face of a simple and elegant solution such as tom has provided. Hats off to the the genius of elaboration!!! :wink:

You go, man!


It may be that after a whole lot of effort, I end up doing just as Tom suggests, which is indeed a simple solution to a simple problem. Still, one of my favorite quotes is "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want", which means that even if the whole endeavor end up being a certifiable failure, I still stand to learn something.

Besides, if it is worth doing it is worth overdoing, and kevlar certainly qualifies as an overkill :D

Give me about a year to work most of the nonsense out of my system and I promise you I'll be a more sensible kayaker :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:59 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Posts: 1716
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)
Just to fill in a bit more info on the company MontBell. They're not well-known outside of Japan, but they are the outdoor king IN Japan. They have a well-respected string of stores, and manufacture a lot of their own stuff. They are the REI of Japan. In fact, REI has a couple of stores in Japan, but I think several of REI's attempts at opening stores have failed-- probably because of competition from MontBell.

I have a lot of Montbell gear, although not much for my water-sports. One of the funny things to watch out for with Japanese gear is that they have changed the standard sizes as follows:
M= everyone else's S
L=everyone else's M
XL= L
and don't try to find real XL or shoes over 10 1/2!
(But custom shoes are a GREAT deal in Japan...)

_________________
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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 Post subject: Re: Drogues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:32 am 
DevNull wrote:
Have anybody here used a drogue? What are your impressions for this particular scenario?


I have not used the sea anchor, but the idea sounds interesting. I have recently finished reading Thor Heyerdahl's book about his voyages on Ra boats. In the book, he describes several occasions where the sea anchor was found to be indispensible. One of the occasions involves a broken rudder oar during a storm.

Dmitry.


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 Post subject: Re: Drogues
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:17 pm 
menedem wrote:
DevNull wrote:
Have anybody here used a drogue? What are your impressions for this particular scenario?


I have not used the sea anchor, but the idea sounds interesting. I have recently finished reading Thor Heyerdahl's book about his voyages on Ra boats. In the book, he describes several occasions where the sea anchor was found to be indispensible. One of the occasions involves a broken rudder oar during a storm.

Dmitry.


The more I play with the notion, the more I think that they are indispensable for the solo paddler or for the group venturing in open waters.

As a solo paddler, I am concerned of capsizing on a place were reentry may be tricky. A drogue or even a sea anchor improves my chances of reentry and roll (with paddle float) significantly. Not only that, but it would leave me on a much more stable position to drain the kayak; I have practice reentry and roll (with paddle float) on waves and the trick is not the recovery, but being able to stay upright long enough to drain the kayak.

Then there is the worry of winds getting a tad too strong for comfort. If your usual clip is about 4 MPH and you are barely doing 1 MPH against the wind, that means that for every minute you stop, you have to paddle three to regain lost ground. Take a 10-minute break, be prepared to paddle half an hour just to regain lost ground. In this case I think laying to a drogue give you choices, such as waiting in place for the wind to die somewhat (it could be the difference between being blown 2 miles out to sea instead of 10 miles) or to keep paddling at 1-MPH, knowing that you can afford to rest. In just about any emergency situation, exhaustion can kill you as fast as anything else.

I'm jet to finish building my drogue. I did some testing just dragging flotsam on a windy day on 20-feet of line, and the feel of added stability was very promising. I still need to figure out the correct size, to try different ways to deploy (and recover) the drogue from bow and stern, and to figure out how long the line need to be for a given condition. I'll be happy to share what I find.


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 Post subject: Feathercraft sea anchor?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:07 am 
Not to discourage free enterprise, but doesn't Feathercraft make a sea anchor? I can't seem to get to their website just now.


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