Buying a kayak

May 24, 2006

Wednesday 24 May 2006

Well after reading hundreds of pages on the internet and a couple of books I finally decided to buy a kayak. I bought it at a Japanese outdoor sports shop called Mont Bell and it cost 145,000yen or 760 pounds sterling or about $1300.

It is an American sea kayak called a Dagger Charleston apparantly now discontinued but still available in Japan. It is a plastic rotomoulded 4.3m long 610mm wide Kayak with lots of room and all red (not that weird yellow red mix in the pixture). I chose it for various reasons:

1. plastic: because there are lots of sharp shellfish encrusted rocks where I will paddle and its cheap; I will sell this Kayak in August 2007 so it had to be.

2. short and wide: as I am a beginner and day tourer and so I can fish from it sometimes

3. with a skeg: I wanted a skeg and there were only two kayaks available with skeg options

I am hoping this kayak will be a ‘good learner’. I understand that it’s easy to roll but fairly stable and is the kind used in some kayak schools.

I read that you should try before you buy but that seems to be pretty much impossible here as sea kayaking is very much a minority sport. So I bought this kayak without knowing how it would feel. Luckily it feels great. With the skeg up its very manouverable but prone to weather cocking. With the skeg down it tracks like a dream. It feels pretty fast to me and more importantly easy to get up to top speed – a function of its relative shortness.

My only complaint so far is that the cockpit and fore deck is too big for me, I feel like I’m rattling around in it. But then at only 5’5” I knew this would be the case with any American built kayak. (I’m thinking about building my own kayak – a frame and skin Greenland type when I get back to Scotland). In the mean time I need to get some foam padding in to try and lock me in a bit more.

Here it is on Sunday 11th June dragged up on a concrete beach – one of many in Japan

My new kayak
The total cost including extras comes to more that 210,000yen. Ay ai ai.

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