Song for the Dying

I put off buying a new kayak last year.  You can’t blame me..they cost a freaking ton of cash! Besides I have 3 glass kayaks now.  Sure, they are all being held together by spit, twine & glue, but they float. Or you could say, they are only in a slightly noticeable  state of sinking.  My kayak collection has become a bit like the car collections you see on old farms here in rural Wisconsin.  A wealth of hulks and none of them are dependable.  

My Rockpool Alaw Bach is just 5 years old but like an old Chevrolet Camero, the paint is faded, the floorboards are worn through and the doors are about to fall off.  I love this kayak and every year I do my best to patch the cracks, fix the bubbles, fill the holes and do whatever I can to keep it together. These days I’ve got patches holding the patches together… Honestly, I wouldn’t trust it too far from shore.  Still, it looks nice sitting in the parking lot…

My other 2 glass boats are a 96 NDK Explorer & a 96 NDK Romany (SeakayakingUK).  Last year, the Explorer threw a shoe.. well, by that I mean that a second deck line clip ripped right through the glass. You know, the boat is getting old when the hardware starts ripping right through the hull!  I can fix this of course, but epoxy and fresh glass don’t do much when the rest of the boat is slowly turning to powder.

My old white Romany has become the lead dog over the last year.  Yeah, it’s old, the glass work is shaggy at best, but it floats and I can still stand on it without worry.  The boat is so heavy and the hull is so bloody thick that a tornado could throw it through a brick wall with little damage to the boat. Still, I can’t seem to figure out why there is a cup of water in the tail after every paddle and it doesn’t even have a skegbox!  And yeah, it’s getting a bit flaky as well.

Last year, I tried a lot of kayaks and in the end only a very few felt right for me.  But to be honest, the price tags take out any rush I might feel about a new boat. What’s more, I just don’t trust new boats to last 10, 15 years these days. Oh well,  I accept I can’t keep teaching, doing trips and such without an inland sea worthy craft.  So something will have to give this season.  But honestly do I WANT to buy another kayak? No. No, because I don’t want to be disappointed again and end up right back here in another 5 years. If you ask me, a coach’s kayak should be like a farmers old pick up truck. Who makes a kayak that will easily be there to carry the bales for me 15 years from now? Good question.

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3 Responses

  1. Mike

    What about low volume builders like Rockpool? They do custom jobs and as long as you’re able to pay for more resin and glass I’m sure they’ld build you the Bismark.

    1. UM, the Bismark sunk.. LOL! But yes, you’re right.. Most companies will do “expedition” layups. Actually here on the blog we’ve had discussions about this before.. Weight vs strength vs materials vs cost… I think it’s all a bit of a crap shoot these days because most kayaks are not built (in my opinion) to last as much as the focus has been cost and weight. I do think you that in a perfect world we should be able to just take a kayak right off the showroom floor and it should last 15 years or more even with some abuse. There are some well made boats out there.. Tiderace seem pretty tough, Wilderness Systems, Valley.. (At least last year!) but with every company it seems quality comes and goes.. Some companies that I would have said made crap boats when I started this blog in 2004 are now making great kayaks and some great builders years back are now slacking and before you know it, things will change again.

      1. Mike

        oops… her name was spelled Bismarck! Yes, she did sink but would have lasted longer had she only been used for kayak instructions. Hard to roll tough. Anyway, good luck in your search, do doubt you’ll keep us posted!

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