Sunday, May 28, 2017

Seabird Scott MV HDPE midterm review.

I wrote about my initial impressions of the Seabird Scott MV HDPE kayak last August. Since then I've used only this kayak, on evening paddles, overnighters and a few weekend trips. Now that my new number one kayak has arrived, making this my number two kayak,  it's time to expand upon those initial impressions.

The Seabird Scott MV HDPE is a sandwich polyethylene (PE) version of the composite Scott series, which is a nice line of playful British style sea kayaks for a good price. It is just big enough (the plastic version is a little longer than the composite one) for me. Despite my size, 192 cm and 100 kg, I like smaller kayaks, which in practice means mid sized, since I can't get into anything smaller. It's not really a lack of flexibility, but rather too long legs. The cockpit is 2 cm longer than that of the composite Scott MV, which is enough for me to fit in adequately, even though it is lower. Lengthwise there is more room inside in the PE version and the seat also is more comfortable. The entire kayak is lower, also in the cockpit, but I don't like a high "knees up" position anyway. I previously used to have a paddle float under my knees, which was really comfortable, but this kayak is a little low for that. The knee braces are a tad aggressive and big and would need some modifications. Not having a paddle float under my knees turned out to be a good thing, since it enabled better leg work with straightening the leg more during the power phase. Though I've always been plenty of spare power, I think this has still given me more.

There is the usual place for a Silva (nowadays Garmin) 70P compass, which is one of the first things to mount on a new kayak.

The hatches are Seabird's own production and are ok, but not great. With the exception of the front day hatch, the hatches have been perfectly tight during rolls, waves and rescues. There's a large oval hatch in the back (without it I couldn't bring my pizza oven) and a smaller round hatch in the front. The hatches are soft, which means that they might come loose in rescues if e.g. a knee pushes them in. This had happened several times during rescue trainings and I now take care not to get weight on the hatch.

The front day hatch is probably not even designed to be totally waterproof, though. It leaks water during rescue trainings.

The rear day hatch is unnecessarily small. There is plenty of space inside, but it all has to fit through a 15 cm opening. No deal breaker, but poor design in my opinion.

The hatches were not tethered from the start, but that doesn't take many minutes to fix.

The seat was mounted in the same way as on the Arrow Play, i.e in practice hanging from the extended cockpit coaming, a construction that definitely does not work for someone my weight. The seat moves too much. I solved it the same way as in the Arrow Play, by putting a rubber mat under the seat. The seat rests mostly on the rubber mat, the friction of which keeps it from moving sideways. This could probably be further improved by applying some urethan like foam between the mat and the seat.

The rigging is good, better than on the composite Scott versions. With deck balls on a few places the deck lines will be further improved. I do think the rig line is too thin, though, since it has popped out from the fittings twice.

The first impressions video below is still valid.

The Scott MV HDPE has continued to feel like a very maneouverable kayak that is easy to roll. The stability, both primary and secondary, is good and I've even learned to stand up in it. The course stability is poor without the skeg down and demands concentration and technique to keep it on track. With the skeg down it tracks well, though. It works well in strong wind and waves. Below is a little video from a surf session.

Update: I tried a hand roll in it and had no problems nailing it the first time. No problems at all.

The speed is ok. Normal cruising speed feels easy, and it is only above 8 km/h that the resistance starts to grow rapidly. During short sprints I've had it up to 10.5 km/h, which does need quite a lot of power.

For touring there could be more room. It definitely has a less cargo space than the Arrow Play HV, and there's definitely not space for the pizza oven during a week long unsupported trip. A clear drawback of a low and mid sized manouverable kayak.

All in all, this is a fun and agile British style kayak for a very good price. It is stable enough for guiding and the HDPE material is stiff enough and should be almost bomb proof. Compared to other PE British style kayaks I've tried, like the Nordkap and Capella, this is a much more lively and fun boat. In Finland it is sold by at least

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another perfect May kayaking trip

Last year we had a perfect kayaking trip at the end of May. It made sense to aim for the same date when planning a weekend trip for the local paddling club. I had some getting the order for the weather through, though, with everything between snow, hail, rain and sleet just one and a half week before the trip, but the nice weather came through just in time.

I was the main guide and Tarja the assistant guide. In addition we had seven mostly quite experienced participants. Starting on Friday after work meant that the actual paddling would start quite late, and this time we started from Kasnäs at 20:20. We had a little less than two hours before sunset and a little more than two hours of paddling to the planned tent spot. No hurry then, since the weather was great.

At some point the sun started to set.

Me. Photo by Jarkko Holopainen.

Our planned tent spot was occupied, which is quite an unlikely event in the Archipelago Sea, since there are few paddlers and lots of islands. A large Israeli group of kayakers led by a few Finnish guides seemed to have fun there.

We continued to the other side of the island, where there were more nice tent spots. It was now becoming darker and after a while the headlamps got used.

I teamed up with Jarkko for the dinners and he made sautéed reindeer and mashed potatoes.

And then it was night. It no longer becomes completely dark, though.

It rained in the morning, which forced Jarkko to to stay in the tent until it stopped at six in the morning. I got up at seven.

Mandatory morning coffee picture.

Spring has finally sprung.

Part of the tents.

We started paddling again at ten.

The weather was great and after maybe twenty minutes I stopped the group to discuss the question that everyone anyway was thinking about. The Bengtskär lighthouse, the crown jewel in every kayaker's lighthouse collection, would be an easy catch in these conditions. I had already pondered about the security aspects, since this would be a deviation from the original security plan, which is not anything to be taken lightly. The conditions and the forecasted weather were however clear and it would be safe, safer in fact than a July attempt, since everyone had a drysuit this time. We made the decision to paddle there, 14.5 km straight to the south from our position.

A short break on a small island, which had this impressive chives.

A small pond.

Red color by some algae.

This island  was also the continue/turn around point. The weather forecast remained excellent, so it was easy to continue.

Closing in.

The lighthouse raises 52 m above the sea, making it the highest one in the Nordic countries. It also has an interesting history with a dramatic battle against invading Soviet forces during the Continuation War. The island itself is barren and small.

There were around 300 common eiders on the island. Seemingly a good place to brood the eggs.

The stairs up the lighthouse.

After a long lunch break it was time to continue. We had a little under 10 km to a potential tent island.

The island was to be our home for the night.

Lots of time for a long dinner, starting with a chicken sauce with rosemary, chives, white wine, cream and feta cheese, eaten with rice.

Dinner spot.

For dessert I made a sort of cheesecake. Digestive cookie crunches with butter was heated in a frying pan and on top of that whipped cream mixed with Philadelphia cheese and lemon curd made a suprisingly tasty result. So good in fact that most of it was gone when I remembered to take a photo of it.

The rest of a nice evening.

The night was warm, even though the wind rose a little. I got up at half past six, when it was already quite hot in the tent.


Packing the kayaks for a start at nine in the morning.

On the move. The navigation duties were split between the participants and Jarkko got the honor to do this interesting section.

This section had many small features and narrow channels.

The idea to paddle to Örö, which anyway was on the route I had planned, for an icecream was tossed, so there we went.

Our entire gang on the 12 inch Obuhov artillery gun.

A visit to an exhibition about Örö showed that the climax of 13000 years of history was when four paddlers arrived as the first civilians when the military had left the island and it was opened for the public. I was one of them...

After Örö we continued through a tight section with many small islands.


After the lunch it was quite hot and it became necessary to cool down a little more.

Back at Kasnäs a little after two in the afternoon. Thanks everyone for the company, it was a nice trip of just under 60 km in great weather.