Sunday, June 4, 2017

Venture Capella 173 - First impressions overnighter

Long-term readers might remember my frustrations with the Zegul Arrow Play kayak, which I returned to the shop, Melontapiste, last August. A little over a week ago the replacement kayak, a Venture Capella 173, arrived. I first took it out briefly just to check that everything was in order, i.e. that there were no leaks etc, but the first real test was an overnighter this weekend. I got O-P to join me. He wanted to do a slightly longer route, which suited me fine. We met at the paddling club and drove 45 minutes to Granvik, were we packed the kayaks.

Good amount of cargo space. My Scott MV HDPE would have been almost full with this amount.

We started paddling at 16:00.


We had a fairly good speed the first two hours, around 7.5 km/h in 5-6 m/s head wind.

Incidentally, O-P also has a Zegul Arrow Play, the LV version. It was bought about the same time as mine and has had at least as much problems. He has reinforced it and patched it up, since the quality was as poor as with mine.

A short break after two hours at Gulskär.

At this time of the year you have to be really careful with the birds. We scared away a common eider, but leaved soon enough that no harm should have been made.

Sea mayweed.

On the move again.


A nice place a bit west of Gullkrona.


After Stenskär we turned eastwards and finally got tail wind.

A section with nice small islands.




After Kongungskär we encounter something rather peculiar. Visually we identified some islands with some certainty, but the compass course didn't match at all. Since judging distance is sometimes quite hard at sea and since you are always told that the compass doesn't lie, we continued on the correct compass course for a while. Things didn't add up though, and after a while we skipped the compass and went right to Järvskär. The whole incident is still a mystery. According to the sea chart, the course would be around 40 degrees, but the compass showed it to be almost straight to the north. The magnetic declination at that spot is currently around 7 degrees easterly, which far from explains it. Nor is there any magnetic disturbances there according to the sea chart.

Approaching Järvskär.

We arrived at Långören west of Norrlandet at 21:30 and 33.5 km. Since the excellent tent place just a short bit to the south, Mellanlandet, isn't really open for tents according to the national park rules, I wanted to check out this place.

Some impressions after 33,5 km and about five hours in the kayak: It feels strange to have lots of space inside the kayak. Is this how it always feels for normal sized paddlers? The seat is possible a bit too wide and I might pad it out a little, but I'll have to try it in rougher water first. I immediately removed the padding on the seat, to get less friction against it when involving the legs in the forward paddling. The seat position is good and there is plenty of  room for my long legs. It felt like I found a position good for both forward paddling and taking support from the kayak, like hanging on the knee when edging it. Surprisingly, the kayak turns very well when put on edge. Width-wise there is almost too much room. When taking support against the (rather small) knee braces, there is 2-3 cm room on each side to the kayak sides. It also feels like the kayak width slightly interferes with planting the paddle blade in forward paddling. The speed of the kayak is decent. Normal cruising speed of around 7-7.5 km/h is effortless and with a little more leg and hip work 8.5 km/h is quite easy, but after that the resistance starts to grow rapidly. The sprint speed is around 10.5 km/h using a lot of power. The kayak seems to weather cock quite a bit, though I think a had too much weight in the front. Also having the foam roll pieces far on the back deck probably created unnecessarily much wind surface. The skeg does counter the weather cocking completely when engaged, though.

When we arrived I was quite cold, probably mostly due to low energy levels. I had eaten only one müsli bar since lunch and at this point the Finnish summer was something of a disappointment with around 10C in the air. The earlier plans for an evening swim were quickly dismissed in favor of dry and warm clothes. We quickly put up our tents and then proceeded to dinner.

Having plenty of space in the kayak I could again bring the pizza oven. After several pizzas I had refilled my energy depots.


The sunset wasn't particularly spectacular due to the clouds, but at some point there was a little color in the sky.

At this time of the year it doesn't get dark. The golden band near the horizon just moved eastwards until sunrise.

We got up a little after seven in the morning. It had been a little warm in the tent for a while, but then some clouds came in the way of the sun.

 A little morning stroll before breakfast.

Chives.

Viola tricolor.

More sea mayweed.

The west point of Långören and Långörs kläppen.

Mellanlandet. The slick rock is really much smoother and more even on Mellanlandet in the picture.

View towards east with the higher Norrlandet in the background. There is now a new summer cottage on Norrlandet, so it's no longer an option for a tent spot, but the island isn't really optimal for it anyway.

Someone has written something in runes on the rock. I couldn't get it to make any sense using the Scandinavian older futhark, but I didn't give it much time.

Morning coffee.

Packed and ready to go.

Leaving at nine in the morning.



O-P thinks it looks a little less dense to the right.

Despite the sea chart saying otherwise, I don't think we can get through here.

The last section.


We paddled 13 km back to the car and I was home in time for lunch with the family. Thanks to O-P for the company.

Some more Venture Capella 173 impressions: The kayak is very maneuverable when put on edge and all the usual steering techniques are available and work well. The stability is excellent also on edge and it seems to remain very unaffected by waves. It will be interesting to take it out in rougher see. I expect it to do very well in such conditions. The back deck is higher than on the rather low Scott MV HDPE, so rolling isn't as easy, but there is still no problem rolling it. A rodeo self rescue is a piece of cake due to the large cockpit opening. Unladen it sits quite high in the water even with me in it, so I would say this is clearly a touring kayak. There should be no problem getting  gear and food in it for a week or two.

The Venture Capella 173 is a very decent kayak that still (or yet) doesn't wake the same feelings as the Arrow Play. The Arrow Play would still have been my first choice if the quality only would have been acceptable. The Capella does however seem promising and I'm still looking forward to getting more miles in more demanding conditions with it. Once I've done that I'll be back with more information.

Update a week later: A morning paddle with the kayak empty gave some more information. I paddled about 13 km around an island in weak wind (3 m/s) and small waves with an average speed of 8.4 km/h. This does make the kayak clearly faster than the Arrow Play. I didn't push very hard, but used good technique involving my legs. I'm starting to believe that the more roomy cockpit indeed allows better technique using the legs more efficiently.


Final update: I sold the kayak. Despite it being a very good kayak in almost all aspects I couldn't get get the seating position I wanted. I still do think it is one of the best compromise kayaks, meaning it's good at almost everything and but not the best in anything, but I've become to used to having a tighter fit in the cockpit.

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