Open of the 2017 kayak season

Weather and schedule finally co-operated and the 2017 kayak season has officially started. I took the new Pungo 140 down to the WA Taylor conservation area and got out onto the Rideau river.

This boat has really nice glide and tracking. I was able to travel much faster than my previous kayak with the same amount of effort. The water was still pretty cold and I’m definitely going to stay close to shore for a few more weeks but the season is open.

Gravel road preparation

With the opening of a new kayak and camping season it is time to make sure the Outback is ready for the adventures. The car is very capable from the start and I’m mainly looking at preventing damage from gravel or sticks as opposed to changing the performance.

First step is to improve on the factory roof rack. The built-in load bars are an okay idea but honestly I prefer the low profile rails on the 2017 touring. The factory rails are too soft and not as quiet as they could be. I went with a complete Yakima Jet Stream setup using their awesome landing pad (#15 for the Gen5 Outback) system and a pair of short black Jet Stream load bars. I used my existing Thule Hull-a-port Pros but converted them to c-channel mounting instead of clamps. The resulting system is very solid and quiet. None of the problems I’d had last year with the racks walking around on the load bars. Thanks to Auto Racks for outfitting the system and as always having advice and stock to make it happen.

Second step was to prevent gravel damage to the paint on the side of the car. When I ordered the Outback I’d specified the wheel arch covers to help deflect some of the gravel away but wanted more protection behind the wheels to block gravel and any mud spray. From my days racing rally I knew that polyurethane mud flaps can be very effective. I purchased a set of Rally Armour UR mud flaps and installed them on Saturday. The flaps seem to provide good protection and they even make driving on gravel quieter since there are a lot fewer stones bouncing off the bottom of the car.

Last step is to install a set of Primitive Racing skid plates. These are not full-on rally style skid plates and are not suitable for rock scrambling. They however are good protection for large loose stones like you’d find on the last part of the Trans Taiga or a root or stick that could damage the underside of the car. Lightweight protection for forestry roads and light off-roading.

High water woes

Took a look at some of the launch points along the Rideau this Saturday. The river is running incredibly high, to me it looks like it is within a few inches of the highest spring flood I’ve seen. Here is the launch at the Kars community centre:

The water was moving pretty fast so you could duck under the bridge and get out but you would have a hard time paddling back to the car upstream.

I know alot of people with homes along the rivers in the area are having a hard time. Here’s hoping the rainfall abates and the river levels return to something more normal.

Pungo 140 it is

Went on a rainy Friday to pick up my new Pungo 140 in Mango. Thanks to the crew at Trailhead for helping with my shopping.

I decided on the Pungo after lots of consideration. I wanted something longer, with more glide and cargo that my Juntos. I also wanted a sit-inside to stretch my paddling season more into the spring and fall when the water is cold. With the sit-on-top I was always pumping a little bit of water through the scuppers and it would make it very cold as the river cooled off. I tried sitting in a number of boats over the winter and the Pungo offered the best combination of comfortable access, speed and cargo. Once the current weather improves (it is snowing, in mid-May) I’m going to take it for its first test drive.

End of kayaking season 2016

With the arrival of snow yesterday I’ve decided the end of the sit-on-top kayak season. The Rideau river has cooled off significantly and it is getting uncomfortable when the water sprays up. It has been a really nice season and I’m looking forward to getting back on the water at ice-out next spring. I’m shopping for a new hull over the winter to carry more cargo and glide a little faster than my current boat. Current front runners are:

  • Perception Carolina 14
  • Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175
  • Boreal Designs Epsilon C300

I’ve tried all three on the water and they each bring a different strength to the table. It’ll be interesting to see which wins in the end.