Paddling a loaded P&H Fjord (continued 7)
As described in the posts about the Fjord before, she is a high volume kayak.
In theory she is too big for me but thanks to her small oceancockpit en the extra padding I applied in the cockpit I can handle her very well.
During the summers of 2009 and 2010 I went, together with Tiny, to Norway for holiday. For us this is quite a standard destination. But what was new this time is that we made a self supported 2-weekly trip along the Norwegian coast with 2 seakayaks.
During the preparations for the first trip I had been thinking for some time about which kayak to take with me. Finally I choose the Fjord for a few reasons, First of course her volume. Second was the fact this kayak has been built very strong which looked like an advantage for the rocky coast. Third was her stability which I thought important for easy photographing and for eventual assisting of Tiny who is less experienced at sea.
Well I did not regret this choice for 1 second. Aa..h yes, only sometimes when we had to haul her out of the water. Then she is very, very heavy thanks to the load plus her own weight.
But further she performed very well.
Starting to paddle you have to push a bit to get the weight moving, but after a few strokes she just glides.
And when sprinting sometimes, to catch up with Tiny after photographing, I was astonished about how well she rode and spliced the waves. With her weight she just bashed through them.
Spoken about photographing; even in a confused sea I had no stability problems. Oh yes, at first I had to get used to the mingle of ocean waves with wind- or reflection-waves from different directions. But after a few days this was normal practice. One of our first days of the trip I even got seasick in such a confused sea above an irregular seabed, just caused by tiredness and some headache, but I could handle this quite well without assistance. Of course you understand I did not make any photographs that day
Paddling while wind and waves were pushing us from behind, gave me some problems during the first trip because I had difficulties in keeping a straight course: she wandered too easy away to either side. Afterwards, now after the second trip, I concluded that this was caused by fault in loading the kayak. Probably I had too much load in the front compartment. Anyway, during the second trip the Fjord was very obedient in following waves.
During our trips we paddled in maximal 5 Bft winds and I never had any problem with weather- or leecocking. I could always compensate for weathercocking with the variable skeg and leecocking did not occur.
So you understand that I used the Fjord again for the second trip.
Safety first !
Posted on 21 Sep 2010 by René
Lively ride with the Fjord; (continued 6)
Due to ice, covering the inland waters, it's some time ago that I could make an evening workout. As tonight, when I arrived at the club, no members were present yet I took the Fjord and paddled her for an hour. I took the route just over the middle of the Alkmaardermeer. The wind blew with force 5Bft, arranging some nice waves for me.
At first I surfed with the wind pushing in my back from an angle, which is mostly a direction where weathercocking occurs. However with the variable skeg the Fjord could be perfectly trimmed to neutral. Only once I had to make a few corrective strokes to keep a straight course. At that time I did not realise I was surfing, causing the change of direction, because of the dark and invisible waves.
Next course gave waves and wind from aside, the waves sometimes passing diagonally. Again the Fjord could be trimmed to neutral and only sometimes, due to the wave impact, in need of a correction stroke.
While edging the kayak, this felt very comfortable and responsive.
Turning around, to go home, brought the conditions in reverse; so I paddled yet against waves and wind.
The Fjord danced very lively over the waves. I was surprised how this antique kayak handled the waves so well, splicing them without slowing down and offering a dry ride as well.
Oh, and not forget to mention that the skeg again assisted me in paddling a neutral course without weathercocking. The Fjord really listens to the skeg.
Did you know, by the way, that paddling in the dark towards a green or red buoy-light is a very easy way to notice whether the kayak is weather- or leecocking? I just found out today.
Anyway, I was very pleased with the Fjord on this lonely, dark trip.
Posted on 27 Feb 2009 by René
Derek and the Fjord. (continued 5)
As I wrote in my first post about the Umnak Icefloe Fjord, Derek designed her on request of the Norwegians. He used the Icefloe-design which he modified by taking away the integral skeg. As Willem Molengraaf understood from Derek the hull and deck of the Fjord are equal to the Icefloe.
I quoted in this first post that Derek once talled Willem that he did not like the Fjord.
Just now I found a discussion on the Sea&Surf-forum where Owen wrote something similar on the 26th april 2007:
We happened to meet Derek Hutchinson out on the water. He said that the fjord was "one of his biggest disappointments".
As I understand from the discussion which was going on, this was due to difficulties holding her on course in a quartering sea.
Probably this was exact the result of the design-target for the Fjord to improve on the Icefloe which holds course well in quartering seas but was difficult in a beam wind; probably because of leecocking.
So what´s the truth??
- Is Derek disappointed because he had to change his favorite Icefloe design for the Norwegians?
- Is the Fjord-design really that bad?
- Did P&H sell only few Fjords because of the image the Icefloe created the years before?
- Is the Fjord not suited to novices in seakayaking, despite her stability being very good.
- Or do you need to have perfect boatcontact before she obeys the "captain".
Personally, having paddled the Fjord in some heavy conditions, I don´t understand Derek´s disappointment about the Fjord.
I thinks she looks good. I can understand however that a quatering sea can knock her of course, but the adjustable skeg will fix this easily as the Fjord will react as the Icefloe once you drop the skeg.
At the end, my feeling is that the Fjord is an improvement of the Icefloe.
But: I will continue paddling the Fjord while trying to understand Derek´s disappointment.
Posted on 01 Oct 2008 by René
Paddling the Fjord in a tiderace (continued 4)
Paddling the Fjord in the tideraces around Anglesey seemed an ideal opportunity to learn more about here capacities. We went in sept´08 with a group of 7 kayakers (mostly from Kayakclub Uitgeest) to Holy Head in Wales.
Axel Schoevers was our guide [Click for his weblog]
and we had a perfect paddling-week. Axel guided us to Puffin Island, North Stack, South Stack, Skerries and Penrhyn Mawr.
To be honest, being at sea the combination of strong currents and waves was a bit intimidating at first. But as Axel slowly increased the level, the learning-curve was perfect.
Looking at the boats of my companions, paddling the Fjord was easy, especially when you compare her with a Sirius: I would like to describe the Fjord as a trustworthy companion.
Of course I had to make a brace sometimes. Mostly a low brace, but high braces only in the cresting waves of Penrhyn Mawr. The stability
of the Fjord was outstanding.
The only thing that made me a bit uncertain was that rolling
this kayak was heavy and required a complete stroke until the stern, coming up on the backdeck. Otherwise you need a very powerfull hipflick, wich is not so easy anymore after being a bit tired having played around in waves.
My uncertainty was caused by the thought that I don´t like swimming in a tiderace in case I didn´t succeed in rolling. So probably I was a bit too carefull when surfing the front of the race. So my learning-curve was not as fast as possible. Afterwards I thought that I should have tried rolling in a tiderace anyway, after having mobilized 2 buddies to be at hand in case of a failure.Surfing
a tiderace is big fun.
As my Fjord is heavily built and not a fast kayak, I could not accelerate very fast and thus only able to catch the most powerfull waves for a surfride, not wanting to exhoust myself completely.
Once the fjord was surfing she could be controlled reasonably good using the sternrudder.
When the waves are steep, the big volume of the bow is an advantage as the bow will not bury herself in a wave, thus preventing a looping.
So in general, the Fjord can be paddled in a following sea without surfing if you don´t want to. This is a safe characteristic of this kayak because you (can) have complete control.
When we were at Anglesey the winds did not exceed strength 4Bft. Under these conditions the fjord weathercocked
only slightly but could be controlled perfectly with the adjustable skeg.
The general behaviour in waves is that the kayak easily follows the waves, gliding graceful over them without much spray.Edging
the kayak, to support the steering strokes, is very comfortable keeping away easily from the capsizing point and giving a very predictable response.
Ferrygliding in current with the Fjord , strongly edged and with a high brace, was big fun to me.
of the Fjord in waves is reasonably good, especially when you fit well in the cockpit and support your strokes with edging.
About the speed
of the Fjord I can tell she is not very fast but I could keep up with my companions when touring normally. Only when someone challenged me, I could just keep ahead when using maximum effort and 100% technique.
In rough water the stability is an advantage when compared with a less stable kayak as I can just keep on paddling without loosing energy while trying to keep uprigth. In that case the Fjord is relatively fast.To be continued.
Posted on 29 Sep 2008 by René
Impression of the Umnak Icefloe Fjord; continued 3
Last Wednesday I paddled the Fjord on the lake 'Alkmaardermeer' and surveyed her behaviour in wind: a SW-wind at force 4Bft. Waves approx. 20-30cm
I wrote already about this topic in the first article, but since then I tailorfitted the kayak.
I concluded earlier that the Fjord weathercocks quite remarkable.
Today I concluded that the weathercocking is still there but to a lesser degree due to the weaker wind. Again, the Fjord could be trimmed perfectly with the skeg. But that’s no news.
Next thing I did was lifting the skeg and trying to keep course with only sweepstrokes. I did this on several courses compared to the wind-direction. That was not too easy and in fact rather tiring.
Now I added edging to my sweepstrokes and shifting weight as well: and thus I recorded a big improvement. In fact I could easily keep course now while using much less paddle-energy. There was only one note to make: the timing of the weight shifting was important. To my opinion this improvement in compensating for weathercocking was the result of tailorfitting my cockpit. I got now much better grip and could transfer the paddle-energy easily to the boat's course.
A final note on weathercocking-corrections is that the course with the wind at an angle from behind is the less easiest in keeping course without the skeg.
In general I could add the remark that you can travel faster when using the variable skeg. That’s logical because nothing of your energy is wasted for steering.
In addition I investigated the manouevrability. When only using sweepstrokes it is, parallel to my conclusions above, not possible to make quick changes in course. The Fjord keeps course very well. And when dropping the skeg she travels like on rails.
But when edging aggressively and while using hips, knees and feet, the tailorfitted Fjord becomes quite a manoeuvrable kayak.
So it seems that the Fjord can be a good travel-companion. Only it is not advised for a beginner to enter challenging conditions with her.
The boobytrap is that the stability of the Fjord is of course perfect suited to beginners, but when they enter nasty conditions and the skeg fails they could easily get into problems because it is likely that they are not able to perform aggressive edging. So be aware.
More on paddling the Fjord will follow.
I will have to observe the behaviour of the tailorfitted Fjord in windy conditions and with bigger waves.
Posted on 28 Aug 2008 by René
Impression of the Umnak Icefloe Fjord (P&H) in surf conditions; continued 2
Last Wednesday evening the kayakclub planned a surfsession at the beach near Bakkum. As conditions were good I joined the party because this was an ideal opportunity to paddle the Fjord in surf. Conditions: wind SW 6bft, waves 1,2-1,6m, temp seawater 19°C
Starting just after the high tide, with the sea lowering already, the waves were steep and rather disturbed while coming from several directions and zipping into each other, causing a kind of Clapotis as well.
At first I felt a bit uneasy under this conditions as the Fjord reacted on every wave with a kind of uncontrolled edging. Probably I had to get used to this behaviour of the Fjord as I did not notice this anymore after half an hour.
So after a while I paddled quite relaxed on the edges of whitecaps; mostly without bracing.Stability
I did not capsize during this evening and concerning the steep waves, I thought that I may conclude the stability in surf is very good. Even when paddling with whitecaps coming from aside the Fjord was not difficult to handle. Lower waves I could let pass by without bracing. The higher ones required a brace but the Fjord reacted very well on every paddlestroke.
The only remark was that after having braced into a steep wave the Fjord did not dis-edge very quickly when the wave stopped breaking, so once and awhile I ended up with my bracing paddle-blade rather deep, which is not a stable position for recovering from the wave. But as the stability is high I was not punished with a capsize at the end of the wave. I assume that after getting used to this behaviour, I will anticipate more on this slower de-edging.Braces
In high waves, requiring a low- or high brace, the Fjord was easy to handle. My favourite is the high brace and in rough, steep, breaking waves I could thus easily perform a Bongo-slide and even, by leaning backwards, change from Bongo-slide to surfing down a wave.
At a certain moment, heading out to sea, a particular wave grow out to a real beast. It was a very steep and high one and as I did not have enough time to change direction the wave hit me right in the front. It appeared I was going to loop backwards. Remembering earlier sessions, being much younger, I don´t like that as the risk of injuries is great. With the thought in my mind "No, not again", I invented another approach at that very moment by leaning far forward, while the bow was rising high already, and plunged my paddle-blade for a forward high brace into the wave in front of me. That worked out wonderful as the kayak, while standing on her tail (I did not hit the ground as the big volume of the kayak prevented her from sinking very deep) started to turn around her vertical axis. Probably I initiated this rotation at the moment I plunged the blade in the wave. However I spinned around for 180° and landed safely on the bottom, just on top of the wave: Only just too late to surf it.Surfing
When the waves were powerful enough the Fjord surfs well. Probably she can surf smaller waves as well, but it requires a lot of power to get the Fjord quickly at a speed at which she can pick up a wave. This can be a safe characteristic as well because this makes it possible to choose and let waves, if you don’t like them, coming from your backside pass by without surfing. Probably this behaviour is caused by the Fjord not being a real light weight kayak.
When surfing I could control the kayak and keep her on the desired course by leaning far backwards. Sometimes when the waves were steep I had to lay on the backdeck while performing a high brace from that position. I really made a few nice rides this way.Manoeuvrability
Once surfing on a wave I could rather easy change direction. But with most kayaks this is rather easy when leaning backwards. As I had to lean very far backwards this might be a signal she is not highly manoeuvrable. Trying to turn the Fjord with sweepstrokes in between the waves is rather slow. While edging as well, turning is much easier but requires a lot of force to be applied with knees and hips when you want to make a quick turn.
So I concluded the Fjord is rather course-stable and can be turned while using the correct technique. But I would not take her along for easy rockhopping. Comparing this behaviour with stories about the Icefloe, the manoeuvrability of the Fjord is improved quite a lot when compared to her.Rolling the Fjord.
I could roll the Fjord the proper way, but rolling is a bit heavier than average. She also requires the paddlestroke to be performed over the complete arc.
Paddling the Fjord unloaded, she floats high on the water. Probably this caused it to be difficult, with my PDF on, to roll to the other side when going down the left side to perform the stroke on the right-side. It could be, when it turns out to be impossible to roll to the other side, that it might be necessary to roll up the other side. I don’t like that as my left shoulder does not like rolling on my left side due to on old injury.Finally
I was happy with the tailorfitting I did in the cockpit. I guess, looking at the volume of the Fjord and my own weight of 70kg, that it had not been possible to control the empty Fjord like today without the tailorfitting.
The repair, the appliance of a new keel-strip, had also been successful, as I didn’t find a drop of water in the compartments at the end of the session.More on paddling the Fjord will follow later.
I tried also to find some information about the Fjord on Internet and was surprised that there really is nothing to be found. It’s obvious this is caused by the non-existence of Internet in the 1980’s. And as the Fjord is not in production anymore, or may only a few Fjords being left after 25 years, no one starts writing.
However I am happy to write about this historical kayak, just to record her characteristics, being not bad at all.
Posted on 25 Aug 2008 by René
"First" impression of the Umnak Icefloe Fjord (P&H)
Naming it a "first" impression is kind of exaggerated as this kayak is designed (by Derek Hutchinson) somewhere between 1986 and 1990. So this kayak is a real classic.
Derek designed it especially for the Norwegian market because the Norwegians were fond of the Icefloe but did not like her behaviour in wind. So they demanded Derek to use the body of the Icefloe, but without the integral skeg, giving her an upswept stern and equiped with a variable skeg.
Willem Molengraaff who bought one of these Fjords shortly after the Fjord entered the market, made by Harrie Tieken, mentioned to me that he asked Derek once for his opinion about the Fjord. It was clear that Derek did not like this kayak, but Willem got the impression this was the result of being forced to alter a favourite design.
However Willem used the Fjord for years and was very happy with it. As Willem does not use it anymore I may use her now.
As some of the readers might know, I have a few other kayaks and after subscribing for a trip, next september, to Anglesey with the kayakclub, I was wondering which kayak to bring along.
Looking to my fleet I choose the Fjord because she is very strong built (which is a plus for the rocky coast over there) and she has a lot of volume (which might be of use in rough conditions).
About her characteristics I can not say I have any experience with her apart from paddling the Weser with her once, but it seems a challenge to take her along.
It seems wise to me to start now with tailorfitting the kayak and getting used to her.
So last saterday I spent a midday adding foam for hips, feet, knees and thighs.
Just in time as I joined the next day a trip around Noorderhaaks: a trip in an area with sandbanks, and fast tidal streams.
The first 5 minutes were kind of disappointing as the knee grips, I glued in with montagekit, came loose the moment I applied some force. Using this kit was an experiment (it is so easy to work with): It´s clear I will reject this for future use and I will "stick" to the "2 component epoxy glue" from now on.
Now to business: As I will use the Fjord the next month more often it seems logical to me, always describing kayaks' behaviour, to write a testreport on the Umnak Icefloe Fjord.
First I will collect and describe my experiences of each trip with her. Afterwards I will shape these notes into one final, report.
Last sunday, 4th of august, I went with 4 fellow clubmates to huisduinen for a trip around Noorderhaaks.
Circumstances were a SW wind of 4 Bft, later increasing to almost 6Bft. Temperature of air and sea about 20°C.
The wave conditions we met, were:
- A disdurbed sea with waves up to 1-1,5m, on the first crossing of the Breewijd.
- Having reached the Noorderhaaks we choose a corridor between an outer bank with much surf and the sandbank. Inside the corridor we discovered a tidal rapid with waves up to 1,5m and could not resist to play in it. It´s a fine experience to surf against the tidal stream and in fact moving into it.
- Rounding the north corner we met a disturbed area with waves from several directions zipping into each other.
- Last but not least, crossing the Breewijd, back to huisduinen, we got a heavy rainshower carrying a lot of wind. As the tidal stream was opposite the winddirection, this is a fine recipe for big, steep waves. And big they were: In the middle of the Breewijd, the waves were 2m on average, but on a certain moment I dropped into a real hole, a very deep, steep trough wherein, once on the bottom, I faced a wall of water towering approximately 4 meters over me.
A sailingyacht, approaching us on about 100m, was completely hidden for me. Not the tiniest part of the masttop was visible anymore.
Well these are fine conditions to get used to a "new" (for me) seakayak. Aren't they?Underneath I will summarise my thougths about the Fjord.
Starting at the stability
. As the Fjord is quite big, tailorfitting is a must for me because I am not that big nor heavy myself. As my kneegrips were not available anymore as I described above, I did not feel too happy on the first crossing. The lack of it make it less easy to control the kayak for 100%; nevertheless the stability of this kayak is so outstanding that I never had an instable experience.
Also the waves, which I encountered the rest of the day, did not change my conclusion that the stability is perfect.
About her behaviour in wind it is very clear that the Fjord weathercocks
more than avarage and she really needs her variable skeg, she is equiped with standardly. When using the skeg the Fjord can be trimmed perfectly. You have to stay alert though because the Fjord needs to be fine-tuned often; she reacts to every change in windforce or direction and you have to carry out slight readjustments. I can live with that though; you must however take care not to damage the skeg or get it blocked because than you will have to work hard if the seaconditions are demanding.
Watching the Fjord riding waves
I am confident she has a dry ride gliding easily over them.
Today I just had the feeling that the Fjord reacted a little bit nervous on a disturbed sea. This can not be a final conclusion as the contact with my knees, hips and thighs was not optimal. When I just slipped in a few pieces of foam during the crossing, I noticed a remarkable improvement on this. So I will just have to wait with my conclusion until the tailorfitting of the cockpit is finished. But I am confident it will be fine. Keep you informed later.Surfing
waves was promising when applying full skeg dropping it completely. I would like a bit more control but I will judge this later after having finished the cockpit improvements.
is pretty good on flat water. When I had to make a quick turn at the moment one of my companions exited the kayak and I started an X-rescue, it took more time to turn then expected. But this is also an issue that will improve once I have proper knee-contact.
Giving a temporarily conclusion
for the moment would be that, given the sea- and weather conditions, I am impressed with the ease I paddled this kayak with a non-optimal fit while never having any stabilityproblems. It seems she has a high safetymargin. Unless
: the skeg is working properly!
So this is it for the moment. As I did not perform any rolling or other techniques, just awaiting the tailorfitting, I will describe more about the Fjord later on this website. You are welcome to return whenever you like.
Posted on 05 Aug 2008 by René