Reasons to Use a Kayak Cockpit Cover

Some kayakers may consider a cockpit cover to be a superfluous piece of paddling gear that’s just plain not worth buying. A younger version of me held hands with these nay-sayers but after many seasons of unnecessary flogging, I’ve decided to change camps. Now, I consider my cockpit cover to be a critical piece of gear. Here are three reasons why:

1.       Cockpit covers keep water and critters out

Image Property of Seals Sprayskirts

The main reason to use a cockpit cover is to keep water and various critters out of your cockpit during times of storage and transport. Wanting to keep water out is obvious. Even though kayaking is a watersport it’s just plain not fun to pull up to the launch and sponge out our cockpit to avoid shoving off in a wet seat!

Even less fun is jumping into your cockpit and finding out that it was already occupied. I’ve seen just about every critter you could imagine crawl (or fly) out of a kayaking including: bees, spiders, mice, birds, snakes, and even a skunk! A cockpit cover will certainly not provide Fort-Knox-like security but it will certainly go a long way towards deterring these types of critters from setting up shop in your office!

2.       Cockpit covers turn your cockpit into a MEGA hatch on overnights

A cockpit cover can turn your kayak’s cockpit into a huge hatch to store your gear (PFD, spray skirt, dry top, ect) on overnights. I always make sure that my gear finds a home in either my tent or (preferably) in my cockpit before I turn in for the night. This prevents it from getting soaked in an overnight rainstorm or at the hand of the morning dew. Also, it can help keep bugs off of the gear (like ticks or no-see-ums). One piece of gear that I always keep by my side (in my tent) is my paddle. Some may call it paranoia; I call it insurance!

3.       Cockpit covers increase your gas mileage

Ok…you’ve got me…the miniscule increase in gas mileage gained from your cockpit cover will hardly put a dent in the mileage lost from having a GIANT sea kayak on the roof of your car! However, the cockpit cover does cut down slightly on road noise and can provide for a place to store your paddle while in transit. Word from the wise: make sure that you buy a cockpit cover with a security strap or clip to prevent it from blowing off and away on the highway!

There are dozens of different brands of cockpit covers on the market and they all do exactly the same thing. I’m a fan of the Cockpit Seals variety but that’s mostly because I’ve been a Seals Sprayskirt sort of guy over the years. If you’re in a pinch or still don’t want to spend the money then consider using a trash bag and an extra piece of rope as a make-shift cockpit cover. Once you’ve used a cockpit cover (or witnessed a skunk crawl out of your boat) you’ll never leave it behind again!

-Kayak Dave

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Duct Tape Kayak Completes 2012 NSRWA Great River Race!

The Duct Tape Kayak, powered by our very own Alex Russo, completed the 2012 NSRWA Great River Race! It took a little over 90 minutes (winning time was 64 minutes) to traverse the near 7-mile course. Despite rain and bow-heavy trim, Alex was able to power to a glorious finish. The Duct Tape Kayak also took home the “best in show” award!

The Duct Tape Kayak was a big hit and received a lot of attention from participants and the local media. Read more and view pictures at the following links:

2012 Great River Race article featuring the Duct Tape Kayak: Patriot Ledger

2012 Great River Race article featuring the Duct Tape Kayak: Boston Globe

2012 Great River Race photo gallery featuring the Duct Tape Kayak:

Photo by Emily Files, Boston Globe Correspondent

Best of all,  we were able to raise another $150.00 for Stand Up 2 Cancer! A special thanks to Jack and Nanci Lamarre for their very generous donation. We’re now within sight of our fundraising goal but we won’t make it without your help and support. Check back soon for our updated schedule of events including our second race of the year where the revamped Duct Tape Kayak is sure to perform better than ever!

-Kayak Dave

Click here to donate to the Kayak Dave’s Duct Tape Kayak team and help support Stand Up 2 Cancer!

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Trip Report: Newport Lighthouse Tour By Land

Although illness has kept me land-bound this summer I’ve made the point to keep most of my adventures close to the water. This was especially true of a recent weekend escape to Newport, RI where my girlfriend and I spent an afternoon exploring some of the area’s more fabled lighthouses. Newport, RI certainly boasts its fair share of historic lighthouses. There are four within the city limits alone (Castle Hill, Lime Rock, Goat Island, and Rose Island) and close to a dozen if you include those stationed in the surrounding villages and towns. We were lucky enough to visit three during our trip and here is what we learned:

Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown, RI

Our first stop was at the historic Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, RI. (Granted, this lighthouse is not in Newport but it was in the close vicinity and hard to pass up!) Beavertail Lighthouse was established in 1749 at Beavertail Point on the southern tip of Conanicut Island (Jamestown). How did this lighthouse get its name you ask? Well, if you were to look down on the southern half of Conanicut Island from space then you’d see the rough outline of a beaver with the lighthouse sitting on the tip of its tail! It was the 3rd lighthouse to be built in the American colonies after Boston Harbor Light (1716) and Nantucket’s Brant Point Light (1746). This lighthouse serves to mark both the east and west entrances to Narragansett Bay and to keep mariners off the rocks at Beavertail.

Meaghan and the Beavertail Lighthouse

Originally the land on which the lighthouse sits at Beavertail was owned by the great grandfather of Benedict Arnold. However, when the lighthouse was first built in 1749, the population of Jamestown was dominated by native Narragansetts who would naturally become the first keepers of the light. The original, circular tower stood 69 ft tall and was designed by the renowned Newport architect Peter Harrison. The present lighthouse was built in 1865 and sits back 100ft inland of its original location. It consists of a 45ft tall, white, square tower built of granite blocks. Beavertail Lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation maintained by the US Coast Guard (3rd oldest still remaining in operation behind Sandy Hook, NJ, 1764 and Boston Harbor, rebuild in 1784). The light utilizes a modern optic that flashes a white beam every 6 seconds.

Click here for more information on Beavertail State Park

Castle Hill Lighthouse, Newport, RI

We stumbled across the next lighthouse on our list during our mid-afternoon tour of Ocean Drive in Newport. Castle Hill, the western-most point in Newport, served as the site of a watchtower was early as 1740. Discussion about building a permanent lighthouse began in 1869 but building was stalled by a land ownership dispute. Alexander Agassiz owned a summer home on the Castle Hill property and denied the government an easement to the lighthouse site until 1889 when he finally folded and sold a right of way for land-based construction. The lighthouse, designed by HH Richardson, was completed a year later in 1890.

Castle Hill Lighthouse (Under Construction)

Castel Hill Lighthouse continues to mark the rocks along the east passage of Narragansett Bay on the approach to Newport Harbor.  The light is now automated to blink red for three seconds and the land is now maintained by the Castel Hill Inn and Resort. Right of way is granted to the public via an ocean-side path that starts at the southern end of the Resort parking lot. It’s definitely worth checking out as the vista offers panoramic views of Narragansett Bay. Meaghan and I discovered a pair of lawn chairs on the rocks next to the lighthouse where we watched as dozens of sailboats make their way through the bay!

Lime Rock (Ida Lewis) Lighthouse, Newport, RI

The last lighthouse on our Newport Lighthouse tour was the Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport’s Inner Harbor. Lime Rock Light, later dedicated Ida Lewis Light, stands as a memorial to the most celebrated lighthouse keeper in American history! Idawalley Zoradia Lewis was the daughter of the original keeper of Lime Rock Light and took over keeper responsibilities at the age of 16 after her father suffered a stroke. As a young girl, she was touted as being one of the strongest rowers and swimmers in Newport! Her record as a lifesaver leaves little doubt to her athletic accolades as she was officially credited with saving 18 lives in service of Lime Rock Light (although she may have actually saved upwards of 35 lives). Her most notable rescue involved saving two soldiers from drowning in frigid waters after their rowboat capsized in March 1869. This earned her a gold congressional medal for lifesaving and secured her place in American lifesaving lore!

Lantern at the Lime Rocks (Ida Lewis) Lighthouse

The original lighthouse was built in 1857 on the largest of the Lime Rocks located 900ft from the southern shores of Newport Inner Harbor. The tower consisted of a narrow brick column attached to the keepers house which held a small lantern in the a second story alcove. The “lighthouse” is now home to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club which services the lantern in the original tower from May through October. Meaghan and I were lucky enough to get a tour of the property from the club’s bar tender; another example of how a good camera can make you look official!!!

-Kayak Dave

Trip Details:

Location: Jamestown and Newport, RI

Highlights: Flying kites at Beavertail State Park, Panoramic views at Castle Hill, Watching the sailboats from Lime Rock, Ocean Drive

Good Eats:  Lucia Italian Restaurant (Gluten Free options), 186 Thames Street  Newport, RI

Kayak Dave Rating:


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Yakima Releases Sleek & Sexy “Whispbar” J-Cradle

Tailored toward the BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi drivers of the kayaking world. Oregon based roof-rack manufacturer, Yakima, recently unveiled their newest product. The Whispbar is an aerodynamic and fuel efficient line of roof racks designed to take the “utilitarian” out of cargo loading.

The newest addition to the Whispbar family of products are Yakima’s sleek and sexy J-Cradles. Watch the video as Joel Grabenstein talks about the premium new product.


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Photo of the Week: “Who Needs a Paddle?”

The “unofficial champs” of the 2012 NSRWA Great River Race would have to be these two fellows in their green canoe. No, their canoe wasn’t made of duct tape but they did manage to get 7 miles “up the creek” with only one paddle! Alex reported running into these guys early in the race when their front paddle fell apart. They attempted to tape the pieces together using some of the extra duct tape that Alex has with him. There was nothing that was going to save their paddle expect their winning attitude! Who needs a stinkin’ paddle anyway?!?!

Notes: The photo was taken with my Cannon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR camera with EF-S 55-250mm lens . The camera was set to aperture priority with f/8, a shutter speed of 1/250s,  and ISO 100. The focal length was 250mm,

-Kayak Dave

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Sierra Designs Introduces DriDown Technology

Despite your best efforts to stay dry while kayaking, you and your gear (even items stowed in dry bags and in hatches) will, at some point, get wet! Moisture is certainly the bane of a kayak camper’s existence. There’s nothing worse than pulling up to your favorite island campsite to unpack a perfectly dampened sleeping bag.

There’s no hiding the fact that down insulation and moisture do not mix. Wet down loses its loft and insulating ability and can take a long time to dry out especially in a moist environment. For that reason kayak campers the world over have relied on the more moisture friendly Primaloft insulation at the cost of increased weight and greatly decreased packability. However, we may be experiencing a change of the tides as Sierra Designs just announced the release of their revolutionary DriDown technology at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer’s Show!!!

Image and DriDown trademark property of Sierra Design

Click here to watch a YouTube video discussing DriDown Technology

I’m excited about DriDown for a lot of reasons. They claim that the technology stays dry 10-times longer, retains 170% more loft when moist, and dries 33% faster than untreated down. Although these claims of improved performance are exciting, they must be confirmed and tested by unbiased reviewers before we throw any celebration back-flips!  Second, there’s no doubt that DriDown will be more packable than Primaloft and that this alone will earn high marks from kayak campers. Third, DriDown also offers a renewable alternative to synthetic insulations as it’s a natural resource and no petroleum products are used in the treatment process. Finally, the DriDown slogan, “It’s hydrophobic so you don’t have to be”, is directly from a kayaker’s heart!

Sierra Design has incorporated DriDown into a number of new products including the men’s Zissou and women’s Elanor sleeping bag lines and in various insulated jackets.

I’d love to do a head-to-head comparison of a DriDown sleeping bag versus a Primaloft sleeping bag for the readership in the near future so stay tuned and I’ll see what I can do!

-Kayak Dave

Categories: Announcements, Gear Reviews | Leave a comment T-Shirts Are In!!!

Get your T-Shirt today! The shirts are high-quality, cotton t-shirts true to size. To order please reply to this post with your size and preferred contact information to complete the order (I promise we’ll have a better ordering system soon). -Kayak Dave

Sizes: S, M, L, XL

Shirt Colors: Sapphire

Price: $15.00 + Shipping

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Duct Tape Kayak Featured on Canoe & Kayak Magazine Website

The Duct Tape Kayak was featured in an article on the Canoe & Kayak Magazine website! Check out the link to read this great article about how we became inspired to build the duct tape kayak and Stand Up 2 Cancer!  We hope to see you at our upcoming events and thanks for your support! -Kayak Dave

Click here to donate to the Kayak Dave’s Duct Tape Kayak team and help support Stand Up 2 Cancer!

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Duct Tape Kayak Fundraiser Day A Great Success!

This past Sunday, the Duct Tape Kayak was on display at the Billington Sea Kayak shop. Dozens of local paddlers stopped by throughout the day to sign the kayak and show their support for Stand Up 2 Cancer. The day brought in over $300.00 in donations which brought us up to $650.00 total and well on our way to reaching our $1000.00 goal!

The highlight of the event for me was listening in as raffle participants attempted to calculate how many feet of duct tape went into building the kayak. There were some close guesses but someone has yet to hit the mark. We plan to extend the raffle until we reach our fundraising goal of $1000.00 at which time we’ll choose the closest guess and award one of the brand new Kayak T-shirts to the winner! Check back soon for the actual amount of duct tape and be ready to be amazed!

As the dust cleared and the day came to a close I took some time to read all of the messages scrawled on the deck by donors. It was inspiring to see the many names of loved ones, the votes of confidence, and the well wishes. Thanks for all of your support!

-Kayak Dave

Click here to donate to the Kayak Dave’s Duct Tape Kayak team and help support Stand Up 2 Cancer!

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Werner Corryvrecken Paddle Review

The Deets:

Surface Area710 sq cm

Blade Length x Width: 49 x 20cm

Available in Werner’s: Premium (fiberglass) and Performance (carbon)

Angle Type: High

Sharing the same surface area and blade dimensions as the Werner Ikelos, the Corryvrecken is designed for well-conditioned paddlers who want high-angle, big water performance. The Corryvrecken/Ikelos blade is one of the largest touring blades available without moving into the whitewater class of paddles. Fit for playing in surf, aggressive bracing, flatwater racing, or fitness paddling, these blades pack a PUNCH when they purchase the water.

On paper, the Ikelos and the Corryvrecken look virtually the same. The biggest difference between the two Werner paddles is the material construction and the price. When one moves from the straight-shaft performance in carbon to the proprietary performance-cored Ikelos, we see a price jump from $350 to $400. Like many folks, I wondered what constituted the $50 price increase and ventured to purchase a Corryvrecken as a play/instruction paddle.

I purchased a red premium fiberglass Corryvrecken about two seasons ago with the plan to use primarily for flatwater racing and instruction. At first, I was impressed the Corryvrecken’s powerful catch and smooth linking from one paddle stroke to the next. I felt that the Corryvrecken managed its surface area well and provided a nice balance between surface area and purchase. I paddled with the Corryvrecken for a full-season which provided me with plenty of sea time to become familiar with its handling characteristics.

The more I paddled with it, the more I became disappointed with the performance it delivered. I noticed (particularly on slower drawn paddle strokes) that the Corryvrecken fluttered greatly. As I drew the blade threw the water, it nearly resisted the desire to be pulled through the water, jig-jagged, and fluttered back and forth. Not only did the blade flutter through the water (which can often be expected with wider blades) but the Corryvrecken flexed considerably during more aggressive strokes and braces. When I say flexed, this is not kayaking lingo, I literally mean that the blade flexed during strokes. The flexing contributed to a compromise in efficiency which added to its failure to make complete use of the surface area.

How about draw strokes? I would have better purchase on the water if I taped a paper plate to my hand than if I used the Corryvrecken for draw strokes. Drawing the boat laterally is a labored chore for the Corryvrecken, and every attempted draw stroke merely flutters into wasted effort.

Overall, the Corryvrecken performs well as a fast-paced touring or racing paddle. It provides dependable performance during bracing and rolling. When you bring the Corryvrecken down to slower, more relaxed pace, its performance is compromised (especially during draw strokes).

Pros: Smooth transitions, solid bracing and rolling, great blade design

Cons: Flutters during slower strokes, flexes, weak performance during draw strokes


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