Duct Tape Kayak Update on WickedLocalPlymouth.com

The KayakDave.com Duct Tape Kayak was featured on WickedLocalPlymouth.com and in the mid-week edition of the Old Colony Memorial Newspaper for a second time this summer! Check out the link to read the article highlighting the duct tape kayak’s successful completion and “best decorated” award at this summers NSRWA Great River Race! To date we’ve raised $850 for Stand Up 2 Cancer and are just short of our goal of $1000. Check back soon for our fall schedule which will include details on our second race and more opportunities to donate to this important cause!

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

Categories: Announcements, Duct Tape Kayak Project | Leave a comment

Paddle Boarding with a Dog

The new paddle boards arrived at the shop a few weeks back and you can bet that the first thing the dock staff did was take them out for a spin! When my turn came up I stepped off of the dock and onto the board with all of the confidence that a few hours of Floridian paddle boarding experience can give you. Thankfully, there was hardly a ripple on the pond; perfect conditions to regain your balance and rediscover a proficient forward stroke. It wasn’t long before I was doing laps around the cove and walking around on the board as if it were an extension of the dock!

Morton’s First Paddle Board Ride!

That’s when I heard the bell. No, it wasn’t signaling the start of school (that was still a few weeks off) nor was it calling the rescue crew into action. It was the sound of Morton, our young (50lb) shop dog, the bell jingling from his neck as he raced from the shop to the docks to say “good morning!” In typical fashion, Morton came barreling down the hill and slid onto the docks stopping just short of the water. He’s a bit timid for a half-Labrador Retriever when it comes to getting wet. He usually paws at the water for a few minutes before he commits to the “shallow-end” where he likes to walk around and dig for fresh-water muscles. This time he decided to jump right in and swim over toward me to check out what I was standing on!

Morton Riding with Alex

It was as if Morton finally realized that he was swimming at the exact moment that he reached the paddle board. He threw his front paws up onto the front of the board and pulled himself out of the water. I dropped down to my knees to gain some stability as Morton set out to explore every inch of its eight-foot-long extent! He walked back and forth between my legs about a half dozen times before he decided to settle down and sit by the bow. From there he took in the scenery, drank the splash that lapped up on the bow and enjoyed the ride back to the dock! Now, every time we take the paddle board out after work we make sure to invite Morton along for a ride!

Morton the Surfer Dog!

Morton is a great example of how small to mid-sized dogs that are comfortable with the water can really enjoy a trip on the paddle board! It’s probably best to only take the dog out when the conditions are light such that they can remain comfortable and the paddler can retain control of the board. Also, it’s always a great idea for the dog (and the paddler) to wear a life jacket while paddle-boarding regardless of swimming ability. For a nice dog PFD check out the MTI UnderDOG…Morton really seems to like wearing his!

Happy Paddling!

-Kayak Dave

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Hurricane Tampico 140S Review

The Deets:

Material: Thermoformed ABS Plastic (Trylon)

Class: Day Touring (Light Touring)

Length: 14’

Width: 23.5”

Weight: 45 lbs

Cockpit Size: 38 x 18 inches

Capacity: 250 lbs

Hull Type: Shallow U-Shaped with integrated keel

Hatches/Bulkheads: Bow and Stern

Rudder/Skeg: Optional Rudder

MSRP: $1399

The Review:

The Hurricane Tampico 140S is the mainstay of the Hurricane Aquasport lineup designed with the small/mid-sized, beginner/intermediate paddler in mind. At 14ft long and with a beam of 23.5inches this kayak is designed to cruise along in the Day Touring (light touring) class. The “S” in the model name is for “small” cockpit and thigh braces. Like all Hurricane kayaks it’s constructed of thermal-formed ABS plastic called Tryon. In general, thermal-formed plastic is as durable, more UV/ heat resistant, lighter, and stiffer than the traditional polyethylene used in roto-molded kayaks. The Tampico 140S weighs in at an impressive 45lbs which is a good 7-10lbs lighter than most roto-molded kayaks of this length. It’s available in four deck colors: blue, green, orange, and red (Note: I wish they still offered the magenta deck color as this was a big seller at the shop!)

I’ve found that the biggest difference between the Tampico 140S and anything else in the recreational and light-touring region of the Hurricane spectrum is its low-profile deck. The low-profile deck (minimal windage) combined with its 14ft length and prominent keel provide for the excellent tracking displayed by the Tampico 140S. There are a few places where the low-profile deck may bite you. Bumpy conditions warrant a sprayskirt as the low profile deck doesn’t abate the water well. Another reason to take pause is if you’re inflexible.  Flexibility, especially in my hamstrings, is something that has always eluded me as an athlete. I find that the low-profile deck of the Tampico 140S forces my knees into an uncomfortably flat position which leads to cramping and my feet falling asleep. If this is a problem for you too then you should consider trying the Tampico 140L which has a slightly higher deck and a different cockpit configuration that provides more room for your legs.

Hurricane really hit a home run when it comes to the outfitting of the Tampico 140S. The cockpit features well-padded integrated thigh braces, a comfortable seat, and a back band! These sea kayak-like cockpit features make you feel like you’re wearing the Tampico 140S and allow you to take advantage of its great secondary stability for lean-turns and bracing. The one place in the cockpit that could be improved is the foot pedal system. The foot pedals have an adjustment wand that locks/unlocks the pedals and allows you to adjust them while seated in the cockpit. I’ve found that this wand system to be fairly flimsy. Standard trigger operated pedals would be much preferred! Otherwise, the Tampico 140S comes standard with two bulkheads and hatches. I’m a big fan of the hatch covers that Hurricane uses as they’re easy to open/close and are very watertight. Hurricane also offers a rudder option on the Tampico 140S. I feel that the tracking of this kayak is great without the addition of a rudder (which would add a few pounds to the overall weight). One instance when a rudder may be nice on the Tampico 140S would be if you were looking to load it down with some gear for a weekend of kayak camping.

In summary, I find that the Tampico 140S is an excellent kayak for the small/mid-sized, beginner/intermediate paddler looking for something to take out on near-coastal day trips. Its low profile deck (minimal windage) adds to the excellent tracking performance but can create an uncomfortable for inflexible paddlers like myself. The outfitting of the Tampico 140S is exceptional, especially in the cockpit where sea kayak-like features make you feel like you’re wearing the Tampico 140S and allow you to take advantage of its great secondary stability for lean-turns and bracing.

Word of caution: Hurricane produced a version of the Tampico called the Tampico 135S for a period of time. This kayak was a major dud because it was poorly balanced. The cockpit and seat were positioned too far back which makes the Tampico 135s very bow heavy and thus creates a noticeable and negative effect on its tracking. The boat is also challenging to shoulder carry because of this balance issue.  The Tampico 135S is a kayak that I would stay away from!

-Kayak Dave

Pros: Excellent tracking, low-profile deck for minimal windage, great outfitting, Made in USA

Cons: Can be uncomfortable for inflexible paddlers, Flimsy foot pedal system. Stay away from its cousin the Tampico 135S

Demo Notes: I have test paddled the Tampico 140S in both calm and windy conditions over the past 3 seasons.

Kayak Dave Rating:

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Photo of the Week: “End of Summer Splash”

This week’s edition of photo of the week features Duct Tape Kayak team member and Billington Sea Kayak co-worker Brett Muirhead as he celebrates the end of the Summer 2012 kayaking season the best way we know how: having waaayyy too much fun at work! Ever since the last RTM Disco left the shop over 2 years ago we’ve been looking for a fun boat to take it’s place. We may have finally found what we’ve been looking for this past weekend when we uncovered a true relic of a sit-on-top from the woods down by the demo dock. The Dimension Penguin is a first-generation (late 1980s vintage), kid’s-specific sit-on-top that makes for a better snow sled than a kayak! This didn’t stop Brett from pushing the Penguin to the limit and beyond! He seal launched, stern-squirted, and otherwise rode it to his heart’s content. If you don’t believe me just check out that smile!

-Kayak Dave

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Can You Get Stuck in a Kayak?

One of the most common questions posed to Dave and I at the kayak shop is “what if the kayak flips over, won’t I get stuck?” This is a reasonable question, and a one that deserves a clear explanation from the standpoint of both safety and practice.

The truth is, a person in a capsized kayak will rarely get stuck in the cockpit. While the cockpit may seem rather enclosed on many kayak models, the fact is that most individuals will fall out of the kayak before they even hit the water. Humans are biologically hardwired to keep their head above water. Even the slightest stimulus (such as a capsizing kayak) will cause an automatic response to lurch one’s body above the water. While this is the typical outcome for the majority of kayakers, there is a simple procedure one can follow in that instance that they don’t immediately exit the kayak.

This article gives an overview of the wet exit, a self-rescue procedure intended for kayakers to safely exit an overturned kayak.

Step #1: You are cruising along on a beautiful day, enjoying the fresh air, and making your way through the harbor!

Step #2: An unexpected boat speeds by and throws a monster wake your way. You miss your low brace and capsize your kayak.

Step #3: Begin the wet exit by leaning forward close to the froward deck. “Kiss the deck” to avoid hitting your head on rocks, logs, treasure chests, etc…

Step #4: If you are wearing a spray skirt, locate the spray skirt grab loop and pull it away from the cockpit rim to release the spray skirt.

Step #5: Place both hands on opposite sides of the cockpit rim by your hips and push your body out of the kayak. Your life jacket will help pull you towards the surface

Step #6: After you are out of the kayak, bang the hull of the kayak three times to alert others in your group or passers-by that you have capsized. Make sure to hold on to the deck lines or toggles so that the wind and waves do not separate you from your kayak! Do not climb on top of your kayak as this will cause the cockpit to fill with water.

While this tutorial is designed to give an informational demonstration, nothing beats being prepared for a capsize like taking a self-rescue class with a certified instructor. Before going into unpredictable conditions, all new paddlers should take a proper safety course to learn the “wet exit.” For more information on kayaking safety and rescue courses check out the American Canoe Association website or check out our Course Schedule tab to book a lesson with us!


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Stholquist BetSEA Women’s PFD Review


“Cradle your self in comfort in the new feminine fit BetSEA. The WRAPTURE™ body-wrapping ergonomically shaped torso, built-in cups for a fit like none other. Newly updated with more pocket room, and a small footprint.” – Stholquist Waterware

The Deets:

  • PFD Type: USCG approved Type 3 (Flotation aid)
  • Style: Front Entry, Women Specific
  • Designed flotation: 16lbs, 10oz
  • Pockets: x2 front pockets
  • Sizes (Chest): S/M (28”-34”), L/XL (34”-40”), Plus (40”-46”)
  • Colors: Sage/Gray, Mango/Black, Powder/Gray, Pink/Black
  • MSRP $119.95

Important Note: Stholquist donates $1 for every pink BetSEA sold (and guarantees a minimum $1000 donation) to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research! Buy pink!

The Review:

The Stholquist BetSEA is a high-cut, women’s specific, type-III PFD. The BetSEA features the ergonomically-shaped and highly adjustable Wrapture torso with built-in supportive cups to hug the female figure rather than crush it! The new updates focused on increasing the pocket space to include two large, zippered pockets and on tweaking the shape of the PFD slightly to decrease the profile in the chest. In my opinion, these changes make for a much more paddler-friendly PFD! Other features that caught my eye are the fleece-lined hand-pockets (wish my PFD had these) and small things like the 4-way accessory lash tabs and reflective trim for increased visibility.

It never made sense to me that for so many years there were only unisex PFDs on the market. Let’s face the facts: men and women are shaped differently and there’s no way that a generically shaped, unisex PFD could be equally comfortable for both parties! I was so excited when Stholquist Waterwear introduced the revamped BetSEA, a women’s cut PFD, last season that I went directly to the kayak shop and started Birthday shopping for my girlfriend early! After a season of paddling in the BetSEA I decided to enlist her help in writing this review:

Kayak Dave: “How does the BetSEA compare to other PFDs that you’ve worn?”

Meaghan: “In general, life jackets feel bulky and cumbersome but the BetSEA is fairly comfortable as life jackets go. There’re lots of adjustments so it doesn’t ride up much and I can move my arms around easily. It still feels a bit bulky in the front but not too much and I understand that this is one of the tradeoffs in choosing a high profile life jacket”

Kayak Dave: “What do you think about the women’s-specific cutouts?”

Meaghan: “The cutouts really help a lot to make this life jacket more wearable for women. You don’t feel suffocated in the BetSEA like you do when wearing a unisex vest. I’m glad that life vests are finally being designed with the female figure in mind!”

Kayak Dave: “Do any other features of the BetSEA really stick out?”

Meaghan: “I really like the idea of the fleece pockets to warm my hands. These should help the next time my crazy boyfriend takes me paddling in the winter!”

Kayak Dave: “What do you think about the color selection?”

Meaghan: “Colors are always an important feature for women. I was really excited when I opened my birthday present and found a pink life jacket inside! It made me feel even better when I learned that they make a donation to the American Cancer Society for every pink BetSEA sold!”

Kayak Dave: “Anything else that you’d like to add to the review?”

Meaghan: “Yes, the one thing that I’m a bit disappointed about is that the pink color of my BetSEA has faded quite a bit after only one season. Otherwise I’m really happy with it so far!”

There you have it…if you’re a female paddler looking for a comfortable and paddler-friendly PFD then you should certainly check out the Stholquist BetSEA. It’s Kayak Dave and Meaghan approved!

Final Verdict:

Pros: Women’s-specific fit, comfortable with great range of motion, hand warmer pockets

Cons: Color fades easily, a bit bulky in front

Size Rating: Fits true to size (adjustable within the three size ranges)

Kayak Dave Rating:


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Where Paddle Boarding Meets Yoga…

The summer of 2012 will probably go down as the “Summer of the Paddle Board” in the annals of New England paddle sport! Paddle boards seem to be everywhere you look on the water these days and they’re flying out of retail shops like pancakes off a campfire griddle! The surge in numbers seems to be driven mostly by popular demand and their appeal as a fitness modality. After paddling one myself, there’s no doubt in my mind that even a short trip on a paddle board is as good as Ab-Ripper-X for your core!

Apparently, they can be good for your flexibility, balance and mindfulness too; in a magical place where paddle boarding meets YOGA. Alex and I decided to test our inner zen (and our luck) by throwing a “crow pose” on one of the new paddle boards down at the shop…

…Not too bad for a couple of kayakers with hamstrings as tight as tympani drums! Seriously though, Yoga-on-paddle board classes are popping up everywhere and they’ll be coming to a beach near you (if they haven’t already). Sign up for a class stat so don’t miss out on this unique twist on this summer’s greatest paddling rage! This Yogo-SUP trend is not just the rage at KayakDave, it’s blasting it’s way across the country. Just earlier this summer, the San Diego Journal Conference held a Standup Paddleboard Yoga Clinic in the beautiful San Diego Bay. Amazing!

-Kayak Dave

Categories: Other Adventures | 1 Comment

Russell Crowe “Rescued” by US Coast Guard While Kayaking

The word on the street is that the actor Russell Crowe was “rescued” by the U.S. Coast Guard after becoming lost while kayaking off of Long Island, New York. As the story goes, Crowe (who has been filming a new movie titled “Noah” in Oyster Bay, Long Island) decided to spend an afternoon paddling with a friend in Long Island Sound this Labor Day weekend. Apparently, their little adventure from Cold Spring Harbor turned into an epic fit for a Gladiator! As darkness fell, the pair reportedly became disoriented and decided to head to shore. A passing Coast Guard patrol boat spotted Crowe at about 10pm and gave him and his friend a lift to nearby Huntington Harbor. This was not considered a rescue according to the Coast Guard. They report that Crowe (a fairly experienced kayaker) was wearing a PFD and simply became a little lost. Crowe tweeted his appreciation to the Coast Guard and tried to set the record straight by denying that he got lost. Crowe blames a stiff headwind on their slow progress which prevented the pair from reaching their desired landing before it got dark. Either way, it’s good to hear that our “Master and Commander” is safe and sound!

-Kayak Dave

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The Slocum Challenge Chapter #1

Chapter 1:  “Summertime, And the livin’ is easy”

Summertime is almost over, but these Gershwin’s lyrics are as familiar as the post paddle bottles of ibuprofen to most every paddler who is fortunate enough to fall into the Masters category for the upcoming Slocum Challenge. Well, actually, that may not be the case for those “just turned 50 yesterday” folks who skew the bell curve of finish times on this two mile closed loop river race in Dartmouth, Massachusetts to be held on October 6th.

This three chapter series of reflections has more to do with appreciating the gift of good health and of being able to partake in the Challenge; than it does with the number of years since one became eligible to be a Masters qualifier. This year also represents a subtle name change from the Slocum River Regatta to the Lloyd Center Regatta- Slocum Challenge. While it is a challenge for all who enter, the notion of challenge carried a slightly different connotation for me last year, when I needed to ask a younger paddler to pin my Race Number to the front of my PFD, because my range of motion is less than it once was.

Part of my challenge involves the dilemma of how much effort to expend and of making peace with a body that chooses not to respond as energetically to the gas pedal being pushed to the floorboards as it did 20+ years earlier, when I started paddling at the age of 40. The age of 40 tends to be a benchmark for many men as it is a time in life when many take a look back and also a look forward.

Regardless of age, whether you are riding in a hilly century or paddling the more epic Blackburn Challenge (the 20mile, circumnavigation of Cape Ann); I suspect that most folks have to make sense of the mental aspect of such endeavors. Do you go out like a jack rabbit knowing at some level that it is not sustainable and cross the finish line at an exhausted crawl or do you pace yourself by starting off too slowly, so that you finish strong.

Either way, there is the mental “face saving” dimension of consoling yourself with: “I could have broke X number of minutes if I went out a bit faster or slower? The question becomes: “Who and what am I competing for or competing against?” Perhaps it is all a bit too existential for a <30-minute paddle.  But perhaps not, for it is within these brief moments of time that reside the opportunity to reflect and to be mindful. It is the journey and not the destination that is worth attending to in such endeavors.

…At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.

For me, pacing and exertion have historically been relegated to the barfing barometer, aka ‘The Barf-O-Meter’.   But exertion and mindfulness will be the subjects of the second chapter.  More to come as the Slocum gets closer.

-Boreal Alvik

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Welcome Aboard, Steve!

KayakDave.com is excited to announce the addition of Steve A. (pen name: “Boreal Alvik”) to our team of contributing authors. Steve has become a great friend and mentor to Alex and I during our summers at Billington Sea Kayak. His many years of kayak instruction and sales experience will provide the KayakDave.com readership with unique insight into the world of paddlesport and beyond! I encourage you to check out his first mini-series where he shares his experience of racing in the Master’s division of the Solcum River Challenge and reflects on the more existential and mindful aspects of kayaking. Welcome Aboard, Steve! -Kayak Dave

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