The Twin Cities’ sunny and warm weekday weather degenerated into a weekend full of cold rain and clouds. Having missed getting out on the water last weekend due to incredibly blustery winds, all I could do this weekend was watch the parched trees and grass take a much-needed drink.
In my last post, I mentioned my troubles with water pooling on top of the front of my Advanced Elements Expedition kayak. The drops would begin to funnel down to the front zipper and eventually begin dripping through to my legs and feet. Since all I could do this rainy weekend was stare at dripping rain through the window, I decided to come up with a way to prevent this problem.
One quick trip to Menards gave me some ideas for a lightweight, flexible bracing material that would slip underneath the fabric. Initially I looked for some plastic material, but I stumbled upon strips of extremely lightweight wood (or perhaps bamboo). It is labeled as “Crystal White Lattice”, which makes me think people use it in garden lattices. It is a quarter inch thick, just over an inch wide and comes in 8-foot strips. It was pliable enough for me to form a fairly tight “bow” shape without feeling like it would break.
I cut the lattice strip into a 37-inch piece. This seems to be the optimal length for a convex brace running from the left & right black seams and along the seam between the front and middle piece of yellow fabric. This seam is just inches in front of the cockpit and should provide a good location for the brace that doesn’t get in the way or hit my knees.
I am a bit concerned about the long-term impact on the fabric from the ends of the brace pushing against the fabric. Wanting something to spread the force out and prevent any excess force on the black seam, I came upon some rigid plastic sheets that seem to work well (actually, they are thin flexible cutting boards from Ikea). I first slip the plastic sheet between fabric and the main air chambers of the kayak, making sure the middle of the plastic sheet lines up with the black seam of the kayak. Next, I slip the brace in underneath the rigid plastic sheet (and above the main air chamber).
This bracing props up the fabric well, and supports a good amount of weight. I attach my Pelican 1010 camera dry-box via a small carabiner to the black strap that locks up the cockpit. This extra weight tugs the center of the cockpit and helps form the water-funneling shape of the front fabric. With the brace installed, the dry box no longer rests on the floor of the cockpit. This should (fingers crossed!) provide enough of a convex shape to persuade the water droplets to run off the kayak instead of pooling by the central zipper.
I’m pretty happy with this MacGuyver-inspired way to provide some internal bracing. This helps provide some shape to the front fabric. The fabric behind the cockpit doesn’t need anything like this for a couple reasons. First, it never gets wet (nor does the front fabric forward of the deck lacing). Second, there is usually enough stuff stored in the rear storage compartment to help give it the right shape to help drive water to run off the boat instead of pooling.
A second problem I have is my perpetually bent rear skeg. Just like a killer whale’s dorsal fin after many years of captivity, the skeg is bent over from storage and sitting on a flat surface. I believe this shape was formed from storage after manufacturing in the kayak’s storage bag. I now store the kayak upside down in it’s duffle bag with the skeg pointed up to avoid bending the skeg any further. I’ve tried bending it back, but the plastic is not very pliable. I wonder if the bent shape affects tracking (or causes the boat to turn on its own)?
I’m still trying to come up with a solution to the skeg problem. Perhaps something will come to me as I watch the rain fall…