Seaworthy Kayak ?????

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Frosty, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    A friend of mine can be quite easily encouraged into an argument that Kayaks are seaworthy. He will tell you that they he has read books about people that have "been all over the place" and have been "hundreds of miles out in all conditions". This may well be but is in my opinion that it is a test of the man and not the boat as is the 6 foot rowing boats that have crossed the Atlantic.

    My argument is that a kayak is a minimal floating device and should not be used in sea conditions where the threat of rough or windy weather could exist. He says that the boat is so small it can rise and fall with any wave and survive. But does this mean it is seaworthy?

    He has built a few ,but his favourite is a portable fold up fabric job that he carries on his back yet still 'even' calls this seaworthy.

    I told him I would post his opinion on this forum.

    If a kayak was to be placed in the open sea in a storm then it would roll and sink withing seconds, the man within would use his weight and arms as ballast and propulsion in which case survival may be possible.

    He calls a kayak seaworthy.

    What say you? Are we arguing Kayaks or the meaning of seaworthy.

    Personally I think a rubber inner tube would be more seaworthy!! at least I could toilet and rest.
  2. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    Ahhhh errrrr, I think I agree to something?
  3. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    I'd say a good kayak is seaworthy in the conditions for which it was designed. For most sea kayaks, that means coastal areas in relatively calm conditions. I can't think of a single boat that I would call a kayak, that I would consider to be a seaworthy craft beyond sight of land (or ice, as the case may be).

    So... (gasp!) I agree with Frosty!?!? We're arguing the meaning of "seaworthy", not the capabilities of kayaks and the responsible, wise paddlers who use them in the conditions in which they have been used for centuries, versus the nuts who take them into ocean storms instead of seeking shelter.
  4. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Survival means (among other things like eating and defecating) staying dry and well rested, and while there must be some extraordinary people who have stayed out in horrible conditions and survived well for many days, it must be an individual thing. Most people, I think, would not do so well, maybe because they couldn't sleep and maintain a certain alert sleep state that would allow them to shift their balance automatically.
    There are people who can play in class V whitewater but for how long?
  5. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    Here are a couple to ponder. Probably adds fuel both sides of the argument:
    This is the trip he almost made but he managed a number of open water epics. He survived gale conditions with 30ft waves. The same sort of conditions that decimated the 1998 Sydney-Hobart fleet.

    If you distinguish a kayak by its method of propulsion then this is a kayak:

    This is a two man "kayak" with pedal power for one. I regard it as seaworthy although somewhat uncomfortable. Unsinkable, self-righting and able to make way directly into strong head winds:
    Next version is a little bigger and hopefully a lot more comfortable.
  6. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    To me seaworthy means no less than being able to "go out " and sustain comfortable life for the duration required to be at sea in all the conditions that sea can bring.

    That is a considerable task and one that many so called blue water boats fail at.
    If you call mayday it would not be a man in a kayak comes to save you but rather a very capable "seaworthy" vessel built from keel up to survive at sea and even then can all too often flounder with all hands, and would look very different from a kayak

    Here, squalls can hit in minutes totally catching out the newcomers, waves of 6 feet in 1/2 an hour and winds of 30kts. If you were cought in that in a kayak you would be blown away.

    The only way you could survive would be to get out of the Kayak and using you body weight as a keel and the floating kayak to support your weight( if you could stop it from blowing away) would help you to survive a squall, to suggest a kayak is seaworthy is ridiculous and is no more seaworthy than a rubber inner tube. You would be more able to survive a squall at sea as a swimmer with fins and some arm bands than trying to balance and paddle or hang on to a kayak.
    These words of 'seaworthy' and 'blue water' are bantered about carelessly in my opinion and give confidence where there should be none.

    If you were to fall out of a kayak in 30 knot winds the kayak would be picked up and blow out of site like a plastic bag. This is not the measure of seaworthy
  7. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    So, let the fools in their "seaworthy" kayak go to sea - one less to bury...
  8. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    By this definition many could not find any boat or ship that was seaworthy. I have seen two separate situations on large passenger liners where more than half the passengers and a good portion of the "crew" were incapacitated with sea sickness in what I regard as mild conditions.

    I have never travelled on a super tanker but I can imagine conditions where even these vessels have to be managed with survival in mind rather than a comfortable life.

    Remember the Pasha Bulka off Newcastle. It is not puny but could not make way to save itself. The crew certainly feared for their life. I doubt that any felt comfortable in those condition. The waves were a modest 17m but I guess quite steep because the water only about 100ft where they anchor.

    Look at the series of rescues in the southern ocean. Another this week.,27574,24822659-2761,00.html
    Would you consider a 60ft yacht seaworthy. I doubt Yann Elies would have regarded life on board as comfortable.

    The issue with most yachts is that they sink if swamped. Bullimore was very lucky that his boat was buoyant once it lost its keel.

    I consider any size craft can be seaworthy if it is designed to be. Primary safety is still floating if holed and completely swamped. I do not class any boat under 40ft seaworthy unless it is self-righting. But then I put staying afloat ahead of staying upright if there is to be a compromise.

    So by my criteria a kayak with solid buoyancy is ahead of many larger craft regarding seaworthiness.

    Comfort is such a vague measure that it can hardly relate to seaworthy. I am much more at ease in a strong little boat than I am in a much larger boat that has planks working and constantly making water.
  9. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    I agree with your comments on the "comfort" I wish I had not included that.

    I suppose I am directing my comments on the fabric stretched over some ribs type that fits in a back pack. This is the type that I think calling seaworthy is laughable, yet for some reason is looked upon as being the original Kayak.
  10. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    I'm not a kayaking expert of any kind but some of those rib&fabric thingies are really good. The seaworthines of such a kayak is more dependant how good's the paddler doing eskimo turns and other stunts with it.. and how long..
  11. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    :eek: Can we define seaworthy please. My definition of seaworthy seems to be out of sink.

    A kayak is the equivalent of a man with a barn door strapped to his back standing at the egde of a cliff. After jumping, he moved slightly forward a few feet forward of expectations.

    He then writes a book on the theory of flight with a barn door.
  12. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    But then you are correctly defining seaworthy as fit to go to sea in.
    By that definition a kayak can never be properly seaworthy by the very nature of the boat. Whether or not you ultimately die from exhaustion is related entirely to the weather you experience.

    Just the saltwater sores would kill you eventually.

    Sports often have a sub culture that pushes the sport to the manic edge for the sake of notoriety.

    I marvel at the level of masochism in people who try and cross seas and oceans in small boats, but a kayak takes the prize.
  13. Knut Sand
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    Knut Sand Senior Member

    I've ALWAYS wondered about the FIRST eskimo to take that flip....

    And manage to do it....

    That environment.....

    How many had tried, before......?

    If somebody's making a movie, I'll have at least one ticket.

    (and, btw; in the hands of a competent person a kajak IS seaworthy, my opinion).
  14. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    For what it's worth, I have spent time at sea in both canoes and kayaks (the kayaks have all been plastic, not the traditional skin on frame construction). I've handled heavy seas, never felt in danger, but I've never been more than a few miles offshore. I would define a kayak as seaworthy in the hands of a skilled paddler, for so long as the paddler can function well. Maybe that means the boat and operator must be viewed as a single system of limited endurance. Seaworthy with an asterisk?

    For what some (I think that includes you, Frosty) call the ultimate test of seaworthiness; i.e. the ability to survive a heavy storm even while drifting with an incapacitated crew, the answer is an obvious no. Of course, that means some, not all, high performance ocean racers would fail the seaworthiness test. I recall an earlier thread on the meaning of seaworthy that went on for almost a year, with constant debates on whether a boat that relies for its performance in heavy seas on an alert and highly skilled crew could be called truly seaworthy.

    Nice subject for a long debate, Frosty!

  15. eponodyne
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    eponodyne Senior Member

    Well, tape a fishing sinker to a beach ball. How "seaworthy" would that be?

    Kayaks, by their nature and design, can be made to handle truly appalling conditions. They wouldn't be my first choice for an ocean crossing, any more than firing up a 80' MaxiCat is my go-to choice for a leisurely afternoon sail. I think you need to expand you definition of "seaworthy." There have been seaplanes that survived conditions that have sunk stout ships. That doesn't make the airplane more seaworthy than the boat.
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