It was great to see so many friends and drool over all the nice shiny new kit at the Scottish Canoe Association Paddle '06 exhibition in Perth. Thanks to all at SCA!
Mike gets busy with the polish on the Valley and Scottish Paddler Supply stand. (Does your wife know that you know what to do with one of those dustery things, Mike?) Jason told me that Valley have now taken over North Shore sea kayaks and have already started manufacturing updated models with Valley fittings. In addition to the delectable glass Nordkapp LV, the polyethylene Nordkapp RM attracted a lot of deserved interest. Can you imagine if holiday hire companies had boats this good?
I left the SPS stand with more gear to test: an Advanced Elements 1/2 man convertible inflatable kayak. I have already tested the one man version. This is quality kit and is not a toy.
Fresh from dealing with floods in my old home town of Dingwall, Cailean was manning the Coastguard stand and looked very smart in his new uniform! Unfortunately I was waylaid by so many people that I did not get to Cailean's rescue workshop but I heard very good reports.
On the Rockpool/Knoydart stand I met Mike (above) Aled and Rob. The glitter in the stars was actually made up of lots and lots of tiny stars! How cool is that? Mike and Aled showed me their new lightweight plastic bulkeads. These are dished at the edges and have a layer of foam between the edge and the hull and deck. On the cockpit side, there is an additional Sikaflex seal. These bulkheads cut 0.75kg weight and should also solve the problem of gel coat cracking which can plague many older boats (from all manufacturers) with traditional bulkheads.
What's this?? A skeg on a Rockpool? Yes! now it is just like mine which uses Hydroskeg technology from Karitek.
Karitek's Jeff Turner had built this comparator rig to let you test hydro, wire and rope skegs. The alloy pedal controls a rotating skeg, the "hydro rudder". It is really well engineered, I can't wait to try it on the water.
Bruce and the Lomo team had their gear on sale at their regular but super low prices. Value for money oozes out of every Lomo box! Their dive boots are the perfect sea kayaking footwear.
Paul on the Palm stand extolled the finer points of their new Aleutian sea kayaking dry suit. I liked the articulating design of the hood. I particularly liked the reinforced bootees which look much more robust than the lightweight items on my Kokatat suit. These are showing wear after only 10 days use. He also showed me a prototype of their new sea PFD. The attention to detail and design was excellent.
On the P&H stand ,a very well finished Quest LV had nice new cockpit adjustable footrests with decent sized pedals. I was never a fan of the previous Yakima alloy tracks which tended to jam with sand.
Point 65 kayaks showed this new rolled edge to the cockpit rim. A nice touch.
I had a great chat with Franco and Gordon on the Pesda Press/ Skyak stand. Franco really has built up a fine collection of kayaking books; with more exciting sea kayaking volumes in the pipeline. The first of these is Gordon's new book Sea kayak for intermediate to advanced paddlers. Gordon told me about a bold and secret open water route through the Corryvreckan on flood. It takes you on a narrow conveyor belt of flat (sic) water within spitting distance of 20 foot standing waves on one side and on the other, a counter eddy speeding the other way. I can't wait to give it a go.........really! Sounds like northshore seakayaing!
There were lots of retail stands from the likes of Brookbanks, Tiso, Kyak Byre etc. I heard several people complaining there were no bargains but there were many 10% to 20% discount offers and the chance to compare so many different brands' latest kit was excellent. I found it much easier to do this at Perth than at the Birmingham show which was just too crowded.
Unfortunately, I had to leave before Duncan Winnings's talk, The History & Development of Scottish Sea Kayaking. There is no one more knowledgable than Duncan and I am sure it would have been a fascinating insight.
Lastly, thanks to all who braved my talk, Scottish sea kayaking: a photo tour. Your response was really appreciated.