Thursday, December 22, 2011

New P&H skeg slider.

I have been testing the new P&H skeg slider (above). Some of the first generation of sliders (see photo below)  became increasingly difficult to operate, sometimes even after just a few days on the water.

In both photos, the slider is on the left side of the kayak and the bow is on the left of the photo. The basic mechanism lifts the skeg up by pulling the blue dyneema cord (against an elastic down-haul) as the slider is pushed forward. A ratchet holds the skeg slider in place until a lever disengages it. On the old slider this lever was on the sliders rear side, which meant you had to push it forward with your thumb as you pulled the slider back. Some people found this counter intuitive. On the new slider the ratchet lever is in front of the main slider. A quick pull back on the lever releases the ratchet as you pull the slider back.

This is a great improvement. The new slider works intuitively and easily. I was concerned that paddlers with a high paddling action might brush against it as they pulled the active blade back, close to the hull. However, this has not happened at all. The kayak I have been testing has a prototype of the new slider. The production version will have a slightly stiffer spring on the ratchet lever to reduce any  likelihood of accidental release.

A second change is from a stainless steel slider bar to a composite moulded one. Apparently the stainless steel ones were cut from a large roll of stainless steel wire. On some kayaks the rod began to bend back to its original slight curve (it had on the roll). This curve made the slider action stiffer. The new composite bar on my test kayak has given no problems at all.

A third (less obvious change) is that there is a little more clearance between the slider body and the channel it runs in. On a 2009 Cetus, the slider worked perfectly until I had done a couple of surf landings on the on the fine white shell sand beaches on the...

...west coast of Colonsay. The slider became just about impossible to move. The resultant heavy scores on the channel walls told their own story. I have not had the Cetus MV to Colonsay yet but it has been in smaller surf on sandy 

Culzean and Maidens Bays. There has been no scoring and the slider remains light and positive in use.

The Cetus MV is not a kayak that needs a lot of skeg in normal paddling but I have been using it with a sail... 
...and ease of skeg use is very helpful when sailing. 

I am delighted to report that the new slider has worked faultlessly even allowing for frequent and rapid micro adjustments to skeg angle in...

...force 4-5 winds with following, closely spaced seas.