Submitted: 09-14-2001 by Dave Evans
The "Quest" for the perfect Sea kayak.
I've been Sea kayaking for longer than I care to remember. In fact I bought my first sea kayak 26 years ago. I have been involved with the sport both professionally and for fun (is there a difference) ever since. For many years I paddled the same design, which being long and slim with an attractive clipper bow not only looked the part but also seemed to do everything that I wanted, that is except let me take good action photographs. I was able to take lots of pictures on flat water but as soon as I raised the viewfinder to my eyes in a rough sea I felt more than a little uncomfortable. Fearing that this affliction might get worse with age I searched in vain for a suitable alternative.
Over the years I eagerly tried a number of new designs, some of which were more stable, but none of which really suited me. I then received a request from P&H asking if I would try out two of their new designs and comment on them both. I readily agreed and excitedly took delivery of a very attractive looking Kevlar Carbon kayak codenamed Project X. The seat was incredibly comfortable, the boat was fast but appeared to have all the stability of a razor blade.
Whilst project X was great for fast trips and for frightening inexperienced paddlers it did nothing to improve my camera wobble. Whilst I enjoyed its speed and got used to its handling characteristics, I disappointedly came to the conclusion that my quest for the ideal Sea kayak was no nearer resolving. I had already heard favourable whispers about Project Y and now eagerly and hopefully turned my attention to testing the second of the two new designs. I quickly realised that Project Y was everything that I wanted from a sea kayak. It had the same extremely comfortable seat as project X, seemed just as quick through the water, had very attractive lines, and most importantly seemed to have cured my camera wobble.
I've now paddled project Y now renamed the "Quest" in a wide range of sea and wind conditions, and over an extended time period. Its been used lightly laden for day trips, taken for play sessions in surf, brought me safely through large overfalls, and been paddled fully laden for week long expeditions. The kayak handles well, and the easily adjustable retractable skeg is effective in dealing with varying wind and sea conditions. I weigh about 13 stone and the kayak is happy with me, and with all the excess kit that I can squeeze into its ample storage areas. All the hatches have remained totally dry throughout and the kajaksport hatch covers are both light and effective. At 17'7" long and 22" wide the Quest is an ideal expedition kayak for the serious sea kayaker or for those wanting to become one. Its lines are attractive and its standard features include a deck-mounted compass, retractable skeg, adjustable seat and backrest, and third waterproof hatch (day compartment). It can be fitted with a rudder if required although in my experience this would be an unnecessary extra. Looking at it dispassionately the only concern I might have is that P&H might one day want their boat back.
Dave Evans. (Dave is a level 5 Sea kayak Coach and runs the Cwm Pennant Mountain Centre in North Wales)