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Submitted: 03-01-2004 by René van der Zwan
We tested the Bahiya in november 2003 in Holland. We always try to test a kayak in challenging conditions in order to get the complete picture of what the kayak is up to. Because organised kayaktrips in Holland has the limit of a 6 Beaufort-wind, we try to test under those conditions. So we did with the Bahiya in a 6 Beaufort-wind from the east and in waves of about 3-4 feet.
With the introduction of the Bahiya, P&H seems to have aimed at the introduction of a fast seakayak with a real Eskimo-appearance. In our opinion they succeeded very well in this, because the Bahiya is much alike the AnasAcuta; the kayak with the most beautiful lines. What really catches the eye is the bow of the Bahiya because it is as sharp as a knive. However this is combined with much flair to prevent the bow from diving in waves. However, in spite of this, we suspect the Bahiya in big surf to dive deep and causing a salto. We found it a pity that de surf we met during our test, was unsufficient to check this. May be that other testers can take a look at that issue.
Regarding the cargoroom, the Bahiya has more possibilities then the AnasAcuta, because with a volume of 305 litres there is enough room in the Bahiya to pack a complete camping-gear. Only for long expeditions you may need more volume. For day - and weekend trips the volume is more than sufficient.
The Bahiya is certainly a very fast seakayak. It is like a runninghorse and not particularly suited for beginners. We think like this because of the stability in combination with the need to edge beyond the capsizing point while manouverating it. The primary stability is reasonably good on flat water. The secundairy stability comes in really fast at a few angles of heel. When you edge further you get the feeling you will capsize because the secundairy stability is low and the only way to stay uprigth is to use your paddle. Of course this is no problem at all on flat water.
On flat water you have no stability-problems and you can easily turn the Bahiya by edging far beyond the capsizing point while making sweeps. The Bahiya turns out to be quite maneuverable then. However, if you want to do this at sea in waves it is a complete different story while you can definitly do this, when your paddling technique is OK, but you have certainly much less safety-margin. Of course this is also, partially a matter of getting used to the kayak, but we found that the Bahiya was difficult to turn in bigger waves and in surf. The reason for this is that we edged not as far as we were able to on flat water.
Looking at the behaviour in wind we found out that the Bahiya only weathercocks very little in 6 Beaufort, which could easily be adjusted with the retractable skeg. Dropping the skeg totaly made the Bahiya leecocking. So we think this combination gives a well balanced kayak that can be trimmed properly.
There is one thing we found less comfortable. While paddling with waves and wind from rigth or left it is difficult to turn downwind. We first faced this in 4 Beaufort and could then easily solve this by dropping the retractable skeg, because of which the Bahiya leecocks and that was what we aimed at because we wanted to turn downwind. Trying the same in waves and in 6 Beaufort this didn't work out the same. Of course, dropping the skeg helped a bit but still you have to work hard to turn the Bahiya while making big sweeps and edging quit a lot. With the waves coming from the side we think this is not something a beginner is able to.
The Bahiya is not really a kayak to play in surf. Of course it is possible to play in surf and you can have fun with it while reaching a high speed while surfing. But you don't have much safetymargin with regard to stability. As mentioned above we suspect the Bahiya to be able to dive deep with a following surf.
Kayaking in a following sea is a pleasure for one thing because it surfes really, really fast. I am still getting enthousiastic when I think of the speed I reached. On the other hand when you are just paddling and don't want to surf in a sea like this, you must stay very alert while paddling to prevent broaching all the time. Dropping the retractable skeg fully, helps only a little bit and we think the Bahiya really needs a bigger skeg for this conditions.
Kayaking the Bahiya is something you must dare to do. This means that you, for steering the Bahiya, must shift your weigth under simultanesly edging and making sweeps. When you are up to that, the Bahiya is a joy to paddle because it is fast and runs, no it is dancing, ligthly over the waves.
Kayaking the Bihiya in the conditions we tested it, required that we had a perfect fit in it. The standard seat and knee rests prooved to be unsufficient in this. When bending backwards the hips lift a litle bit and the fit becomes too loose because the sides of the seat becomes wider when going upwards. With fitting quite a lot of foam blocks in the hip area and for the kneegrip we improved the fit and could handle the Bahiya very well. Without this perfect fit we felt quit uncertain in it. Of course everybody is free to adjust the seat to personal needs and we advise urgently to do this at the bahiya and to reach a secure lock in the seat, especially when you are not very heavily build.
We don't like the backrest either, but because of the fact that it is quit easily to change it to personals needs, it is not a serious issue for judging the bahiya at.
However a serious point is the tigthness of the hatches. We kept the Bahiya edged 90° in waves and found that water had entered in all three compartments: 10 liter water all together. We think it must be the hatches because the water came in all compartments and it should be too much coincidence if there were three leaks at another place. The Dutch Kayakstore Tiekano couldn't believe it because these hatches are in use for some years without complaints, they say. They promised to test it at the same kayak to reproduce the problem and to find out what had happened there. Until now they didn't report it back to us. In my opinion it could be that the tension between hatches and rim was a little low. Another cause could be the fact that we, before taking off in the waves, bended the edges of the hatch under the rim, just like you have to do at the oval hatches from Valley. We think it should be fine to find out the cause of the leakage, just to know wether it is a failure or that the hatches must be treated in a special way.
What we think the position of the spare paddles on the back-deck to be a bit strange. The hatch is that big that there is no place left for suficient bungee cords. Therefore one spare-paddle covers the day-hatch completely. When you bring that sparepaddle-part to the foredeck you have a simular problem because the blade covers quit a lot of your map-area. Probably this can be solved by asking other positions of the bungee cords on the foredeck.
Looking at the quality we found some places of unsufficient impregnation. Especially the internal connection between deck and hull. Because this kayak was only the 15th from the mould, it was probably build in a hurry for the introduction. But be aware of these kind of things.
Because the Bahiya is, in a certain way, family of the AnasAcuta, I will mention a few words about comparing both kayaks. The paddling - and edging behaviour of the Bahiya is very much the same as the AnasAcuta, which, for example has the same broaching characteristics in a following sea as the Bahiya shows.
Still there is an important difference between both kayaks because the AnasAcuta is not fast at all especially when there are no waves. On the other hand the AnasAcuta has a very high primary stability: "like a rock"! With that you have a better platform in the AnasAcuta then with the Bahiya, especially in situations in which you must edge beyond the capsizing point and have to stay uprigth with your paddling technique. Because of this the Bahiya is not such a "heavy sea"-kajak as the AnasAcuta is, but with the Bahiya you can still, as it has been proved by us in the test, also face heavy seaconditions.
Summarizing, we think the Bahiya is dream to paddle for the experienced paddler who, however, has less safetymargins in it; migth it happen that he runs into trouble. We have no severe criticism on the Bahiya as a kayak. However we think it is essential the hatches must be watertigth.
Furthermore we are used to perfect quality of P&H-products and we think that the quality inspector must, in the future, pay more attention to the impregnation of the inside seam between deck and body, to the finishing of the glass from of the inside seam between deck and body in front and back and to the assembling of the seat that has now been assembled not symetrically,
Finally some suggestions for improvement of the Bahiya:
- A larger retractable skeg for quieter running in a following sea.
- We also want to plead for a small- or oceancockpit to become available as extra option, just to reach a very secure fit in de seat. Or, if P&H thinks the investment to be too high for that, it should be a perfect idea as well if a special part could be developed; a part you can screw into the cockpit to make the opening smaller and giving better knee-contact. This can be usefull for all the kayakers who like a small cockpit.
The above is a summary of the review we wrote in Dutch. The review can be found at http://dezeekajaksite.tiscaliweb.nl. Probably you can't read Dutch, but there are quit a lot of photographs of the Bahiya to be found as well.