Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Retrofitting a Sea Kayak - Cutting the Cockpit Top Off

I got my start as a sea kayaker in 2001 ish. Then I caught a wave and as Gerry Lopez says "you're now in the club, and you're not getting out.'  How true that is.  My kayaks got shorter from whitewater to surf kayak then even more open and versatile leading to a SUP.  Now I prefer to have the option of sliding off my craft and back on with ease.  No requirement to Eskimo roll or spend my down time practicing wet exit and re-entry skills.  And in some ways safer in big water if paddling solo which I do a lot.

I still like the idea of sea kayaking but a surf ski (sit on top performance kayak) seems so much more practical and faster.  Since I SUP so often, I haven't been practicing rolls or rescues.  The thought of getting in my kayak and being covered by a neoprene spray skirt in surf or winds up to 40kts just isn't appealing anymore.  My roll was never that good anyway, especially when I needed it.

My current sea kayak, the Illusion, a 37lb carbon high performance sea kayak from Sterlings Kayaks rips and can take bottom turns on waves. Love the boat but haven't been in it in awhile, feeling rusty. Surf ski's aren't cheap.  Solution?  Cut the cockpit deck off the sea kayak.  Problem solved.  I hired my neighbor Todd Switzer of Specialized Kayak to do the job.  A long time kayaker, Todd's got the skills for the job - Werner Paddles & Jackson Kayaks kayak fishing team member, Oceanography PhD from Scripps who learned to kayak from Ed Gillette (See Canoe Kayak Mag), and finish carpenter.

We did a water line test to see where my kayak sat with me in the water, then looked at several surf ski and open deck sea kayak cockpits.  Todd cut the top off this afternoon.  I feel like a weight has already been lifted.  Progress thus far...  Need SUP/Kayak work? Todd Switzer, 206.229.3764.





1 comment:

Ian (Selkie) said...

I turned a sea kayak into ski topped sea kayak about 28 years ago as I wanted to cover distance and free dive from the kayak. How did your project turn out?