Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 / Another Toy

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 / Another Toy

My daughters Perception Impulse got me hooked on marsh exploration and paddling, but I discovered
2 problems:
  • It's tough to go with her when we have only 1 kayak.
  • My back and bum wanted a more adjustible seat. The Impluse is very good--better than some chairs in my house--but I'm very old and stiff.
  • I wanted to explore the Potomac River near my home, but it features whitewater, and though I'm not interested in serious whitewater, like a good breeze to a sailor, a few waves look like fun. Unfortunately, the Impulse stinks in white water.
I've hunted high and low (a Practical Sailor article on kayaks for the sailor is probably in the works), rented or borrowed many kayaks, and picked up a Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 yesterday. A hibred kayak, it features some of the shape of a whitewater boat (increased fore/aft rocker and limited keel) to allow quicker turns and to reduce the tendency of the current to grab the ends and spin you around. The thigh braces are better, and the seat has more adjustments to help hold the paddler in place; still, the seat is too wide and the boat too stable for effective edging, and there area pair of groves in the bottom that tend to grab water when side-slipping.  On the rec side it has a larger cockpit and storage more typical of sea kayaks. To provide straight tracking on flat water, it has a retractable skeg near the transom, yet angled and far enough in to prevent damage. Though it cannot be Eskimo rolled, the increase volume forward makes it easy to reboard after capsize. I tested that theory after neglecting to edge correctly pealing out of an eddy; it seemed so stable, but that big chine can sure catch water. It was a simple matter to flip it back over quickly, scooping only a little water, flop up on the bow, and slide myself back, all the while in fast moving but relatively flat water. The big cockpit opening makes reentry easy.

Basically, an upgraded recreational kayak with a few features to make it more at home in moving water.

Just north of Widewater on the C & O Canal. I had to special order a different color; I just couldn't see bight orange in a wilderness setting.

How do I like her? My first forays into whitewater assured me that she is more capable than I am at this point. On flat water, it seemed faster and the seat is a big improvement. If I were buying a boat strictly for sailing, I still like the Impulse; it's simpler and lighter. But for longer days, further afield, and more variety, the Aspire seems a good choice. It may prove the optimum choice for running long stretches of flat and moving river and for the occasional rough day on the Chesapeake.

Update 5-5-2013. Jessica and I took the Aspire and Impulse out on the open Chesapeake just as a small craft advisory had lifted; still a bit bumpy, and the water is still only 13C. Lots of laughs and relaxing too. The lessons:
  • The spray skirt, which is required for whitewater, would have been nice in the rough water. We took enough waves to require bailing about every 20 minutes (1/2 gallon). a little safer and warmer too.
  • Entering a kayak from the transom when the waves are rolling 2-3 feet is daunting. Possible, but non-paddlers will hate it.
  • Speed. Identical.
  • Stability. About the same; the Aspire has greater initial stability, but the impulse has a very good feel for secondary stability.
  • Comfort. The Aspire has a nicer seat and thigh padding.
  • Maneuvering. The Aspire is very nice in the waves and wind with the skeg up, but the bow blows off with the skeg down. Once back on track, the skeg is nice and we like it on flat water. The Impulse, not surprisingly, is somewhere in between. No question, the Aspire is more maneuverable, but for general use both are fine.
  • Weight. I need to weigh them. The Aspire is only reported to be 4 pounds heavier (44 vs 48), but it seems like more to us when pulling it on deck. On this factor alone, we give the Impulse top marks for good paddling and light weight; simplicity pays.

On the Potomac above Old Anglers Inn. I was surprised to be able to catch this while on moving water. Credit to image stabilization and a stable kayak. He was several hundred yards away.

Update: June 2016 I noticed that the water tight bulkhead separating the stern compartment had started to leak, either the result of rough treatment in white water, or perhaps the result of dropping dropping down onto the seat. It was easily repaired with polyurethane caulk--Locktite PL S30(NOT silicone).

The skeg has also developed some severe cracks, though it still works.

I made a cockpit cover from some scraps of Sunbrella. Helps keep it dry and keeps the UV off the seat, the most vulnerable part (I keep it on the boat, on its side, all year).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Maryland DNR Tries to Understand Bottom Paint

Many marinas are coming out with new rules for DIY projects. OFten the boat owners gripe, but to me, these rules are very reasonable. The below is from a Chesapeake Bay marina. My thoughts are added and underscored.
  • No wet scrubbing, hosing or pressure washing of bottom paint allowed while blocked on land. Would you want someone making a mess in your yard? Reasonable enough.
  • Use filter cloth or tarp when scraping/sanding. Would you want someone making a mess in your yard?
  • No dis-colorization may be noted on the ground under any vessel. Would you want someone making a mess in your yard?
  • ALL paint cans must be placed outside of the shop on pallets after use. Paint cans that contain any wet residue are very likely hazardous waste. They cannot allow you to place them in the dumpster with regular trash. You can of course take them home, dry them, and put them in the trash.
  • Do NOT throw any paint cans into dumpsters. Staff will properly dispose of paint cans. See above.
  • Do NOT throw paint brushes, rollers, trays into office lot dumpster if WET. See Above. I always leave them in a neat pile under my boat (on a tarp and covered by the tarp) when finished; by the time I come back to launch they are dry and can be pitched. Very eas and much neater than fooling with the stuff wet.
  • Put all used painting materials outside of shop for disposal by staff. See above.
  • Office lot Dumpster is the ONLY dumpster for commercial waste. Very likely it goes to a different landfill, rated for industrial waste.
  • ALL other dumpsters are for residential waste (trash, paper, bottles, cans, food, etc.)
  • If in doubt, place item outside of shop door. Staff will dispose of properly.
  • Shrink Wrap must be bagged and placed next to dumpster outside of Chandlery 
 "Please remember to inform the office of bottom paint applied. We need the date applied, manufacturer, type and quantity applied. Management must log paint applied on a daily basis and report to the state monthly."

 This all seems very reasonable to me. Most requirements are simply restating MD DNR regulations. The last line is intrusive, but as we will see, is logical for the marina.

Why do they need to know the type of paint? Maryland has passed a law that will restrict the VOC levels of paints applied, and marinas are only allotted a certain amount of non-compliant applications. Compliant paints contain less than 400g/liter VOCs.

Because they need to calculate the amount of emissions from paints that contain VOCs over the MD limit. You can get this off the MSDS or tech sheet. I found the paints I have used--I checked several and they were all traditional high-Cu solvent paints-- contain less than the mandated 3.3 pounds/gallon, so no problem. You DO NOT have to go to water-based paints, not in MD. Anything less than 400g/L will pass.

Pettit Horizons-------------323
Pettit Trinidad--------------400
Pettit SR 40-----------------330
Interlux Micron--------------330
Interlux Bottom Coat------465. And I bet this gets reformulated soon.

This e-mail has no impact on me, as I always did bottom painting this way. They are just asking us to be clean.

  • Let the marina power wash the boat where it can be contained.
  • Sand with a good vac set up. As a side benefit, you don't risk your lungs and the guy working next to you doesn't get red dust on and inside his boat.
  • Dry your paint waste and tools before you trashing them. Try to use all the paint!
  • Read the paint spec sheet. VOCs are easy to manage. 
And finally, use a 2-year paint. Just my opinion. But if I do the work only 50% as often as and annual practice, it just stands to reason the impact is less. Anytime you can benefit the environment, save money, and save work.... Well, the smart choice is just plain obvious.