A compass is an essential accessory for kayaking. There are however very few compasses that are designed for affixing to a kayak, and fewer still that are suitable for attaching to Folding Kayaks.
There are a few options that could be considered..
- Using a handheld orienteering compass - Cheap / lots of models to choose from. However they can't be readily used while paddling in less than perfect conditions, and generally need to be held flat. I could have looked at mounting the compass permanently onto the deck skin in a suitable position, however I am not comfortable in performing such a procedure on my boat at this stage.
- Buying / Making a compass that attaches via bungys. This I think is the best option for me as it can be used without using hands while paddling and does not cause damage to the boat. However the boat will need to be oriented in the correct direction to take reading.
The only question now was which compass would fit the bill. In the end I opted for the Suunto Orca. This front read compass was designed from the outset as a kayaking compass and comes with a set of bungys to be attached by nylon clips to the deck lines on my Kahuna. It seems to have been built robustly and will still apparently read accurately at a 30 degree tilt in the dark when the temperature has dropped to -25C. Not that I would be hoping to tax it to these extremes!
Another option you may wish to consider is the Brunton 58-Kayak. However I could not find a dealer for this in Australia.
After a bit of hunting around on the web I found a dealer in Sydney who were able to order the Orca for me. Sturrocks of Sydney placed the order and a couple of days and AU$160 later I had the compass in my hands. The price was very high, and I should have shopped around as I saw the price at a about AU$60 on the internet, but theses had been 'tuned' to North American latitudes and not to Australian and New Zealand waters.
For more information about Compass Zones please see the following paper, 'PDF'
I will give more details about my experiences with the compass once I give it a go!
I managed to put the boat together in about 45 minutes, packed the stern of the boat with my camping gear and set off with the sun rapidly setting. The boat operated exceptionally well and the addition of a little extra weight at the rear seemed to work wonders to the handling of the Kahuna.
I was soon at my camp site of Store Beach, just as darkness fell. After setting up camp, preparing a little food, and being startled by the wildlife, possums and bandicoots rustling in the undergrowth and foraging on the beach, I turned in for the night.
In the morning I decamped, cooked and packed everything back into the kayak and set off back home and appreciated the use of the rudder as it helped keep a straight course in the choppy water. On landing I packed everything up as quick as I could, dragged it all back home again, jumped into the shower, called the girlfriend to say I was safe and ran off to work. A great way to spend an evening!
After about a week when I had a few moments spare I humped the boat down to the waters edge in Manly and set about putting the boat together. Things did not go so smoothly, the rods were welded together with salt and some of the buttons were stiff and got stuck inside the tubes! The tubes would not separate without some considerable force and refused to join cleanly and easily. I spent absolutely ages putting it all together, but ended up with a few hours of paddling around the North Harbour of Sydney. I experienced some problems with the boat's tracking which I have now associated with the problems I had in putting the boat together, and the poorly connected tubes.
After taking the boat home I cleaned it all very thoroughly, placing everything in the bath, removing all the salt, drying each piece and then lubricating all the connections with a 4oz bottle of Boeshield T9. I am still looking for a dealer for Boeshield here in Australia, so if you are aware of a dealer in Australia then please let me know. After this process, which I spent a good couple of hours on, I had a nice set of free moving, nicely lubricated, tubes the connected and disconnected with ease. So I would have to stress to you all the importance of maintenance of your boat, and I would have save myself significant amounts of time and stress if I had performed the due diligence and cleaned the boat properly after my holiday.
So I eagerly unpacked my boat in my hotel room in St. Charles and after studying the instruction manual managed to put the boat together in a little under an hour and a half. A little different from the 20 minutes quoted on the website. There were a few factors at work here, firstly assembling the boat in a room just wide enough for the boat to fit with the bed and with just about 6 inches extra in length between door and window, secondly I was taking my time and reading the manual again at each stage, and thirdly I still made a couple of mistakes and had to undo a few steps to correct.
The kayak looked sturdy once assembled and I could not wait to take it out for a bit of a paddle. I repacked it again the following night, after getting a confused query from the cleaners who could not get into the room to clean as the majority of the rooms space was taken over by the boat. I made sure that the 4-piece paddle blades were protected by inserting them into the centre of the rolled skin and packed the frame to the side of the skin. I wrapped a towel round the tubes to protect them from the roughhousing of the baggage handlers before closing the bag and praying that the boat would make it to Australia in the same number of pieces as when I packed it.
I arrived back in Australia there the Quarantine inspection agents were eagerly curious about my boat and seemed very impressed that a boat would fit in a bag and that it was not in fact a tent. After then transferring to a budget domestic airline, paying a stiff surcharge for excess baggage and then another hour's drive finally made it to my holiday destination of Mission Beach in the Far North of Queensland.
After checking the boat and watching the assembly video, they really need to offer a DVD option BTW, I managed to bring the assembly time down to a little over an hour. The issue this time was that the poles were not sliding together very easily and I managed to build up a bit of a sweat getting it all together.
So it was time for the maiden voyage. I did not have a PFD with me, was not wearing a stinger suit, which is all rather silly especially considering the abundance of Box Jellyfish in the water at the time.
So the trip was very short and I was back on the beach with in a couple of minutes of having broken through the light surf and turned around. I had a big smile on my face and a relieved looking girlfriend.
I want to present to you a bit of a resource that you can leverage to gain a beginners insight into Sea Kayaking in general and more specifically Sea Kayaking in Sydney with a folding kayak.
I just recently taken delivery of my first kayak. I think it is a beautiful boat and I am very excite about getting to grips with it. The boat I chose, after about 12 months of deliberation, is a 2005 Feathercraft Big Kahuna. I will be providing you with a personal review of the boat at another time.
I primary decided to go for a folding kayak for simple logistical reasons. I live in a small compact apartment in Manly, no car and have a problem with wanderlust. A hard shell kayak just did not fit my needs, and just did not have the same degree of independent-cool image that I felt that I needed! Yes I am shallow!