Lashing points and loading
One of the limitations of all old Sunnys is a lack of lashing points – something that an Aire Super Lynx or FC Java have plenty of. Early on, I tried to glue a few on with what I thought were the right materials and technique, but half have since peeled off. Now I’ve discovered Aquaseal or two-part glue I manage better.
Another IK limitation is that nearly half the actual width of the boat is taken up with air chambers, reducing the interior packing volume (if not necessarily payload) to less than a foot wide, especially with single side chamber boats like a Sunny (as opposed to twin-chamber bloats like Grabner H2s or Gumo Seakers). I have to say though, on the trips I’ve done – nearly a week along a tropical coast (above) with one resupply – the volume was adequate. It might not be the same story in a colder climate or when you need to carry more freshwater. The limits with the Sunny are weight as much as space; the freeboard is reduced and it swamps easily, which at sea can be a hassle if sharks are circling.
As is well known, the position of loads has an effect on what they call ‘trim’ – the level or balance of the boat. This also effects tracking (more critical without a skeg). In some pics you can see how my 95-kg weight sinks the boat in the middle. To counteract this I generally try to pack the heavy weights out at each end. Too heavy at the front is not so good for waves and rapids, but the Sunny swamps fast in these conditions anyway; it’s only on flat water that baggage positioning is noticeable.
I kept the cargo nets off my FC Java (left and above) and used those on the Spey river one time, a quick way of getting to your stuff which of course is one thing that IKs and SoTs do so much better than SinKs.
The Gumotex backpack/drybag is a pretty basic sack with thin shoulder straps prone to tearing, and no hip belt. You wouldn’t want to carry the 16-kilo Sunny and say, 10kg of camping gear and paddling gear more than a couple of clicks.
A £10/1kg folding trolley is a handy way of transporting an IK around rail stations or airports. It folds up neatly and fits on the bow (right). In fact, with a bit of adaptation, I wonder if it could make an upside down set of wheels for portaging? It’s nice and light but the wheels on this black trolley are too close together, or the load platform is too high so the load tips easily on rough pavements. And you get what you pay for: the tubing and construction are pretty flimsy. Protracted gumboat trolleying over rough surfaces and tracks will eventually mangle such a lightweight trolley (my second) so it needs to be treated carefully.
On the Haute Allier river in France I used a heavier-duty and wider trolley (4.2kg) that fitted well under the seat (left, with the old original Sunny seat). Where weight is not a limitation (on trains and buses), I’d use this one again, but with any trolley a wide wheel track is the way to go. It all depends how far you’re trolleying of course, and if it’s over rough ground.
Sometimes I wonder about an integrated backpack frame with wheels, or a wheeled bag with more handles. Part of the reason the OE gumbag is tearing is that when you trolley up to some stairs you can only yank it by the top clips or the backpack straps. It’s something to think about when your current gumbag rips to the point of no longer being a functional drybag. Even in good shape it’s not a serious dry bag, but what roll top is? There’s more on dry bags here.