by Gael A
While visiting Scotland recently to finish off the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail in his 12-year-old Grabner H2, Gael bought the Incept K40 I tested back in March from Sea Kayak Oban.
Let’s begin at the end: rolling up the K40. I followed the instructions provided in the leaflet. I removed the footrest airbag and the thigh braces before rolling the boat up and it took one or two attempts before I managed to roll the boat exactly as on the leaflet picture. The resulting bundle (right) was a bit thicker than my Grabner H2, but a bit shorter and I could put it back into the wheel bag provided by Sea Kayak Oban without any trouble.
Back to the beginning. I inflated the Tasman on the grass at my parents’ place in Brittany last Friday afternoon and checked the pressure with the gauge of my Grabner pump. The PRVs started hissing at 0.3 bar (4.5 psi) so the Incept runs the same pressure as the Grabner boats, yet is significantly stiffer than my Hypalon H2 once inflated. The H2 collapses flat when deflated, while the K40 keeps most of his shape, hence the initial difficultly in rolling it up into a compact bundle.
It took me some time to fine-tune the footrest and the rudder controls as I am 6’ 4” (1.93m) tall. I found a much better way to attach the rudder return shock cords to replace the previous messy knots, using a simple taut-line hitch. The lines are too short to make the hitches accessible from the cockpit with the deck on, but I can adjust them in open deck configuration.
Talking of which, the rudder which comes with the Incept (left, below) is a beautiful piece of gear; much more serious that the piece of plywood and hinge which came with my old Grabner (but is still an expensive option).
The deck zip didn’t slide so smoothly but was improved by rubbing a piece of soap along the length of the zip. The spray skirt (right) is a rather ordinary piece of neoprene and nylon with braces. It’s been a fight to fit it around the flexible coaming (despite the rod inside) but it should become easier after some practice. The cord tension of the two crisscross bungee lacings fore and aft of the cockpit can be adjusted by cord locks, but I think the 3mm lines are too thin – 5 mm (5/16″) would work better. I don’t trust such flimsy deck bungees, and any item put down under them should be secured to the boat with some kind of leash. A leash can be attached to the perimeter grab line or to some additional D-rings to be glued to the deck.
There are two unused fittings on the outer side of the K40 alongside the cockpit, through which I run bungee straps. Inside the kayak they run through the D-rings where the thigh straps are attached. The holds of the K40 lack any D-rings; there is nothing to attach basic kit (bailer and sponge, painter, water bottle, map case, compass, spare paddle) to the boat. I’ve got to order those NRS patches Chris mentions here.
On the water
Early on Sunday morning I loaded my K40 on my car roof and drove to a nearby put-in, Fort Espagnol that juts into the placid waters of the rivière d’Auray. It was sunny when I launched but it soon became overcast.
I spent the next five hours on the water, riding the lively currents of the Golfe du Morbihan getting up to 10.1kph (6.3mph). Although those currents were rather mild as it was neap tides, they created enough chop in some places to test the behaviour of the K40 on short bumpy waves.
I made a short visit to the stone circles on Er Lannic (below) and made a stop behind the eddy next to the infamous Grand Mouton beacon. The current is still fast although it’s the end of the ebbing tide.
The Incept K40 is definitely faster than my H2. It was difficult to assess my average speed because I was paddling in currents most of the time, however I wouldn’t make headway so easily against the tide with my H2. The thigh straps proved to be very effective in handling the boat in rough water and against the current, enabling the paddler to hold a better paddling position and to cling to the boat.
Detailed report on kayaking in the Gulf de Morbihan.