With an inexpensive Sevylor barrel pump I was able to get the repaired Semperit up to a good pressure. Ten days passed while i finished my current project, during which time the boat lost no air that I could feel. Over the same period the Seawave was a little soggy all round, as you’d expect with PRVs purging with changing temps. I keep the boats alongside the shadiest north side of the house, but this far north the early morning- and late evening sun still lights it up. In fact, looking at the graphic, above, it’s amazing just how far north the sun comes and goes at this time of year, a month from the solstice. Work out your own angles and azimuths.
Back to the Sev. With the desk finally cleared, conditions were as good as they ever get up here: hot, sunny and virtually windless – a triple meteorological miracle.
I decided to nip over to Horse Island from Badenscallie (bottom of the map, above right), still assuming the boat might still track poorly and feel saggy. As it was, the Forelle felt much better – as good as you can expect of a 3-psi IK. With just the slight 2 o’clock head-breeze, I was reminded of the technique for skeg-free paddling: simply pull gently to stay straight. You go a bit slower but in the near-calm conditions it worked, with the odd double pull to bring things back on line.
With spring tides peaking, I was too late to pass through the channel between Horse and Meall nan Gabhar, so I clambered up a hill. Looking south to Eilean Dubh and the outer Summers (below), had I moved quicker I could have done the full tour in the Seawave. You only get a couple of days a year like this.
Back at the boat, it seemed a shame just to paddle the mile back to Badenscallie now that it had proven itself. So I set off north around Rubha Dunan. With the ring of mountains from the Torridans (below) up to the Assynt, what an amazing day to be out in a kayak.
On the way back I managed a quick selfie to assess the sag and have to say that’s pretty good considering I’m nine times the weight of the 3.5-m boat. In a ruined croft on Horse I’d spotted a plank bench and thought about pinching it to level out the boat (by sitting on the plank), but in calm waters the fully pumped up Semperit was holding up fine.
It wasn’t all rosy: my old packraft seatpad was leaking from the stem base, and with my reluctance to lean back on the basic rope backrest, I couldn’t relax fully. I ended up sitting on my water shoes (a new pair of Teva Omniums) which gave me nearly enough butt-over-heel elevation for good paddling efficiency. The rope could work well enough, but I don’t want to stress the ageing Forelle’s rather puny seat-mounts. What the boat really needs are a couple of bomb-proof D-rings on top of the sides to take the backrest strain in line (like I did on my old Amigo – left), but as I’ll be selling the boat, I’ll let the new owner decide what sort of seats they want. Like all IKs, with a higher seat or a small crate, the Forelle could easily be used as a canoe. I know a lot of people like them.
According to the map, Port Mhaire is where I landed. From here a new track led inland to the Piping cafe at Polglass where I dumped the boat under some shady trees and walked back to Badenscallie.
With proper seat support and perhaps an articulated skeg pivoting off the existing rudder mounts, the Semperit would make a nifty boat for calm inshore and lochs, and rivers. But in the Seawave and my Alpacka Yak, I’ve got all the boats I need. It was fun to do up and try out the Semperit, probably the first serious IK from which twin side-tubers like most Grabners, the Incept and Gumotex Seaker can all trace their roots.