Monday, May 17, 2010

Comparisons between Peter Bray’s Ocean-going Kayak and Greg Kolodziejzyk’s Pedal-driven Vessel.

Sometimes we try to reinvent the wheel, and I think the meaning of this saying can be applied to some of those who design vessels for crossing oceans. There have been very successful yachts that have circumnavigated the Globe, such as Jessica Watson’s ‘Ella’s Pink Lady’. Her yacht was a Sparkman and Stephens 34, which has been well proven for her sea keeping qualities and robustness.

Greg Kolodziejzyk has been working on a project* for a couple of years with the aim of pedalling his unique propeller, human-powered canoe from Vancouver to Hawaii, starting in June, but he has run into difficulties because of problems with his boat. She was custom-designed for the 4500 kilometre voyage, but she has not performed as Greg had expected. Surprisingly, he had a previous prototype built and tested. She was smaller and differed from his newest boat. In several respects she was more successful in rough conditions, but she was too small. Greg needed more space for his physical comfort and for carrying the equipment and the provisions he felt were necessary. Comparisons of the two boats reveal differences, the biggest one being that the earlier prototype was rounded in form, whereas the larger newer boat was slab-sided and flat bottomed. The early prototype had external floats that could be deployed for extra stability.

I am a little perplexed why Greg did not insist on his second boat being more like the first - in view of her success. It seems to me the designer of his first boat had invented a pretty good wheel, but Greg wanted a better one which so far has eluded him.

The other thing that surprised me was that the designer of Greg’s latest boat, ‘Within’, could possibly have incorporated features of successful similar vessels into his design. I’m thinking in particular of Peter Bray’s kayak which was fitted with a small cabin. He paddled her 3,200 miles across the Atlantic. Rob Feloy was her designer, and Kirton Kayaks built her.

Notably, there are similarities between Peter’s kayak and Greg’s first prototype. Both vessels are rounded in form and each of them has moderate rocker. A big difference between them is the keel built into Peter’s kayak. I believe this keel was ballasted with water, and it may have been part of a pumped water system designed for righting the kayak in the event of her being capsized.

If another kayaker wants to cross an ocean, he would do well to examine Peter Bray’s very successful kayak and base his boat on Peter’s.

Improving a wheel may be possible, but reinventing it is not possible.

* Greg's Project:


Greg Kolodziejzyk

Peter Bray Links

Peter Bray’s Book ‘Kayak across the Atlantic’

Kirton Kayaks

Jessica Watson

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