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RZ96 First Impressions

Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:22 pm
by Christov_Tenn
RZ 96 First Impression

My wife and I took the RZ out yesterday morning and paddled about 10-11 miles on Tims Ford Lake in Estill Springs and Winchester yesterday morning. Maybe four and a half hours in the boat. Assembly of this boat was pretty easy at the put in, just as it was in our backyard. This time I remembered to place the stringers before the three open frames.

The ribs and open frames have holes drilled through them that provide good attachment points for bungie cords to secure stuff. Good feature. I'll try to remember to take and post a photo next time I get the boat out.

I found a collapsible horse water-bucket for $4.00 at Tractor Supply to serve as a bailer - nice to find something that I could repurpose so cheaply. We used the Zolzer bags in bow and stern. They take up a lot of space, and when fully inflated, are kept tightly in place by the ribs.

Because of its proportions, my wife was able to help me carry the kayak the short distance from the shore, where I assembled it, to the water. The RZ96 was much easier to carry than the 1967 Folbot Squarestern of similar weight we owned briefly.

My wife was pleased with the roominess in the bow position compared to that of the Puffin II. She also liked the boat's stability and high washboards/coaming. For most of the journey, she sat on one of those square float cushions set atop the stock seat, in order to get a little extra height, as suggested, to enable more efficient paddling. She was also using her carbon fiber shaft 220cm Aquabound, and interestingly tends to adopt a higher angled stroke - maybe a function of the extra height?

By the end of our brief tour, my wife was complaining of discomfort due to the day's heat, as well as soreness in her back, and an inability to find comfort with either the stock or float-cushion seating arrangement. My wife tends not to use her torso much when paddling, and that undoubtedly contributes to her overall discomfort.

Still, she expresses a willingness to continue kayaking with me. Part of that is frugality - we've spent the money to purchase this boat and we're going to get our money's worth out of it. Good Indiana sense.

We both must report overall displeasure with the back rests, but I suffered less than my wife, even when she removed the cushion from atop the stock seat. To the good, however, I was able to pivot and sit on the backrest, like a canoe seat, using a very high angled stroke. This provided some relief for my back from time to time. Also found myself leaning back to paddle. If you look at the link on the website to photos of Swedish armed forces testing the product, you'll note in one photo that two of the oldest looking team-members are leaning back as they paddle. Like me, they, no doubt, sought relief from the backrest.

I'm not sure a backband would be a good solution for us. During reentries, they tend to become twisted, complicating the procedure. Also, I like being able to paddle the boat from the back rest, even though that wouldn't be suitable for windy or choppy conditions. Furthermore, I don't know whether or not the backrests (funny misnomer) are needed to stiffen the frame like thwarts in a canoe?

The rudder will continue to require an effort getting used to, as it is the first rudder I've used in any sort of paddle craft. After having spent so much time in the E68, I find that I dislike paddling with my legs mostly straight out in front of me, and have come to rely on edging to get rocker to make a turn. Still, the ability to turn at will with a movement of my foot is kind of nice. We didn't have much wind yesterday, and I think in very windy or choppy conditions, the rudder will be very helpful.

I did notice that the rudder, when in use, adds a discernible drag, whereas the boat seems a little quicker with rudder flipped up. Turning without the rudder was something I could accomplish by leaning, with next to nothing to brace against, and using directional strokes. Packed for a long camping trip, I think there'd be stuff to act as "outfitting" on either side.

Tims Ford Lake is one of those recreational bodies of water teeming with jetskiis, speeding pontoon boats, and those boats used to tow absurdly oversized inflated "innertubes", so we were able to determine that the RZ has no trouble with beam chop, nor any trouble heading into chop/steep wakes. "Lake Lice," I've heard those wake producers called.

The RZ96 attracted some attention. Near the put in, a lady with a nicely maintained dock and pedal boat with awning, asked us about the kayak as we paddled by, so we stopped to visit with her and show off the new boat. Later in the day, as we paddled back down Rock Creek, we passed some of the kids who'd been towed by us earlier on small, disc-like rafts at high speed by a loud boat. The teenagers were monkeying around in the water off the dock at which the now silent tow boat was tied up. I heard one of the kids comment to another, "Wow, that's a kayak...they're paddling it." Exhaust fumes could have made possible that degree of lucidity.

I'd intended to practice some wet exits and reentries yesterday, but we were hosting a visiting family last night and had to get home so they could get situated. Weather service predicts miserably hot weather for the next little while, so the lake water hereabouts should be, as I mentioned in a photo caption on the main site, bathtub warm for some time to come.

I'm convinced the Marvel Comics superheroes develop their oddly proportioned physiques through paddling these very boats. Even with my wife helping out by paddling from the bow, the 96 seemed much slower than my E68. The 96 does have a fairly long glide, and will move steadily along, but I have no other tandem with which to compare it except the Puffin II, which I think is slower, but feels lighter. The 96 feels "heavier" to pry through the water.

We'll await a colder day to try out the sprayskirt. I'm expecting its use will result in a much dryer ride. Could probably measure, cut, and sew some partial decks for both paddlers to keep the worst of the splash out.

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:34 am
by chrstjrn
Can't remember: did you sell the P2? My wife was MUCH happier in the front of the Klepper after I threw one of the P2's seats on top of the stock seat-- both 2 or 3 inches higher and better back support. Before that she had a very high paddle-angle, which she reported was at least as uncomfortable as it looked.

Yeah, Sold It

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:55 am
by Christov_Tenn
Yeah, I sold it to help fund the RZ. One of the things I'd wanted to try but didn't get around to was to use the Puffin seat in my Pouch single instead of the tractor seat and slat-back that came stock with the boat. Sounds like you have found a good solution for your bow-paddler. I'll have to keep thinking about this, but I'm sure better paddling technique would help her, as well as maybe a longer paddle to allow her to reach the water at a lower angle.

Next time we'll try the 230 cm paddle in front and that ancient Klepper paddle I've complained about in other posts in the back - I think I measured it at something like 246 cm or some other odd length.

And back support - dunno how Klepper and Pouch can keep producing great boats with really bad back rests.?...

Thanks for you idea. If it gets bad enough, I'll just order a seat from Alv.


Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:33 pm
by Anne
[quote]I'm not sure a backband would be a good solution for us. During reentries, they tend to become twisted, complicating the procedure. Also, I like being able to paddle the boat from the back rest, even though that wouldn't be suitable for windy or choppy conditions. Furthermore, I don't know whether or not the backrests (funny misnomer) are needed to stiffen the frame like thwarts in a canoe?[/quote]

The Wilderness System backband came with a strap at the lower end of the band that I connected with a bolt to the keelboard. This way the backband can't twist.

I also don't know whether the backrests are needed to support the frame. The rear backrest is probably not necessary. The front one might help making the frame stiffer. So far I havn't noticed any problems like twisting or bending without the original backrest in the front. If it happens I will probably add some kind of crossbar behind the front backband. Whitewater or surf would probably show if removing the backrests is a problem.

Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:11 pm
by chrstjrn
I doubt Alv would charge much. I'm also sure there are many other options that would give a similar result.

I think being higher would help her stroke. My understanding is that women are better at grasping that sort of thing, intuitively, whereas men are the ones more likely to overcome something with simple brute strength (i.e. using the arms and not torso-rotation). If your wife is sitting comfortably, with the angles all right (arm-paddle, paddle-water, elbow-coaming), I'll bet she'll improve her stroke quickly (and enjoy it more!).

Seat Solutions

Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:15 pm
by Christov_Tenn
I think Alv charges about a hundred bucks for one of his inflatable Puffin seats. Securing the seat so it doesn't slide around might be a challenge.

At work today I sketched an idea I believe I must've got from CFK 2d, p. 199 illustration of Bob Snider's Feathercraft slingseat support solution. I've been rereading parts of CFK last couple of weeks. When I saw the illustration, it looked like a picture of the Pouch seatback with a sling attached. I wasn't, but it got me thinking.

A little while ago this evening, I sketched the idea out on some bigger paper. Will have to actually "do the math" and make measurements to cut and sew one. It will give the 32 year-old Singer a work out.

Having no training in ergonomics, if ergonomics is actually a word and is, then, the word I want, I cannot tell whether the sling arrangement will work. The sketches've been uploaded to their own nested album in my RZ96 gallery on the main site.

Women generally are probably stronger, more resilient, and graceful than they think they are. I know that's true of my wife. If she can get comfortable in the boat and will take the time to work with the paddle, I think she'll enjoy feeling the effect of her strength and skill in the movement of the boat through the water.


P.S. I just looked over my sketches and noted that, in typically self-absorbed fashion, I've designed a seat for myself - for the rear paddling position, as opposed to coming up with something that might help my wife find comfort in the boat. What's the opposite of kudos? C.

raised front seat in a double

Posted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:32 am
by chrstjrn
I remember some articles in Sea Kayaker, a while back, about carving a seat from foam. Seems to me that could be done in a manner to provide a bit of lumbar support-- the practitioners of this approach seemed very enthusiastic about the results.

Puffin seat is $69 (I just looked it up).

Tom Yost would probably have some good input on this issue.

Some More Thoughts on This Boat

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 9:43 pm
by Christov_Tenn
Today, my brother and I got on the water at Woods Reservoir with the RZ. he's 6'4", and was able to sit comfortably in the bow position, although he preferred sitting in the stern position.

I tried out the bow position and found it much more comfortable than the stern position because I was able to get a good "fit" with my knees under the deck. I paddled again for awhile from atop the stern seatback, like a canoe, using a relaxed but high-angle stroke/cadence.

We got caught out in a thunderstorm, downpour, and gusting winds. The rudder was useful in those conditions. This is a really sturdy boat.

I'm glad I was wrong about the cost of Alv's infatable seats. Maybe will get one if the front seat continues to be uncomfortable for my wife.


"Solo" Paddling the RZ

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:39 pm
by Christov_Tenn
Saturday my father-in-law and I took the RZ to Woods Reservoir. He's never paddled any sort of boat except that rowboat he and some other kids poled along a Muncie neighborhood drainage ditch after a torrential downpoour maybe 50+ years ago.

Anyway, he got tired after only a short time, but I was able to paddle the boat without much fatigue for about 11 miles with a couple of breaks. 11 miles really isn't that far, but I was surprised how easy it seemed. Especially after the initial shock of paddling the RZ after spending so much time in the livelier E68. Actually, I began to get tired at about nine and a half to 10 miles. Jim enjoyed the sightseeing from the bow seat, and said he felt like a parasite, but I told him it was no different than my "helping" on the farm.

I used a 230 cm Voyageur paddle (definitely not a high-end pry bar) and alternated between low and high angle strokes. The paddle length felt pretty good, could maybe make due with a 225, but dunno. Also dunno whether this kayak would be paddle-able without someone in the bow seat - I'm guessing not.

The RZ glides for a long time after the last stroke. Once the boat is moving, it's pretty easy to keep it moving. Conditions, however, were exceedingly mild - little to no wind, but on the hot side. We did get some steady rain early on. We had a nice day on the water and discussed ecclesiology (sp?), farming, local wildlife.

Hope those of you with fathers-in-law have similarly good experiences with them,


Use water wings

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:23 am
by Philipp
Hi Chris!

I have an older RZ-85 which should show almost the same drawbacks with regard to the seat and the backrest as the RZ-96. We have been complaining about aching backs after each trip with the boat but are in a steady process of improvement.
When on camp tours I fix some soft gear (mostly the groundsheet for the tent) around the back rest and find it considerably more comfortable.
Now, for the long summer trip to Finland we bought two pairs of water wings for 2 Euros each which we attach to the back rest. By now this solution seems to be a quite good one: our backs rest softly and - also important - more upright, the torso can move much better and the spine is not in direct contact with the back rest since it's positioned either between two water wings or between the two inflated parts of one water wing (when only one ww is used it needs to be fixed to the back rest with straps or something similar).

Maybe this idea can be some help for you.



Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:46 pm
by Christov_Tenn
Hi Philipp,

I'll check our local retailers this week and see if I can find some of those water wings or swimmies for the seatback to try out. This point in the season, they'll probably be on sale.

Also, I'm interested in finding a couple or figuring out how to make the older style "H" seat backs. Ralph Hoehn suggests that they should support the back without applying any pressure to the spine. Pouch seems to be selling an updated version of the "H" design that is padded, but doesn't have the "cut-out" for the spine, nor does it appear that the verticals are in planes that are tilted inward, to allow the back to rest upon them according to its contour.

In the meantime, I'll just cope with the discomfort and experiment with inexpensive outfitting options.

The sling seat I sketched (scans in my RZ96 album on the main site) will probably not work because the attachments on the left and right in front would have to stretch all the way out to rib #4 in back and to rib #1 in front - narrowing would be a big problem. Maybe a sling attaching to both the seatback and crossways from the gunwales would work?

Thanks very much for the idea. I'll let you know how it works.

Best regards to you, too,


Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:24 am
by Philipp
Hi Chris!

Just came back from our Finland trip with the old RZ-85. Must say that the water wing solution worked well. I attached one, only partly inflated, to the back rest and felt so much more comfortable than in the past...really don't know why I didn't use that method before. Now I just need to impove the fixing og the water wing in order to provide it from moving around when moving myself.
All in all this solution is worth trying.


Water Wings!

Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:31 am
by Christov_Tenn
Hi Phillipp,

I've been so busy with other things that I forgot the water-wings solution you'd mentioned... Consequently, I've had miserably sore back on my several day trips with the RZ. I will see about getting some this weekend. Thanks for reminding me.

Have you posted photos from your recent trip anywhere we can see them?



RZ backrests

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:01 am
by Anne
As mentioned earlier I replaced the Pouch back rests with flexible backbands (by Wildwasser). I wasn't sure if removing the back rests, especially the front one, would have an impact on the rigidity of the kayak. But during the 2 week trip in August with one day of larger waves and some current on most other days I didn't notice any twisting or increased flex around the centre of the kayak. Here is a picture of the replacement backband: ... ttings_025

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:09 am
by Philipp
Hi Chris!

Apologize, but I don't have pictures somewhere in the internet to look at. I am definitely no expert on all this stuff and my first (and most likely also last) attempt with one of these free internet galleries was too annoying...

Maybe I can try to take some shots of the water wings and the back resty if this would be of any help.

@Anne: culd you please post where one can get these "Wildwasser" back rests?