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I recently purchased a demo Ute that I'm setting up for some long road trips to the Everglades this winter and the Canadian Rockies next summer. As a former Feathercraft owner, I was drawn to the exceptional build quality and the ease of assembly. As for me, I've paddled canoes/kayaks for 40 years, and have sailed small & large boats for the same.
Thus far, I've paddled the Ute 4-5 times, mostly in a salt water bay with strong tides, chop, and 10-15mph winds. My observations so far are:
- The boat is built like a tank
- It is really easy to assemble
- It is quite comfortable
- It tracks very well but may need a rudder because it has no rocker and is surprisingly slow to turn
- It handles chop exceptionally well
- And if I'm being honest, boat speed is below average - even for a shortish, rec kayak. I need to address this.
So, I'd appreciate any advice on the following:
- Paddle type and length. I've paddled the Ute with a Werner Camano 220 and 230 - and both were just okay. I also paddled with my old Mitchell white water high-angle 215cm paddle, which surprisingly, wasn't too bad. With the higher deck and 28" beam, I feel like I need something like (a) a Camano 240cm, (b) a lighter weight high-angled paddle like a Werner Shuna 220cm, or (c) an even an adjustable length (230-245cm) paddle like Burning Branches makes. Recommendations would be appreciated. BTW, I'm 5'8".
- Rudder. I generally don't like rudders except on sea kayaks. But I am thinking of eventually purchasing a sailing rig (see below) and I do think the Ute might benefit from one while paddling. Question 1: do you think Long Haul's paddling or sailing rudder (https://longhaulfoldingkayaks.com/produ ... 4569724986) is worthwhile (and worth the cost)? Question 2: Does the LH rudder foot control assembly just beyond rib #2 work effectively (it seems a bit too far forward)?
- Sailing rig. I don't have the funds to buy a BSD rig now nor am I certain that I really want Amas since they would interfere with paddling. For downwind and reaching, it would seem that a mast (e.g. BSD "C" mast) with a small spinnaker-like sail would work in conjunction with paddling? BSD also makes a curiously shaped TWINS sail (like sailing wing-on-wing -- http://baloghsaildesigns.com/twins.html). I'd be interested to hear from any Ute or Mark I owners whether you think a minimalist rig like I mentioned would be worthwhile .. or to save my money, and, at a later date, buy the batwing configuration? Or maybe I am missing a different maker of a sails?
I realize I've asked a lot of questions but I'd very much appreciate recommendations and your experience.
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I never paddled the Ute, but I spent a day with a loaner being paddled by my 5’2”, 110lb girlfriend, who found it much livelier than the Aleut she usually paddles when we take single boats out. I also was impressed by the speed of assembly- probably the fastest to assemble quality folder ever. We never put a rudder on it, finding that it turned easily with paddle alone.
It’s never going to be as fast as longer boats, just for reasons of basic hydrodynamics, but there are some things you can get to get more power in your paddling stroke. I prefer long, narrow, paddle blades over whitewater blades, and I use, when possible, a Greenland style stroke which generates more power and is far more efficient than a whitewater stroke. My favorite Werner Greenland style paddle is no longer made, but there are plenty of other options.
Besides using a Greenland style stroke, focus on paddling from the torso, not the arms. As an experienced paddler you’re no doubt already well aware of this.
As for sailing, I agree that it’s a good candidate for a BDS Twins downwind rig. A full rig with outriggers seems like it would overpower the boat, but I’m just guessing here, having never tried that.
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I’m happy with my LH sailing rudder, but I only have limited kayak rudder experience. At $260 I think it is worth the price unless you have machining capabilities or are handy with a file and have lots of time. I like that the pin has a machined groove that helps with retention. When I consider the cost of the high quality materials and the value of my time it’s a good deal.
The rudder cable crimps could use a heat shrink covering to prevent little burrs from the cable. I can gladly post pictures and measurement if you request something specific.
A spinnaker like sail would be excellent for downwind use, but a very poor choice for reaching due to its shape.
Before I had the BSD rig I was going to make my own and have extensive reference material if it helps. I can also take pics/measure hardware, etc... if you want to copy it. If you copy another rig you may want to consider maintaining the same center of effort and lateral resistance to keep similar sailing performance.
Reproducing similarly functioning hardware could be done cheaply if you are handy and have the time. I had planned to use used windsurfing sails. You could also use the tape and tarp technique or cheap versions of sails from widely available boat classes like the Optimist or Sunfish
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FWIW, I paddle and sail a Klepper A1. It has very similar dimensions...
Paddle type and length. For long distance paddling I really do like Greenland paddles but they don't work for me for all around use. I have a Kalliste Werner that is really light and very, very stable in the water.
Rudder. Yes, a sailing rudder really makes a difference. You can buy Longhaul's or you can make a rudder that is inexpensive and simple...with just a scoll or jig saw and some sandpaper. Aluminum is surprisingly easy to get and work...1/8" sheet is readily available online. It won't be anodized but that should be ok. The key to the design of a sailing rudder is that it has some "balance" to it. That means that some of the blade, up to 20% by area, should be located in front of the axis upon which the blade pivots. If you want to go down that road just ask and I am sure several of us will be happy to share designs.
Sailing rig. If you just want to go downwind then anything will do...even a large umbrella! But your Ute will sail upwind just fine if you want to go that way. The key is not just in the shape of the sail but, maybe more importantly, in a good leeboard that gives your kayak some "bite" in the water. Your Ute would do great with a BSD...you should consult the folks at Balogh (sailyourkayak.com) for more advice there. You might also want to consider the Kayaksailor rig. I used one for several years but then "graduated" to Balogh as my sailing interests grew.
Enjoy the journey!
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My Feathercraft Kurrent moves along quite well with either 220cm or 210cm paddles, both Werner Shunas. I prefer a slightly higher paddle angle for efficiency as longer paddles cause the bow to yaw a bit from side to side, something the shorter paddle and higher angle stroke tend to minimize. The Kurrent’s width is less than the Ute, 25 inches compared with 28 inches for the Ute, and might require the longer paddle. As to hull speed, the Kurrent moves along easily in neutral conditions at around 3.5 mph, about average for a boat of its length and wetted surface. The Ute, with its broader beam and increased wetted surface, might be just a bit slower but the difference would likely be negligible. Folders in general are not speedy boats, short folders like the Kurrent and Ute even less so. Good luck with your new boat!
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