Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kayak customizing - toggles and ropes

In the post about the prepatory meeting for Spiekeroog with the check of the kayaks of the participants I mentioned my own Pintail also needed some modifications to become real seaworthy. It's a minor thing, but an important thing: the toggle-thing!

First a word about "what's a toggle for?" Toggles are useful for transporting an (unloaded) kayak by two persons, but that's not what they are really meant for. Toggles should, above all, give safe grip to your kayak in a capsize situation. As a kayak can spin viciously in moving water the rope on the toggle (1) should be long enough to allow the kayak to spin around without squeezing your hand between the kayak deck or hull and the toggle and (2) the toggle should be fastened to your boat in a way that makes it impossible to put the hand into an open loop (-> risking trapping the fingers in an ever tightening thumbscrew situation).
Every designer, builder and supplier of seakayaks knows this since years. And yet...

The factory fitted toggles on the Valley Pintail:

Fingers can get trapped easily:

After customizing. The elastic shock cord prevents the toggle from hanging in the water:

The kayak now can spin freely around its axis and the single rope prevents trapped fingers:

There is some more rope work on the Pintail:

Someone at Valley had good ideas about positioning the cleats. But why didn't Valley fit any ropes or shock cords? It I think it was that dramatic shortage of rope in Britain last year ;-) The situation in Woerden wasn't any better today. This morning I couldn't find the black rope and shock cords I got with the Pintail... So now the Pintail has a white toggle line on the bow and a red on the stern... And I will fix the other rope-work another day. I want to outfit it just like the red Svalbard:

Few hours later I found 6 meter of black rope and shock cords in a wardrobe?!

More about kayak outfitting:
1. spring is "international kayak customizing time": see the blogs of Derrick and René.
2. René has written a first impression of a interesting new seakayak: the Vestvika.
3. Derrick wrote last year an interesting footpump in a rotomoulded kayak.


derrick said...

Pretty funny to see all these blogs about customizations!! I have to do the toggles on my explorer as well.

Took the AA out and rolled a bit tonight. I do like the foam seat,I'm going to take your advice and put about an inch of mini-cell under the seat. It was too low by itself. Then I have to add a ton of mini-cell under the deck as well! Lot's of work!

René van der Zwan said...

Hi Hans,

Good article.
You are taking advance on me ;-): I just planned making an article, for my website, on toggles and all the different options to customize them: to make finger-safe-toggles.

When I am ready I will make a link to your article as well.

By the way: your deckline around the hatch of your third-compartment is not ideal because the line can interfere with the hatch when closing. Ideal should be that the kayakdesigner PLANS space for this line; now more ansd more kayaks are deliverd without a lin on this crucial spot. When there is no line a re-entry in a choppy sea, performing an X-rescue will not go as fluent as should be.

I have an idea to improve this in present decklayouts: when my investiogations are finished I planne to write an artivle about the solution.

derrick said...

Yeah, I can add to that toggle thing too. :)

Richard said...

One quick question: In the third picture down, with the new toggle rope and elastic keeper in place, is that a bowline knot in the middle of the toggle line? It looks like it might be, but I can't tell for sure. I would like to do the same treatment to my kayak as well. Thanks for the great pictures.

Hans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hans said...

Hi Richard!
You are right: it's a bowline knot. A figure of eight would also do. Mostly I prefer the figure of eight (... sports climbing history), it's a safer knot, but on a "marine vessel" a bowline is more suitable.
Just seen your blog: I will add a link on mine (if you don't mind!)and I am also interested in your experiences building a greenland paddle.