Building the "Swiss Army Knife" of Small Boats...Wood Duck Double #46: Performance Assessment

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 08-10-2020 10:03 PM 522 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 45: Spray Decks Part 46 of Building the "Swiss Army Knife" of Small Boats...Wood Duck Double series Part 47: Duck Blind Planning »

Retrieval Practice with Copper
I removed the spray decks and had Copper do five retrieves from the boat. This was an important test to determine if he’d be hunting with me from this new kayak. I couldn’t believe how stable the boat was for retrieval work! It took Copper a while to figure out how he’d exit the boat, but he eventually did and it went real smooth. He puts his feet on the side beyond the coaming and lunges out into the water. The boat rocks, but I never felt like we were even close to tipping. I kneeled and faced the stern to recover Copper. He puts his front paws onto the deck and I support the back of his head with my left hand, while I hold the opposite coaming with my right hand, to nudge him into the boat. We’re a “go” for duck hunting!

Wet Exit Results
NOTE: Without my added spray deck, the Wood Duck Double is a horrible Lake Superior boat. I removed the spray deck and did a wet exit with the bare boat. The cockpit filled up with water as I’d suspect, but I was able to remove a lot of it when I flipped it upright. However, the sides are so low that I could not do a paddle-float self-recovery from the side. The boat would simply take on more water over the coaming…no matter what I did. I managed to enter the boat from the rear and it took forever to bail it out. If I were in conditions rough enough to dump me…it wouldn’t be a good situation. To be fair, Chesapeake Light Craft does only advertise this kayak as a calm water vessel. My solution is to build and install a portable bilge pump system. I’ll run a a Rule 1100 pump with a 9 amp hour 12-volt battery installed in a Pelican box. (Yeah, I’ve built one of these before for my last folding kayak!) I’m making it portable so that I can relocate it based on my configuration. Another step to displace water in the event of tipping is to lash down anything that floats. My duck decoys would provide a lot of help if they were tied down well. The same goes with any other waterproof bags on board. A person can also install flotation bags to fill unused space. The big cockpit is both a “blessing” and a “curse.”

Coastal Paddling
We paddled six miles exploring the sea caves along Meyer’s Beach. The dog cockpit attachment doesn’t get in my way and Copper didn’t cause any instability. I cruised easily at 3 mph with the dog in the stern. The boat tracks well with or without the rudder.

Longer Crossings with Waves
Our second paddle was a 10-mile round trip with a 3-mile crossing to Sand Island. We had a tailwind going out and a headwind coming back with seas of one to two feet both ways. Mary and I paddled using the tandem spray deck (we left Copper in the camper.) We were thankful for the rudder with the following seas. (Mary wasn’t happy that she had to operate the rudder from the from the bow position, but she did well!) Waves lapped over the side of the boat onto the spray deck quite often with the following seas. Without a spray deck, that water would have come into the boat. The spray deck worked well at keeping the boat dry inside. I plan to add a one-foot section of velcro in the middle of the long, straight section for peace of mind. Bungee does well on curves, but can roll out of position in extreme conditions on the straight sections. We averaged 4 mph with the following seas and 2.7 mph with the increasing headwinds on the paddle home. This is quite amazing for a 14’ kayak paddled as a tandem! The kayak does a nice combination of slicing/bobbing as it goes through/over steep chop of one to two feet. I’m super happy with the hull performance.

Fog Crossing
Our third paddle was an 8-mile round-trip to York Island. There was heavy fog with visibility of only 100’ the entire paddle out. (We had GPS, compass, chart, and a horn readily available.) We paddled our kayaks solo and I took Copper in the back of my boat. The massive stability of the Wood Duck Double was comforting while paddling in such poor visibility. We were attempting to beat a thunderstorm on the way back and averaged 3.0 mph with a 10-knot headwind.

I’m very happy with the performance of the Wood Duck Double kayak.

Duck blind planning.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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