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Ten Pounds In A Five Pound Bag

By John Winters

In Partnership With Swift Canoe & Kayak 2394 Highway 11 North RR#1 Gravenhurst, Ontario Canada P1P1R1 Scribd Online Database Series December 2010

© 2010 Swift Canoe & Kayak/John Winters. This document is not to be printed, distributed, sold for profit, or used in any capacity outside the Scribd document database without the expressed written consent of Swift Canoe & Kayak and/or John Winters

Ten Pounds in a Five Pound Bag
By John Winters At a kayak club gathering a paddling friend asked me, " Why can't the sea kayak builders get together on volume?" I asked what she meant. "You know, how they publish volume. Everyone seems to do it differently." The little light went on. Good question. Some publish it in liters, some in gallons, some in cubic feet. some in cubic meters, and some in that delightfully ambiguous “High”, “Medium”, or “Low” volume that says so little while conveying the impression of saying everything. Unfortunately, the industry doesn't appear to be rushing towards uniformity. The method a manufacturer uses probably reflects whether he lived in England or the US (gallons) or the rest of the world (liters). Those who did not bother measuring liked the high, medium, and low terms and those who basked in the luxury of a CAD programs for designing their boats used cubic feet or cubic meters as the spirit moved them. Since I can't help what others do beyond providing a conversion table (See below) it is still worth discussing sea kayak volume from a practical standpoint. One would think that volume figures (in whatever units they come) would be enough but they aren't. Not all volume is equal. What would really help would be how much useable storage volume the boat has. Those long, fine sweeping bows and sterns look nice but may not qualify as storage space unless you have something that does not mind being jammed into a tight spot or do not mind a fishing expedition to get things out. Nor can you use all the spare space in the cockpit. Some things will fit but the more commonly nothing fits properly and what doesn't slips down into the most inconvenient locale somewhere around your feet. Because cockpits must fit a full range of statures (The leg length difference between a tall man and a short woman spans roughly 8 inches) and the builder must accommodate both even if it means wasting space. This can often mean the loss of considerable storage space. Thus two boats of equal volume can hold much different quantities of gear. Further confusion results from our inability to relate to three dimensional space. When asked which boat is larger - a fifteen or a seventeen-foot kayak - most people will answer the seventeen footer without much thought. Unfortunately, length provides only one aspect of the equation. Beam, depth, deck camber and distribution of volume along the

hull form the remainder. Even if tow boats have equal principle measurements of length, beam, and depth a boat with fine concave ends will have less useable storage volume than a boat with fuller convex ends. Flattish decks also take their toll and this isn't often noticed since most builders measure depth at the highest point and not at the forward or aft compartments. In many cases, a shorter, stubbier boat with the same volume as a longer, leaner narrower can have more useable space simply because it will hold oddly shaped articles more efficiently. Part of the storage problem (and a pet peeve of mine) has always been hatches. My personal boats rarely have them since I find it easier to stuff things under the deck through the large and convenient cockpit. Encased in watertight bags, my gear serves as reserve buoyancy and eliminates the added weight of bulkheads. Getting gear out poses no problem. Each bag has a color coded rope attached. When I need food, I pull on the red rope. When I need clothes, I pull on the green rope. Best of all, this method satisfies that age-old dictum of ship design - never to put any more holes in a boat than necessary. Taking your gear along to see if it will fit makes a lot of sense even if it is inconvenient. If nothing else it might stimulate you to reducing your load by cutting out some of the surplus gear. This brings us to the title of this article. When he saw kayak with stacks of gear strapped to the deck a friend of mine said it looked like they were trying to get ten pounds in a five-pound bag. I like the sound of it. Conversion Table One Cubic meter = 1000 liters ≈ 35.31 cubic feet ≈ 264.17 gallons (US) According to one arbitrary source a high volume kayak is between 351 - 400 liters, and medium volume kayak is between 301 and 350 liters and a low volume kayak is below 300 liters. A very large kayak is in excess of 400 liters. Well, maybe.