I’ve had the Seawave a few months but paddling in Venice last week was my first proper outing. Venice lagoon was pretty calm on the day – there was more wash inside the Grand Canal from the vaporetti water taxis. It may have been calm but some 34kms without a river current and some tidal flow is still a pretty good outing.
It was an opportunity to try my high pressure modification. I’m running 35% more pressure in the side tubes (4.8psi as opposed to the advised 3.6) but have fitted PRVs (pressure release valves) rated at the higher pressure to prevent the boat getting damaged if it gets hot. Full story on how I did that here.
It took about 15 minutes to pump up the Gumotex with the compact K-Pump (left) but before we lowered it down to the canal (above) it went flat. Oh dear – did I do something wrong? Turns out one side-chamber inflation valve (not new PRV) was leaking. I unscrewed it, blew at it, put it back and it held all day. Probably just a bit of grit, though that’s never happened to me before.
My impression was the high pressure sides made the Seawave faster and more responsive – well it’s bound to isn’t it. Returning to the appartment I didn’t feel like I’d paddled 21 miles, though I can’t say I was full of beans next day and my hands were swollen from using my 4-piece paddle (easier on Easyjet) instead of my bent Camaro. I found it easy to keep up with my mate Steve in his Big yellow Kahuna and even found myself passing the odd hardshell sea kayak or double folders. On earlier trips in the Amigo I couldn’t catch the Kahuna. All those benefits might change in windy or choppy conditions, though there’s much to be said for an IK’s stability when things get gnarly.
So three cheers for my Seawave HP. The short terms gains of high pressure sides are not so elusive, of course. What remains to be seen is if running the boat 35% over the factory-advised pressure affects durability – ie; did I go too far choosing the PRV setting. I doubt it as poking the sides felt very much like my previous 2psi Gumo kayaks on a hot sunny day. The sides being less in the water will always be prone to getting warm and tight but have no I-beams to get stressed like the floor. Those boats never suffered so I’m sure the Seawave can hack it.