Wed - December 13, 2006

Thunderbolt-X Kayak on South Platte River - Very First Impressions

After some backyard paddling I took my new Thunderbolt-X for the first water test to the South Platte River since my local lakes remain frozen. There was much less snow around Greeley than in Fort Collins. I launched at Evans River Park on a convenient gravelbar and paddled upstream about 1.6 mile to the first dam.

I examined the dam. A portage from a channel leading to gates is very difficult and may be dangerous due to strong current. I recommend the portage on left shore upstream of the parallel dam before entering the channel. Even if water is not flowing over the dam you will find some water in the old river channel. I paddled upstream as close as 100-200 yards to the dam.

Very first impressions from paddling the new kayak ...

Thunderbolt seems to be more stable than Sisson Nucleus. I wonder if this is also true on some more rough water. However, I really didn't try to test stability. South Platte was shallow but water was cold. I don't think that I can fit into T-bolt dressed in a dry suit.

T-bolt is much faster than Sisson. I will have to wait for open water in my lake to perform some more objective tests and virtual race runs. The seat/cockpit was too tight restricting me from a free rotation. Before the next paddle I will cut off these seat hangers. I ordered the boat with a racing sliding seat, so I don't need them. I used a sleeping foam pad on the seat but I was sitting a half inch lower than in Sisson. I will need to adjust to that seating position.

I had troubles to mount my GPS on a deck. Duck tape just didn't stick to it. Perhaps I need to rinse the deck or, maybe, air temperature was too low. I was keeping my Garmin Edge 305 on the deck for while with a help of my camera suction cup mount. I was paddling upstream above 3 mph, definitely, faster than in Sisson.

Of course, the boat is very well built and looks really cool. I am sure I will write more about this kayak and post more pictures and movies. The 21' kayak gives a nice perspective for a bow shot.

I am going to paddle the stretch of the South Platte above Evans for while. I didn't see any hunters or blinds there. I think that a shorter Sisson Nucleus will remain my boat of choice when the river access is more challenging than a gravel bar or when I need to expect difficult portages.

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Posted at 07:33 AM    

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