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Folding Kayak Adventures

After moving into London in 2011, I decided that I would look into the options for buying another kayak. All of my recent previous kayaks had been plastic sea kayaks which would be difficult to store and transport (especially having given up my car).  Taking into account my limitations and the fact that I wanted a vessel capable of extended sea trips, I did some research into folding kayaks. In the end I opted to purchase a Wayland Mk I Achilli 500XL which is manufactured by Wayland Folding Kayaks in Poland. The kayak is apparently supplied to NATO troops and is made of a wooden frame and canvas skin. The kayak packs into a large bag that can be placed on a small trolley and taken on a non-congested train where a cycle space is available.

The kayak takes at least 30 minutes to put together and to check everything is aligned and fixed correctly. It handles and tracks beautifully both on flat water or with a large ground swell although it feels very different to a plastic boat as the wave energy passes through the boat. The cockpit position is rather far back (I’m not sure if this is due to the design of the single seater model just being a modification of the double seater model) so it is very useful to have a rudder kit fitted.

There is more than enough room for kit for multiday excursions – see below for my standard trip inventory.

The two major limitations of the kayak are:

  • It’s much more difficult than a plastic kayak to launch through surf from the beach, especially if you are alone or their is much wind.
  • It’s essential that it is thoroughly cleaned and dried before packing away. The cleaning (washing all parts with fresh water to remove salt) and drying process has taken me a minimum of three hours on a sunny day.

Whilst not suitable for everyone, I love my folding kayak and have been very pleased with it. Please see below for a list of trips that I have undertaken.

As well as giving me an opportunity to do some trips here in the UK, the “dream” is to attempt to kayak from Penzance all the way to Cairo over the next few years in holiday sized trips. This would involve a journey along the south Coast of England before hopping across to the continent and making my way across France via the canals and rivers. The next leg would involve paddling down the coast of Spain and over to Morocco. I would then make my away right across the top of Africa before making the journey up the Nile to Cairo. Taking this idea further I’d also love to traverse the Suez canal and then continue down the Red Sea all the way to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Standard Trip Inventory

The following is a list of what I take with me on my folding kayak trips. I have cut my inventory down to the essentials due to the fact that everything has to be transportable via public transport.

Item Description Specification Weight (Kg) Comments

Transport

Kayak Wayland Mk I Achilli 500XL Folding NATO specified kayak – Birch frame/canvas skin; 5.00m 32Kg
Spraydeck+Seasock Compatablity with the above kayak.
Paddle Werner Shuna 215cm Strong, lightweight paddle; requires sufficient strength to be used as a launching aid! 755g Excellent Paddle
PortageTrolley Eckla Trolley Small, lightweight, foldaway trolley; corrosion resistant 3 Kg Wheels store in the Stern compartment. The body is stored on the deck.

Safety Equipment

Buoyancy Aid Palm Symbiant Tour Touring Buoyancy Aid. Size: M/L Performed Satisfactorily. I found this to be a very comfortable Buoyancy Aid.
EPIRB McMurdo Fastfind 210 PLB EPIRB With GPS – [Link to Manual] Waterproof to IPX7; 5 Year Battery Life; Replacable Battery 150g
VHF Marine Radio Cobra HH330 FLOATING Handheld VHF Marine Radio – Waterproof to IPX7; Floating; Rechargable
Paddle Leash
Paddle Float
Bilge/Bailer Pump
First Aid Kit Lifesystems Explorer First Aid Kit Code 1035
Sunscreen Factor 50 Something that I have oten accidently forgotten in the past.
Global Positioning System Garmin

Camping Equipment

Air Mattress Thermarest Full Length Lite 910g Performed Satisfactorily
Sleeping System US Army Sleeping System (Cold Weather Bag plus Gore Tex Bivy) 1220g This is stowed in the Bow section of the kayak – compressed inside an Drybag.
Stove Trangia 27 Non-Stick Cookset With Kettle & Spirit Burner 860g As usual the Trangia performed in all conditions. The only issue with these stoves can be getting fuel!
Fuel Bottle Triangia Fuel Bottle (1 Litre) x 1 160g
(Lightweight Knife, Fork & Spoon)
Headtorch Petzl Myo
Multitool Leatherman Blast (with Can opener) Excellent Multitool

Clothing

Dry Cag Palm Alutian Dry Cag
Wet Weather Jacket Royal Navy Issue Gortex Jacket Goretex Material; Tough well made; Hood Part of my “Dry Kit”
Swim Shorts (x2) Addidas Fast Drying
Rash Vests (x1) Sola & Animal Size: L Excellent Performance
Trip T-Shirt (x1) Part of my “Dry Kit”
Jumper (x1) Part of my “Dry Kit”

Waterproof Containers

Dry Bag 1 x Ortlieb – 59 Litre (Black) Waterproof Drybag
Dry Bag 2 x Ortlieb – 22 Litre (Blue) Waterproof Drybag
Map Case Ortlieb – 27cm x 27cm Map Case Waterproof Map Case
Dry Bags Exped Assorted Sizes x 5

Consumables

Batteries Rechargable – 4xAA
Matches Always have several boxes in various bags.

Electronics

Mobile Telephone (with charger)
Digital Camera

Permits and Licenses

British Canoe Union Membership Registered
British Waterways Kayak License (Included with BCU membership)
Portable Marine Radio License Available from the Ofcom website. # = 1-149638863 Free
RYA Marine Radio Short Range Certificate Passed on 12-06-2010 Cricklade Sea School
EPIRB License Registered with the EPIRB Registry UIN: 1D0E6410CAFFBFF Free
Jonathan Tolhurst

About Jonathan Tolhurst

Based in London, my interests include photography, kayaking, paddle boarding, electric unicycling, teepees, robotics, programming, databases, informatics and pharmacy.

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Jonathan Tolhurst