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Design & Illustration

Kavat – Robert Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey


I have finished making my Kavat and took it out for a short paddle this morning...a kind of sea trial. I will go out for an extended paddle in the ocean with my paddling club Sunday. My wife works Sundays, and I wanted her to share my first time in the Kavat. She has been so patient and supportive while I've been building the Kavat in our garage, so I felt she should see the first paddle. Attached are some photos that my wife and I took. I rolled three out of three times and took the Kavat on a quick paddle across the channel. She has a photo of me coming up from a roll and another of the bottom of the kayak as I come up. In that photo, you can see the pattern I built into the hull. I've attached some photos which are sized for the web, and you are, of course, welcome to use them if you like.

I was able to find a wood supply company an hour's drive from my home that sells 20 foot sections of clear, Western red cedar. When I cut the cedar into strips, I found that there was enough coloration to establish some book-matched grain patterns. I also put two maple strips down the center of the deck for contrast, and also book-matched the patterns in the maple.

We have a fair amount of fog here and sometimes the fog appears quickly, so Ii wanted a compass where I could see it clearly. I turned a housing and mounted the compass close in front of the cockpit. I was concerned the compass might be damaged in a T-rescue, so I attached two pieces of cherry to protect it. I also turned two handles which are mounted in the lines on the bow and stern.

The Kavat paddles like a dream. It fits like a glove, feels very stable and I love it.

Many thanks, Bob Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey

Kavat – Bob Carey

While being my all-time bestseller, very few have found their way over the Atlantic – and the same with my other Scandinavian designs (Smart, Njord, Najad etc).

I am glad that you like the kayak. And I must confess to being a bit impressed that you roll it so effortlessly. Kavat was designed before I had learned to roll, and I have to concentrate to roll it, being badly spoiled by the "self-rolling" Njord, Frej and Black Pearl.

I have got the impression that many American paddlers see Kavat as old-style, ignoring it in favor of more ”modern-looking” sea kayaks. Perhaps paddlers outside Scandinavia see just old whitewater lines in Smart, Kavat and Nomad, while we see the efficient lines of the old Scandinavian torpedo-shaped archipelago kayak, that dominated most of the 20th century up here.

These kayaks traditionally outperformed the competition: Greenland-inspired hulls (on Greenland speed was not very important; you couldn't outrun a sea mammal, but had to sneak up on it), or kayaks based on whitewater hulls (for which the goal was maneuverability; the current provided the speed needed).

The archipelago kayak has a volume distribution similar to a modern surfski (but shorter and wider), with full ends creating a higher Cp for increased speed potential and the skinnier midsection resulting in the water being pushed a shorter distance at lower speed by the hull’s motion. They are highly maneuverable due to the rocker and flat/rounded bottom and is usable with just a small fixed skeg (which means less friction and turbulence, and less maintenance). They feel safe in waves, with smooth easy movements (again due to the rocker) and moves sideways on a wave instead of tripping of its keel as deeper craft may.

The name 'Kavat' is an old Swedish word, once used about someone who is tougher, braver and more resilient than s/he appears at first glance. It felt relevant when I started to use Kavat on the unprotected Swedish west coast and somewhat surprised discovered that I felt more at ease in tough conditions than I did in the other kayaks I tried at the time (the kind that many paddlers think of as "real" sea kayaks).

Thank you for the photos. I will use some of them in a launchings post soon. Yours is one of the most beautiful Kavats I have shown on my website – many Kavats in Scandinavia are built with a simple workboat-like functionality in knotty fir.


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