It has been a challenging year, but there are positives to be found, not least a wider appreciation for the great outdoors. We are eternally grateful to the staggering number of people who have given the clouds a silver lining for us by choosing to find an escape in a Venture, P&H, or Pyranha canoe or kayak.
Right now, our whole team is focused on ensuring we can meet this overwhelming demand, but we must ask your mindfulness and understanding of the challenges we face, and the steps we have taken to manage those.
Following the initial interruptions of early lockdowns, we have been working at full capacity over the last 12 months to both catch up and meet the surging demand; a highly unusual situation, as demand would usually drop with the temperature over the winter months, and we would slow production as a result.
We have trained additional staff, reconfigured machinery, and re-organised processes to increase the number of boats we can produce in any given week, but at some point, we must give ourselves a break and go paddling. The pandemic is sadly also not yet over, and occasionally some of us have had to isolate to protect our colleagues and the wider community.
Our lead times are currently therefore longer than usual, but comparatively bearable in relation to the industry as a whole; if you’re considering a purchase, our recommendation to avoid disappointment is to contact your nearest dealers early to find out what stock they have available or incoming:
We are not alone amongst the many industries which are experiencing exponential increases in demand and significant backlogs resulting from lockdowns, and the global shipping network is seeing the compounded effects of this as they attempt to handle the resultant increased movement of materials and goods, whilst having to manage the same Covid-related impacts and restrictions themselves.
Of course, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage could not have been more inconveniently timed, but we are now seeing the dust settle on these challenges. Unfortunately, shipping costs, durations, and complexities overall have not settled down, and reliability is not yet 100%.
We will do everything in our power to get product to you on time, but due to this unpredictability, we will unfortunately be unable to guarantee lead times or delivery dates for the foreseeable future. Similar to availability, please be sure to plan ahead, confirm your order with a dealer as soon as possible, and keep in contact with them for any updates as we will ensure they have the same information we do.
One constant is our enthusiasm for driving canoe and kayak design forwards and in turn, progressing the sport; although some of our R&D team have been helping out in other areas of production from time to time, work on upcoming models has continued, and we’re now approaching final production on Scorch X and Scorch Small in the Pyranha Whitewater range, as well as the Leo MV in the P&H Sea Kayaks range. Contact your local dealer now if you’d like to secure yours with a pre-order:
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve begun working with up and coming YouTuber, The Paddlin’ Dutchman (real name Lex van den Berg) to highlight the more accessible side of the sport to a wider audience, and illustrate the journey we’ve all either been through already, or maybe are currently still going through, on the way to becoming ‘experienced’ paddlesports enthusiasts!
Lex, hi! Tell us a little about yourself…
Together with my wife and kids (7, 5, and 3 yo) I live in the Netherlands, where I was born and raised 33 years ago (so definitely in my prime right now). When I am not paddling, or making videos about paddling, I design and make video games. I have been working in the games industry for over 12 years now as a Game Designer and Creative Lead, making games that have a positive impact on people and society. If I have time to spare I enjoy everything labeled “nerdy” (from board games to Star Wars), crafting, camping, and making music.
Can you tell us when it was you first picked up a paddle and became ‘The Paddlin’ Dutchman’? What inspired you?
I remember the first time I picked up a paddle very well. It was 8 years ago on a holiday in Argentina. My wife and I paddled a tandem on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. It really resonated with me and I joined a local club as soon as we got back. Unfortunately -well, it’s how you look at it I guess- shortly after our first child was born and due to “life”, I lost touch with kayaking. Fast forward 6 years to 2019, all of a sudden I have three kids. I really neglected my health and wanted to change my life and become more active. Kayaking would be my weapon of choice! I enrolled in a beginner’s course. At that time I created the Paddlin’ Dutchman to keep myself accountable. What I did not anticipate is I would soon fall completely in love with kayaking. Ever since I got back into a boat it has become so much more than just exercise. It has grown into a huge part of my life, and I couldn’t do without it anymore!
Where did you find out where and how to get started?
I have always been a big fan of “introductory courses”. I have done many introductory courses, from archery to rock climbing. It’s a great way to experience something new, and find out if you really like it. It’s also a great way to meet new people who are in the same headspace as you. So it felt really logical for me to start kayaking by taking an introductory course. One Google search later, and I had booked a course at our local paddling club, KV Waterwolf. They helped me out with everything I needed and taught me the basics. After the course, I joined that same club and never left!
How quickly did you buy your own gear, and where did you get it from? What made you choose the equipment you bought?
Honestly? Probably too quickly. People who know me know I am a gear head. I-love-gear. So I am always keen on having my own equipment. But this also meant I had to make concessions due to budgeting when I started. Right off the bat, I invested in a good PFD though. But most other gear I bought in the beginning has been replaced by now. It takes time to figure out what you want, need, and like. Sometimes it takes a few tries, there is no shame in that. I would always encourage people to keep an open mind and experiment once in a while with different gear!
I always get all my gear at Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem who is a household name here in the Dutch paddling community. His store is like a giant candy shop! And even though I have seen all the aisles a thousand times, I can still spend hours there!
What were your ambitions in the beginning, and how have they evolved as you’ve gotten deeper into the sport?
They couldn’t be further apart! As I touched on earlier, I started kayaking just as a means to exercise. But as soon as I hit the water that all changed. I fell in love with the feeling of freedom, the exploration, the mastery involved and being one with the water. As soon as I started to develop some skills and learn new techniques, I wanted to learn even more and get better. I noticed learning new skills and techniques really helped me be more confident and comfortable in my boat. So much so it made me enjoy paddling even more. That was something I had to share with others. I wanted to teach other paddlers the skills to help them get more confident and comfortable too! So as I myself grow and learn I now try to pass on what I learn to others, and help them become better paddlers!
What achievement are you most proud of so far? What helped you learn?
Definitely learning how to roll, and doing my first combat roll. Being able to roll gave me such a confidence boost. It really helped me feel more comfortable to try new things and push myself, especially on whitewater.
Learning how to on the other hand was a whole different experience. It just didn’t click for me at first. During my first few training sessions I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I was doing wrong. After my classes had ended, I hadn’t learned to roll, and was left with so much frustration… But I really wanted to nail it. So instead of waiting for new classes, one afternoon I just asked my friend (and whitewater instructor) to help me out. It started where I left off, but within the hour I was rolling! Ultimately I think his different approach to teaching rolling is what made it click for me.
Did you have kayaking friends to begin with, or have you made any through paddlesports?
I didn’t really know anyone who paddled. But I certainly have made some lifelong friendships paddling! It is something I really appreciate about the paddling community; Everyone is very welcoming and helpful.
What’s next on your list in terms of skills to master and trips to complete?
Skill-wise I am still bomb-proofing my rolls (and honestly it has been a few months since I last did one)! I only ever rolled in my whitewater kayak, but now that I am paddling a Virgo, I can’t wait to finally start practicing rolls in a sea kayak!
For now, we are still waiting for the borders to re-open again with Germany so we can get back to some of that sweet whitewater. In the meantime, there is always more to be explored here in the Netherlands! But I am most looking forward to some kayak camping, and surfing this summer!
What would be your top tips for newcomers to the sport right now?
Get comfortable flipping over! I’ve noticed a lot of people developing a fear of going over. This fear really holds them back to experience new things and develop their paddling skills. Practicing wet exits (safely with help on hand of course) and getting used to swimming will help you be more relaxed and comfortable in your kayak! As many have said before, we’re all just in between swims!
Thanks Lex! We look forward to seeing your adventures in that Virgo…
The developmental road of the Volan has been a long one, and we thank the members of our global network of specialist dealers and P&H Pro Paddlers who packed generous amounts of energy and enthusiasm, and joined us for the journey…
We originally announced the concept, a complementary pairing of polyethylene and composite, lightweight sea kayaks focused on day and weekend trips, at PADDLEexpo in 2018. Whilst many have found their perfect, two-boat fleet in a combination of an Aries or Delphin, and a Cetus or Scorpio, we also recognised that not all had the necessary funds or storage space for two boats and that this new range also had the potential to fulfil the needs of those paddlers.
We soon reached a fork in the developmental road, though; one path led to a shorter design with a relatively straight keel, whilst the other’s destination was a 16’ sea kayak with pronounced rocker. We decided to explore both, with the former becoming the polyethylene Virgo (you can read more about the Virgo in its own blog post), and the latter becoming the composite Volan.
The Volan is 16’ in length with a pronounced rocker profile and subtle chines, which in combination, allow the boat to swing around nimbly in the surf, and keep the weight low, reducing the effort required to move the boat around both on and off the water.
Our 50+ years of cross-discipline design experience shine through once again, including the incorporation of the innovative wave deflectors seen in recent Pyranha models, deflecting spray outwards, away from the paddler when powering through chop, and creating dynamic bow lift without excessive volume or rocker.
The Volan’s combination of a planing, mid-section hull and finely tailored chines is enhanced by decades of experience with the performance characteristics of this type of hull in the Pyranha range of whitewater kayaks, ensuring the edges are tuned to engage when desired without hindering the paddler otherwise. The hull shape and dimensions promote planing performance and manoeuvrability at high speed on a wave yet retain tracking and efficiency at the lower speeds associated with normal paddling.
In that vein, the Volan eschews the school of thought which says a sea kayak must be unstable when motionless to perform in motion, and is exceptionally stable when flat, yet comes alive at the influence of your paddle strokes or the engagement of an edge.
The properties of the Volan’s hull are amplified by our advanced construction offerings; Lightweight Kevlar/Carbon Infusion offers incredible, industry-leading weight saving, hull stiffness, and durability, for higher performance, lower exertion, and increased longevity. Learn more on our constructions page.
In summary, the Volan’s features include:
The renowned comfort of our Connect outfitting
All the predictably smooth characteristics of the Cetus in a lighter, more compact format for shorter journeys and easier portaging, transport, and storage.
Influences from the Aries, such as a wave-piercing bow, to enhance the play potential of the responsive, compact design with lower swing weight.
A planing, mid-section hull with subtle chines, which can carve on a wave face and manoeuvred using traditional techniques during normal paddling.
A rocker profile tailored to partner with the intent of the hull design, whilst working with the bow wave deflectors to produce a dry ride in a wide variety of water conditions.
Exceptional stability, making a great platform for all abilities to take in the sights, whether that’s with your eyes or a camera.
Balanced sheerline and deck profile, allowing simple trimming with the skeg to neutralise the effect of wind and waves.
Low-profile back deck and cockpit rim for easier rolling and re-entry.
Bow, Stern, and Day Hatches as standard, with optional Pod Hatch, allowing paddlers to choose between the weight saving or additional storage.
We’re proud to offer a performance, composite sea kayak which combines the essence of both the Aries and Cetus in a single, compact, lightweight design, making it equally competent from simple excursions over a long-weekend to a few hours of fun in the surf, and all the varied trips in between; the Volan.
From the 1st of September 2020, we will cease production and supply of the moulded rubber Thigh Grips and Square Hatch Covers featured on several generations of P&H Capella manufactured up until 2004.
Our reasons for taking this decision are as follows:
The stated maximum UV resistance lifespan of the high-density polyethylene used in our current production process is around 12 years; this is inclusive of many incremental developments we have made in conjunction with our suppliers over our 35+ years of rotomoulding experience to produce the optimal plastic alloy for canoe & kayak production and assumes average use as well as consistent and proper maintenance. This figure is also in relation to areas of low-UV concentration such as the UK and changes dramatically in areas of high-UV concentration such as Australia.
Pre-2004 generations of Capella were manufactured by a third
party, prior to Pyranha Mouldings Ltd.’s acquisition of P&H Sea Kayaks, and
therefore we cannot verify the exact alloy of polyethylene compounds or their
performance with regards to UV resistance.
We are certain, however, that even using a conservative
estimation of UV resistance given the available polymer technology during the
time of production, at over 16 years old, these models will have long since
seen a drastic reduction in structural integrity due to UV degradation.
As a result, we would
strongly recommend that any Pre-2004 Capella not be used in any situation in
which the paddler would not be comfortable swimming to shore, and ideally be
rendered unpaddleable and either re-purposed or recycled.
The Thigh Grips and Hatch Covers in question are also themselves particularly susceptible to UV degradation, especially in comparison to the KajakSport hatch covers used on all P&H Sea Kayaks since 2005, and we, therefore, don’t feel they are representative of the standards of quality paddlers have come to expect from P&H.
How often do your sea kayak excursions extend beyond a long weekend?
If the answer is ‘rarely’, you’re not alone; in speaking to
our customers, colleagues, and counterparts, it became clear to us that few sea
kayak trips justify the length and storage capacity of expedition-ready models
such as the Scorpio.
While we’re proud to say that the Scorpio’s meticulous design means that there’s little disadvantage in manoeuvrability, and that our advanced CoreLite X material helps keep weight to a minimum, it’s hard to bring the boat weight lower or make transport and storage any easier without losing some of that length.
It’s at this point that the Virgo was conceptualised; a compact, but uncompromising sea kayak for weekend warriors.
In many ways, the Virgo is a successor to the firmly-established Easky 15, but almost 20 years on, it’s safe to say boat design and features have come a long way!
Our focus was on retaining the familiar stability and hull speed, complimenting the surf potential that a boat of such manageable size and weight creates with a carving rail, and packing in all the essential features you’d expect of any other sea kayak in the P&H range, including a low-profile back deck for easy rolling and re-entry, and the option of a Bow Mini Hatch just in front of the paddler.
Here’s a summary of
the Virgo’s key features:
The short, 14’6” length increases the play
potential and keeps the overall boat weight at a minimum, meaning you can
really throw the Virgo around on the water all day long, and still easily lift
it on to the car afterwards.
A V-hull cuts cleanly through the water and tracks
beautifully when you’re simply headed for the horizon but softens towards the
centre of the boat for comfortable stability and easy release when you’re exploring
what you find there.
Moderate rocker allows the Virgo to pick up and
carry speed efficiently when flat but swing around effortlessly on edge,
perfect for catching surges and weaving in and out of every nook and cranny
when rock gardening.
As well as responding to traditional sea kayak
edging techniques, the Virgo’s hard chines engage for carving performance when
edging into the turn; highly intuitive for beginner/intermediates or those from
a whitewater background, and exhilaratingly responsive on a wave.
A moderately steep bow ensures a high proportion
of the length acts as effective waterline for hull speed and combines with
flared bow edges to give a dry ride through choppy water and lift the boat over
waves on the paddle out from the shore.
Carefully planned bow deck geometry provides
stiffness and strength for deep water rescues, kayak sailing, and all the other
demands of a varied, memorable trip.
The rear deck is ergonomically shaped and minimal
in height to allow easy rolling and re-entry and features a paddle shaft recess
for bracing during entry, giving you the confidence to try new and more
bow and stern main hatches with market-leading KajakSport hatch covers,
providing ample capacity for long weekend adventures and maximum safety when
exploring remote coastlines.
and functional details such as split paddle recesses, a drop-forged, anodised
aluminium security point, a paddle park, a full complement of deck lines and
bungees, and comfortable, highly-adjustable and reliable outfitting are in
keeping with P&H Sea Kayak design heritage and round out the Virgo’s design
to make it something that’ll be a pleasure both to own and paddle.
It’s nice to have options,
and on the Virgo, they are:
A Silva 70P compass (northern or southern
hemisphere variants are available) fitted to the moulded recess in front of the
The choice of CoreLite X for hull stiffness and
minimal weight, or MZ3 for high impact resistance.
An optional Bow Mini Hatch for close-to-hand
storage of on-the-water essentials like snacks and sun cream.
The ability to simply and securely install a
P&H Sail System using the moulded-in inserts.
Skeg or Skudder options with the choice of a
simple cleat & cord or advanced MKII Skeg Slider System control.
You can expect to see the Virgo arriving with dealers in the UK and Europe over the next few weeks, and the following dealers have confirmed the will have a demo available:
After my previous record back in 2015, I had no idea that I would go for a second attempt, but the past year the sea began to call again.
I waited together with a Spanish team last year (2017) on perfect weather, with no success. It was only this summer, after waiting a few months, that I saw an opportunity.
I had also contact with Eddie and Jens, a German team that had the ambition to attempt to cross the North Sea. We shared information and knowledge. We agreed to stay in contact and start together if possible. They would make the same trajectory as I did in 2015.
So, we got together during the night in Nieuwpoort harbour on Wednesday 1st of August 2018. Both the German team and I had made practically the same navigational planning and we wished each other success. I must say that it was an honour to depart together with them. I said goodbye to my wife and children. My wife Sylvie is my support team and keeps keep contact with Oostende Radio on the Belgian side, and Dover Coast Guard on the UK side. Both services were informed properly about our intentions.
At 01 o’clock (local time), I started from the slipway at Nieuwpoort harbour, Belgium. I had some light from the full moon. I started at a pace I could keep up for hours without stopping or resting. When I left the safety of the harbour, all stress was away, I felt alive! Although it was too dark to see a thing, I knew my way around. This first part was a home run in my backyard so to speak. I chose to leave at this hour because of the tidal stream. I wanted the stream against me during the first six hours. I rather have it along the Belgian coast where it less powerful (but not to be mistaken) than on the UK side, where it is almost double the speed. I passed the Trapegeer buoy when the stream was still building up against me. Between here and the next buoy, the DY1, is a real battle. A battle against the tide, a battle against a shortage of sleep, and I must be alert for other ships who couldn’t see me. During the night I had only a force 2 headwind. I was relentlessly pushed back by the tidal stream and the wind during the very short breaks. One of the things I enjoyed most was sunrise. I took a very short break at that moment, so I could see the sun coming up.
When I finally arrived at the DY1 buoy it was almost slack water. Taking it easy now is not an option, since I need this advantage badly to reach the final section in time (also tidal stream related). From the DY1 buoy, I hopped to the SE Ruytingen buoy and finally the NW Ruytingen buoy, where the international shipping lane starts. I was there a bit too soon. I set course to the WSW Sandettie buoy. I saw that my speed was decreasing very much due to the stream that was still heading SW. Soon I took the decision to deviate the planned route and head towards the Sandettie lightship. The downside was that I crossed this part of the shipping lane at a sloping angle instead of as straight as possible. I had no other choice, because my speed was almost gone too, which makes a straight crossing of the shipping lane in this case even more dangerous. So, to the lightship it was! Except for one sailing vessel, I did not pass any professional shipping on this section. My speed increased and so I could take all the benefit I needed to go on.
When reaching the Sandettie lightship I was excited. I always had an interest in ships, beacons, buoys, and now this one was ticked off on my list. The second thing I was excited about was that I could now see the white cliffs of Dover in the distance. The next buoy, SW Sandettie, was close and so was the second part of the shipping lane. I was able to cross it straighter. During the crossing of the shipping lane, I only saw two merchant ships, that was all. Leaving the shipping lane behind it set course to the Goodwin lightship. Also, not on my initial plan, but since I deviated I had to adapt. There was very little tidal stream during this part, I could reach it without compensating a lot. It was slack water, but a bit choppy due to the area I’m in, the Goodwin Sands. I took a last break and I made a call with the VHF to the Dover Coast Guard to state my position and status. In turn, they informed my wife (aka, the support team).
I knew from the previous time that the last section should be worse now due to the wind. The wind was increasing to force 3-4 from the side (WSW) and the current would soon pick up in the northerly direction. So, I started heading to the harbour of Ramsgate, which I could not see at this point. The waves were there all the time from this point on, due to the current pushing over the Goodwin Sands and the wind. It decreases the much-needed speed to aim for the harbour. The more I closed in on land, the harder the tidal stream was pushing from the port side. With a lot of persistence, I reached Ramsgate harbour, finally!! My wife and two children were there, waving and yelling. I was relieved, happy, excited, exhausted and had a feeling that I could take on the whole world while being so tired that I could capsize in the blink of an eye, all at the same time. Just to be correct, after greeting my family, I paddled on to the slipway. It was only there that I switched off my GPS. I had paddled 107 kilometres and spent 17hours and 48minutes doing so. After taking a shower and eating a hot meal, we went back home by ferry.
My first time in 2015 was perfect, the weather was perfect, the sea was flat. This time the weather was good… only good, not perfect. No kayaker talks about force 3 or 4 unless you’re on a mission like this one. I could adapt, as I’m usually doing. But the constant headwind in the first half and the portside wind on the last section took their toll. I have no regrets, but I made it more difficult by crossing during these conditions. Make no mistake, the sea is boss, you’re not. Even with a lot of training and preparation, it’s the sea that will decide whether you’re ready for it, or not.
I wish to thank my family from all my heart for their continuously and unconditional support on all that I do or undertake! Were it not for them, I would not have done this. Thank you, thank you!
Special thanks to the people from Ostend Radio (MRCC Oostende-Belgian Coast Guard) and Dover Coast Guard (UK) for virtually watching over me during the crossing, again!
In the Recap series we share our best cut scenes, experiences and other footage. If we can share the vibe with others and make other people longing to go out with a sea kayak on the water, than our mission has succeeded! 🙂 If you are not a sea kayaker already, maybe now is the time? There’s a wide range of things you can do with this craft, and some training. Most important of all, it’s all about the smiles and the companionship! Enjoy!
We must be a bit resourceful over here. It is not because we don’t have tidal races over here along the Belgian coast that we cannot train on breaking in and out of one. Somewhere in the back of Nieuwpoort harbor there is a complex with different locks called the Ganzepoot (goose foot, because it looks like one when seen from the air). In the periods with heavy rain there is too much water in the five adjacent canals and in the river Yser. The locks are then opened a few hours before low tide, until a few hours after. The amount of water that comes like an unstoppable force trough the locks is phenomenal. It also makes a perfect practicing area for us, sea kayakers. The different canals and locks have their own characteristics. We always start our training on the slower flowing water, and then build up until we go on the Yser lock. The Yser lock releases the most amount of water, at the highest speed. We train on breaking in, and back out, of fast moving water. You need a good angle of approach, some speed and a good lean-brace position.
When we got a first email from Will and Beverly, from the North Skye Kayak Club in Scotland, we never imagined that we would have that much in common. They asked if they could join us on our training sessions along the Belgian coast to see how we are doing things, and also to meet the NORTHSEAKAYAK-team. We think that Scotland has sent out their most friendliest inhabitants, there was immediately a good connection between us! Upon their arrival in Belgium we chose to do a variety of training sessions in the four days of their stay. On the first day, we did an offshore trip to the marine farm in front of Nieuwpoort. We combined that with some rescue exercises along the way. The second and third day we did a typical “harbour-training” in Nieuwpoort. It’s a perfect venue to teach/learn a variety of skills. We did balance exercises, trained on self-rescue and assisted rescue techniques. With all the palisades, docks, mooring stations and boats it also makes a good spot to train on boat-control . We use them to paddle around in order to train the different steering strokes while being in a safe environment. We saved the best for last, the fourth and last day we had perfect surfing conditions. The swell was good, and the waves steep but not too high. We gave an explanation on the behaviour of the waves, the wave sets and how to paddle trough the surf and back. Being on a wave, gaining speed and rushing back to the beach is one of the most exciting things you can do with a sea kayak. We think that those smiles we got during the visit of our Scottish friends will stay on for a longer period of time. We hope to visit them in the future, on the beautiful Isle of Skye!!
On Sunday 27 August P&H dealer Manu Redureau, of Bekayak, Brest, France, joined me for a blast around the Stacks. This trip also gave Manu the opportunity to try out the Delphin MKII Corelite X in rough water conditions.
Our journey took us from Porth Dafarch to North Stack and back – similar to the route shown below from the ‘Welsh Sea Kayaking: Fifty Great Sea Kayak Voyages’ book. We enjoyed surf and rough water at Penrhyn Mawr, followed by some small surf at South Stack before lunch on the rocks in Gogarth Bay – the seal pupping season from August to November precluded us from using the beaches. After lunch we returned to Porth Dafarch by closely following the coastline and exploring lots of channels, arches, caves and rock gardens. The journey was both fun and a great work out. Thanks for a great day out Manu!