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Volan 158 - Printable Version

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Volan 158 - Cat.Radcliffe - 04-25-2023

Hi folks - as some of you know, I recently bought a new P&H Volan 158 from Marshall Seddon at The River Connection, and as there seems to be some interest in the boat, I'm starting a thread to share my experience with it.

I first took it out last Sunday (4/23) at Old Stone Bridge, and it took some getting used to (and some outfitting tweaks, of course).  I think the tide race and the 15-kt wind kept me from really exploring all of the Volan's capabilities, so next time I'll choose calmer conditions.  However, it is an awesome surfing kayak, which is why I decided to buy it.  Can't wait!

One notable difference from my Cetus and Scorpio is the almost symmetrical hull in front and back of the cockpit.  It's not really a swede-form hull like my longer P&H boats (with the beam behind the cockpit), so there's less stability than I'm used to.  It's also much shorter (15'8"), so much less volume in the bow and stern than my longer boats. I experienced that when I switched from a Pilgrim Expedition to the shorter Pilgrim, and it just took some seat time to re-program my reflexes. 

Other new design features are the extreme hard chines of the Volan combined with an almost flat V-hull.  I like hard chines because they provide very good secondary stability, but when you edge the boat, there's a very definite transition from hull bottom to side.  This can take a little getting used to, but is great when you're in bumpy conditions with steep waves, as the flat sides kind of automatically match the angle of the wave. My previous hard-chined kayaks (P&H Sirius and Boreal Ellesmere) definitely saved my butt (and my face) a few times, so I'm looking forward to pushing the envelope with the Volan!

The bottom of the hull is almost a planing hull, which makes the boat easier to turn and surf but also makes it weathercock more easily. This was really apparent in the 15-kt sustained winds we had on Sunday, so I suspect I'll be using the skeg a bit more than with the Scorpio or the Cetus.  At least until I get used to it.

So the Volan is defintely not a cut-down Cetus, but it has a lot of capabilities and I look forward to exploring them, especially getting better at surfing it.

I'll write a few more posts as I gain experience with this different but very cool kayak.

A few other observations about the Volan 158:
-The skeg control has been moved from the side near the gunwale to the top of the deck and is much further forward, so it sits just in front of the left side of the coaming and is just a couple inches behind and to the left of the mini-hatch.  It's much easier to use, and placed where you can see it rather than dropping your hand down and groping for it.  It also minimizes the time and distance your hand has to travel from the paddle shaft to adjust the skeg. A very welcome design tweak!

-The cockpit is shorter, which I like because I'm a short person and don't have to reach as far forward and strain to get the front of the sprayskirt on.  However, the seat could be a bit farther back to make it easier to start the sprayskirt behind you (this is the same as my Cetus).

-The flat bottom and sides of the Volan can make it a bit tricky to position on J-cradles.  You really have to make sure the pads are in the right place for good hull contact with the cradle uprights.